Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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ST. PAUL -- Minnesota lawmakers voted to cut $300 million from college and university spending as they craft a state budget while plugging a $5 billion deficit. Opponents of the Republican-written bill said that some campuses are threatened and up to 1,500 higher education workers could lose their jobs if the bill becomes law. Bills passing the House and Senate Tuesday set a $2.5 billion two-year budget for state-run colleges and universities. That is down from $2.8 billion in the current budget. Senators passed their bill 37-27; representatives passed it 69-60.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota teachers no longer would keep jobs based on tenure under a Minnesota House plan that also would keep public school funding static. The bill considered late Tuesday night would spend slightly more money on public school students while the state Education Department itself would sustain a major cut. Opponents complained about Republican cuts in Duluth, Minneapolis and St. Paul schools' aid designed to help desegregate schools. In the next two years, the GOP-written House bill would spend about the same $14 billion as in the current budget.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's agriculture industry takes a $10 million hit in a Senate-passed agriculture funding bill. Senators passed the bill 39-25 Monday, with a few Democrats joining Republicans. The bill would spend $77 million in the next two years. Senate Agriculture Chairman Doug Magnus, R-Slayton, said he thinks the bill could earn Gov. Mark Dayton's support. Magnus and Agriculture Commissioner David Frederickson met Friday afternoon to modify the Senate bill in an attempt to find compromises.
ST. PAUL -- Opening the Minnesota Emergency Operations Center has become all too common as spring floods approach, but there is a major difference this year. Nine counties, mostly around the Red River, were affected by floods two years ago. A year ago, 20 counties were flooded.
Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative Democrats want quicker reporting of campaign finance donations. Now, Dayton said, there is a 13-month delay in the report of some contributions. He called for reports every three months, and he said he will begin to issue this quarterly reports next month even though the law does not require him to. "I am prepared to lead by example," he said. Dayton and the Democrats said the lag in reports mean Minnesotans do not know who is influencing lawmakers during the legislative session. "It's time to bring some more sunshine into the state Capitol," Sen.
ST. PAUL -- The House bill funding health programs either is a fantasy or not quite ready, depending on who speaks. Democrat Gov. Mark Dayton said on Tuesday that it is "fantasy island" for Republicans who wrote the bill to think that the federal government will approve a change to save the state $300 million. Obama administration officials have indicated they will not do that, the governor said. The bill, written by Rep.
ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Legislature is racing toward a self-imposed Friday budget deadline amid protesters fearing Wisconsin-type anti-union laws, Republicans bucking their party chairman by proposing racinos and key lawmakers saying their budget plans will not be finished by Friday. "Welcome to Phase One of a yet-to-be-determined number of phases, I fear," Chairman Jim Abeler of the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee said Monday as he introduced his budget plan. The Anoka Republican said that his proposal will change before reaching Democrat Gov. Mark Dayton's desk.
ST. PAUL -- A Minnesota House committee that usually approves spending money to build government facilities voted Tuesday to call back $59 million already approved from as far back as 1994. The bill would stop some long-planned rail and trail projects in their tracks, as well as others that have not started as quickly as some lawmakers want. The bill also cancels spending that no longer is needed. Saving money is the reason behind the effort, House Capital Investment Chairman Larry Howes, R-Walker, said.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota income taxes would fall $300 million in the next two years under a House Republican plan, while state payments to local governments drop significantly. The proposal, to receive a House Tax Committee vote late this week, eliminates Local Government Aid for Duluth, Minneapolis and St. Paul, as well as Twin Cities suburbs, by 2015.