All-day kindergarten took a large step forward Tuesday night. Says Tim Pugmire at MPR: “The Minnesota House has passed a $15.7 billion funding package for K-12 education that for the first time provides money for every school district to offer all-day, every day kindergarten. The bill passed Tuesday evening by a 83-50 vote. The budget measure would increase education spending by $550 million over the next two years, including a 4 percent boost in the basic per pupil formula.”
Pugmire’s colleague, Tom Scheck, reports on “the last piece of the puzzle” of the Senate’s tax plan: “Democrats in the state Senate released a plan today that increases income taxes on [the] wealthiest 6 percent of Minnesotans, raises the sales tax on clothing and services, and increases the cigarette tax. Republicans don’t like it and even some Democrats in competitive districts are uneasy about the taxes and spending. But DFL leaders say the $1.8 billion … tax increase is needed to erase the state’s budget deficit and increase spending for schools and property tax relief. The plan reveals the last piece of the Senate Democrats’ tax puzzle. The public now knows the tax and spending priorities of Gov. Mark Dayton, Senate Democrats and House Democrats.”
Scheck also reports: “A state senator from rural Minnesota says he intends to vote for a bill that legalizes same-sex marriage. Sen. Kent Eken, DFL-Twin Valley, has been considered a swing vote on the bill. A majority of voters in his district supported the unsuccessful constitutional amendment last year that would have banned same-sex marriage. Eken said he initially backed legislation that would have allowed civil unions for same-sex couples. But he said he decided to support legalizing same-sex marriage because public support for same- sex marriage is growing.” Now, if there was a similar evolution for gun control …
Sally Jo Sorensen of Bluestem Prairie traveled to the great and beautiful city of Montevideo recently and found the Minnesota for Marriage campaign in the parking lot of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. Says Ms. Sorensen: “A different out-of-state expert graced the wooden soapbox Saturday: Jennifer Roback Morse, founder of the National Organization for Marriage’s Ruth Institute and a Senior Fellow in Economics at Michigan’s Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, which promotes a certain sort of dissenting Catholic classical liberalism (touting faith and the free market). Morse was flown in from San Diego, California’s second largest city and the eighth largest in the United States, to tell citizens in Chippewa County, Minnesota (population 12,135) that we should so not let our fellow Minnesotans living in the metro areas push us around (since she used the plural, Bluestem assumes she also meant the fleshpots of Cook, St. Louis, Blue Earth, Nicollet, Olmsted, Rice, and Winona Counties as well as the scary Twin Cities where most of the state’s residents live).” When I was a schoolboy at St. Joe’s, we could only dream of such fleshpots.
The Strib story, by Kevin Duchschere, on St. Paul’s Lowertown stadium says: “St. Paul’s Lowertown ballpark won’t need to undergo the scrutiny of further environmental review, saving the city thousands of dollars and helping ensure that it will be built in time for the 2015 Saints baseball season. City officials said Tuesday that the ballpark’s environmental assessment work sheet is finished and that it concludes, among other things, that there is more than enough parking in Lowertown to accommodate residents, workers, customers and ballpark visitors. The city also released two preliminary renderings of the ballpark that offer an idea of how it will look.” … And, you know, it ain’t bad.
A legal snag for the St. Croix mega-bridge … Jim Anderson of the Strib says: “A contractor in a bidding dispute with the state over construction work on the St. Croix Crossing is seeking an injunction, threatening the schedule on one of the state’s largest public works projects. C.S. McCrossan Construction Inc. of Maple Grove in February submitted the low bid to the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) for an array of construction work along Hwy. 36 near Oak Park Heights and Stillwater … But it didn’t get the contract. … The issue for MnDOT, according to the suit, was McCrossan’s compliance with meeting the agency’s target of having 16.7 percent of the project’s subcontractors designated a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE), a for-profit small business that is at least 51 percent owned by minorities or women.”
Well, we all suspect they’re on something … Jennifer Brooks of the Strib writes: “On one topic, Minnesota House Democrats and Republicans agree: It’s high time we made our state lawmakers take drug tests. ‘Bring on the cup!’ said state Rep. Duane Quam, R-Byron, during Monday night’s debate on the drug testing provision. ‘I have nothing to fear.’ The drug testing debate surfaced near the end of the endless debate on the House Heath and Human Services omnibus budget bill and its 87 proposed amendments. When Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, introduced an amendment that would require drug tests for Minnesota welfare recipients, Rep. Tina Liebling, DFL-Rochester, countered with an amendment to the amendment. If welfare recipients had to pee in a cup before they could get a check from the state, she said, state lawmakers should have to do the same. ‘You should be ashamed. You should really be ashamed to be using poor kids’ to score political points, Liebling told Drazkowski during floor debate.” Have I missed some action or has The Draz been unusually quiet this session?
Shades of Columbia and Berkeley in the ‘60s … Aaron Rupar at City Pages reports: “[A] group of roughly a dozen Macalester students are occupying college president Brian Rosenberg’s office and demanding the college cut ties with Wells Fargo. … A press release details the students’ specific beef with Wells Fargo and their connection to other organizations:
The student campaign is linked to Occupy Homes MN’s efforts to mobilize homeowners to defend homes from foreclosure by big banks like Wells Fargo. The students are also members of Minnesotans for a Fair Economy, a coalition that brings together faith, labor, and community groups who recognize that big banks stand in the way of every Minnesotan’s future.”
Where are Country Joe and the Fish when we need them?
So why not just change the speed limit? Megan Boldt of the PiPress writes: “If you’re ticketed going up to 10 miles per hour over the speed limit on Interstate 35E between the Mississippi River and downtown St. Paul, you’ll have to pay the fine but it won’t go on your driving record. The provision was tacked on to a transportation policy bill that passed the Minnesota Senate on Tuesday, April 23. The 45 mph speed limit on that stretch of I-35E is a perennial debate in the Minnesota Legislature that ultimately dies by the end of session. An attempt to bump up the speed limit to 55 mph failed on a 35-32 vote. But another amendment to keep speeding tickets for drivers going under 55 mph on that stretch off their record passed 36-31.”