The constant “will,” “won’t,” “do,” “don’t” and “when” of this special session better resolve itself soon or it’ll crater into Adrian Peterson territory. But now … Don Davis of the Forum News Service is saying, “A state budget deal is all done except for a few details, the chief negotiators said Monday, making a special session for lawmakers to complete their work possible as early as late this week. … The Democratic governor said he is not happy that Republicans would not increase education funding $150 million over what a Senate- and House-passed spending bill contained. He accepted a $125 million boost, but complained that with a $1 billion budget surplus Republicans should be able to pay more for Minnesota children.”
At MPR, Tom Scheck and Tim Pugmire say, “Although negotiations have been largely behind closed doors for the past few weeks, it was a public offer from Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt that Dayton ultimately accepted. Daudt’s offer eliminates Republican proposals to change teacher tenure and their push to upend a Minnesota State High School League policy that allows transgender athletes to play on the team of their choice. The deal will add 2 percent to to the per pupil funding formula for each of the next two years.” How can the GOP face their base after caving on the really big stuff like transgender athletes?
The AP says, “Dayton said he is still insisting that lawmakers rescind a new policy that gives counties more power to hire private firms to review their finances, bypassing the state auditor. Dayton said he wants clear agreement on all remaining bills before he orders a special session, but added that he hopes it can be held later this week or next week.”
Also from Scheck: “House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said Monday he plans to cancel a trip to Europe because of stalled negotiations over the state budget. Daudt said he’s scheduled to travel to Italy on Sunday to see the World’s Fair in Milan. Minnesota is looking to land a World’s Fair in the future. Daudt is also headed to Germany as a part of a trip organized by the University of Minnesota. Daudt said he will cancel the trip if he can’t reach a budget deal with Gov. Mark Dayton.” If he’s flying Delta, that’s a $200 change fee.
In a Strib commentary, an Ely city council member says the (alleged) one-day session is an opportunity to correct all the neglect Greater Minnesota felt from the regular session. Writes Heidi Omerza, “With legislators unable to pass a tax bill or comprehensive transportation package and the governor’s decision to veto the omnibus agriculture and environment and jobs bills, the 2015 session seems poised to go down as a monumental flop for Greater Minnesota. However, that doesn’t have to be the case. Gov. Mark Dayton and lawmakers still have a chance to salvage an otherwise dreary session by earnestly addressing the needs of Greater Minnesota during the upcoming special session.”
U of M President Eric Kaler responded to a withering commentary in The New York Times by Prof. Carl Elliott. In a letter he says, “Professor Elliott raises a fair question about whether institutional review boards, or I.R.B.s, continue to be the best way to assure excellence in human subject research. I.R.B.s are what the federal government requires, and at the University of Minnesota our review boards and our entire human research protection program will ensure that, in all we do, our patients and research participants are treated with dignity, our research is ethical, and we are accountable.”
Classy. Riham Feshir of MPR reports, “Washington County prosecutors charged a former high school principal with three felony counts of theft by swindle for misusing school district money. Aaron Harper allegedly used a South Washington County Schools-issued credit card to buy nearly $8,000 worth of cooking knives to sell for commission and about $1,200 worth of iPad and iTunes purchases. He allegedly dipped into cash collected from student parking passes and parent donations while he was principal of East Ridge High School … .” Did he hit any lemonade stands?
Not your mother’s field trip. Nicole Norfleet of the Strib tells us, “Some parents are outraged after the leader of a small Minneapolis private school took about a dozen middle- and high-school-aged students on a sex education field trip to an adult novelty store late last week. ‘It’s just a major breach of trust,’ said Lynn Floyd, whose 11- and 13-year-old daughters were part of the outing to the Smitten Kitten. ‘You just can’t erase those images.’ A leader of Gaia Democratic School and the host of the field trip defended the outing, saying the visit capped a months-long sex education class.”
It’d be nice if these standards also applied to for-profit schools living off government money. MPR’s Alex Friedrich says, “The University of Minnesota and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities systems will have to make more progress in increasing graduation rates, cutting costs and awarding degrees to receive full funding. In the higher education funding bill passed last month, state lawmakers withheld 5 percent of funding for fiscal year 2017 until MnSCU and the U of M each meet a handful of targets.”
The Twins are #4! Jim Ingraham (who?) of the News-Herald (the what?) in Ohio (huh?) says the soon-to-be-World Series-champion Twinkies are now officially (i.e. subjectively) the best story of the season. “In my first rankings of the season, the Minnesota Twins came in at No. 30. Dead last. Worst in the majors. It wasn’t even close. In these, my latest rankings, The Twins come in at No. 4. Did I miss-read the Twins that bad? From No. 30 to No. 4 in less than two months? … Here are this week’s rankings:
1. Cardinals: Did I mention that they also have the best uniforms in the majors?
2. Dodgers: And Yasiel Puig, on the DL, hasn’t played since April 24. He has a Puiged hamstring.
3. Royals: Through the end of May, reliever Wade Davis still didn’t have an ERA. Zero runs allowed in 22 innings over 22 appearances.
4. Twins: On June 1, the Twins had the best record in the American League. Welcome to The Trevor Plouffe Era.”
But let’s talk football stadiums. Mike Kaszuba of the Strib reports, “The recent fight that erupted over Michele Kelm-Helgen’s pay and job duties began three months earlier with a 4:32 a.m. e-mail to her staff at the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority. Kelm-Helgen sent the message asking why her job as board chairwoman was not included in a routine gender pay equity report. She said the review should compare her $127,000 salary to others at the authority, which is overseeing construction of the new Minnesota Vikings stadium. … ‘Can’t say I didn’t see this one coming,’ Bobbi Ellenberg, the stadium authority’s director of business operations, said in an e-mail to Ted Mondale, the authority’s $162,245-a-year executive director.” If not straight cash, will she accept two Personal Seat Licenses?
The Grand Plan may be to snatch away all those “dead last” rankings from Mississippi. In City Pages, Cory Zurowski writes, “Gov. Scott Walker’s brand of less-is-more governance is having unintended consequences in the classrooms of podunk Wisconsin. The latest repercussion could very well be having high school dropouts, who haven’t even undergone a criminal background check, teaching in the state’s public schools. … Walker enacted the biggest cuts to education in state history. They included a $792 million funding hit to kindergarten-through-12th grade schools. Now Walker, considered to be a leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, has proposed another $127 million cut. Per-pupil spending in Wisconsin is already lower today than it was in 2010. Walker’s cuts have put an especially big hurt on rural school districts.” As a consolation though he may agree to let every kid conceal carry.