On that $1.1 billion deficit … the Strib’s Baird Helgeson and Jennifer Brooks say: “Despite an improving economy, Minnesota state leaders face a new, $1.1 billion budget deficit, according to a new economic update released Wednesday. Minnesota has been pulling itself up during a fragile economic recovery, but the sliver of additional tax revenue is not enough to keep up with rising costs, the numbers show. … The improving economy in the current budget cycle will allow the state to repay $1.3 billion borrowed from public schools to balance the state budget. However, the state still owes the schools more than $1 billion and the new deficit means there is no immediate plan to pay back the balance. … The changing economy has left the state relying too little on income and sales taxes and placing too much reliance on property taxes, [Governor Mark] Dayton has said. Dayton’s revenue and budget officials want to distribute the tax burden more evenly, potentially lowering some taxes and increasing others.”
At MPR, Tim Pugmire and Tom Scheck say: “Additional uncertainty for the state is found in the federal health care reform law, which the Supreme Court upheld earlier this year. Minnesota was among the states that expanded its Medicaid program for the poor under the Affordable Care Act, assuming the federal government would live up to its obligation to provide 100 percent in matching funds. But following the Supreme Court ruling, the federal government hasn’t yet provided guidance to states about how much the match will be, said State Budget Director Margaret Kelly. ‘It could be that we receive no match,’ she said, adding that $4.3 billion would be in question. … left-leaning interest groups are already urging state lawmakers to find ways to raise revenue instead of erasing the budget deficit with cuts. Both the state House and Senate will be controlled by Democrats when the Legislature convenes in January.”
For the PiPress, Bill Salisbury and Megan Boldt write: “First to react to the budget numbers, the state’s largest public employee union called for a $6 billion tax increase to erase the red ink and improve state services. ‘We need $6 billion to dig ourselves our of the hole and pay for the things Minnesotans care about: brainpower schools, middle-class jobs, safe transportation and property tax relief,’ Eliot Seide, director of the 43,000-member AFSCME Council 5, said in a press release. The state AFL-CIO also quickly advocated a tax increase. … In reality, both parties are to blame. About $1.9 billion in accounting shifts were approved in 2010 when Democrats controlled the Legislature, Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty was in office and neither side could agree on how to balance past budget shortfalls. Those school shifts were reinstated and an additional $770 million tacked on yet again in 2011 session — this time with a DFL governor and a Republican-controlled Legislature — as lawmakers struggled to compromise. That brought the total amount owed to $2.7 billion.” At the PiPress, both sides are always equally at fault.
The Supreme Court today finally explained it’s thinking in the DFL replacing Rep, Kelly Gauthier on the November ballot. For the Duluth News Tribune, Steve Kucera writes: “In the opinion filed today, the justices hold that state law ‘gives a major political party the authority to fill a vacancy in nomination for a partisan office that was caused by the withdrawal of its originally nominated candidate after the primary.’ ‘We further hold that the County Auditor erred when he rejected the affidavit of withdrawal that Gauthier attempted to file,’ the opinion said. ‘It is undisputed that were it not for the County Auditor’s rejection of the filing, Gauthier complied with the procedures (outlined in state law) for filing an affidavit of withdrawal. The County Auditor also erred when he rejected the certificate of nomination listing Simonson as the DFL-nominated candidate that the DFL attempted to file after Gauthier attempted to file his affidavit of withdrawal.’ ”
You’ve probably never heard of the Surface Transportation Board. Pat Doyle of the Strib explains: “A relatively obscure federal agency has been awarded extra time to weigh in on the proposed Southwest Corridor light-rail line. The Surface Transportation Board has authority over a variety of railroad matters, including abandonment of railroad lines. That could happen if local authorities support re-routing freight traffic from Minneapolis to St. Louis Park to make way for light rail. The board wants more time to consider a recent environmental report on the impact of different plans for the Southwest Corridor.”
Also at the Strib, Jane Friedmann reports: “Two black shoppers detained by employees in separate stores in the Twin Cities were victims of racial discrimination, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights announced Thursday. The stores, Marshalls and Walgreens Inc., agreed to settle the customers’ claims, but they denied violating the law. Crystal Adams of St. Louis Park received $20,000 to settle her claim that she was pushed back into the Marshalls store in Crystal as she tried to leave, taken to a back room for questioning and called ‘you people’ by an employee, according to a department memorandum. Johnny Aldridge of St. Paul received $5,000 after allegedly being confronted by two employees who said a video showed him shoplifting, state documents show.” Yeah, that “you people” business is always a winner.
It’s great cardio … . The AP says: “A southern Minnesota man has turned his passion for biking into a part-time job. And at age 86, Bud Schaefer just might be the region’s oldest ‘paperboy.’ When his children bought him a bike for Christmas four years ago, Schaefer wasn’t sure he would use it. But the great-grandfather has embraced biking, worn out at least one set of tires and even begun earning pocket change while tooling around Adams, a town of less than 800 southeast of Austin, Minn. He does that by strapping 37 Rochester Post-Bulletin newspapers to his bike basket each afternoon for delivery.”
The website Yelp once led my gang and me to a great restaurant in Kanab, Utah … . But foodie Andrew Zimmern isn’t a fan. Keane Amdahl at City Pages writes: “Local food celebrity Andrew Zimmern has come out recently in, we’ll just say firm opposition to the crowd-sourced restaurant review site Yelp. In his weekly podcast Go Fork Yourself, Zimmern lashed out against the website, saying, ‘Yelp is on my [bleep] list!’ Yelp is the online/mobile app where users register and leave both reviews and restaurant ratings. No food writing or rating experience is required. Though users flock to the highly rated website, restaurateurs have often had less than glowing things to say about it because of the often untrained writers and what restaurant owners see as unfair and exaggerated criticisms. Here’s why Zimmern is ticked off. In his post, Zimmern cites an incident with his friends at Big Gay Ice Cream, which sells high-end ice cream in New York City, who Zimmern says were the subject of Yelp extortion, in which an ‘elite’ Yelper tried to gain special treatment and free product in exchange for favorable reviews.” Coziness between restaurateurs and reviewers?! Say it isn’t true!
BTW, did you catch the piece on The Huffington Post from the Minnesota kid bailing on West Point? Cadet Blake Page writes: “The title West Point Graduate carries a great deal of weight in this world. Those who earn it are given a “golden ticket” and wear a “ring of power” which will certainly carry them to successful careers with doors flung open in the military, in business, even in personal relationships; as so many are seduced by the historic prestige of the United States Military Academy. All of these things seem enticing, but for me personally they are not worth it. As I write this, I am five months from graduation. After nearly three and a half years here, there is no reason to suspect that I would be in any way incapable of completing the final requirements and walking across the stage in Michie Stadium with diploma in hand in another 174 days. Choosing to resign at this point also carries significant risk. The Army may seek recoupment in the form of about $200-300k which I will personally owe, or an additional term of up to 5 years of enlisted service. What could possibly compel me to pass over this incredible opportunity in exchange for such harsh penalties?” OK, I’ll bite. What could possibly compel you?
At LeftMN, Tony Petrangelo totes up scores on local election polling. He writes: “Looking at the Error+ of all the polls of the Minnesota Presidential race conducted you can see that PPP and Rasmussen were right around average, YouGov and St. Cloud St. were well above average and Mason-Dixon was just terrible. There were two observations I made in my post last week that will help in looking at these numbers and the ones to follow. The first observation is that the polling in all of the races got more accurate the closer to the election they were conducted. So the polls from just the ‘last 2’ weeks were generally the most accurate. Looking at just the ‘last 2’ weeks numbers from the above table, rather than all the polls, St. Cloud St. had the best results with YouGov and PPP also performing well. SurveyUSA was a bit below average, Rasmussen was bad and Mason-Dixon was downright dreadful.” But what we know for sure is that even the most dreadful will live to poll again.