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State pays $636 million debt to schools

The deadbeat pays up. The AP reports: “About $636 million in back pay from state government is coming to Minnesota public schools. Officials announced Monday the state is settling up on that amount of IOUs. Lawmakers temporarily shaved more than $2 billion in payments to schools in recent years to patch holes in state government's budget. The latest repayment leaves about $238 million in outstanding debt. With the improving state economy, schools are first in line for any excess tax collections. … School leaders are sensitive about the payback. They fear that money previously committed to them will be perceived as a windfall.

Here’s Euan Kerr of MPR on the latest Minnesota Orchestra developments: “The two sides in the bitter Minnesota Orchestra dispute are trying to find a time to meet today to possibly avert the departure of music director Osmo Vanska. Both sides hold the other responsible for the fact there were no negotiations over the weekend. Both sides say they want a deal, and that it is still possible to reach one today. Management wants to meet and the management team was available all weekend and did not hear from the musicians, orchestra chief executive Michael Henson said. Musicians say they tried to engage the board but were rebuffed.”

Thank God! Major League again! Kerri Westenberg of the Strib reports:A new McDonald’s restaurant will open in Terminal 1-Lindbergh at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) by the end of October, bringing a familiar array of favorite fast, affordable foods back to the airport following a two-year absence. ‘A new McDonald’s has been travelers’ most frequent restaurant request since that company’s contract with Delta Air Lines for stores on Concourse G expired two years ago,’ said Jeff Hamiel, executive director and CEO of the Metropolitan Airports Commission.”  Hmmm. If Delta is involved, I assume we’ll be charged extra for the buns, the pickle, the ketchup and every fry after the first two.

Minnesota legislators were not in short supply in London over the weekend. Baird Helgeson’s Strib story says: “Republican state Sen. Julie Rosen was among the Minnesotans who traveled to London this weekend to watch the Vikings beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. Rosen traveled to London with her daughter to see the game. ‘On my own dime, of course,’ said Rosen, R-Fairmont. Rosen was the Senate’s chief author of the legislation to build a new stadium for the Vikings and is co-chair of the Legislature’s stadium oversight committee. … According to her Facebook page, Senator Karin Housley, R-St. Mary’s Point, and former GOP Rep. Laura Brod attended the game. Brod now serves on the Board of Regents at the University of Minnesota. Minnesota Vikings executive assistant Tracy Hoefling McDonald posted on her Facebook page that she was touring London with Jacquie Emmer, wife of 6th Congressional District candidate Tom Emmer, and state Rep. David FitzSimmons, R-Albertville. FitzSimmons is also an adviser for Emmer’s congressional campaign. It is unclear whether the candidate was at the game, too.”

The GleanAmid the rolling dysfunction that is the GOP's congressional caucus, Elizabeth Stawicki of MPR writes: “As the battle over the federal health care overhaul rages in Congress, this week state health insurance marketplaces will begin enrolling people across the nation. That marks a major milestone for Obamacare, roundly criticized by many Republicans, even though some members of their party once embraced key concepts of the legislation, including former governors Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota. Pawlenty could have been the father of MNsure, the state's health plan marketplace. Six years ago Pawlenty, a Republican, wanted to create a non-profit Minnesota Insurance Exchange, an approach he said would make insurance less expensive for workers and lower costs for employers.”

In a ruling rife with nuance, Stribber Rochelle Olson reports that the Court of Appeals has decided: “A Minnesota law that bars advising or encouraging suicide violates the U.S. Constitution’s free speech protections, the state Court of Appeals ruled Monday in an unpublished opinion. The law ‘chills a significant amount of protected speech that does not bear a necessary relationship’ to the state’s goal of preventing suicide, a three-judge panel of the court said. In a footnote, the court said the term ‘encourages’ in the law ‘plausibly encompasses urging’ suicide, but it is ‘not necessarily’ the same as causing someone to commit suicide through ‘undue influence or distress.’ The latter would likely be unprotected speech, the court said.” OK, that’s clear … .

Bankruptcies are dropping in Minnesota … Says Annie Baxter at MPR: “Bankruptcies have been on the decline in Minnesota since spiking during the recession. So far this year, filings are about 35 percent below their 2010 peak. The reasons for the drop are complicated — and they're less tied to a recovering economy than you might think. ‘One reason I think bankruptcies are declining now is that people aren't carrying a lot of debt on their household balance sheets, so there's not a lot bankruptcy can do for them,’ said Robert Lawless, a bankruptcy expert at the University of Illinois. During the recession, Lawless said, the foreclosure crisis played a big part in causing bankruptcy filings to spike. But foreclosures also ended up wiping out a lot of household mortgage debt. That happened at the same time that Americans pulled back on spending and borrowing money, if they could even get a bank to lend to them.”

Also from Ms. Baxter:Total personal income in Minnesota barely budged between the first and second quarters of the year. The key barometer of the state’s prosperity climbed just a tenth of a percent over that period, according to data released Monday by the U.S. Commerce Department. Personal income, which the department defines as the income received by all persons from all sources, reached nearly $257 billion. The growth was much weaker than the national average of 1 percent, which itself was still lackluster.”                                           

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