COMMUNITY VOICES | Governor’s Office, Legislature at odds over funding for Veterans Home

Long story short: the Minnesota Veterans Home in Minneapolis used to be a pit. Among the Home’s campus were old buildings that had not been well maintained along with others that even had they been properly maintained were obsolete anyway. And, a dangerousone. In addition to the deferred maintenance there were problems with care to the point that patients had died. So a plan was put in place, and the turn around began. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | An outdoors sportsman on gun control

Doug Lind delivers another strong commentary on the lack of progress of gun regulation legislation in Minnesota when it has been accomplished in Connecticut and elsewhere. HIs comment is part of the new edition of Democratic Visions.  The program is produced by Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Edina and Minneapolis volunteers through DFLSenate District 48.DEMOCRATIC VISIONS CABLE TIMES AND CHANNELSComcast Channel 15 Sundays at 9 p.m. and Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m.  Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Edina, Richfield and Hopkins.  Bloomington Cable Access Television (BCAT) Channel 16 on Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m., Fridays at 9:30 p.m. , Saturdays at 7:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. Minneapolis MTN Channel 16 – Sundays at 8:30 p.m.  Thursdays 2 a.m., 8 a.m., 1 p.m. Continue Reading

OPINION | Fairer taxes, brighter future

Governor Mark Dayton’s new budget is a blueprint for fairer taxes and a brighter future for Minnesota families.  His reforms pave the way for new jobs, healthier lives and a better-educated workforce. Education and health experts around the state have praised Gov. Dayton’s reforms. Future economic growth depends on these changes. The plan puts a halt to the decade of higher classroom sizes, higher tuition and higher property taxes that put roadblocks in the path of the success of middle-class families. None of these reforms are possible without new revenues. Asking the two percent with highest incomes to begin paying rates closer to the higher rate of taxes paid by middle class families is necessary for Minnesota to improve its future. States with higher top income taxes perform better economically than low-tax states for two reasons. Why? The benefits outweigh the costs. Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | GOP tax proposal has no basis of fact

Like a bad meal, brought up again, the Republican dominated Senate repeated the old myth that business tax breaks will create jobs (“Minnesota GOP proposals would phase out state property taxes for businesses”; Pioneer Press 3/21).  There are only three things wrong with this claim: it is unproven … it damages our state’s financial health … and it is (as frequently the case) being proposed by legislators with little or no real life business experience.Let’s start with the latter claim, because everything else following may have more credibility. I DO have real life business experience – like more than 50 years of running my own businesses. After serving in the USAF for 3 years active, and having gone to flight training, af friend of mine owned an advertising agency, and advised me that his largest account sold communications equipment to the Air Force. Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | Local school leaders offer sometimes surprising legislative priorities

Some surprising, as well as some continuing themes emerged through contacting 35 Minnesota district and charter school leaders from urban, suburban and rural communities.  They were asked what was their single most important recommendation to/request from the 2012 state legislature.Free Speech ZoneThe Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. This is an open forum for articles that otherwise might not find a place for publication, including news articles, opinion columns, announcements and even a few press releases. The opinions expressed in the Free Speech Zone and Neighborhood Notes, as well as the opinions of bloggers, are their own and not necessarily the opinion of the TC Daily Planet.Five major themes emerged. 1. Despite years of adjustments, some strange things can still be found in Minnesota’s funding formula.  Elk River Superintendent Mark Bezek pointed out that although substantial numbers of students in that district live in Anoka or Hennepin counties, the district loses several hundred thousand dollars a year because as of 1999, its administrative office was not located in the seven county metropolitan area.  A Minnesota Senate education committee administrator confirmed this.2. Continue Reading

Big plans, short session

“If you free up the entrepreneurs, the hard-working women and men of our great state, they’ll build an economy that is sustainable, and we’ll lead the recovery instead of waiting for it to come here,” Zellers said. “Reform 2.0” includes dozens of individual proposals, many of them hatched during face-to-face meetings with business owners. Zellers said he’s hoping that at least some of those ideas are well received by the governor and the DFLers. “We are going to work with the governor; we’ve proven we can work with him on a number of reform initiatives,” Zellers said. Thissen says DFLers can support reform bills as long as they’re not thinly veiled attempts to cut valuable programs and services. “I think you’ll see Democrats embracing good ideas about how to make government work better — as long as it’s about that,” he said. A year for compromise? The other big issue hanging over lawmakers this year, according to proponents, is also a potential job creator: funding for a new Vikings stadium. Dayton is an adamant supporter of a new stadium, arguing it will employ thousands of construction workers, and both Zellers and Thissen say they think a plan to build a new stadium should come up for a vote on the House floor this year. Everyone agrees the clock is ticking. The problem, right now, seems to be the absence of a clear proposal for lawmakers to even consider. “This has to be a good deal on location, it has to be a really good deal on financing … it also has to be good infrastructure,” Zellers said. “Nothing precludes it from happening, but I think a lot of those things need to gel together really quickly.” Thissen said he’s not sure how a vote would pan out on a stadium bill. He said there will likely be some DFLers who would support it and others who reject it. “Whether it goes up or down, I don’t have the answer to that right now. Continue Reading

Bernie Hesse: Seeing hope in young organizers at Jimmy Johns

Bernie Hesse is the Director of Special Projects and Political Director at UFCW Local 1189. Hesse took a break from contract negotiations for grocery workers to talk to the Twin Cities Daily Planet about the future of unions and jobs in Minnesota.  “We believe that working people should be paid a good and fair wage,” he told the Daily Planet. “Nobody should have to worry about whether or not they can afford health care or put food on the table.” TCDP: So where are unions going? The labor movement that we’re going to see down the road is much less bureaucratic. Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | Vikings Say Scratch Lotto Game Could be Part of Vikings Tax Plan

We’ve heard for some time that the Minnesota Vikings, and likely Vikings Tax bill sponsors Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead and Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, may be interested in using gambling to fund a new Vikings stadium. For the most part, this conversation has centered on the so-called ‘racino’ plan, where slot machines would be located at Canterbury and Running Aces race tracks and the revenues would go toward stadium expenses. Now, with public support still very low, the team is grasping at straws. Free Speech ZoneThe Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. This is an open forum for articles that otherwise might not find a place for publication, including news articles, opinion columns, announcements and even a few press releases. Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | Rybak Target Center Renovation, Statewide Vikings Tax

Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Rybak wants to have it both ways. On the one hand, this Tuesday (Feb 1, 2011), he appeared with billionaire publishing magnate Glen Taylor, hawking a plan to spend $155 million, much of it public money, on a “facelift” for Target Center, which the City owns and Taylor’s Timberwolves and Lynx basketball teams play in. On the other hand, Rybak wants to be seen as a practical mayor who shares the priorities of city residents and neighborhood activists.Free Speech ZoneThe Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. This is an open forum for articles that otherwise might not find a place for publication, including news articles, opinion columns, announcements and even a few press releases. Of a potential Timberwolves Tax to pay for his grand plan for Target Center, Rybak tells Minnpost “I don’t want to deal with this issue, frankly, but we simply have to do it.” Continue Reading