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Long line forming with spending requests for DFL Legislature

Another GOP post-mortem; tallest wind farm to power up; fiscal cliff could trigger higher state tax liabilities; “Give to the Max Day” a record-setter; and more.

The ball is being placed on the tee for every “government spending” crank. At MPR, Tim Pugmire writes: “As Democrats prepare to take control of the Minnesota Legislature, interest groups have started lining up with funding wish lists for the 2013 session. A coalition of groups, for example, came to the State Capitol this week to warn of a looming crisis for elderly caregivers, if lawmakers don’t come through with an increase in state funding. Their visit with legislators spoke to the pent-up demand for spending after a series of budget deficits and two years of Republicans in charge. Aware of that demand, incoming DFL leaders are trying to temper expectations with a warning that the state’s fiscal picture still isn’t healthy. But that isn’t likely to curtail the requests.” Uh, no. Not “likely” at all.

The role of the resoundingly defeated GOP in Minnesota is an ongoing topic of conversation. Brian Bakst at the AP writes: “Former state Rep. Jeff Johnson said his fellow Republicans should look for opportunities to build coalitions rather than resorting to confrontation. In his first two years, Dayton has proven open to Republican ideas for school accountability measures. ‘Part of your job when you’re in the minority is to figure out if there are smaller victories,’ Johnson said. ‘It’s not just about being the backstop. We don’t have a backstop anymore.’ If legislative Democrats remain unified, they can pass education policy or write the $35 billion-plus two-year budget without any GOP votes. But Republicans do have a bit of leverage because passing a borrowing package for public works projects requires a three-fifths vote, and Democrats are well shy of that edge.”

The industry may have a lot of problems, thanks to cheap natural gas and other factors, but the tallest wind farm in the state is about to be powered up. The Forum papers’ story says: “In a little less than three weeks, a wind energy company and local investors will celebrate the completion of the tallest wind farm in Minnesota. Nine of the 15 turbines are complete, with workers doing assembly overnight this week, when there is little wind to hamper their efforts. … A ribbon cutting ceremony for Community Wind South is planned for 3 p.m. Dec. 5 along with a flip of the switch on the $70 million project. The REpower towers will be the largest in the state at 480 feet to the top of the blade. The towers are also projected to harvest 15 percent more power than the traditional 80-meter towers that surround it.”

There’s really not much about the so-called “fiscal cliff” that is appealing. Kevin Diaz of the Strib writes: “As lawmakers seek an elusive deal to avert the federal government’s fiscal cliff, some taxpayers in Minnesota and other states could face another bump at the bottom of the cliff: a bigger state tax bill. Minnesota is one of at least two dozen states where scheduled federal tax increases could trigger higher state tax liabilities as well — an effect that would produce more state tax revenue even as Washington cuts back on grants and other forms of federal spending. But researchers from the Pew Charitable Trusts, which issued the findings in a report on Thursday, warn that any additional state revenues would likely be short-lived as the recessionary effects of higher taxes and lower spending take their toll on businesses, consumers and taxpayers.” So … kind of a “lose-lose” deal.

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The GleanNext door, Gov. Scott Walker is maintaining steadfast opposition, election results withstanding. Scott Bauer of the AP reports: “Gov. Scott Walker said Friday that Wisconsin won’t set up a virtual marketplace for connecting consumers with private health insurance plans, ceding control to the federal government as Republican governors in other states have also done. Walker’s highly anticipated decision was not unexpected given his and the GOP’s long opposition to the federal health care law. But a wide array of groups that have supported Walker, including the state’s influential chamber of commerce, urged the governor to have Wisconsin establish its own exchange rather than turning over control to the federal government. … By not setting up its own exchange, Wisconsin will lose control over several key decisions over how easily consumers will be able to compare insurance plans, what plans can be sold through the exchange, what the plans must cover and their cost. Additionally, the exchanges will offer coverage to people buying in the individual and small business markets, and those are areas that states have traditionally regulated. Without a state-run exchange, states would undercut the role of their own regulators in an important new market.” The guy could teach a master class in “Creating Uncertainty.”

Not exactly heading in the right direction … Dee DePass of the Strib reports: “Salaried office workers of the struggling grocery giant SuperValu will see an end to merit pay, company matches to 401(k) plans and for some even a shift from weekly to once a month paychecks, according to a letter sent to workers this week. The changes take effect beginning in January, but are not expected to affect the majority of hourly store employees.” They’ll know it’s over when they have to bring their own chairs and pay for their own electricity.

“Give to the Max Day” seems to be working pretty well. Also at the Strib, Jean Hopfensberger writes: “Minnesota nonprofits racked up more than $15 million during Give to the Max Day Thursday — a record for the state and the nation. Likewise a record, 50,000 Minnesotans logged on to their computers and made donations to their favorite churches and charities during the 24-hour giving blitz — at times hobbling the system with their Web traffic. Among the biggest winners were Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners, a suburban anti-poverty group … and Cretin-Derham Hall of St. Paul.” Good going, people.

Sombreros for every office seeker! Former Sen. Norm Coleman is adding his voice to most other GOP politicians urging the party to get smart on immigration issues. At the PiPress, Megan Boldt writes: “A week after Hispanic voters helped President Barack Obama win another four years in office, a prominent Minnesota Republican is calling on his party to reform immigration laws so immigrants living in the U.S. illegally can become legal rather than be deported. Former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman made his pitch in an opinion piece for the Pioneer Press posted online Thursday, Nov. 15, departing from stances he took five years ago while in office. Coleman said he believes his evolution on immigration is reflective of many Americans’ stance on the issue, and it’s time to allow otherwise law-abiding immigrants pathways to citizenship so they can be vocal and visible members of society.” I’m thinking his “evolution” had more to with that Nov. 6 butt-kicking.

And what does Paul Mirengoff at Power Line have to say about Mitt Romney’s explanation for how President Obama won the election? “Romney is said to have ‘blamed’ his defeat on the ‘gifts’ bestowed by Obama. However, the quotations that appear in the New York Times report don’t fully support this characterization. ‘High-minded’ Republican politicians and commentators promptly attacked Romney. For example, Governor Bobby Jindal said he ‘absolutely rejects’ Romney’s contention. He added that Republicans must ‘stop dividing American voters’ and ‘fight for 100 percent of the vote.’ Jindal’s response, which is similar to that of Governor Scott Walker, represents standard-issue political happy talk. … To what extent is Romney right? I don’t consider Obamacare as a whole to be pandering or a ‘gift.’ It is better viewed, as Seth Mandel says, as an attempt (albeit misguided) to solve a very real national problem along traditional Democratic Party lines. But Romney reportedly focused on the aspects of Obamacare that allow young adults to stay on their parents’ health care plan and that provide free birth control. These are gifts. Any benefit conferred upon illegal aliens (including the offspring of those who entered the country illegal) should also be view as a gift.” Is there a psychologist in the house to speak to the obsession these gentlemen have with “free birth control”?