Torture – again I am sick of reading about torture. I am not going to stop reading about it, because this is what my country did in my name. It makes me sick, but that is not a sufficient reason to “walk away” as Peggy Noonan recommends. The United States tortured prisoners and that was official government policy. Someone must be held accountable. MORE
Crime and taxes The legislature is hard at work on the budget, which means fiddling with tax and crime laws.
On taxes, you could go farther and do worse than to read every word of Steve Perry’s “The T-Word” series at Politics in Minnesota. On Friday, he reported that collapsing sales tax revenues mean “there’s every possibility that the November 2009 economic forecast could bring legislators scrambling back into special session round about December.” Yesterday, Perry summarized Rep. Ann Lenczewiski’s House omnibus tax bill, which provides for a new top income tax bracket, some tax relief at the low end, and a clean-up of exemption, deduction and credits on the MN income tax form, along with Rep. Paul Marquart’s property tax reforms. A few tax increases for alcohol and tobacco also make it into the mix.
The Strib reports that the MN Senate regretfully approved a “controversial proposal to reduce penalties for a number of criminal offenses as a way to cut costs.” Among the changes: ending some mandatory minimum sentences for repeat drunk drivers and drug offenders. Predictably, Republicans had a field day, with Sen. Dick Day, R-Owatonna, warning that the changes would allow “the thugs to run our streets.” For a more detailed list of changes, see Politics in Minnesota.
Don’t mess with Chris! During an unannounced visit to Burroughs Elementary School, school board member Chris Stewart reportedly got into an “heated exchange” with Burroughs Principal Tim Cadotte. Parents say that Stewart called the principal, the school and the site council racist. Now the principal has been suspended, according to the Strib..
MN Job Watch Park Nicollet is cutting 233 employees, reports the PiPress. That’s just the tip of the iceberg for health care institutions — Park Nicollet has cut 308 full-time positions and 492 employees since December, and Allina, Fairview, HCMC and North Memorial have also had recent cuts. The culprits: the recession, more uninsured and unable-to-pay patients, and soon more cuts in reimbursement due to MN budget cuts.
Leaving kids and adults behind Bob Herbert in the NYT that there’s “little doubt that poverty and family homelessness are rising, that the quality of public education in many communities is deteriorating and that legions of children are losing access to health care as their parents join the vastly expanding ranks of the unemployed.”
“We are seeing the emergence of what amounts to a ‘recession generation,’ ” said Dr. Redlener. “This includes the children who were already living in poverty, but also millions more whose families had a reasonable chance of making it. Two years ago, they saw themselves as working class and middle class, but now many are unemployed or underemployed, and one of the results is that we’re seeing growing numbers of children depending on emergency rooms for health care or going without care.”
In Minnesota, T-Paw’s plan for cutting health care costs hits dental care hard. In effect reports the TC Daily Planet, T-Paw’s plan denies dental care to adults receiving any kind of state-assisted health care.
The governor has proposed eliminating dental care for adults receiving General Assistance, Medical Assistance, MinnesotaCare, and the Critical Access Provider Payment Program, and replacing it with an ER care program on Jan. 1, 2010.
There’s just one problem.
Hospital emergency rooms aren’t set up as dentist’s offices. They can supply patients with pain medications for tooth aches and antibiotics for dental infections but they don’t extract teeth. “They can’t actually perform dental procedures so there will be repeated visits,” says Tom Day, director of legislative affairs for the Minnesota Dental Association (MDA).
State of St. Paul Want to read all of what Mayor Chris Coleman said yesterday abou the state of the city? MinnPost has the script.