Keep the Keystone Light for your “The Shutdown Is Dead” party on ice. Baird Helgeson of the Strib writes: “Four days after the announcement of a budget deal, fresh signs emerged Sunday that the agreement is not coming together as first hoped and that Republican legislative leaders are struggling to string together the necessary votes. A handful of Republican senators crucial to a deal said they can’t yet commit to the agreement, even as party leaders were huddled in closed-door meetings at the State Capitol to finalize the $35 billion budget and end the longest state government shutdown in the nation’s history. ‘I don’t know what the outcome will be,” said Assistant Senate Majority Leader David Thompson, R-Lakeville. ‘I have some concerns, certainly, but I am not sure what I am going to do yet’. … Legislative Democrats said GOP leaders have frozen them out of budget talks, so they have no plans to put up any votes for the final budget deal. That means Republicans, who hold small majorities in both bodies, must come through with nearly all of their votes to pass a budget. Questions remained about whether rank-and-file Republicans could support the final agreement, which spends more than many wanted, relies heavily on borrowing and doesn’t include a GOP menu of hard-fought social policies such as abortion restrictions and a measure to require voters to show photo ID.” My permit on the phrase “You have got to be kidding me” expired from overuse, and the office to have it renewed is closed.
The Shutdown may also linger a bit longer because of the vagueness of the deal struck by Gov. Dayton and the GOP. Don Davis of the Forum papers said on Sunday: “Minnesota’s government shutdown may not end as soon as state leaders, and 22,000 laid-off workers, hoped. Negotiators who missed a 10 p.m. Friday deadline continued to work today, with none of the nine budget bills wrapped up. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton said late in the week he hoped to call lawmakers back into special session on Monday to pass a two-year budget. Assistant Senate Majority Leader Doug Magnus, R-Slayton, said [Sunday] afternoon that the goal was ambitious to begin with, but added that work needs to continue quickly. … On Sunday, small groups of legislative committee chairmen, commissioners and other key people continued meetings that began on Friday around the Capitol and State Office Building. The buildings are closed to the public because of the shutdown and the meetings are closed to the press. Few details were leaking out.”
“Duh!” might have been a more appropriate headline to Neal St. Anthony’s Strib story, sub-hedded, “Taxpayers would have been better off if Gov. Dayton and Republican legislative leaders had listened to business elders.” Says St. Anthony: “Republican legislative leaders should have taken the advice of their business elders over the penny-wise, pound-foolish budget settlement the House and Senate are expected to approve this week and send to a whupped Gov. Mark Dayton for his reluctant signature. The Republican leadership stared down Dayton, who got no marginal tax increase on Minnesota’s richest to plug the budget. Dayton could no longer stand the cries of 22,000 out-of-work state employees, angry resort owners who couldn’t get fishing licenses for their guests, contractors who had to idle their road-construction crews as tens of millions of dollars drained weekly from the state economy. … House Speaker Kurt Zellers and Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch have achieved a hollow victory. There is no smart reform here, no long-term solution. ‘If a company did what our state is going to do — take on more debt as your credit rating drops, defer problems and not look to increase revenue — its stock would go down in the marketplace,’ said [Jay] Kiedrowski, now a fellow at the Humphrey Institute after retiring from Wells Fargo. ‘We need to keep producing high-quality students, graduates and importing high-quality jobs. This is not the way to do it.’ ”
At the St. Cloud Times opinion page, editor Randy Krebs goes off on party control of elected officials: “As not just the shutdown but the proposed end to it reflect, both parties are willing to have Minnesotans pay a high price to keep the status quo. And if you have not figured it out by now, the status quo means keeping both parties locked into protecting their special interests.Again, maybe I’m jaded, but these politicians no longer serve us. We might elect them, but when it comes to crunch time, they now routinely serve their respective parties and the special interests behind them.”
The Strib editorial page gives Dayton a narrow “win” in terms of being better positioned than the GOP, who’ll have to ‘splain themseves to voters next year. Says the editorial: “But who should be the more disappointed? Is it Gov. Mark Dayton, who in the end surrendered not only his signature crusade to ‘tax the rich’ but also his contingency plan to tax somebody, anybody? Or does the bigger letdown really belong to Minnesota Republicans, led in this fight by [House Speaker Kurt] Zellers and Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch? The GOP got its no-new-taxes financing plan — but not its no-new-spending, just-what’s-in-the checkbook cap on government growth. And that partial triumph came at the cost of digging in pretty deep to spare the super-wealthy any special discomfort. … The election calendar has always been Dayton’s main long-run advantage. He will be in office at least until January 2015. But because of redistricting following the 2010 census, the GOP majorities in both the House and Senate must face voters 16 months from now — in a high-turnout presidential election year. Barack Obama may not be the juggernaut next year that he was in 2008. But he will run tolerably well in Minnesota. DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar, up for reelection, will run very well. And a same-sex marriage ban Republicans in their wisdom put on the 2012 ballot will stir passions and turnout on both sides in unpredictable ways.” That latter point may prove to be a fatal irony for the GOP.
Kevin Seifert of ESPN has been following the Vikings’ stadium drama. He writes: “I’ve never felt stronger about my two primary tenets of this fight:
Long ago, a wise person suggested the stadium issue would not be resolved until it fell into a full-blown crisis. In political terms, it’s not yet a crisis when a team has six months remaining on its lease. A crisis, politically speaking, is arriving at the late-January start of the 2012 session and finding the mayor of Los Angeles camped outside the Vikings’ facility. Until we get to that level of dramatics, no one will be willing to risk political capital on an NFL stadium.
There is no right or wrong answer. It’s merely a choice. The state is not obligated to provide a cent of funding for a new stadium. But if that’s the decision, the state must recognize that eventually the Vikings will leave. The time for foot-stomping and asking why Wilf won’t build a privately-funded stadium is over. It’s time for everyone to make an informed choice and then live with the consequences, one way or the other.”
Couldn’t they charge $25 for every 15 minutes of air? Delta, saying it’s losing money on the routes, is dropping service to five Minnesota cities. Jennie Olson at KSTP-TV writes: “Delta Airlines is stopping flights to 24 small cities because it’s reportedly losing $14 million a year on those flights. The company added that on average these flights are only 52 percent full. Five cities are in Minnesota, including Thief River Falls, Hibbing, International Falls, Brainerd and Bemidji. Delta will continue servicing these markets until replacement carriers are found, but U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar is pushing Delta to reconsider.” I’d pay another $25 to ride on any plane that was only 52% full.
I have to wonder what prompted this, but we’re suckers for any story — even a “where are they now?” piece — that combines Tom Petters and Denny Hecker. John Welbes of the PiPress walks us through our gallery of favorite rogues:
“Christi Rowan, 37: Role: Perhaps best known for the $60,000 fur coat and $30,000 guard dog the married Hecker bought for her in the months before he went bankrupt, Rowan soon was accused by the trustee in Hecker’s bankruptcy case of hiding assets. She pleaded guilty last year to lying in that case and to bank fraud for lying about her income to get a loan for a Range Rover. In February, she became Hecker’s fifth wife in a marriage ceremony conducted over the phone, with the groom in jail.
“Sentence: 14 months. Rowan received the maximum sentence for her crimes after a plea deal fell apart. Federal authorities provided evidence that Rowan had continued to hide assets while awaiting sentencing.
Imprisoned at: Greenville Federal Correctional Institution, Greenville, Ill.
Security level: Minimum.”
It’s like being a kid again, in the middle of winter, thumbing through my baseball cards.
Finally, a little Bachmannia, from Bill Prendergast at The MNProgressive Project: “Here’s one that slipped through the cracks this week: ‘It’s just nonsense, (Bachmann) has no idea what she’s talking about’. The speaker is Stan Collender, one of the leading experts on the U.S. budget and congressional budget process. He is one of only a handful of people who has worked for the House and Senate Budget Committees and has worked for three U.S. representatives who served on the House Budget and Ways and Means Committees. What was the particular Bachmann ‘nonsense’ that Collender was identifying? Her assurances that it isn’t such a big deal if Congress doesn’t raise the nation’s debt ceiling. Apparently Collender agrees with the rest of the world that it will be a disaster if the debt ceiling isn’t raised. ‘She doesn’t know what she’s talking about,’ concludes Collender. Which is kind of embarrassing, given the fact that Bachmann had invited him to lecture her House Tea Party Caucus on the budget earlier this year.”