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Minnesota tax cuts? Gov: Maybe in 2015

Ramsey County busy with bonding; Swede designs State Fair poster; Wisconsin party-line votes; Teach for America setbacks; gastric-bypass helpful for some diabetics — but risky; and more.

Tax cuts, he says? Tim Pugmire of MPR writes: “DFL Gov. Mark Dayton is defending Minnesota’s recent income tax increase on top earners as lawmakers in neighboring Wisconsin consider a plan to cut income taxes. He also suggested that Minnesota could be looking at its own tax cuts in the coming years. The majority of the proposed cut in Wisconsin would benefit those earning more than $100,000 a year. Dayton told reporters today that he didn’t know specifics of the Wisconsin proposal. He said that while Minnesota’s taxes are higher than many other states, its economic performance is also better than most, including Wisconsin. … Dayton said a tax cut could be up for consideration as soon as next session, but more likely in 2015.”

Ramsey County has been busy selling bonds … Frederick Melo’s PiPress story says: “Designs for a new Ramsey County building at Boys Totem Town, improvements to the county’s computer-aided emergency dispatch system and a high-speed broadband project to boost telecommunications in county buildings got a $22.7 million shot in the arm this week. With little fanfare, the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved $22.7 million in tax-exempt bonds, or borrowing, to support a series of capital improvement projects. Of that sum, $3.5 million supports the county’s general capital improvement program, which includes money for the purchase and clean-up of 430 acres of land at the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant in Arden Hills. The bonds ‘mature’ through the year 2023, and must be paid back at amounts ranging from $350,000 to $450,000 per year through the 2033.”

It’s appropriate, I guess. A Swede has designed the 2013 State Fair poster. John Brewer of the PiPress writes: “Artist Marie Olofsdotter might be from Sweden, but she’s all about the North Star State when it comes to the 2013 Commemorative Art for the Minnesota State Fair. Researching vintage State Fair artwork for inspiration, from 19th century posters to work in the 1930s, the Minneapolis artist said she was drawn to the image of women featured in the works. In her final piece, she chose to focus on a brown-eyed woman with a basket overflowing with corn, grains, tomatoes, apples and squash as a way of bringing the focus of the fair back to the land. She calls the final piece ‘juicy and inspired.’ ‘I could eat it for lunch.’ ” After it’s been deep-fried, of course.

Well, they’ll soon find how expensive this principled stand will be. The AP reports: “The Republican-controlled budget committee has rejected a federally funded expansion of Wisconsin’s BadgerCare Medicaid program. The Joint Finance Committee voted 12-4 Tuesday along party lines to go along with Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposal and reject the expansion. Democrats argue rejecting the expansion doesn’t make sense because it will cost the state about $150 million more to provide coverage to nearly 85,000 fewer people. Walker’s plan lowers Medicaid eligibility to those earning 100 percent of poverty, not the current 200 percent.”

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Another party-line action over in CheddarHeadLand … According to the AP: “The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism could no longer be housed at the University of Wisconsin under a provision added to the state budget. The Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee voted Wednesday on the prohibition. No UW employees would be allowed to work at the center, either. The center is housed at UW-Madison and collaborates with the School of Journalism and Mass Communications as well as Wisconsin Public Radio and Wisconsin Public Television. Republican Rep. John Nygren says state facilities shouldn’t be provided for the center. He says it can get that elsewhere.” Like, you know, FoxNews.

The GleanTough sledding for Teach for America … Janice Bitters of the Minnesota Daily writes: “Crystal Brakke, executive director for TFA’s Twin Cities region, said demand for TFA teachers in Minnesota is high, but the organization has had a few setbacks recently. Last month, the Minnesota Board of Teaching denied a group variance waiver for TFA that would have allowed the organization to receive state permission for the members in Comstock to teach in Minnesota classrooms all at once before receiving their full teaching licenses. Without the waiver, TFA will need to get individual permission for each member to teach in the state. Brakke said this would ‘put an additional level of work on every individual school’ that hires a TFA member.”

On their own dime, it says … According to the AP: “Gov. Mark Dayton’s adult sons are among the Minnesota business owners joining him on a trade mission to Scandinavia and Germany next week. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development announced the delegation Wednesday. Eric and Andrew Dayton are paying their own way which is standard practice for business leaders who go on state trade missions. Dayton’s sons co-own a Scandinavian restaurant in Minneapolis. Dayton says they are traveling to Europe separately and briefly joining the larger group in Stockholm.”

Research out of the U of M says gastric-bypass surgery aids in reducing the consequences of diabetes. Maura Lerner’s Strib story says: “Weight-loss surgery can dramatically improve the ability to control diabetes in mildly to moderately obese patients, according to a major study by University of Minnesota researchers. The study, one of the largest of its kind, found that diabetics who had gastric-bypass surgery not only lost weight but also doubled their chances of achieving healthy levels of cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure a year later. But the study also served as a reminder that the surgery can be risky. More than a third of the patients reported ‘serious adverse events,’ including one patient who suffered brain damage from complications of the operation.” Oh, that …

Five attacks in 26 years. Doug Smith of the Strib reports: “A 190-pound black bear attacked a woman outside her home in Aitkin County in  northern Minnesota, the Department of Natural Resources reported today. The unidentified woman sustained non-life threatening injuries, and a DNR conservation officer shot and killed the animal after it ran toward him. The DNR plans to release more details at a news conference this afternoon. The DNR said this is the fifth time the agency has documented a bear attack on a person resulting in injuries since 1987. Still, attacks by black bears in Minnesota are extremely rare.”