Best Buy announced that it will close 50 stores nationwide and lay off 400 employees in “corporate and support areas.” That’s likely to affect a lot of people at corporate headquarters in Richfield. The company will pilot a new “Connected Store” plan in the Twin Cities and San Antonio metro areas before the end of the year. That will mean closing some of its big box stores and opening more Best Buy Mobile small format stores. KARE 11 reports that the five Minnesota big box stores that will close are Edina, Brooklyn Center, Rogers, Lakeville, and Hutchinson, with more than 300 workers.
Republicans in the MN House and Senate agreed on a bill to pay back part of the school funding shift. They would take money from the state budget reserve to pay back about one-fifth of the amount owed to schools. That pretty much guarantees a budget shortfall again next time around. DFLers wanted to pay back more of the funding shift through increasing taxes, but that’s a no-starter with the no-new-taxes crowd. DFL representative Ryan Winkler caustically observed:
“Every kid on a playground knows that a bully who steals $25 and gives you $5 back is not your friend. Despite their political games, Republicans are no friends to Minnesota’s school kids.”
Republican state bonding bills in the House and Senate are hundreds of millions of dollars apart. And that’s before even beginning to talk about the Vikings stadium. One example: The House Republicans approved more than two hundred million dollars to renovate the State Capitol. Senate Republicans propose only twenty-five million for a few repairs. DFL Representative Alice Hausman called Republican proposals “inadequate, geographically unbalanced, and highly partisan.” She also criticized the bill for failure to invest in infrastructure and said it missed an opportunity to create thousands of jobs.
Housing advocates have been working hard to keep affordable housing funding in the bonding bills, and prospects look good, according to a report by Alleen Brown in the Daily Planet.
Governor Dayton’s bonding bill proposal released in January, which included a total of $775 million, set aside $32 million for housing. The much smaller $280 million House bonding bill set aside $15 million for housing. And although the Senate bonding bill included fewer total bonding dollars than Dayton’s, the $496 million proposal released Wednesday included $36 million for housing.
The proposals fall short of a request from the Housing Finance Agency for $40 million, but it’s enough to leave many housing advocates giddy.
Both DFL and Republican senators found common ground on one issue: putting booze back in the game at TCF Stadium. The omnibus liquor bill would allow beer to be sold in suites and in designated areas at or near the stadium. The House will vote on a similar bill later this week.
In Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District, three DFLers will run in the August primary, vying for the chance to take on first-term Republican Chip Cravaack. Former Representative Rick Nolan looks like a shoo-in for the DFL endorsement at the May 5 convention. State Senator Tarryl Clark and Duluth City Council member Jeff Anderson both say they will challenge him in the primary. Anderson says he is unapologetically pro-mining.
Governor Mark Dayton spoke to an OutFront rally at the state capitol on Thursday. He told the crowd that he had a dream this weekend that Minnesota will become the first state in the nation to defeat an anti-same sex marriage amendment.
St. Paul is turning out the lights Sunday — but just for one hour, during the 8:30-9:30 p.m. observance of Earth Hour. According to the Earth Hour website:
More than 5,200 cities and towns in 135 countries worldwide switched off their lights for Earth Hour 2011 alone, sending a powerful message for action on climate change.
The game’s afoot, and the poetry will be underfoot, as St. Paul’s fifth annual Sidewalk Poetry contest seeks more local verse, reports Nicole Crosbie in the Daily Planet. The contest ends April 13, and winners will be announced May 15, with new poems added to current offerings for a total of nearly 600 installations of 42 poems by year’s end.