Child and community grants could be cut

Child protection services and services for adults needing mental health assistance could see a funding reduction in the 2012-2013 biennium under a bill approved 11-7 by the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee. Sponsored by Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Abeler (R-Anoka), HF128 would reduce children and community services grants by $38.5 million, emergency general assistance  by $15.9 million, county child support enforcement administration costs by $6.7 million , emergency Minnesota supplemental aid by $2.2 million and adult mental health services for those under State-Operated Services by $1.17 million. “We are faced with a challenge that’s bigger than anybody ever had with less resources to draw on” Abeler said. “This is how we budget sometimes. … Continue Reading

LGA cut moves to Ways and Means

A move to put on the fast track a bill that would make last year’s reductions to local government aid permanent has minority members of the House Taxes Committee questioning why so fast. Part of a package of reductions announced Jan. 18 by House and Senate Republican leaders that would reduce the projected state $6.2 billion state budget deficit by $1 billion, HF129 would:make permanent all pay-2010 aid and credit reductions to local government; reduce the renter’s tax credit from 19 percent to 15 percent; repeal the political contribution refunds; and limit payments to claimants under the sustainable forests incentive program. “My goal here is to make the numbers look better in the February forecast,” said Rep. Greg Davids (R-Preston), the bill’s sponsor and committee chairman. The committee approved the bill 17-9; it now moves to the House Ways and Means Committee. Continue Reading

Hung up: Budgets keep cell phones from cops

When a shifty character enters a store and acts suspiciously, the staff may call 911. The call goes through dispatch and responding officers hope to witness the shoplifting or at least chase the suspect down the block. The process works well. But it could be even better.Imagine a different scenario. A beat cop, who only works a certain neighborhood like Uptown, gets a cell phone call from a store and gets there in half the time because the officer is in the neighborhood already.That is how it was up until a short while ago. Continue Reading

North High supporters recruit students

North High School in Minneapolis was given a reprieve from closure for next school year. But, the burden is on community members to convince students to enroll in a school that is not guaranteed to remain open. KFAI’s Hannah Rael reports.[Audio below]  Continue Reading

List of regents candidates narrowed

Twelve finalists have emerged for four open spots on the University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents after a day of interviews and a chaotic round of voting Wednesday.  Sixteen candidates were interviewed over three days for the vacancies on the University’s governing board which is responsible for approving budgets, new building plans and policy changes. Current regents Steven Hunter and David Larson were among the finalists chosen by a 24-member citizen advisory council for consideration by the House and Senate higher education committees, who will present a final slate of candidates to the full Legislature for approval. During his interview Wednesday, Hunter talked about the stark financial difficulties facing the University and said the school would need to “right-size” itself amidst the upcoming presidential transition. “I think we’re going to have to eliminate some programs,” he said. “My goal would be that a year from now we can say we had a smooth transition and … Continue Reading

Jon Stewart challenges Pawlenty on “tyranny” rhetoric

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty stopped by The Daily Show Wednesday night to chat with Jon Stewart, continuing his media tour. Pawlenty has appeared on a host of television programs this week, ranging from the standard news programs to shows such as The View, as part of his tour promoting his new book, Courage to Stand. Unlike most of his recent media appearances, The Daily Show interview largely shied away from a discussion of Pawlenty’s presidential ambitions. Instead, Stewart spent the whole interview pushing Pawlenty to defend or reject government-as-tyranny language – particularly regarding President Obama’s policies – that has come to dominate the right wing of the Republican party through the tea party movement. Stewart opened the interview by clarifying that he was not trying to tie any of this into the events in Tuscon last weekend and, instead, debate the general direction of political speech since Obama was elected. Continue Reading

Taxes committee gets “20,000-foot overview”

The 29 members of the House Taxes Committee, most being new to the committee, got what the chairman called a “20,000-foot overview on the subject of taxes,” during their first meeting. Analysts from the nonpartisan House Research Department explained the different sources of tax revenue collected by the state: nearly 42 percent comes from individual income taxes, 30.4 percent from sales taxes; and nearly 28 percent from other tax revenue, such as corporate and motor fuels. Researchers noted that $5.3 million from sales taxes is projected to be collected in fiscal year 2011. Other than the 2008 voter-approved three-eighths of 1 percent increase to fund the arts and environment, Minnesota’s sales tax rate has not increased since 1991. Researcher Pat Dalton said there are only six states with a higher sales tax rate than Minnesota; however, many states have a higher local option sales tax rate.Before the presentation, Rep. Greg Davids (R-Preston), the committee chairman, said his practice in the previous committees that he has chaired, is to have a DFL bill first be taken up by the committee. Continue Reading

Sertich to resign seat; take IRRRB post

Rep. Tony Sertich (DFL-Chisholm) is expected to resign his House seat Thursday, after being appointed as commissioner of the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board. Sertich, who was elected to his sixth term representing District 5B, served as House majority leader during the last two biennia. “I have great confidence that Representative Sertich will be an outstanding Commissioner of the IRRRB and will provide the strong leadership that the agency needs to fulfill its important mission to the people on the Iron Range,” said Gov. Mark Dayton in a news release announcing the appointment. The IRRRB, located in Eveleth, is an economic development agency with the mission to advance growth on the Iron Range by “stabilizing and enhancing the economy of northeastern Minnesota.”According to the release, Dayton will call a special election for Feb. 15 to fill the seat. Continue Reading