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In State of State, Dayton blames tax cuts for budget woes

Governor backs gay marriage; Orchestra fight — and gun control debate — in national spotlight; Delta makes its case; sequestration’s local impact; and more.

You know there’s been a sea change when the governor is blaming tax cuts on the state’s limp economic performance for the past decade. Patrick Condon of the AP says: “Gov. Mark Dayton argued in his State of the State speech Wednesday that past state income tax cuts are partly to blame for chronic budget problems in Minnesota, saying political leaders cannot afford to keep delaying difficult tax and spending decisions. … Dayton also endorses legal same-sex marriage in his speech, in remarks likely to echo through the Capitol if lawmakers take up the issue this spring as widely expected. While acknowledging the issue is ‘controversial,’ Dayton says he believes ‘every Minnesotan should have the freedom to marry legally the person she or he loves, whether of the same or other sex.’ “

In Don Davis’ Forum papers story, he says: “Dayton’s speech centered on promoting his higher-taxes and higher-spending budget proposal. It came in front of a Legislature with a Republican minority that does not like what he proposes and a Democratic majority that has yet to offer its full support. The governor praised the state’s agriculture efforts, saying ag commodity exports rose 13 percent last year. He also singled out education achievements, touting higher math and reading scores. Most of his time, however, was spent on money matters. Republican leaders agreed that things are better, but they took credit for improvements when they controlled the Legislature the last two years, before Democrats took House and Senate control last month. They were especially harsh on Dayton’s wish to raise some taxes. ‘This prescription of new taxes, taxes on everybody, is not warranted,’ Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, said. ‘We need to hold our spending in line with revenues.’ ”

WCCO-TV’s story says: “Gov. Mark Dayton tacked to the left Wednesday in his State of the State speech, arguing that past state and federal income tax cuts were bad for the economy and issuing his most ringing endorsement yet of legalizing same-sex marriage in Minnesota as a debate over that issue looms at the Capitol. … He singled out state income tax cuts approved by former Gov. Jesse Ventura and state lawmakers in 1999 and 2000. ‘In the decade after Minnesota’s income tax reductions, our economy fared worse than the nation and most other states,’ Dayton said. If enacted, Dayton’s tax and spending proposals would eliminate the latest, $1.1 billion deficit, make investments in programs that Dayton said would contribute to the state’s cherished quality of life and leave a surplus by 2015.”

The New York Times takes notice of the music lockouts in Minnesota. James Oestreich says: “Win or lose at the Grammys on Sunday, the [Minnesota Orchestra] will immediately put itself in the running for next year’s awards on Monday, with the release of Sibelius’s Symphonies Nos. 1 and 4 (also by Bis). But will another sequel follow? No one here is making any guarantees about that or about more immediate concerns: Will the orchestra be around to open the renovated hall in the fall? Will it travel to Carnegie Hall next season for its recently announced four concerts of Sibelius, including all the symphonies? In short, will it survive?”

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At NPR, David Welna looks at our current gun control debate and says: “Minnesota has a Democratic governor, two Democratic senators, and Democrats control both houses of its Legislature. So it may have come as no surprise when President Obama went there earlier this week to rally support for his proposals to reduce gun violence. But even in the politically blue state, there’s considerable resistance to placing further restrictions on gun ownership. … It’s unclear how all this will end. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, who faces re-election next year, has said he won’t sign any gun law package unless it’s supported by the state’s rural lawmakers.”

Delta, aka our beloved hometown airline, told legislators it’s keeping its end of the deal. A PiPress story says: “Four years after Delta Air Lines acquired Northwest Airlines, the Atlanta-based carrier has 9,700 employees in Minnesota. When including subsidiaries and regional partners, the total tops 12,000, Bill Lentsch, senior vice president of Delta’s Minnesota operations, told the Minnesota Senate Commerce Committee at a meeting Wednesday … When Pinnacle Airlines relocates its headquarters … that number will rise by 200 to 300, he said. Previously, Delta had benefited from state-issued bonds that came with the condition that total employment remains above 10,000. That requirement went away when Delta paid off the bonds in 2011. Wednesday’s meeting was an overview of Delta’s presence in the state in the wake of the 2008 Northwest acquisition.” Were legislators charged $25 per each additional question?

MPR’s D.C. correspondent Brett Neely writes: “Experts say sequestration, the across-the-board budget cuts scheduled to kick in March 1 that were part of the 2011 debt limit deal, wouldn’t hit Minnesota as hard as it would other states. Minnesota Management and Budget says the state is ranked 49th in terms of federal dollars spent per resident, which would lessen the impact seen in Minnesota. … Still, [it] projected last fall that the state could lose as much as $117 million from the federal government in the coming year. Programs such as local law enforcement grants, low-income heating assistance and Head Start could take a hit.”

I told you, get me Mike Parry! Neely also says: “Minnesota Republicans appear to have definitely lost U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen as a candidate to take on DFL U.S. Sen. Al Franken in 2014 … Paulsen’s name has long been floated as a candidate. In January, he told MPR News he was not interested in running. Shortly afterward, he told The Hill newspaper that he hadn’t ruled out challenging Franken. Now Paulsen has ruled out a run again, this time telling University of Minnesota political scientist Larry Jacobs he planned to continue representing his suburban Twin Cities district rather than mounting a Senate campaign.”

The “best fish fry”? Really? Jess Fleming of the PiPress gets the assignment to decide whose one is tops: “Full disclosure: I have never really liked Minnesota fish fries. I know, I know, they’re just as much of a tradition here as they are in my home state of Wisconsin. But the first time I tried a hunk of cod with a thick, bready batter, I couldn’t help but compare it to the thin filets of perch, lightly breaded and quickly fried, served at the corner bars in my hometown. …
Where: 302 13th Ave. N.E., Minneapolis …
Why: Why wait for Lent to get your fried-fish fix? Hip Irish-style pub atmosphere, fluffy fries and crisp fish breading make this place worth a trip. …

Where: 1330 W. Larpenteur Ave., St. Paul …
Why: The restaurant is tiny (six tables) and you’ll smell like fried food when you leave, but a secret-recipe crispy batter and near-perfect fries dusted with coarse sea salt are standouts. Oh, and you won’t find a better price for halibut, especially the big portion served there.”