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K-12 Education Omnibus & Educator Licensing Bills: VETOED

K-12 Chalkboard

Spending on K-12 education was due to increase automatically by about $800 million next biennium; the GOP bill increased spending by an additional $300 million (to $1.1 billion) bringing the K-12 budget for the next biennium to a whopping $18.58 billion. But it wasn’t enough. Dayton vetoed the bill. The House and Senate also passed a bill to overhaul Minnesota’s overly confusing and complex teacher licensing system. Despite passing both chambers with bipartisan support, the governor vetoed this proposal, as well....

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Transportation Omnibus Bill: VETOED

congested road

There is a lot to like in terms of spending for roads, airports and freight. In fact, it follows and improves on the Center’s 2015 Policy Blueprint. The bill includes bonding and eliminates funding for passenger rail. Here’s the big concession: metro counties are given the power to raise the local transit sales tax to half a cent to pay for building and operating transit without a referendum. ...

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$800 million bonding bill rejected by House as too small


Here is Rep. Dean Urdahl: “It is a little bit disconcerting to me to realize that there are members here who are prepared to vote against projects that are vital to their district,” he said. “I implore you to consider what you’re doing and why. We can’t say that we voted ‘no’ on local projects because $800 million isn’t enough money.”...

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Pension Omnibus Bill: Show Me the Money

state pensions piggy

The bill is an attempt to sober up (more realistic assumptions, paying more in contributions while lowering COLAs) but still sneaks the old sauce hoping no one will notice (big increases for taxpayers, modest increases for employees, without fully funding the base benefit). And then there’s that big balloon floating out there in 2047. ...

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Minnesota’s decline: Why Minnesota may lose a congressional seat in 2020


It is no surprise that Minnesota is attractive to immigrants and refugees. But why is Minnesota so unattractive to its own population—or people from around the U.S.? The answer is simple: state and local policies are hostile to good jobs and economic growth. What message will our leaders send when the Governor and legislators go home? ...

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Disastrous Winter for Taxpayer-Subsidized Spirit Mountain Skiing in Duluth

Spirit Ski Lift 2

The losses just keep piling up for Spirit Mountain, the City of Duluth's ski chalet. So what's new? Back in 2015, the city transferred $300,000 from the tourist tax fund to keep Spirit Mountain solvent. After that, the city abandoned all pretenses of Spirit Mountain generating enough revenue to at least break even, permanently allocating $250,000 in tourist taxes annually to the heavily subsidized slope. The numbers for this winter just got crunched--and so did city taxpayers, according to the Duluth Tribune. Revenue plunged almost 10 percent from the previous ski season, while expenses spiked more than 6 percent. Yet rather than reconsider...

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A response to Hopkins real estate developer: Southwest LRT is a sweetheart deal for developers, terrible deal for taxpayers

Thomas the Tank off tracks

Hopkins real estate developer Kelly Doran wrote an enraged commentary in the Star Tribune when he heard that 84 state legislators had asked the FTA and Congress to kill Southwest LRT. Stuart Chazin from Minneapolis Lakes and Parks Alliance wrote a great response. Are taxpayers supposed to fund billions in capital costs and tens of millions a year in operating costs, then replace it all again in 25 years, for LRT that does nothing to relieve congestion because developers are relying on the project? We think not. ...

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Why 4-Year-Olds Should Beat Governor Dayton Back with an Olive Branch

dayton reading to kids

The Governor’s office, DFL leaders and the teachers union, Education Minnesota, have made it clear that once again, one of their top priorities remains “Universal Pre-K” in Minnesota. Unless Senators want to fund their political opponents, let’s hope Senators follow the House’s lead and fund school readiness instead. It's a respectable start. ...

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Minnesota, Land of 10,000 Lakes and One Shrimp Farm?

Shrimp-Prawn Northern-pandalus_borealis_sw

Minnesota has lots of water, but all of it is fresh. Shrimp live in salt water, of which Minnesota has none. So the state has never been associated with shrimp, or shrimp production. Until now. As Tom Steward noted a couple of weeks ago, legislation is wending its way through Minnesota's House and Senate that would subsidize shrimp production facilities in the state. The subsidy would be 69 cents per pound of shrimp; in addition, shrimp production facilities would be exempt from sales and use taxes. It's no secret what is going on: a businessman near Marshall wants to grow shrimp,...

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Tweet This: Police Pensions Ought to Be Fully Funded

Chicken Little Teamster Tweet

There is an old saying: don’t kill the messenger: I was invited to testify at the Pension Commission this week. In response, a few tweets went out from the Teamsters Local 320 Public & Law Enforcement that made it clear that we have a communication problem. So, this post is written to the rank and file out there, the thin blue line that looked fierce sitting behind me Tuesday night. There is another saying: don’t argue with math. ...

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