An upbeat assessment from the experts. Adam Belz at the Strib says, “The Minnesota economy should gain momentum in 2015, with falling unemployment, a quicker pace of job growth and modest increases in wages. The unemployment rate should fall to 3.3 percent (right now it is 3.7 percent) and personal income should grow faster than last year, economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis predicted Tuesday in their annual outlook based on surveys of businesses and statistical models. … Business leaders profess near record levels of optimism in the Upper Midwest, and are at an all-time high in out-state Minnesota. They expect to do more hiring in 2015 than in 2014, and most bosses expect to offer workers 2 or 3 percent wage and salary increases.” Does this include goat-roping Wisconsin back to economic health?
A variation on “job creation” from rural legislators. Says Mark Steil at MPR, “Republicans won 10 DFL-held seats in rural Minnesota in November. That turned out to be the major factor in the GOP taking back control of the House. Now, non-metro organizations and legislators are lining up to make sure their voices get heard at the Capitol. … [Dan] Dorman’s business advocacy group wants the state to spend more money on job training. Many manufacturers outside the Twin Cities have jobs available but can’t find enough workers with the specific skills needed for the job, he said. Workers also often turn down jobs because they can’t find decent places to live, said state Sen. Bill Weber, R-Luverne, who plans to bring attention to the need for rural housing.” At least it’s a change from “corporate tax cuts.”
Another dark side to the story of Adrian Peterson’s far-flung family. The AP says, “South Dakota authorities have issued an arrest warrant for the suspect in the death of the 2-year-old son of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. The Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office says Joseph Patterson violated the terms of his bond by contacting the boy’s mother. Patterson was released on $2 million bond in September. He’s charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter and aggravated assault in the 2013 death of Tyrese Ruffin. Patterson also has pleaded not guilty to aggravated assault and kidnapping charges in an alleged attack on Tyrese’s mother in June.” Who covered the $2 million bond?
Ready to rumble. At MPR, Tim Nelson says, “ … the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority and the Vikings say they’ve hired a manager to run their new stadium. Patrick Talty will be the stadium’s general manager when it opens in 2016, the stadium authority said Tuesday. He’s coming to Minnesota from World Wrestling Entertainment, the professional wrestling company based in Connecticut. He was senior vice president for live events there.”
Need a spare bomber? John Myers of the Forum News Service reports, “Two water-bombing airplanes credited with saving homes, cabins, lodges and maybe even a city over the past 14 Minnesota forest fire seasons will be auctioned off by the Department of Natural Resources. The state’s two 1970s-vintage CL-215 water bombers are up for auction with a minimum bid of $50,000 each, after DNR fire officials deemed the planes too old to maintain and too expensive to replace. Bombardier, the Canada-based manufacturer of the planes, is no longer making the CL-215, and it’s faster, bigger CL-415’s are prohibitively expensive, DNR officials say.”
Here’s hoping this leads to cheap midwinter airfares. In the Strib, Tom Meersman and Mike Hughlett say, “The easing of economic and travel restrictions with Cuba could mean a significant bump in export sales for Minnesota farmers and agribusinesses. Food is one of the few products that has been exported to Cuba during the past decade, and the window probably will open wider during the next few years. ‘Our top crops are corn and soybeans, and those are the top import items for Cuba,’ said Su Ye, chief economist with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Ye said Minnesota exported about $26 million in agricultural products to Cuba in 2012, and projected about $20 million for 2013.”
Good luck selling this in Arizona. At Marketwatch.com Anya Martin writes, “Most people associate Minnesota with cold temperatures and lots of snow—not the kind of climate that most people dream of retiring to, especially at this time of year, when conditions are at their icy worst. … From a cost perspective, Minnesota is a mixed bag. Income-tax rates climb to 9.85% for single taxpayers making more than $150,000 a year and married couples filing jointly with an annual income above $250,000. The cost of living is 3.2% above the national average, according to Sperling’s Best Places. On the flip side, assisted-living costs are below average and nursing-home costs are only slightly above average, according to the Genworth 2014 Cost of Care Survey. And with unemployment at 4.5%, retirees are likely have an easier time finding a part-time job here than in many other states.”
At Bloomberg, John Tozzi looks in at PreferredOne’s problems here in Minnesota. “Insurance companies set rates for the first year of the new Obamacare marketplaces using a heavy dose of guesswork. What happened to PreferredOne is a cautionary tale for insurers navigating an unfamiliar marketplace. Across the U.S., at least 77 insurers joined Obamacare markets this year, which increases competition and helps keep overall rate increases modest. But 14 companies that sold coverage for 2014 left the marketplaces, according to a government tally.”
Released!? Emily Welker in the Park Rapids Enterprise informs us, “A Bayport man convicted in 27 drunken driving-related cases in Minnesota has been released to residential placement in Clay County. Danny Lee Bettcher, 61, was released Dec. 29 after serving about five years in prison for his latest drunken driving-related conviction, said Minnesota Department of Corrections spokeswoman Sarah Latuseck. Prosecutors said he blew through a stop sign on his motorcycle in Otter Tail County while his blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit. Bettcher reportedly holds the state record for the most drunken driving-related convictions at 27.”