And a sigh of relief from stressed-out moms … Jim Ragsdale’s Strib story says: “Most parents will have access to free, all-day kindergarten beginning in the Fall of 2014 under a $15.7 billion education funding bill given final approval by the Legislature on Sunday. The Senate approved the bill on a 41-26 vote and sent it to Gov. Mark Dayton. The bill is both the biggest single part of the state’s general fund budget and a top priority of the DFL Legislature. Their reason for taking the unpopular step of raising taxes is to provide the popular benefit of all-day kindergarten, as well as other education improvements. All-day kindergarten will be optional for school districts, but sponsors expect most districts to provide it. The bill includes $485 million in new money and includes a $40 million boost in scholarships for lower-income families to send their children to high-quality pre-schools; a $40 million increase in special education aid; and an increase in the basic classroom education formula. … ‘When are we going to get down the business of making sure we are educating kids?’ responded Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie. ‘When are we going to get off the idea that somehow spending money equates to that?’ ” Can we also ask. “When are we going to get off the idea that tax cuts for “job creators” creates jobs?
The AP budget story by Brian Bakst and Patrick Condon says, “ … the sprawling [tax] bill also contained hope of property tax breaks. Cities and counties won’t have to pay sales taxes on purchases for the first time in decades. In exchange for more state money, cities and counties would be required to tamp down property taxes. A one-year levy limit would be imposed. Except in rare cases, new local levies will be held to 3 percent or less. Many cities could have to freeze their tax rates. A bill providing money to operate several state agencies was last to come together Sunday. The bill includes raises for agency managers and statewide elected officials, with the governor being permitted to adjust commissioners’ salaries. Negotiators jettisoned corresponding pay increases for lawmakers, but that issue could still rear its head in a Senate debate over a constitutional amendment to create an independent commission to set legislator salaries.
Mike Mullen’s Politics in Minnesota story on the governor’s request to dump Chief Tax Court Judge George Perez says: “Following a lengthy investigation into Perez’s conduct, a three-judge panel found that Perez had engaged in a pattern of delaying his judicial rulings long beyond allowed deadlines, as well as falsifying the dates on a number of his cases in an attempt to keep himself in compliance with deadline statutes. Perez, who became the court’s chief judge in 2001 and served in that role until the allegations surfaced, has been reappointed to his position four times, most recently by Dayton in 2011. … Dayton is now prepared to go one step further than the panel’s recommendation, pushing for the immediate removal of Perez from the court. In his letter to Skoe, which was also sent to Senate leadership, Dayton wrote, ‘Had I known about the Board’s findings, I would not have reappointed him to the Tax Court.’ Dayton’s message requests that [Tax Committee chair Rod] Skoe make a motion on the Senate floor to call for a confirmation vote of Perez, and that the Senate then vote to reject the motion, writing that the Senate should take up the issue before its adjournment deadline of midnight [tonight].”
‘And I want it back like … now.” Emily Gurnon of the PiPress writes: “The attorney for a Little Canada man whose camera was taken by Ramsey County deputies after he filmed them has filed a motion to dismiss the case, saying Andrew Henderson’s civil rights were violated. Henderson, 29, was charged with interfering with an ambulance crew and disorderly conduct. He is scheduled to appear in court Monday, May 20. ‘The state seeks to punish Andrew Henderson for peaceably filming paramedics and sheriff’s deputies in the parking lot of his apartment building,’ wrote Kevin Riach, a Minneapolis lawyer who is volunteering his services to the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Henderson. … Henderson was sitting on a bench outside his apartment building in the 200 block of East County Road B2 when he saw Ramsey County sheriff’s deputies frisking a man who also lived in the building. The man’s face was bloodied, Henderson said. The injured man had told the deputies in his apartment that he had been drinking and was into his second liter of vodka; his face was bruised from a car accident.” His “second liter”? I’m surprised he knew he had a face.
Always worth remembering … . In a Strib commentary, “political activist” William Cory Labovitch writes: “It is also true that for many Minnesota Republican voters, conservative Christian values are what sends them to the polls, and this was probably why Emmer came as close as he did. This was reaffirmed last year when presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who emphasizes these values, won the state presidential caucus. But to center-right and swing voters, Emmer was such a controversial, conservative figure from his time as a state legislator that his defense of traditional marriage wasn’t important enough to make them vote for him. Emmer was nominated by the Tea Party faction that stormed the state Republican convention in 2010. Had he been elected with a GOP Legislature, Minnesota would have become a totally different state.” And “what if” Peter Hutchinson hadn’t split into Mike Hatch’s numbers in 2006?
Bill Hanna of The Mesabi Daily News says: “Delta Airlines CEO Richard Anderson wants “to put together a long-term hiring plan” for the company’s reservations center in Chisholm that would increase the facility’s employment, which is now about 500 full-time equivalents. And he wants to do so soon. ‘We want to do more investment in the facility … expand and continue to grow. We’re in the process of hiring more right now,’ Anderson said in a telephone interview with the Mesabi Daily News Saturday morning from Delta’s corporate offices in Atlanta. Anderson, who was on the Range Thursday to spend time with employees at the reservations center, said he and former state Sen. Doug Johnson of Tower talked about ‘re-upping another long-term agreement’ for more jobs at the center.” Get a contract on his desk, pronto.
Here’s a bill with bipartisan support. Megan Boldt of the PiPress writes: “The Minnesota House unanimously approved a bill that includes new protections for homeowners facing foreclosure. It passed the House 123-0 on Sunday, May 19. The Senate passed it 66-1 last week. It now goes to Gov. Mark Dayton for his signature. Supporters say the new measures will help level the playing field between lenders and homeowners and prevent unnecessary foreclosures.”
Those local Coen boys seem to have done well at Cannes. Manola Dargis of the New York Times writes: “ “The applause for Joel and Ethan Coen’s wonderful new film, a comedy in a melancholic key called ‘Inside Llewyn Davis,’ started someplace around the midway mark. Prompted by the hilariously inane ‘Please Please Mr. Kennedy,’ sung by Oscar Isaac, Justin Timberlake and Adam Driver — who play three bearded 1961 folkies warbling and strumming through a space-race ditty — the Cannes audience started to laugh and clap. By the time the film ended, the clapping, laughing and whooping critics at the 66th Cannes Film Festival were over the moon. What a relief! After days and nights of rain puddling on the red carpet and grim tidings darkening the screens, the Coens delivered both much-needed levity and an expressive, piercing story about artistic struggle.”
Although … Richard Corliss at TIME is not as enthralled: “The film’s U.S. release is being held for December, the thick of awards season. Will fans of folk music have to wait until winter for the CD as well? We hope it’s available sooner, not only for the sonic pleasure that awaits — it’s not new music and it never gets old — but also because Inside Llewyn Davis is more deserving of a Grammy than an Oscar. Problematic movie, great album.”