First make concessions – then we might bargain. That seems to be the message from 14 Minnesota hospitals to the Minnesota Nurses Association, which has asked to return to the bargaining table, but is also planning another strike vote. Continue reading
Tag Archives: Tim Pawlenty
The World Cup international soccer tournament, held every four years, launched with opening ceremonies in South Africa last night. Less-known in the United States, the World Cup is a huge international event, leading news and Twitter postings worldwide. More than three million tickets have been sold, and hundreds of millions will watch on television in 215 countries. This is the 19th World Cup, and the first time the tournament has taken place in Africa. The 64 games will take place over the next month, with the final game on July 11. Wikipedia describes in detail how the 32 national teams were selected and scheduled. Continue reading
December 10 is International Human Rights Day and, in observance of that day, the Minnesota AFL-CIO is sponsoring a forum on health as a human right. Then, at 12:30, three DFL legislators will present their plan to save GAMC – General Assistance Medical Care, which serves as a safety net for the poorest, most marginalized people in our community. MinnPost reports that about 36,000 poor adults are currently enrolled in GAMC. Governor Tim Pawlenty cut all funding for GAMC as part of his unallotment strategy for solving the state budget deficit in the current biennium. Continue reading
State economist Tom Stinson released the November 2009 budget forecast yesterday, and the numbers are grim: a looming $1.2 billion shortfall in the 2010-2011 biennium and a staggering $5.4 billion deficit in 2012-2013. This is by far the biggest news in Minnesota today – yes, much bigger than the headlined Petters conviction, the rally at the capitol for a new Vikings stadium, or the MOA apology to Sarah Palin. The shortfall is due to declining employment and income for Minnesotans, which results in lower tax collections. The governor’s initial response was to talk about delaying local government aid (LGA) due to be paid to local governments in December, and to slash LGA for next year. Of course, he won’t consider raising tax rates, even on the wealthiest Minnesotans, even though LGA cuts will mean less police and fire protection, less road and highway maintenance, and less money for medical care and schools.
Stinson said that the recession is over, but that recovery will be extremely slow.
Minnesota’s October unemployment rate was well below the national average, but that does not mean the state’s economy has avoided the worst of this recession. … Employment in Minnesota is now expected to fall by more than 150,000 jobs between the first quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2010, 30,000 more than projected last February. If this forecast holds true, more than a decade of job creation will be lost. The combination of substantial current and expected job losses and what is expected to be a slow recovery, leaves Minnesota employment below its pre-recession level through 2013.
Here are links to the report itself, and to insightful commentary:
After seeing the forecast, Gov. Pawlenty repeated his long-standing opposition to tax increases of any kind. He said the budget should be balanced by spending cuts alone. Pawlenty also said he may be forced to unilaterally cut state aid payments to cities and counties known as LGA.
“For the most part, we are going to wait and invite the Legislature to join us in trying to find a collaborative solution to this challenge, but we may not be able to do that entirely as it relates to some payment schedules,” Pawlenty said. “One of them could be the LGA payment schedule at the end of December.”
• Minnesota Budget Bites calls for “long-term solutions to long-term problems,” and insists that tax increases are one part of the solution:
We need to raise revenues to help us resolve the current deficit – and future deficits. We can’t solve the whole problem by raising revenues, but it is unsustainable to continue to address budget deficits almost entirely by relying on one-time resources, spending cuts and budget gimmicks. Not only are those decisions hurting Minnesotans who need help the most during the current economic downturn, but they are also reducing the investments Minnesota needs to position our state to take advantage of an economic upswing. We wouldn’t be alone in raising taxes. Nationwide, 35 other states are currently facing budget deficits. And during the last year, at least 30 states have enacted tax increases to help close budget holes. It’s our turn.
• The Minnesota Association of Professional Employees (MAPE) noted in a press release that “Last May, MAPE outlined millions of dollars in waste that included out-of-state travel, uncollected revenue and the Pawlenty Administration’s bloated management. The result of MAPE shining the light on certain administration practices was $10 million trimmed from out-of-state travel and the Department of Revenue stepping up collection efforts on money owed to our state. These are positive steps, but more action is needed to cut waste to preserve vital services for Minnesotans.” The May MAPE press release identified $350 million in proposed savings.
• Politics in Minnesota offers Steve Parry’s analysis of the amount of money being spent, month by month, and the implications for unallotment and budget cuts.
NEWS DAY | Budgets on the line / Taking food from the sick / Running around in the cold, freezing to death / Health care, Afghanistan, Philippines
Budgets on the line: Police to helpers to hospitals Police chief Tim Dolan told the Minneapolis City Council that the police department will have a budget deficit of up to $4.2 million this year, far higher than expected. The MPD annual budget is about $135 million. The Star Tribune reported that the city council reaction was strong: Continue reading
Cat fight in TC media world David Brauer gleefully reports that the Strib publisher was taking potshots at MPR yesterday, just before today’s scheduled MPR forum on the future of news. A Strib article quoted Mike Sweeney, chair of the Star Tribune board on MPR’s expansion plans and its sponsorship of the forum: Continue reading
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
“]Unemployment: 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.
St. Paul school board elections – a real contest? With the teachers’ union endorsing challenger Jean O’Connell, and refusing to endorse incumbents Elona Street-Stewart, John Brodrick, and Tom Goldstein, the school board race is shaping up to be a real fight, reports the Pioneer Press, despite the fact that no incumbent has lost in the past three election cycles. In addition to O’Connell, who is running as an independent with both union and chamber of commerce endorsements, two Republicans are also in the race — Chris Conner and John Krenik. Then there’s the separate race to fill the seat vacated by Tom Conlon, with DFL and union-endorsed Vallay Varro squaring off against Republican-endorsed Pat Igo.
The achievement gap between students of color and white students and budget issues are at the top of every candidate’s issues list. For more info, see:
Insurance denied: Too fat, too thin, too … raped? After Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert both went after insurance companies for denying coverage to a “fat” baby, UnitedHealth is now in the spotlight for denying coverage to a too-skinny, but healthy, two-year-old, according to the Star Tribune:
Aislin, who weighs 22 pounds, was turned down by UnitedHealth’s Golden Rule subsidiary for not meeting height and weight standards. Children who are considered to be too slight are often viewed as at higher risk for contracting an illness.
After Aislin’s family went on national television, UnitedHealth reversed its decision.
Another insurance company is taking some heat for denying coverage because of a woman’s medical treatment for rape, apparently another pre-existing condition. The Huffington Post Investigative Fund reported her story, and says it’s not the only one.
Meanwhile, Governor Tim Pawlenty, who believes in leaving health care insurance to the insurance companies and keeping the government out of it, is proposing a new interstate compact tolet health insurance companies sell across state lines. The PiPress quotes the Guv: “Our citizens will benefit from more robust competition, leading to increased choices and better values.”
And Paul Krugman reminds us that, when it comes to health care reform, “the facts have a liberal bias:”
Reform with a strong public option is cheaper than reform without — which means that as we get closer to really doing something, rhetoric about socialism fades out, and that $100 billion or so in projected savings starts to look awfully attractive.
Land of 10,000 (polluted?) lakes Environment Minnesota released a new report showing that more than two million tons of toxic chemicals were dumped into Minnesota lakes and rivers in 2007, part of 232 million tons of toxic chemicals dumped in waters across the country. Minnesota ranks 30th among the states in tonnage of toxic chemicals reported.
The full 44-page report, based on the federal government’s Toxic Release Inventory, notes that the TRI covers only industrial pollution, and does not include pollution from wastewater treatment plants, agricultural facilities or other sources.
Pollutant releases from factories, power plants and other industrial facilities are a key contributing factor to the pollution that leaves 46 percent of the nation’s assessed rivers and streams and 61 percent of its assessed lakes unsafe for fishing, swimming or other uses.
The report recommends encouraging the development and use of safer alternatives to toxic chemicals and strengthening enforcement of the Clean Water Act, expanding it to include “headwaters streams, intermittent waterways, isolated wetlands and other waterways for which jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act has been called into question as a result of recent court decisions.”
H1N1, but no shots Rather than the 120 million shots promised for October delivery, only 12.8 million were available by October 20, according to AP. Federal officials are now predicting 50 million doses by mid-November and 150 million in December. Adults need one shot, and children need two.
In a sign of how rapidly the virus is spreading, education officials said 198 schools in 15 states were closed Wednesday because of swine flu, with more than 65,000 students affected. That was up from 88 school closings the day before.
For Minnesota information, call the new Minnesota FluLine – 1-866-259-4655. Be prepared to wait – yesterday was the first day, and call volume was heavy.
R.T. for Dolan No surprise here. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak is backing Police Chief Tim Dolan for a second three-year term, reports the Star Tribune, citing an “unusually strong partnership.” After serving for six months as interim chief, Dolan was approved for the position in 2006 by a 12-1 council vote, with only councilmember Ralph Remington dissenting. Remington says he hasn’t changed his mind, but it’s unclear whether the next vote on Dolan will come before the end of the year, when Remington is retiring from the council:
[Remington] was troubled by allegations of institutional racism raised by five high-ranking black officers in a lawsuit, which the city settled for $740,000. Remington said Dolan also hasn’t been consistent in doling out discipline, an issue raised by the Police Federation. He criticized Dolan’s record on diversifying the department, though nearly 19 percent of the department are people of color, the most ever.
Dolan’s supporters point to double-digit decreases in violent crime over the past three years, and say he has disciplined more police officers than any other chief.
Schools clinging to “less bad” as good news With this fall’s enrollment figures just in, the “less bad” news in Minneapolis Public Schools is that the student count is down, but not by as much as predicted, reports the Star Tribune. After the major enrollment declines of 2003-2007 — about a thousand students each year, Minneapolis lost only 250 students last year and only 300 this year. The district had predicted a loss of 880 students this year. District officials, according to the Star Tribune, cited “a slowdown in the number of Minneapolis students leaving the district for charter schools, and a slowdown in migration out of the district by families with school-age children. Continue reading
T-Paw for Prez? MN says no A recent Minnesota Poll showed that Minnesotans wouldn’t vote for Governor Tim Pawlenty for president, reports Politico. Only 25 percent said that T-Paw definitely has their votes, while 43 percent said there’s no way they would vote for T-Paw for president, and another 25 percent allowed as how there might be some chance that they’d vote for him. Continue reading