Dayton’s budget focused squarely on education

Gov. Mark Dayton has proposed a $42 billion, two-year budget heavily focused on Minnesota’s youngest residents. Unveiled Tuesday, Dayton’s budget framework would spend most of the state’s projected $1 billion surplus on program areas like early childhood education and child health, and would provide nearly $100 million in child care assistance tax credits to Minnesota families. The plan would increase state spending by roughly $2.5 billion more in 2016-2017 over the current biennium and leave $35 million of the projected surplus unspent. “I’m placing my priority on the future of Minnesota,” Dayton said during a morning news conference. The proposed spending, he said, is aimed squarely at closing the state’s achievement gap between white and minority students by doing more, earlier, to place less of a burden on the state’s schools to solve the disparities. Continue Reading

Black Folk: Cause for a Different Type of Reporting

Attorney, Jeff Hassan is Executive Director to the African American Leadership Forum. The mission of AALF’s Executive Director is to create full employment, build wealth, close the achievement gap, affect legislative policy and promote healthy living in the Twin Cities African American Community. To accomplish these tasks, Mr. Hassan must first address an age old issue that affect the thought process of every day Minnesotans, especially those who read the Star Tribune. These thought processes could very well inadvertently affect legislation and funding crucial to change necessary in the African American community. As a father is to his child and as a leader is to his tribe —Mr. Hassan is the Alpha Male, and he is very protective of African American leaders and passionately demonstrates this in his open letter to the Star Tribune today. Continue Reading

Bill would require that Met Council get Legislature’s OK on housing plans, funds

The Legislature would gain control of the Metropolitan Council’s housing purse strings, under a bill sponsored by Rep. Bob Vogel (R-Elko New Market).HF1969 would also make the Metropolitan Council’s long-range plans and goals for affordable and life-cycle housing in the seven-county Twin Cities metropolitan area subject to legislative approval.[Right: Rep. Bob Vogel]The House Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Committee laid the bill over Wednesday for possible inclusion in a later bill. There is no Senate companion.Kim Crockett, chief operating officer at the Center for the American Experiment, questioned whether housing falls under the Metropolitan Council’s legislative authority. She praised Vogel’s bill for “reasserting the prerogative of the Legislature in the area of housing.”Judd Schetnan, Metropolitan Council government affairs director, agreed with Crockett that housing isn’t like the sewage or transit systems his agency runs. But Vogel’s bill would make housing more of a system than it is today, he said, and he asked whose interests the bill served. “We’ve not heard from cities who have asked for these changes.”One local official backing the bill is Plymouth Mayor Kelli Slavik, who told committee members the Metropolitan Council goal for her city — 932 new units of affordable housing in the decade ending in 2030 — “doesn’t make sense. Continue Reading

‘We can’t do this without you!’ Mayor Hodges sets her agenda in State of the City address

“One Minneapolis” was the central theme in Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges’s State of the City Address on April 2, at the American Swedish Institute, where she discussed how the community working together can address challenges the city of Minneapolis is currently facing.“The genius we have now, right here, will make us the great city of the 21st century if we are willing to do what it takes to make sure we leave none of that genius on the table,” Hodges said.In her second State of the City Address, Hodges made a call-to-action to encourage community leaders to become graduation coaches for young men. She wants to narrow the gap between low-income and middle class families through collective bargaining in the private sector. She wants to raise the minimum wage and launch the Minneapolis Climate Champs Challenge, which will provide steps and tips as to how citizens in Minneapolis can help stop climate change.“Minneapolis, the question before us now is how much genius are we going to leave on the table?” Hodges asked.Hodges set her sights on early education, bridging the divide when it comes to income inequality and addresses climate change.Education In order to efficiently use the genius of people in the community, Hodges said it starts when a child in the community is young. When it comes to youth development, Hodges cited the fact that 80% of a person’s brain is developed by the age of 3.“What we do for our kids early on matters,” Hodges said.The city will budget $1 million for housing so many children who are low-income, could have stable living conditions. She said the focus on child development is to make sure they are ready for the workforce; however, she also wants them to be engaged in their community.“We need our kids to be more than workforce ready, we needs kids who are ready to build one Minneapolis. Continue Reading

J Street founder to speak in Minneapolis

Israelis have recently gone to the polls in a contested Knesset election which will impact the country’s policy agenda and the discourse around Israeli-Palestinian relations for years to come.Please join us for a discussion between J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami and Humphrey School Professor Brian Atwood, chair of Global Policy and former dean. They will examine issues surrounding the outcome of the election and what this means for Israel’s future, as well as the future for negotiations on Arab-Israeli peace.J Street, founded in 2008 with a stated aim of serving as the “Political Home for Pro-Peace, Pro-Israel Americans”, has played an active role in the debate surrounding Arab-Israeli peace. J Street President and Founder Jeremy Ben-Ami previously served in the administration of Bill Clinton, was Howard Dean’s national policy director in 2004, and assisted in managing a mayoral campaign in New York City in 2001. He lived and worked in Israel during the 1990s and was recently included in the Jerusalem Post’s list of the 50 most influential Jews in the World. The publication deemed him “a game-changer on the American Jewish landscape”.Please note this event is open to the general public so feel free to forward the invitation to any of our community partners or other interested parties.Jeremy Ben-Ami, president and founder of J Street, will speak on “Prospects for Arab-Israeli Peace in the Wake of the Israeli Elections” 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 14
 in the Humphrey Forum
 at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, 
301 19th Ave. Continue Reading

The real cost of just ‘one more stadium’

The question, “Should I have just one more drink?” can be the difference between actually showing up to the sloppily made brunch plans from the night before and quivering in a bed wet with balmy sweat while clutching a fistful of aspirin.This mistake gets made once or twice in your life before you learn to shy away from the tempting words of “just one more.”However, after Wednesday’s announcement of a new Major League Soccer expansion, the city of Minneapolis currently faces its own “should I have just one more” debate. But instead of Grain Belt beer, Minneapolis needs to ask itself whether it needs “just one more stadium.”The MLS awarded Bill McGuire, the former UnitedHealth Group CEO and current owner of the Minnesota United FC, the opportunity to start a new MLS franchise under the stipulation that he commit to building a new outdoor stadium — which would be the fifth large-scale professional stadium in the Twin Cities area.Of all the cities in the United States that have five major professional sports teams, Minneapolis is one of the smallest. I’m a small guy, and consuming five drinks is a lot for me. So what does that say for the Twin Cities’ fifth professional stadium?McGuire estimates that a proposed 18,500-seat stadium would cost about $150 million to build, but he kept mum when asked whether he would seek public money for its construction. That’s a bargain of a price when you glance at the new Vikings stadium ($1 billion), but let’s not forget that we’re still paying off the debt for Target Field. Continue Reading