OK, it’s over. Now we can get back to the big stuff: Campaigning for or against gay marriage, voter fraud and the Vikings stadium? A quick round up of what “they” are saying about the conclusion of our unpleasantries here.
Monica Davey of the New York Times says: “Some Republican lawmakers, who control both chambers of the State Legislature for the first time in nearly four decades and will be up for re-election next year, lauded the result as a win: the plan does not raise taxes. But others, in both parties, derided the compromise as merely pushing the state’s financial problems further into the future. Mr. Dayton has somewhat glumly called the result the best option for residents in trying times. Still, the prospect of reopening Minnesota was cheered by many. Uncertain, still, was the cost of the 20-day shutdown; many of those who would normally tally such costs were laid off. Some in the state, too, were considering a less tangible cost: how would memories of the shutdown (people turned away at state parks and politicians going days without talking to one another) affect the state’s image for lovely lakes and relatively efficient government?” Emphasis there on the word “relatively.”
Martiga Lohn of the AP says: “Jim Schowalter, the state’s budget commissioner, added that it will take longer to restart some state agencies than others since some have continued partial operations during the shutdown. He predicted it would take weeks for agencies to work through paperwork backlogs, clean up parks and other sites and return to normal operations. ‘There is a backload of work’, Schowalter said. ‘There is a backload of issues that are going to have to be addressed.’ His division had earlier estimated that the state was losing millions of dollars, including lost revenue from lottery sales, tax audits and state park fees, money spent preparing to shut down and the cost of unemployment and health benefits for laid-off workers. The full cost wasn’t expected to be known for some time. … Minnesota became a national example of political dysfunction, mirroring in miniature the partisan standoff in Washington over raising the debt ceiling. State leaders are more accustomed to being recognized for efficiency and innovation.” Uh …make that “were,” not “are.”
Mark Sommerhauser of the St. Cloud Times pays close attention to the impact on MnSCU: “The budget bill for higher-education institutions was made public Tuesday morning. It contains historic funding cuts to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System, which includes St. Cloud State University and St. Cloud Technical & Community College. The proposal would cut state funding for MnSCU by about $129 million in the next two years, or 10.6 percent relative to the 2010-2011 budget cycle. The House passed the higher-education bill by a 71-57 vote. All St. Cloud-area representatives voted for the bill, except Rep. Larry Hosch, DFL-St. Joseph, who voted against it. Those voting for the measure included Rep. King Banaian, R-St. Cloud. Banaian opposed the May version of the higher-education bill, saying it cut too deeply into state funding for colleges and universities.”
Frankly, I thought this Michele Bachmann-migraines story would be a one-day deal. I was wrong. Mikaela Conley of ABC News reports: “Dr. Lucas Bachmann, a medical resident at University of Connecticut and the congresswoman’s son, told the New York Times that his mother had noticed a connection between the headaches and her wearing high-heel shoes. ‘Different things do trigger migraines, and it’s not easy to automatically discount that,’ said Dr. Joel Saper, founder and director of the Michigan Headache and Neurological Institute in Ann Arbor. ‘But it could be more likely that she wears heels at times when she has a particularly important or busy encounter that may cause stress.’ Bachmann tried to ease the worries of a crowd in Aiken, S.C., Tuesday, assuring those assembled that she could control her migraines with medication, and they would not impede her ability to serve as president, playing down reports that the migraines have prevented her from doing her job.” For me, Mitch McConnell is like a pair of 6-inch heels.
Bryan Fischer, the talk radio/spiritual guide hosting Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s “pray-a-thon” in Reliant Stadium in Houston, has some thoughts on Bachmann’s health: “I do not see how a Bachmann candidacy can survive. We obviously must have a president and commander-in-chief in full and complete health, who is in constant command of his faculties, and who has no known risk of being temporarily unable to discharge the duties of office. All of which would make a Rick Perry candidacy both inevitable and necessary. Perry, Bachmann, and Herman Cain are the most enthusiastically popular potentials with Tea Partiers, but even fervent Tea Party supporters would be forced to concede it would not be a good idea to have a president who might be sidelined for periods of time virtually without warning. What this would mean in the end is that the campaign would come down to Cain and Perry. Mitt Romney, despite his fundraising advantages, is obviously and patently unacceptable to social and small government conservatives.”
On that stadium thing … Frederick Melo of the PiPress says: “It’s official: No Minnesota Vikings stadium plan will be taken up during the special session this week, and possibly not even this year. The news comes as a disappointment to team owners, and with the team’s lease on the Metrodome in Minneapolis expiring at the end of this season, it raises the question: What now? Lester Bagley, Vikings vice president of public relations and stadium development, was tight-lipped Tuesday. ‘We’re assessing our options,’ he said. Among those options: be patient or threaten to move or sell the franchise. The latter is a leverage card that Vikings co-owner Zygi Wilf has insisted isn’t on the table. … The problems that have dogged the Arden Hills plan from the beginning — costs of pollution cleanup and highway improvements — never stopped weighing it down as backers tried to force it across the goal line. ‘We’re not going to sign onto something that’s going to blow up in our face,’ Mondale said, explaining that proper environmental assessments to finalize estimates of highway improvement costs have yet to be completed. ‘What if the number jumps from $100 million to $170 million and we’ve already signed off on it? That’s a big problem.’ “
Don Davis of the Forum papers assembles a list of bonding goodies: “The Minnesota State Colleges and University system gets the most out of the bill, $98 million of state money. The University of Minnesota receives $89 million.
Most college and university spending will be for renovating buildings, although the University’s Twin Cities campus also gets a new physics and nanotechnology center in the deal. … Also in the bonding bill is:
• $8 million to develop Lake Vermilion State Park, a new northeastern Minnesota park.
• $16 million for a new Mississippi River dam at Coon Rapids to stop the spread of destructive Asian carp through northern Minnesota waters.
• $20 million to improve conservation.
• $33 million for local bridge repairs and replacements .
• $10 million for local road improvements.
• $7 million to improve the Minnesota Sex Offender Program St. Peter treatment facility.”
The Strib’s Eric Roper and Kevin Duchschere have something of the same. A sample: “TAXES — $2.9 BILLION … The bill makes permanent reductions in local government aid to cities ($203 million/biennium), county program aid ($64 million/biennium) and the renter’s credit program ($46 million/biennium), but increases the property tax refund program by $30 million. It sells $640 million in bonds backed by tobacco settlement money. Suspends (but doesn’t eliminate) the political contribution refund program for two years.”
Without, of course, admitting (or denying) wrongdoing, Wells Fargo has agreed to an $85 million settlement on various, uh, mortgage irregularities. Says the AP story: “The Federal Reserve says the fine is the largest it has ever imposed in a consumer-enforcement case. Wells Fargo neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing as part of the settlement. The bank agreed to compensate borrowers who were steered into higher-priced loans or whose income was exaggerated. The Fed alleges Wells Fargo inflated borrowers’ incomes on loan documents to qualify for mortgages they otherwise couldn’t afford from 2004 until 2008. The central banks says Wells Fargo sales personnel also pushed borrowers toward higher-interest, sub-prime loans, even though they were eligible for lower-interest mortgages.”
The editorial/commentary of the day comes from ex-Strib business writer Mike Meyers on the cessation of hostilities on the “class warfare” front. “[T]o echo a ritual incantation of the Republican Party, whose money is it? The answer, of course, is that the money belongs to those who earned it single-handedly, with absolutely no help of any kind from anyone. We’re not all in this together. The rich are islands unto themselves — sometimes living on real islands. Whose red ink is it? Clearly, the state shortfall belongs not to the worthies in the top 1 percent of the income distribution. They’re not part of the problem; they’re the solution. Indeed, they’re pushing back against the crass label, ‘the rich.’ In the parlance of their Republican protégés, people with big money are ordained as ‘job creators.’ In return for holding the line on their taxes, the affluent have been creating jobs like crazy in recent years. Hasn’t anyone noticed? Hard times are not the moment to raise taxes on job creators. Come to think of it, neither are good times.” Boy, a regular diet of that kind of stuff would sure liven up the Strib’s Op-Ed pages.