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Minnesotans using food stamps nearly double since 2006

State revenues up $41 million: I-35E stretch getting overhaul; top 10 Italian eateries; and more.

Editor’s note: Former Glean writer Max Sparber is filling in for Brian Lambert for a few days.

There was a quote a few years ago from Craig T. Nelson — a wonderful actor, and a man whom I have met and was really quite nice, but whose 2009 comment on the Glenn Beck show must rank stratospherically high in the rarefied ether of crank incomprehensibility. “I’ve been on food stamps and welfare, did anybody help me out? No. No,” Nelson said.

Somebody helped, and they are still helping, as reported by Julie Siple of Minnesota Public Radio, who informs us that “500,000 Minnesotans are on food stamps, almost double since 2006, shows an annual report. The fastest growing group was children.” And though the story is brief and fact-heavy, it provides a sort of canary in the coalmine look at who is most affected by a downturn in the economy, and it tends to be the same people who are most affected by any social ill: a third of adults on food stamps are disabled; women outnumber men; 25 percent of recipients are black, which is about twice what you might expect from the demographics.

Of course, things are getting better, as the Obama campaign tells us, and some things are undeniably getting better, but this is of questionable consolation to the canary. Still, good news is welcome when it comes, and, in a state that was deeply in debt, it’s nice to hear that tax receipts are flowing in. Baird Helgeson of the Strib reports that August tax collections beat all predictions, totaling $1.2 billion, or $41 million more than was expected. Of course, Helgeson reminds us that monthly tax income can vary wildly, and something like this could just be a fluke. Still, it’s a nice fluke. I have yet to open a paycheck and discover I made $41 million more than I expected. I don’t even know how that might happen to a journalist. The most I have ever been overpaid is $35 million.

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And  our infrastructure was notoriously ailing. I remember walking down Hennepin and falling into a sinkhole 120 feet deep, and spending months lost in underground catacombs with only mole people as my guide. Things are getting better on this front as well: Frederick Melo of the PiPress reminds us that Maryland Avenue has a new bridge, and this is just the beginning. A whole stretch of I-35E is getting an overhaul. Cost? $132 million. A couple of more months like this one and that will be paid off without even dipping into expected earnings, like when you have that month when the timing is just right to get an extra paycheck, although I always spend it on gifts to my moleman saviors.

Do I seem extra loopy today? I know I do, and I blame the bar down my street, which I discovered is secretly open Monday night for poker games and $2 well drinks. I also discovered it is owned by a former co-worker who is more than gracious with the libations. I would share the details, but it’s a secret, and it’s not in Minnesota, and so I can only share with you City Pages’ list of the top-10 Italian restaurants in the Twin Cities. I’m delighted to see Cossetta’s is on there, even if it is primarily seen as merely being a pizza jernt (sic). Before my diet became so limited that I could only eat a thin, milky gruel, I mostly subsisted on cannolis from Cossetta’s. Come to think if it, the cannolis may have ruined my stomach, but it was worth it.

And did anyone stop me? No. No.