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Minneapolis without a property tax hike? So says Rybak

AFTERNOON EDITION ALSO: GOP lawmakers diss local levies; more on T-Paw endorsement; Bachmann’s flank maneuver; Lakeville dad’s bail; update on Excelsior energy subsidies; and more.
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Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak proposed no overall property tax increase in his budget message today, the Strib’s Steve Brandt and Eric Roper report, making him 1-for-10 in the flat-revenue department. But — does this sound familiar? — the city will borrow to repair its streets. Rybak hopes to afford that, thanks to some pension reform. The big caveat: Cops must approve the pension reform, which we’ll know Tuesday. As for p-taxes, the burden could shift among homeowners depending on their valuations and credits, and also depending on commercial-industrial valuations.

Last week, MinnPost’s Beth Hawkins reported that GOP state Rep. Steve Drazkowski had urged voters to reject local — not state — school-spending initiatives; today, MPR’s Tim Pugmire makes it a trend, adding GOP state Rep. Pat Garofalo to the anti’s; he calls it “fleecing.” Apparently, deferring to the wishes of local boards is passé, though I may be one of the few surprised such détente has lasted this long. Pugmire says Republicans tout a “significant increase in funding from the state, including a $50 boost in the per-pupil formula.” But as Hawkins reported, a lot of the significance in “significant increase” comes from continuing the very local referenda Drazkowski and Garofalo abhor. And, as Hawkins has noted, the $50 boost helps offset the cost of servicing the debt from a (bipartisanly agreed) 40 percent shift in state school payments until the next biennium.

Tim Pawlenty didn’t stay on the sidelines long, endorsing Mitt Romney for president. The news came as Romney sunk to 18 percent among GOP and leaning independents in CNN’s new poll, well behind Rick Perry’s 30. T-Paw, who will also be Romney’s national co-chair, told Fox News he does not want to be vice president — an unlikely possibility since two northern, tapioca sorts of fellows seems to double down on the wrong qualities, at least in the GOP. (Cabinet posts were unasked about.) Despite Pawlenty’s “Obamneycare” coinage, Minnesota’s former guv says Romney will kill any vestige of Obama’s health care reform.

The New York Times notes Pawlenty “had been looking for help in retiring a campaign debt of at least $500,000.” The multimillionaire Romney, while facing tougher fundraising terrain than 2012, is best positioned to help Pawlenty find that cash.

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Michele Bachmann, ready to outflank Perry from the left on Social Security in tonight’s GOP debate, cratered to 4 percent in the CNN poll, which surveyed 1,038 adults Sept. 9-11 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points based on the sample size. Minnesota Independent’s Andy Birkey notes a Bachmann-backing SuperPAC is unleashing a soft-on-illegal-immigration attack on frontrunner Rick Perry. By the way, the Taiwanese animators have a stemwinding new Bachmann animation, and I think fans and foes can find some humor in it.

Remember the Lakeville dad who abandoned his 11-year-old son and fled to California? Bail was set at what seems like a low $5,000 for Steven Cross, the PiPress’ Maricella Miranda reports. Then again, given that Cross was “financially desperate,” maybe that’s enough to keep him here for trial. The 60-year-old has been described as depressed before the abandonment and suicidal afterward.

The Pagami Creek Fire — seven square miles of burning BWCA as of this morning’s Glean — is now 17 square miles, according to the Lake County News Chronicle. Fire crews are still guiding it, somewhat, otherwise letting it take its natural course. MPR’s Bob Collins, via WCCO’s Mike Augustyniak, has a great photo of the fire smoke from space. MPR’s Tim Nelson and Dan Kraker say a 70 percent chance of rain up north, if realized, would slow the fire.

The Duluth News Tribune has been bird-dogging the moribund Excelsior Energy gasified coal plant’s hefty government subsidies. Today, it contended that plant officials may have been using those subsidies to lobby the very subsidizers. As of this time last year, the plant had $1.9 million left of the $40 million in public funding; reporter Peter Passi says available records show private investors have contributed $60,000 while lobbying and campaign expenses amount to nearly $1.8 million. Because the company won’t open its records, the subsidy-on-subsidizers contention is circumstantial, though Passi notes Excelsior was rung up in 2008 for spending $40,161 in subsidies for lobbying. Company officials say (government?) administrators have approved their spending. If nothing else, this is an example of bipartisan government industrial policy gone screwy.

Via the Business Jounal’s Sam Black, a New York Post columnist decided Adrian Peterson’s $100 million contract was outrageous in the context of a $650 million Vikings stadium subsidy. Black couldn’t help but note the courtesy of the Broadway columnist being concerned with Minnesota tax dollars.

Glean creator David Brauer returns to fill in for vacationing Brian Lambert.