News Day: Governor No: Line item vetos and unallotment / Cop pleads guilty / Beware the borer / more

Governor No No new taxes. No special session. No compromise. That’s essentially the message that Governor Pawlenty delivered with $400 million in line item vetoes and a threat that he will balance the budget by unallotment if the legislature does not agree to his terms. Rachel Stassen Berger’s PiPress blog describes who gets hit by the biggest line item veto:

In signing the Health and Human Services bill the Legislature sent him, he slashed $381 million in funding for General Assistance Medical Care, a health insurance program for adult Minnesotans who don’t have health insurance but may not be eligible or may not yet be approved for other subsidized health care programs.

Health insurance through GAMC is only available to folks who make $650 a month, about $7,800 a year, or less. Many covered under GAMC are homeless. .. (Worth noting: Pawlenty cut the program’s funding only in 2011, which gives the Legislature next year to work with him on finding funding.)

The unallotment strategy means that the governor will sign budget bills sent to him by the legislature, but will use his line item veto to cut parts of these bills. The line item veto alone will not balance the budget. So, after July 1, the governor will use his unallotment power to make further cuts in state spending. He can exercise this power unilaterally, without any legislative input. He has not indicated where the further cuts — perhaps as much as three billion dollars — will be made. PIM reports that almost everything is on the table, with T-Paw saying that “final decisions have not been made regarding possible impacts to state programs, but areas could include government-subsidized health care programs, welfare, and other social services; K-12 and higher education; and local government aid.”


At this point, DFL lawmakers have only a few options. They can negotiate with the governor and reach a budget deal, or, if they don’t reach a deal, they can let him unallot or they can try to override his veto of a $1 billion tax bill.

House Majority Leader Tony Sertich’s angry response to the governor’s message, and his messenger:

Commissioner Hanson, you use words like ‘agreement’ and ‘mutual’ as if you mean them, and I don’t believe you, quite honestly. What I hear you say on agreement is, we want you to agree with what the governor says, and if you don’t do that, we’ll go it alone. I don’t share the optimism from around this table. I don’t think this is funny…. If the governor goes it alone and has it his way, 113,000 Minnesotans will lose health insurance. Sixteen thousand Minnesotans will lose their jobs, and there will be cuts in education and higher tuition. That’s not funny. That’s not an agreement.

See Steve Perry’s political analysis and Session Weekly’s detailed breakdown of unallotment powers and history.

MN Job Watch With the economic stimulus package offering rebates for energy-efficient windows, two Minnesota companies are gearing up for better business, reports MPR. Anderson Windows and Doors has called back 500 workers laid off earlier this year, and Marvin Windows is restoring hours cut from work weeks.

Chrysler announced that it will close 20 dealerships in Minnesota. MPR lists the dealerships, but also reports that the announcement doesn’t make clear what will actually happen.

Scott Lambert of the Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association says 12 of the dealers sell other brands and some sell used cars, too, so that could keep them alive, though Lambert said their business will still be crimped. He expects overall dealer job losses to total about 250.

Cop: Guilty Former Minneapolis police officer Michael David Roberts entered a surprise guilty plea at trial, admitting to charges that he took money from a drug dealer in exchange for information about an automobile license plate record, and also that he failed to report income on his tax returns. The plea came midway through the trial, after a dozen prosecution witnesses had testified. Roberts faces a likely prison sentence, but no sentencing date has been set.

Tree plague arrives The emerald ash borer has arrived in St. Paul, reports the PiPress.

Millions dead. Hundreds of millions of dollars spent. And now, Minnesota — with its 937 million ash trees — has become the new front line in the thus-far unsuccessful fight to curb the spread of a voracious, invasive beetle.

No to Pawlenty A KSTP poll of 500 Minnesotans found that a strong majority does not want a third term for T-Paw. The margin: 57% against a third term, 41% in favor.

National/World headlines
Obama disappoints on human rights President Barack Obama “is expected to announce on Friday that he is reviving military trials for some of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay,” reports BBC. He stopped the trials in January, as a measure to protect human rights, and is expected to order new protections for defendants when the trails resume. Obama has also drawn criticism for his recent decision not to release torture photos, reports the Washington Post

Pelosi vs. CIA? Washington Post: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s extraordinary accusation that the Bush administration lied to Congress about the use of harsh interrogation techniques dramatically raised the stakes in the growing debate over the Bush administration’s anti-terrorism policies even as it raised some questions about the speaker’s credibility. ”

Guatemala A lawyer speaks from beyond the grave. Rodrigo Rosenberg, slain last Sunday, left a recorded message charging the government with complicity in his politically-motivated murder, reports NPR:

In allegations sent to media organizations, slain lawyer Rodrigo Rosenberg said he found out that a businessman he was representing was killed because he refused to pay bribes to a state-controlled bank. Rosenberg, who was well-known in business and legal circles, alleged that he was threatened when he vowed to go public with the allegations.

War Reports

Pakistan The Pakistani government lifeted the military curfew in parts of the Swat valley to allow more refugees to leave, reports BBC. About 150,000 civilians remain trapped in the city of Mingora, with food, gas and electricity running out. The UN has called for emergency aid for the hundreds of thousands of refugees from the fighting.

Sri Lanka BBC reports: “The Red Cross says its staff in Sri Lanka are witnessing an “unimaginable humanitarian catastrophe” in the area where troops have trapped Tamil Tigers.” According to the UN, 50,000 civilians remain trapped in the war zone, and the Red Cross has not been able to deliver aid. Nearly 200,000 people are in refugee camps.

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