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Dayton likes infrastructure tax, Chamber of Commerce not so much

St. Thomas law school faculty gets kudos; a comparison of MN car-insurance premiums; job openings are up while quality is questioned; and more.

Gov. Mark Dayton
MinnPost file photo by Bill Kelley

At Roll Call, Tom Curry sees Gov. Dayton’s call for an infrastructure tax as the takeaway from last night’s debate. He says, “ … Dayton, a Democrat, proposed a wholesale state sales tax on gasoline to raise revenue to pay for transportation infrastructure. He said the tax would raise close to the $6.5 billion the state needs for infrastructure projects over the next 10 years. The state already has a 28.6 cents per gallon tax on gasoline. Dayton – who is favored to win a second term – made his proposal at a time when lawmakers in Washington have been struggling to figure out a way to raise revenue to replenish the federal Highway Trust Fund over the long term.”

Naturally … MPR’s Tim Pugmire tells us, “The results of a statewide survey released today show most Minnesota business leaders are opposed to new transportation funding sources. The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce’s 11th annual Minnesota Business Barometer Survey found that 57-percent of the 350 randomly sampled participants believe the state does not need to find new revenue to make needed investments in transportation.” I mean, a fresh round of pro-business tax cuts ought to do it, right?

St. Thomas is #8! Alexandra Svokos at the Huffington Post notes Princeton’s annual review of the best law school faculties in the country. “Duke University School of Law students have a reason to celebrate being at the fifth hardest school to get into: They are being taught by the best professors, according to the Princeton Review‘s newest ranking, released Tuesday. … Other major law schools, like Boston University, Stanford University and the University of Chicago, make up the top ten best professors list, but smaller schools like Regent University and the University of St. Thomas also made the cut.”

Truly in the “for what it’s worth” category. Jesse Berney at the BlueNation website (i.e. liberal) offers a snapshot of where Senate races are today around the country. “The Senate is the real mystery. As recently as two weeks ago, the data-driven punditry was predicting a Republican takeover of the majority, but as the campaigns have kicked into high gear, predictions have shifted in the other direction. Now the most common guesses are close to 50-50. … Some races were over before they started. These are the easy picks that pretty much everyone agrees on. Democratic Incumbent Holds: Delaware (Coons), Hawaii (Schatz), Illinois (Durbin), Massachusetts (Markey), Minnesota (Franken), New Jersey (Booker), New Mexico (Tom Udall), Rhode Island (Reed).”

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For In These Times, Sarah Lahm looks at big outside money … in Minneapolis school board races. “In the aftermath of a failed 2013 bid for mayor, former Minneapolis city council member Don Samuels is running for a spot on the school board. If he wins, he will undoubtedly be able to thank the extensive financing and canvassing support he’s received from several well-heeled national organizations, such as the Washington, D.C.-based 50CAN, an offshoot of Education Reform Now called Students for Education Reform (SFER), and various people associated with Teach for America, which has been called a ‘political powerhouse’ for its growing influence in policy and politics beyond the classroom. These groups often project an image of grassroots advocacy but are in fact very well-funded, often through the support of extremely wealthy hedge fund managers and large philanthropic foundations. Together, they and like-minded ‘education reform’ proponents have dramatically, but not necessarily democratically, altered how public education works throughout the United States.”

Shopping for cheaper car insurance? Move to Mankato, or Winona. A Rochester Post-Bulletin story says, “Analysts at ValuePenguin reviewed annual premiums across more than 100 cities and 18 insurers in Minnesota. On average, drivers in Minnesota can see annual premiums of $1,152, ranging from the lower end of $1,009 in Mankato to $1,303 in Minneapolis. ValuePenguin ranked Austin as second cheapest at $1,034 per year, Winona as fourth cheapest at $1,039 and Rochester as fifth cheapest at $1,044.”

As with the country in general. Adam Belz at the Strib reports, “The number of job openings in Minnesota is rising, but once again, the quality of available jobs is questionable. According to the most recent data on statewide job vacancies, released Thursday, the number of openings rose 16.7 percent to 84,696 at the end of the second quarter. That is the highest total of vacancies in 13 years, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development said. … The median wage offer for all openings at the end of June was $12.05 per hour, compared with $13 per hour at the end of 2013, and $12.50 at the end of June 2013.”

The Strib offers its thoughts on the for-profit college industry. “Evidence increasingly suggests that some segments of the for-profit college industry are taking students — and taxpayers — for a ride. Drawing up to 90 percent of their revenue from various government programs intended to help low-income students pay tuition, some of these schools deliver questionable degrees, suffer extraordinarily high dropout rates and loan-default rates, and charge tuitions that are far higher than those at public community colleges. … Yes, critics are generally right: The industry needs more regulation and better oversight. Students and taxpayers deserve better outcomes than they’re getting.” And remind me,  when will the Strib make an endorsement in the Second District congressional race?

Today’s news from Wisconsin … .  Kent Tempus of the Green Bay Gazette reports, “A 33-year-old man and 29-year-old woman had sex in a squad car after being pulled over for drunken driving in Oconto County. Travis Husnik of Luxemburg and Heather Basten of New Franken were being transported in August to the Oconto County Jail when they started having sex in a squad car. The deputy stopped the car, told Husnik to pull his pants back up, then put Husnik in the front seat. … ‘What do I sentence a guy who has sex in squad car to?’ asked County Circuit Court Judge Jay Conley during the recent sentencing in the case. ‘I’m getting to be pretty old guy and I’ve never seen that situation in my legal life. It’s not like you have a lot of law school courses or training on what do you sentence a guy who has sex in a squad car to’.” Well, he could start by making the guy clean up the squad car.