NEWS DAY | Unemployment: 10.2% in October / Finding Fort Hood news / MN college funds gone / Don’t ask, don’t tell on MN tax refunds / Pawlenty’s bad idea / Bachmann Tea Party

“]Dorothea Lange unemployment lineUnemployment: 10.2% in October U.S. unemployment numbers for October rose more than expected, from 9.8% in September to 10.2% in October. Some 35.6% of the unemployed had been out of work for 27 weeks or longer.  The total number of officially unemployed, plus discouraged workers, people working part time because they cannot find full time jobs, and those “marginally attached” to the work force – 17.5% in October.

President Obama is expected to sign an extension of unemployment benefits today. Yesterday’s report of the number of new unemployment compensation claims filed showed 512,000 new claims, down slightly from the previous week.

Minnesota’s unemployment rate fell to 7.3% in September, but is expected to rise in October. October figures will be released on November 19.

 

Finding Fort Hood news Yesterday’s shooting at Fort Hood, which left at least 13 dead, is all over the news today. Over at the Poynter Institute, Al Tompkins has a round-up of news sources, from the U.S. Army Twitter page to the New York Times Twitter list, and a comprehensive summary of what is known about the shooter. As hate groups lined up to denounce this as a Muslim crime, joined by Fox News, the Council on American Islamic Relations condemned the shooting, saying in part, “No religious or political ideology could ever justify or excuse such wanton and indiscriminate violence.”

 

MN college funds gone Minnesota college scholarship funds for the year ran out, and officials dipped into next year’s budgeted funds to keep their promises to this year’s students, reports the Star Tribune. The main reason is greatly increased college enrollment, as displaced workers return to school to upgrade their skills and more high school grads head to college because there are no jobs available. In one dramatic example, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities projected a 1.6% enrollment increase last year, but enrollment actually grew by 8%.

The Minnesota Office of Higher Education has $145.5 million allotted for MN scholarship grants, but will actually spend $158.4 million. Taking the money from next year’s allotment means meeting this year’s commitment, but falling even farther behind next year. Governor Pawlenty’s spokesperson said the governor will not recommend increasing next year’s funding.

Don’t ask, don’t tell on MN tax refunds Minnesota businesses that are owed corporate income tax and sales tax refunds by the state will have to wait a little longer, reports the Star Tribune. The reason: lower-than-predicted tax revenues, due to the recession. The state’s approach: don’t ask, don’t tell:

The state is currently delaying $128 million in corporate tax refunds to 461 companies and $11.9 million in sales tax refunds to about 350 to 400 businesses until late December. However, the Revenue Department is not notifying the firms unless companies specifically request a status update on their tax refunds. (emphasis added)

T-Paw’s not-so-new, not-so-good idea Governor Tim Pawlenty proposed a constitutional amendment Thursday, but critics immediately pointed out major flaws. The Minnesota Independent has a succinct read on it:

Gov. Tim Pawlenty unveiled a proposal on Tuesday to amend the state’s constitution in order to keep a lid on government spending. His plan would cap the size of the state’s general fund budget at the amount of revenue received in the previous two year cycle. But according to figures compiled by the Senate Majority Research office, Pawlenty has never submitted a budget proposal that would have met the fiscal strictures of his proposed amendment.

Not only is the amendment a bad idea in MN, and completely unlikely to pass in the legislature or in a voter referendum, but it is a bad idea that has recently been rejected in other states, according to Minnesota Budget Bites:

Tax and spending limit ballot initiatives were just rejected on Tuesday in both Maine (60 percent opposed it) and Washington (55 percent opposed it). So far, serious efforts to pass similar initiatives have failed in 20 states. …
And it’s unlikely to be popular with Minnesotans. In fact, Minnesota voters have recently demonstrated that they support tax increases when they are needed – note the recent successes just this week of school referenda.

The Minnesota Budget Bites post gives a detailed analysis of what the governor has proposed, what’s wrong with that proposal, and why it doesn’t matter all that much, because the governor “actually plays no role in amending the state’s constitution.”

Bachmann Tea Party vs MN true stories As MN’s Michele Bachmann rallied about 10,000 health care reform opponents in Washington, the AARP announced its support for the House health care bill.

Josh Marshall noted that the mainstream GOP leaders showed up and spoke at the Bachmann-orchestrated event, even though obviously uncomfortable with her tone:

Early this morning The Politico got hold of a Republican Study Committee email asking staffers to send their members to the event but also to avoid words like “rally” and “protest” in favor of “press conference” or “press event”. Clearly, there was an effort to sanitize the event and get away from Bachmann’s high-strung rhetoric about a “last stand” against health care reform. So on the one hand the House Republicans wanted to take over the event. But they also felt the need to get out in front of it, to be in front of the crowd. It was a perfect, real-time illustration of the current struggle within the GOP, with the party establishment trying to harness but also control and not be overrun by the grassroots mobilization on the right.

Among the more outrageous statements: a sign carried by protesters with an enlarged photo of dead bodies at Dachau, comparing health care reform to “National Socialist Health Care.”

For Minnesota stories of the actual impact of lack of health care coverage as the House begins debate on health care reform, see stories of GAMC recipients on the TC Daily Planet and twenty-four stories of people who suffered from lack of coverage collected by Take Action Minnesota.

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