Apparently the can won’t be kicked very far down the road this time … . The Strib story on the budget deal, written by Baird Helgeson and Jennifer Brooks says, “DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and Democratic legislative leaders reached a budget agreement Sunday that calls for $2 billion in new taxes and boosts spending for schools and property tax relief. The Democrats are relying on a tobacco tax hike and the governor’s long-sought income tax increase on high earners to pay for the new spending. The budget outline scraps a proposed sales tax on clothing, but lawmakers continue to consider resurrecting at least part of a heavily criticized plan to tax businesses services.”
MinPost’s James Nord has coverage here.
Tim Pugmire’s MPR story says: “Republicans were quick to criticize the budget framework. House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, described it as disappointing news from the DFL on Mother’s Day. ‘Their gift for every hardworking mother in the state of Minnesota is going to be a more than $2 billion tax increase,’ Daudt said. ‘We were hoping to hear that some of these plans were going to be reeled back and scaled back. Unfortunately, everything we feared is still on the table.’ Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, said the DFL plan is simply more ‘overtaxing, overspending and overreaching.’ Both Hann and Daudt said they are not interested in the DFL plan for an $800 million bonding bill this session.”
In his story for the Forum papers, Don Davis says: “Also awaiting a decision is how to back up lagging Vikings stadium construction funding. The three leaders said the tax conference committee will decide the stadium issue, but Dayton said that ‘we have a couple ideas.’ Taxes on electronic pulltabs are far short of expectations, and there has been a demand from legislators and others to find a more reliable source of funds. ‘We are going to get a stable source that is more than sufficient,’ Dayton promised, without giving a hint about how that might look.”
Well, this isn’t something we want to encourage … A Strib commentary by Jon Pratt and Sarah Caruso, the heads of two local charities, argues against a looming legislative proposal: “The Minnesota House of Representatives’ decision to eliminate the state’s current charitable tax incentives is a mistake that the Senate and governor should not support. The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, the Minnesota Council on Foundations, Greater Twin Cities United Way and GiveMN — four of Minnesota’s leading nonprofit and philanthropic organizations — are deeply concerned that replacing the charitable tax deduction with a credit for giving above a threshold will reduce incentives for giving. The proposed new credit would be available only to Minnesotans who donate more than 2 percent of their incomes to charities. The average Minnesota family, earning around $57,000, would have to contribute more than $1,100 to charity in order to meet the threshold and receive any tax benefit.”
Another commentary, from U of M professor Carl Elliott, returns to the case the school can’t put away: “In late 2003, a psychiatric research team at the University of Minnesota used the threat of involuntary commitment to coerce Dan Markingson into an industry-funded clinical trial of antipsychotic drugs, despite the objections of his mother, Mary Weiss. … The study was riddled with ethical problems: a dubious scientific rationale, conflicts of interests for the researchers and financial incentives to keep subjects in the study as long as possible. Yet according to the deposition of Richard Bianco, the university official responsible for research oversight, the university never even investigated Markingson’s death. When his mother filed a lawsuit, the university successfully claimed that as a public body it was immune from such a suit. Stunningly, the university then filed a legal notice against Dan’s mother, demanding $57,000 to pay for part of its legal fees.”
In a similar vein, the AP reports: “Former Minnesota Wild player Derek Boogaard’s family has filed a lawsuit against the NHL. It was filed late Friday in court in Chicago, according to his Chicago-based attorney. In the lawsuit, the family says the NHL is responsible for the brain damage that Boogaard sustained during six seasons as an enforcer in the league, and for his addiction to prescription painkillers. According to the lawsuit, in the 2008 season alone, Boogaard received more than a thousand pills from Minnesota Wild doctors, trainers and staff. His addiction was so strong, the lawsuit says he’d often take 10 pain killers or sleeping pills a day.”
In the New York Times, James Oestreich describes the Minnesota Orchestra as being on the cusp of greatness. Then he says of the lockout: “What Mr. Vanska has achieved over 10 seasons in Minnesota is remarkable by any standard. The latest evidence includes two superb CDs of Sibelius symphonies … With financial woes widespread among American orchestras these days, a sort of compassion fatigue sets in, and it is tempting to dismiss this as just another temporary setback, however dire, that will surely right itself, like the Detroit Symphony players’ strike of 2010 or the Philadelphia Orchestra bankruptcy filing of 2011. But each orchestra suffers in its own way, and the Minnesota case is particularly agonizing and seemingly inexplicable. In Minneapolis, a city that has spawned and supported important cultural institutions over many decades and appears to be in robust financial health, there is an ensemble poised on the cusp of certifiable greatness.”
A “glacier on speed” was one description of the ice sheets driven on shore at Mille Lacs and other lakes by high winds over the weekend. On the Raw Story site, Stephen Webster says: “A glacier-like “ice wave” struck northern Minnesota on Friday, nearly swallowing up homes in an astonishing natural phenomenon that was caught on tape by shocked residents. NBC affiliate WPTV described the bizarre scene as like watching ‘a glacier on speed’ as high winds and crashing waves pushed the mass of ice shards toward homes, a terrible crunching/scratching noise following it the whole way. Observers estimated that the ice was moving up to two feet per minute.
msnNOW gets on the story of Minnesota’s 4-year-old mayor: “Democracy rocks, especially in Dorset, Minn. The self-proclaimed Restaurant Capital of the World (22 residents, four eateries) doesn’t get bogged down in attack ads. Each August at the Taste of Dorset, the town draws the name of its next mayor out of a hat (filing fee $1), and in the homestretch of his one-year term is 4-year-old Robert ‘Bobbie’ Tufts. His platform: leeches and worms make the best bait. And no scandals, as he has just a single girlfriend named Sophia, who may not know of her status.”
Wisconsin-based columnist Mike Nichols riffs on the similarities between us and our neighbors: “It’s true that Wisconsin and its neighbors — not just Minnesota, but Iowa and Illinois — are siblings of a sort. … I looked at American Community Survey results for all the states from 2007 to 2011. A lot has happened politically and legislatively since then, so things may look different down the road … But Minnesota, over a long period of time, has clearly been doing something right. Minnesota has the highest percentage of its population in the labor force, a smaller percentage on food stamps, the highest per-capita income and the lowest percentage of families in poverty. … Part of our long-term problem is education. Only 26 percent of Wisconsinites have a bachelor’s degree or higher vs. 25 percent in Iowa, 31 percent in Illinois and 32 percent in Minnesota. We’re siblings, it’s true, but the less ambitious and successful ones.” Another bar every two miles probably doesn’t help.