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Big tax incentives coming for specific Minnesota companies

State job picture; Orchestra talks still stalled; Bachmann says IRS news “worse than Watergate”; two baby bison; Wisconsin’s gay marriage situation; and more.

It would hardly be the first time the concept has been applied. Tom Scheck of MPR reports: “A jobs and economic development budget bill headed to the Minnesota Senate cuts the unemployment insurance tax for businesses, provides funding for job training and spends taxpayer money to jumpstart business expansion in the state. It’s a big part of a plan at the Capitol this year to foster economic development in Minnesota. Other parts of the strategy provide generous financial incentives to specific companies.   This year’s budget bills spend significant amounts of money to land or retain companies in Minnesota. The bills include money to help 3M expand in Maplewood, to pay for the second phase of development at the Mall of America and to help Rochester handle Mayo Clinic’s expansion. Additionally, taxpayer funds are being used to encourage Baxter Healthcare to expand in Brooklyn Park and Emerson Technologies to set up shop in Shakopee.” Unfortunately, the lobbyist for The Glean LLC seems to be MIA.

On the employment front … jobs down and unemployment down. Adam Belz of the Strib says: “Minnesota’s job market posted its second straight negative month, shedding 11,400 jobs in April, the state said Thursday. The biggest job losses were in trade, transportation and utilities, which shed 5,700 jobs, according to figures released by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. Meanwhile, the Minnesota unemployment rate fell to a seasonally adjusted 5.3 percent in April, its lowest point since May 2008 and well below the U.S. rate of 7.5 percent in April. The March figures were revised upward from 5,200 jobs lost to 3,300 jobs lost. Minnesota has now fallen behind the nation in job growth over the past 12 months, at 1 percent, compared with a U.S. rate of 1.6 percent during that period.” Thank god those high-paying stadium vendor jobs will soon be on line.

The Minnesota Orchestra talks? Nowhere, faster. Euan Kerr of MPR says: “The locked out musicians of the Minnesota claimed today that management refuses to give them information requested in advance of possible negotiation dates at the end of the month. Meanwhile a letter from management attorney Paul Zech says the lack of a response by 5 pm today from the musicians to dates offered for negotiations will be taken as a rejection of the offer. … The musicians say they have received some of the financial information requested, but no response to some of the other questions including what management proposes to do about the threatened resignation of Music Director Osmo Vanska and the possible departures of Concertmaster Erin Keefe and star player Burt Hara.”

But wait. I thought Benghazi … (Benghazi, Benghazi) was “10 times worse than Watergate” and The Black Plague, and ebola and Justin Bieber combined? Stribber Corey Mitchell writes: “U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann says the IRS targeting of Tea Party and conservative groups that sought tax-exempt status during the 2012 election cycle is “far worse” than the Watergate scandal of the Nixon presidency. During a press conference Thursday on Capitol Hill, Bachmann and other tea party leaders demanded a thorough investigation of the IRS and the Obama administration’s possible role in the controversy … ‘We haven’t even scratched the surface, we haven’t even begun,’ said Bachmann, chairwoman of the House Tea Party Caucus and a former IRS attorney. Second[s] later she said: ‘This is far worse than Watergate. … These are [direct] actions taken against American citizens who sought to exercise their free speech rights under the First Amendment’. Last week, the IRS admitted singling out groups with the words ‘tea party’ or ‘patriot’ in their 501(c)(4) applications required for groups that want to operate as social welfare organizations.”

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Cute animal alert. Paul Walsh’s Strib story says: “The Minnesota Zoo is announcing the arrival of two newborn bison, and they carry the important distinction of being genetically pure. They’re the first bison born at the zoo in Apple Valley in 20 years. Bison, the largest land animals in North America, have been on exhibit at the zoo since 1980. The zoo has been working this past year with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to manage a herd at state parks and at the zoo. A herd of nearly 100 bison roam at Blue Mounds State Park in southwestern Minnesota, a project that started in 1961 with three animals from Nebraska. Testing has confirmed that the herd at Blue Mounds is nearly genetically identical to bison that existed before European settlement.” Soon the NRA will be clamoring to hunt them from train windows again.

The GleanOur esteemed neighbors to the east are having a tougher time with the gay marriage thing than we did. For Madison’s Capitol Times, Jack Craver writes: “Minnesota and Wisconsin are about as similar as any two states in the union. They share so many characteristics — thousands of lakes, millions of Germans, cold weather — that it is not surprising that their politics are so similar. Although both lean slightly Democratic, they are both fundamentally moderate states, with strong pockets of conservatism that flex their muscles in state government. However, the situation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights is very different in the two states, and could remain so for many years. … State government here remains under the control of leaders who championed the successful effort to constitutionally bar gay nuptials in 2006.”

It turns out you need to have demonstrated a life as well as a brain … . Paul Levy of the Strib says: “Record numbers of applicants at many colleges have raised the bar for admissions and forced high school counselors and students to re-evaluate the application process. This year’s high school seniors — many still deciding where they will attend college — have learned that a powerful personal essay may trump outstanding Advanced Placement grades, that strong character may be as impressive as eye-popping college-board scores. It’s about aptitude plus attitude. Across the Twin Cities and beyond, college admissions are a source of confusion, frustration and, sometimes, pleasant surprises for students, parents and high school guidance counselors. But this much seems clear: There are few guarantees for even the most promising high school seniors and fewer experts who can explain why Stanford says no and Yale says yes to the same student.”

Tom Scheck (again) reports: “The two declared Republican candidates for governor say they will not push to repeal the new law that allows same-sex couples to marry in Minnesota. Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson and Orono businessman Scott Honour say they’ll focus on bread and butter fiscal issues if they defeat DFL Gov. Mark Dayton in 2014. ‘I think Minnesotans are ready to talk about something other than gay marriage for a change,’ Johnson wrote in an e-mail. ‘I would not push to repeal the new law, although if something landed on my desk supporting traditional marriage I would sign it.’ ” … And what would that be? Just curious.

GOP Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen is still making good copy. City Pages’ Aaron Rupar wades into the latest “Gruener” moment: “Gruenhagen, R-Glencoe, is anti-gay and gets his ‘facts’ from materials distributed at the Conservative Political Action Conference. Other than that, we’re sure he’s exactly the sort of elected leader Minnesota needs. … During a recent rant on the House floor, Gruenhagen characterized climate change as ‘just a complete United Nations fraud and lie’ and ‘utter nonsense.’ He went on to suggest there isn’t any environmental problem the free hand of the unfettered capitalist marketplace isn’t capable of solving on its own. Here’s a [sample from the] transcript of part of Gruenhagen’s speech …

Ultimately the underlying philosophy that supports all this is the so-called man-made global warming or climate change theory. And the fact is, members, there’s more and more evidence coming in that it’s just a complete United Nations fraud and lie, okay? The latest facts from CPAC show that in the last 16 years, there’s been no global warming. So members, I’d recommend that you keep breathing, okay? Because, you know, man-made global warming believes that exhaling causes global warming. I mean, the more you study it the more utter nonsense you see it is … .”

Someone should check, because I think this may have been the first time the words “facts” and “CPAC” have been used in the same sentence.