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Minnesota’s revenue growth ‘far out-paced’ most of the nation

Plus: net neutrality is having its moment; no one does turkey better than Minnesota; St. Paul’s civilian review panel comes under scrutiny; and more.

MinnPost photo by Corey Anderson

It seems barely a month ago we were hearing how miserable the state’s financial condition is. At the Strib, Jim Spencer says, “Minnesota’s state revenue growth during and after the Great Recession far outpaced most of the nation, the Pew Charitable Trust reported in a just-released national analysis. Only North Dakota, with its oil drilling boom, and Illinois showed larger percentage increases in revenue from the first quarter of 2006 to the second quarter of 2014, the analysis revealed. Meanwhile, inflation-adjusted state revenue remains below pre-recession levels in 29 states, including Wisconsin … .” Heh.

It actually would matter to you, you know. The Strib’s Allison Sherry gives some attention to Al Franken’s “net neutrality” campaign. “Franken jokes that he has been ‘toiling in the vineyards’ since the early days on net neutrality. But since Franken’s wide-margin re-election victory this month, the labyrinthine principle that essentially promises all Internet traffic and speeds should be treated equally is finally getting some spotlight love. … Bolstered by the president’s support — and ostensibly Franken’s re-election — a fledgling grass-roots lobbying force across the country among small and medium-sized businesses has seen renewed life this month. Even state and local governments — including Minneapolis — are getting in the mix, posting statements on Twitter and on websites supporting the concept.”

Grandpa will not be happy. Stribber Paul Walsh on kids out cruising in a pricey rig. “A Twin Cities teenager ‘out for a cruise’ in a Maserati at 2:45 a.m. with two young friends rolled the powerful luxury car on a rural highway southwest of the Twin Cities, landing himself in the hospital, authorities and one of the passengers said. … A 17-year-old boy was behind the wheel of the 2006 Maserati Quattroporte when it veered off the wet highway, into the ditch and rolled, the patrol said. That car comes equipped with a nearly 400-horsepower engine. Among the passengers was Michael A. O’Brien, 18, of Bloomington, the patrol said. O’Brien said the car belongs to his grandfather.”

Been looking for a new invasive pest to worry about? The AP says, “The mountain pine beetle has devastated huge swaths of forest in the Rockies, and scientists fear the insects could threaten the majestic pines of Minnesota and states farther east someday. Initial results from a three-year, $250,000 research project by the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture back up some fears about the risk. The scientists wanted to confirm in the first phase of the study whether the beetles would find the most common species of pines in Minnesota delicious and nutritious. Experiments this summer show that they do.”

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Some turkey stats from Reid Wilson of the Washington Post. “No one does turkey better than North Carolina and Minnesota, which are home to the nation’s two largest turkey producers: Butterball’s headquarters are in Garner, N.C.; Jennie-O is based in Willmar, Minn. Together, those two companies produce about a third of all the turkeys sold in the United States. Minnesota produced 46 million turkeys valued at $839 million in 2012, according to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center at Iowa State University. North Carolina raised fewer birds, 36 million, but they weighed more than Minnesota’s, netting the industry $849 million.”

Soon-to-be-House Minority Leader Paul Thissen has a commentary, picked up by the Winona Daily News, on the matter of the GOP delivering something of value for the out-state support it received in this month’s election. “It seems fair to ask: Will Republicans be willing to stand up to their big Twin Cities corporate donors and make sure to continue DFL investments in education that are closing the funding gap between rural and suburban school districts rather than handing out corporate tax breaks? Will a Republican legislature respond to the unique economic challenges that have made it harder for our economic recovery to be felt from border-to-border? Will a Republican legislature solve the health care challenges that face an aging population in Minnesota? Republican rhetoric and action has been antagonistic to local government aid and direct property tax relief, claiming the state has no role in reducing property taxes — will that continue?”

Predictably, Gary Gross at the conservative True North blog says, “Republicans voted against the DFL’s attempt to use taxpayers’ money to buy votes with massive spending increases directed at their special interest allies. The Dayton-Thissen-DFL budget wasn’t a budget as it was the DFL checking off as many of the items on the DFL special interests’ wish list as possible. The DFL’s tax bill didn’t reform the tax code to make Minnesota competitive with its neighboring states. It’s amazing that the DFL’s hostility to businesses didn’t result in them losing more seats.” Did I mention Gross is upset with Thissen’s “spin”?

Also, as you read ex-talk jock Jason Lewis’s “I told you so” about “skyrocketing” health insurance premiums (as a result of Obamacare) you may want to keep in mind that no one ever said it was going to be free. Says Lewis in the Strib, “For years I’ve been arguing that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Now, as more and more realize that ‘free’ health care isn’t so cheap, I’ll bet I’m not the only one wishing Democrats would just quit proving me right. Indeed, Minnesotans are reeling from a rather predictable Obamacare sticker shock that a few of us brave souls warned about. … Bureaucratic incompetence, however, is not at the heart of what ails MNsure. It is the ACA’s coverage mandates themselves — which are nothing more than the latest income-redistribution scheme coming from nanny state politicians who think they know what kind of health care plan everyone should have even if it costs you twice as much.” That of course is what you get in the bubble where rhetoric matters more than reality.

Yeah, if that incident was given a pass, something needs fixing. At MPR Laura Yuen reports, “Calls are growing to change a St. Paul civilian review panel that recently exonerated police officers involved in a controversial skyway arrest. Mayor Chris Coleman has invited civil rights advocates to hear their concerns about the 20-year-old citizen panel, which found that the officers acted lawfully and properly in the arrest of Christopher Lollie. African-American leaders say the process is flawed and needs more transparency.”

When everything being built is “luxury,” does the word have any meaning anymore? In the PiPress Frederick Melo writes, “A private developer has released long-term plans for up to seven new luxury apartment or mixed-use buildings along the Mississippi riverfront in St. Paul’s Highland Park neighborhood, in place of the recently demolished U.S. Bank offices at 2751 Shepard Road. Pending city approval, construction would start next year at Shepard and Davern Street. … The proposal has jump-started a current city study to possibly reroute Shepard Road so that it lies north of the proposed development and connects to Norfolk Avenue, creating a better connection to Minnesota 5.”