The day’s events, stadium speaking, have left the project in “limbo.” Brian Bakst at the AP writes: “Gov. Mark Dayton emerged from a late afternoon meeting with legislative leaders to declare the stadium push in “limbo,” complaining that leading lawmakers wouldn’t get on board with his plan to call a special legislative session in late November to vote on financing for a stadium to replace the Metrodome. ‘My timetable has been rejected by the Legislature,’ said Dayton, a Democrat. ‘Now the question is, what’s their timetable?’ Earlier in the day, as word spread that House Speaker Kurt Zellers opposed a special session, a Minnesota Vikings executive warned that delaying the issue until next year’s regular session would increase the project’s already hefty cost. Vice President Lester Bagley stopped short of saying the team would pull up stakes, but noted that after this season the Vikings ‘will be the only team without a lease.’ “
ESPN’s Kevin Seifert adds: “I think it’s important not to be alarmist when you’re watching what amounts to a billion-dollar negotiation from afar. A high-stake poker game is underway. Let’s just say it’s too early to start speculating on who would replace the Vikings in the NFC North after they move to Los Angeles. At the very least, however, we can say that state leaders have surrendered the exclusive negotiating window they would have had this month, positioning themselves to spend more than they otherwise needed to on a stadium if they eventually approve one. They have also exposed themselves to the possibility of relocation.”
And to avoid any confusion over its official position, the Strib is editorializing that Gov. Dayton should follow his daddy and do something big … for Minneapolis: “There is an upside in all of this for those (including the Star Tribune Editorial Board) who support a responsible public-private stadium partnership. Removing the local sales tax option gives the state more leverage in negotiations with the team. The Vikings no longer have a local partner able to pledge $350 million to their cause, leaving them with one viable option — making a deal with Dayton and GOP legislative leaders that can draw enough votes from both parties to pass. It’s worth noting that in the wake of the sales tax news Vikings spokesman Lester Bagley described Arden Hills as the ‘ideal’ location for the stadium — not the ‘only viable location,’ as he’s said previously.” The Strib is also on board with electronic pulltabs.
At least one prominent GOP legislator wants all these school levy referendums moved to even-number years … where they fail more often than in odd-numbered years. Tom Weber of MPR writes: “State Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, says schools should only hold levy votes in even-numbered years, when turnout is already higher for other elections. ‘Everybody knows that next Tuesday we’re going to see unbelievably low voter turnout,’ Garofalo said. ‘The irony is at the same time we’re seeing so much press about a $300-million state subsidy for a Vikings stadium, there’s going to be $900 million in tax revenue on the ballot next Tuesday — and there’s been very little coverage of it.’ Voters in 126 school districts will see tax questions on the ballot next Tuesday. Garofalo cited data from the state Education Department that finds more than 70 percent of referenda pass during odd-numbered years, a number that falls to 52 percent during even-numbered years. But critics say the reason for that has nothing to do with low turnout or trying to ‘slip tax questions’ pass voters, but rather the ability for districts to get their messages out for why they need the tax funding.”
And good luck paying it off any time soon, kids. Minnesota’s college students are piling up serious debt. Jenna Ross at the Strib reports that Minnesota graduates had debt of “$29,058, for the fourth highest average in the country, according to the Project on Student Debt’s annual report. The state also ranked fifth in the proportion of students with debt, at 71 percent. Last year, Minnesota ranked sixth in average debt and third in percentage of students with debt. Of the state’s colleges and universities included in the report, Minneapolis College of Art and Design graduates carried the greatest average debt: $44,385. About 88 percent of its 2010 grads had debt. The report does not include for-profit colleges, whose graduates traditionally have higher debt loads than their public and private nonprofit counterparts.”
It appears Wisconsin is blazing a trail to the 1980s. The AP reports: “The Wisconsin Senate approved a Republican-backed bill late Wednesday that would require sex education teachers to stress abstinence over contraception, despite complaints that the measure would leave children ill-informed and do little to curtail teen pregnancy and sexual diseases. The bill dramatically rewrites a Democratic-backed measure known as the Healthy Youth Act. Passed two years ago, the law requires schools that offer sex education to use a multi-faceted curriculum that includes instruction on the proper use of contraceptives. Republicans have bristled over the law. Juneau County District Attorney Scott Southworth, a Republican and evangelical Christian, made headlines last year when he said he was so convinced that teaching contraception would lead to more teen sex that he would charge teachers who taught it with contributing to the delinquency of minors.” … Well, they were voted into office.
Considering the jury pool, this isn’t that surprising. The AP says: “Officials say a juror was dismissed in the murder-for-hire trial in Waukesha County Wednesday because he was drunk when he showed up for court. Because there are alternate jurors, his dismissal won’t affect the proceeding. Sheriff’s Detective Steve Pederson tells WMTJ-TV that if the man had been stopped while driving a vehicle, he would have been arrested.” So he took the bus to court?
Looking at the story of Sen. Garofalo and school levys (see above), blogger Eric Austin at Outstate Politics writes: “Pat Garofalo, Republican chairman of the Education Finance Committee in the Minnesota House of Representatives was one of the architects of the school shift that stole money from local school districts so that his caucus could avoid raising taxes on the wealthiest Minnesotans. Now, over 1/3 of school districts are asking their local communities to renew or add levies to pay for the stolen funds and decade long flat funding. In swoops Garofalo to cry FOUL! How dare these districts try to recoup some of the funds lost or stolen. … How about, Pat, you let us handle our business in our local school districts and you handle your business at the Capitol. You know, the one where you continue to demonize public educators, pretend to know about the best methods of reforming education, and steal our money so that you don’t have to acknowledge that we have a revenue problem in this state.”