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‘Tax the rich’ still on Dayton’s agenda

Durenberger on GOP “extremism”; A-H school district has tentative lawsuit settlement; Rep. Franson’s Food Stamp comments; and more.

If the Senate and House swing back his way, he might actually have a shot. The AP story says: “Gov. Mark Dayton says he’ll push his plan to raise income taxes on the richest Minnesotans regardless of the state’s budget situation next year. Asked on a Minnesota Public Radio program Monday how long he would keep the proposal in play, Dayton answered ‘until I’m not governor anymore.’ Dayton’s term runs through 2014 though he says he’ll run for another four years. He campaigned on a promise to increase taxes on top earners. He says it is as much about leveling the percentage of taxes people pay as it is a way to balance a state budget.”

One of former Sen. Dave Durenberger’s commentaries is picked up today at MPR. Talking about the state of the GOP today, Durenberger says: “The Republican Party has made a virtue of extremism. It has done so with plenty of help from the old Confederacy, the religious right, the counter-culture hierarchy of the Catholic Church and [David] Brooks’ “Bobos in Paradise,” who move to the exurbs seeking a world that looks just like them. The list’s a long one. If every public policy problem is defined in moral terms, and every man claims a divine origin for his political beliefs, there’s no way in a representative democracy to find consensus about the right solution. When, as now, every elected representative of one political party can define all the problems facing this country in terms of everything one man has done as president, that’s extremism. When, as now, the conservatives of my day — like Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett of Utah — are threatened with extinction, and moderate Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, gives up 33 years of experience because ‘nothing is likely to change in the near future,’ that’s extremism. When, as now, every Republican signs a pledge never to raise any kind of tax, to cut a preferred list of public expenditures but never to touch tax preferences, and to promise never to fund anything that has the word Public or the word Parenthood in it, that’s extremism.”

One by one, the Anoka-Hennepin school district continues to work its way through the aftermath of its bullying and suicide incidents. The AP story today says: “Minnesota’s largest school district said Monday it has reached a tentative agreement to settle federal lawsuits over a policy that was criticized for failing to protect students from bullying. The Anoka-Hennepin School Board was to vote on the settlement at its board meeting Monday evening. The district said it wouldn’t provide details ahead of the meeting. Six current or former students sued the district last summer in a pair of lawsuits over a policy requiring staff to remain neutral when the topic of sexual orientation came up in the classroom. The plaintiffs claimed the policy was a gag order that prevented teachers from effectively protecting gay and lesbian students. Apreill Hartsfield, a spokeswoman for the Southern Poverty Law Center that is representing plaintiffs, said she could not provide settlement details ahead of the meeting.”

Today’s exercise in (not so) thorough analyses comes from the editorial board of the Duluth News Tribune, which says: “When Gov. Mark Dayton stood shoulder-to-shoulder last week with Vikings owner Zygi Wilf and with other team, state and political leaders, a clear message was sent: We want to keep the purple and gold in Minnesota, after all. We don’t want them to move to California or anywhere else. We want our state to remain major-league, to be part of the National Football League, to continue as one of an exclusive few tapping into the financial and other bounties that come from being featured and talked about — and favorably, too — every autumn and early-winter Sunday afternoon. Prospects for prosperity follow big-league franchises. We know that. We’d be darned if we were going to lose that.” Where do you even begin? Or is it “why”?

Apparently in all the stadium-boosting excitement, our local Capitol mavens missed this one. From blogger Joe Loveland at The Same Rowdy Crowd: “Minnesota State Representative Mary Franson (R-Alexandria) recently shared a funny with her constituents: ‘Last week, we worked on some welfare reform bills. And here, you know, it’s kind of ironic I’ll review this little funny clip that we got from a friend. And it says ‘Isn’t it ironic that the Food Stamp program, part of the Department of Agriculture, is pleased to be distributing the greatest amount of Food Stamps ever. Meanwhile, the Park Service, also part of the Department of Agriculture, asks us to please not feed the animals, because the animals may grow dependent and not learn to take care of themselves.’Minnesota’s mainstream newspapers ignored this gem. That’s too bad. It could have been a teachable moment. Because when you strip away the breathtakingly dehumanizing language, you learn who these “animals” are:
▪    47% are children under age 18.
▪    8% are age 60 or older.
▪    94% are U.S. born citizens.
▪    41% live in a household with earnings from a job, which is not to diminish the plight of those in an even more difficult position, because they can’t find a job.” The video of Rep. Franson is available via the link.

If only it were a “free” market. Christopher Snowbeck at the PiPress reports: “Republicans in the state Legislature announced the introduction of a bill this morning that they say would provide a free-market alternative to the health exchange being developed by the administration of Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton. Meanwhile, two DFL legislators announced that they were introducing a bill to create a Minnesota health exchange with more consumer protections than Dayton’s plan would. Announced in dueling news conferences at the Capitol this morning, neither event featured a show of bipartisanship, suggesting that health exchanges remain controversial. … The plan announced by Republicans would give individuals access to personal health premium accounts where they could amass funds to pay for health care coverage. An individual with two part-time jobs, for example, could use the account to collect contributions from both employers as well as from other sources to cover the cost of a premium, said Rep. Steve Gottwalt, a Republican from St. Cloud who is sponsoring the bill in the House.” It’s simple, really. First, “amass” the amount you need …

The PiPress’ Frederick Melo has a piece on peripheral development potential around the Metrodome stadium site: “Some hope the latest proposal to rebuild the Minnesota Vikings stadium just east of the team’s Metrodome home will infuse more energy into a gray pocket of downtown. Critics, meanwhile, fear the site limits the potential for fresh business and construction. Opportunities for economic development haven’t been spelled out by Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak or Gov. Mark Dayton. But residents, developers and political officials have made no secret of their desire to see the proposed project give birth to something beyond football. ‘The mayor’s position is he believes that the site is really prime for development,’ said Rybak spokesman John Stiles. ‘Sometimes people say, ‘Well, look at it, nothing’s happened in 30 years’ … but a lot is happening now.’ Stiles pointed to the construction of the Central Corridor and Hiawatha light-rail lines, both of which will pass by the stadium site, as well as nearby riverfront development, as proof that growth is on the horizon.” May I suggest a Monster Truck Rally-themed luxury condo project?

Uh … I can download a calculator app … Christopher Magan of the PiPress files a story on a Carleton prodigy heading to Cambridge. “[Michael] Coughlin will graduate from Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., in June with a double major in physics and mathematics. He recently was named a Churchill Scholar and will spend the next academic year studying at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, where he intends to earn a master’s degree. Coughlin studies gravitational waves, tied to Albert Einstein’s relativity theory of gravity. Coughlin looks at  how objects such as stars interact with black holes in deep space. He became interested in computer-aided research as a student at Trinity School at River Ridge in Eagan, an interest that blossomed at Carleton. ‘We did a lot of different computer-modeled experiments,’ he said. ‘That really turned me on to it.’ The Churchill is a prestigious award, and the last time a Carleton student won the honor was in 1998.”

Influential GOP Sen. Geoff Michel will not run for re-election. Says Rachel Stassen-Berger in the Strib: “Michel told constituents on Monday that he will not run for re-election. ‘Both my family and my employer have been very patient, flexible, and supportive of me for the past ten years.  It’s time for me to return their support and focus on a family future that is getting busier every year and may include four college tuitions,’ the Edina Republican told constituents. His decision means that neither of the top members of the Senate leadership team of last year will be back next year. Former Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch previously announced her retirement.”