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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Highlights of the three 2010-2011 Minnesota state budget plans: Gov.
Local Minnesota governments may not be happy with the way things are going this year at the Capitol - with big state aid cuts coming - but counties are thrilled with Gov. Tim Pawlenty's proposal to remove one burden from them. In the revised budget plan the governor released Tuesday, he proposed that the state take back responsibility for housing short-term offenders. For years, the state has forced counties to hold prisoners serving less than a half year, but did not pay counties the full cost of keeping those inmates. Not all counties have enough cells to accommodate the extra load. St.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty's newest budget plan, released Tuesday, increases education, courts and other spending, despite a worsening economy. And he still opposes raising state taxes, although Democrats say his policies would force nearly $2 billion higher local property taxes. News early this month that the budget slipped $2 billion deeper into deficit was more than offset by federal economic stimulus money, so his new budget plan differs relatively little from his first proposal.
Non-profit organizations, county assessors and the state have crafted a compromise that could allow charities to continue being exempt from property taxes. If the bill heard for the first time Wednesday becomes law, more than 4,000 properties owned by 1,700 non-profit organizations could avoid paying property taxes. Those involved in the bill's draft met 13 times and rewrote the measure two dozen times - and came up with a bill that puts into law what most counties already do. A late 2007 state Supreme Court ruling "sent shockwaves through the non-profits," Rep.
Only the rich will be able to send their children to college if Minnesota chops higher education funding too much, a student told a University of Minnesota Wednesday student rally. Parents' dreams of sending children to college have "become a nightmare of excessive debt," Mike McBride of the University of Minnesota Morris told about 200 other students rallying to preserve college funding. The state Capitol rally featured speakers from each University of Minnesota campus, all urging policymakers to keep budget cuts to a minimum as the state faces what is expected to be a $7 billion budget def
Federal funds meant to spur the economy will help make this one of Minnesota's busiest road construction years. Federal economic stimulus money will provide $180 million for 60 Minnesota transportation projects outside the Twin Cities, Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced Wednesday. By the time all money is received, Minnesota officials expect to receive $596 million for state and local highway and transit projects in the coming two years. But that is just a start.
ST. PAUL - Dixie Duncan sat in front of the Senate Transportation Committee, daughter Brynn in a wheelchair at her side, and paused to regain her composure. "Pass this law for Brynn," she pleaded. Committee members obeyed, unanimously approving a bill requiring children up to 8 years old and 4-foot-9 tall to use proper child restraint systems, such as booster seats. Current law requires such restraints for children younger than 4. Duncan, who lives in Moorhead, said her daughter, now 8, sustained severe spinal cord injuries in an Aug. 18, 2008, Fergus Falls accident.
Minnesota's local governments receive 30 percent of their revenue from the state, so when the state budget is sick, local governments sniffle. Now, with a massive state budget deficit, the affliction is much worse than a cold. Many say legislators must resort to major surgery to reduce local government funding flowing from the state. With a budget deficit that could top $6 billion, there is no doubt cities, counties and townships will lose state money.