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State tax collections: $555 million more than anticipated

Minnesota songbirds winter in Nicaragua; Frogtown gets a lot of dirt; Walker makes it official; and more.

Glass half full: A booming economy. Glass half empty: Big Gummint robbing you blind. Says the Pioneer Press’s David Montgomery,Minnesota collected $555 million more in taxes over the last three months than state economists had predicted in February as both individual and corporate income turned out higher than expected. The news means lawmakers will have even more money than expected to dispose of next year. Beset by gridlock, lawmakers last month left close to $1 billion of projected revenue unspent when they adjourned in June. The $555 million of extra money, a 2.8 percent increase, is in addition to that unspent money.”

Entirely related. From Reuters: “It is too early to tell how a recent round of tax hikes and a minimum wage increase will play out in Minnesota, a state where liberal and conservative forces have often swapped control and policies. But the state’s experience may give pause to a crowded field of Republican presidential hopefuls who largely swear by tax cuts and small government as a recipe for prosperity. Judged by those standards this state on the Canadian border should be a train wreck in process. Instead, Democratic Governor Mark Dayton’s Minnesota could become a touchstone in the national debate over how to bolster the middle class — an example of how solid growth and low unemployment can coexist with some of the highest income and corporate tax rates in the country.”

How many calories does a songbird burn? Kevin Giles of the Strib writes, “Five songbirds tagged with geolocators have migrated from the St. Croix River Valley to habitats near the equator — and back. Satellite images show the distant journeys of the wood thrush, a close relative to the American robin. Information taken from tiny backpacks attached to the birds last summer show the first wood thrush recaptured this summer in Minnesota had wintered in Mexico. Data was corrupted on a second bird, but it was confirmed that a third went to Honduras, another to Guatemala and another to Nicaragua.”

I hate break it to you, kid. But you’ll never live this down. The WCCO-TV story says, “A teenage driver slammed into a Woodbury sporting goods store Sunday afternoon with a pick-up truck and at least three shoppers were injured, according to police. Authorities say a 16-year old driver somehow drove through the front of Play it Again Sports at about 1:30 p.m. Officers say there were several employees and shoppers inside the store at the time of the crash. The truck was almost entirely inside the store before it was removed. Three shoppers were taken to the hospital with minor injuries.”

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So a nod doesn’t cut it, right? In an editorial, Mother Strib gets into the “only ‘yes’ means ‘yes’ game. “Historically too much of that burden of proof has been placed on victims. Yet it would be equally unfair to skew that responsibility too far in the other direction. In theory, affirmative consent is designed to protect both parties in a sexual encounter. It flips the ‘no means no’ to the proactive, pre-emptive ‘yes, and only yes, means yes’ approach. Both participants must receive a verbal yes or some clear signal throughout activities leading to sex. For example, agreeing to a kiss is not a green light for other sexual activity — nor is silence. Because these kinds of choices often are made in the heat of the moment, however, it’s legitimate to question whether such policies are realistic and enforceable.” 

They’re dumping dirt on Frogtown. In the PiPress, Frederick Melo says, “Over the course of at least four days this week, enough topsoil to cover three city blocks a foot deep in dirt will be dumped on a hilltop south of Minnehaha Avenue in Frogtown. Urban horticulture advocates are ecstatic at the news. One of the nation’s largest contiguous urban farms is finally taking shape in a St. Paul neighborhood that’s short on trees and green space. The 100 semi-truckloads of dirt will begin rolling into the city-owned land Monday and continue until Thursday or Friday.”

The Glean

A couple days old, but irresistible: Andy Rathbun of the PiPress reports, “F-Bomb Ordnance recently opened a firearms retail store in downtown St. Croix Falls, Wis., and its signage has prompted complaints about the public display of a euphemism for a certain four-letter word. During an unusually packed-house city council meeting last week, about a dozen people spoke out against the signage, Mayor Brian Blesi said. ‘Residents have expressed that our nuisance ordinance contains language that this graphic violates’, he said, adding that the city council will take up the issue during a meeting Monday. Amy Klein was one of those who spoke out against the business’s name at last week’s meeting. ‘The innuendo around it is enough that it really lowers the standards in this community,’ Klein said Friday.” Just so we’re clear here. It isn’t the product they’re selling that they worry will “lower the standards of the community,” it’s the word. George Carlin could do an hour on this.

Walker Watch: As you have heard, Mr. Walker is formally in the race. Along with Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Donald Trump, Caitlyn Jenner, Iggy Azalea, Denny Hecker, two poachers from St. Louis County and … oh, sorry … I’m double checking a couple of those names. At The Daily Beast, Betsy Woodruff writes, “Walker’s team says he hasn’t vacillated in his support for Right to Work legislation, and has only expressed concerns about timing. The state legislature ignored those concerns in March, when they moved ahead on the legislation, timing be damned. ‘The two big initiatives this year, Right to Work and prevailing wage, were not Walker-initiated,’ [talk radio jock Charlie] Sykes said. ‘He may take credit for them on the trail, but Right to Work passed in spite of Walker, and Prevailing Wage passed despite his almost complete non-involvement.’”

In the New York Times, Patrick Healy says, “After listening to Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin as he has traveled the country preparing his campaign for president, which officially begins on Monday, admiring voters most often describe him as ‘authentic,’ ‘real’ and ‘approachable,’ Mr. Walker’s advisers say. Two words these voters do not use about him? ‘Smart’ and ‘sophisticated.’ ‘Scott is working on that,’ said Ed Goeas, a veteran Republican pollster and a senior adviser to Mr. Walker.” The Base likes candidates who sound a lot like they do.

Speaking of “smart,” at The Week, Michael Daugherty says, “the months leading up to it have left him looking diminished. First there was his performance at CPAC, which revealed that Walker is almost entirely untutored in foreign affairs. Remember when he said that if he could take on 100,000 protesters in Wisconsin, he could take on ISIS? In which direction is that comparison more idiotic? He’s been reading a few books on the subject, though. So there’s that. Walker also slipped into near self-parody when he hailed Reagan’s conflict with the air-traffic controllers union as a major foreign policy victory. What’s next, fixing entitlements by defeating the electrician’s union?”

For TIME, Phillip Elliott says, “there are the flip-flops, those ever-present changes in positions that have moved Walker to the right. During his last campaign, he promised decisions about abortion were between a woman and doctor; this year, he signed a law banning abortion after 20 weeks. Walker has reversed his earlier position in favor of a path to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally. He still hasn’t convinced some activists that he would ‘repeal Common Core’, even though they are voluntary standards adopted by states and were never a law. He allowed residents of his state to participate in the federal health care law known as Obamacare. And anti-tax activists have been relentless in their criticism of Walker for allowing the Milwaukee Bucks to finance a new arena through $220 million in state-issued bonds.”