With an insider’s eye, Hot Dish tracks the tastiest bits of Minnesota’s political scene and keep you up-to-date on those elected to serve you.

Contributors in Minnesota: Patrick Condon, Baird Helgeson, Patricia Lopez, Jim Ragsdale, Abby Simons, Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Glen Stubbe. Contributors in D.C.: Allison Sherry, Corey Mitchell and Jim Spencer.

Posts about Minnesota governor

Minnesota makes another push for income tax reciprocity

Posted by: Baird Helgeson Updated: June 19, 2014 - 3:04 PM

Minnesota and Wisconsin residents who live in one state but work in the other could soon have their income taxes dramatically simplified as part of a new tax reciprocity proposal.

Minnesota revenue officials on Thursday offered to lower Wisconsin’s annual payment by $1 million if the Badger state approves of the agreement by Sept. 30.

‘That millions dollars is part of Minnesota’s strong desire to reinstate income tax reciprocity,” said Sen. Roger Reinert, a Duluth Democrat who has worked with other border legislators for an agreement. “This really is us extending a hand and saying, ‘Work with us.’”

Wisconsin and Minnesota have not been able to broker a new arrangement since the four decade old income tax reciprocity agreement lapsed at the end of 2009. Suddenly, 80,000 residents who lived in one state but worked over the border had to file income taxes in both states.

Wisconsin revenue officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

The deadlock has come down to money.

Minnesota revenue officials studied the issue and determined that about 56,000 Wisconsin residents work in Minnesota, more than double the amount of Gopher state residents who cross the border for work.

Minnesota's study concluded that Wisconsin needs to pay about $92.5 million a year due to the difference.

The problem is, that’s about $4 million more than Wisconsin officials believe they should pay.

Minnesota made similar offers in 2012 and 2013, but both offers included the $4 million gap. Wisconsin officials rejected both proposals.

This year, Minnesota legislators decided to see if an additional $1 million might sweeten the deal.

“It really is a desire on the part of border legislators who are trying to make it a little smoother,” said Minnesota Department of Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans.

Differing tax rates between the two states also aggravates the problem.

Minnesota limits the credit it offers consumers for taxes paid in another state to the amount they would pay if they lived in state. Frans said he does not believe Minnesota taxpayers should subsidize Wisconsin’s higher effective tax rate.

Wisconsin officials have said their residents already pay enough.

Reinert and other border legislators said they still routinely hear from residents frustrated with having to file two state income tax forms.

Business owners, Reinert said, are just as frustrated that they have to keep two sets of tax records for employees who live across the border.

The issue boiled over in 2009 as the economy tanked and budget officials in both states were desperate for money.

Wisconsin delayed its payments to balance the state budget, creating a deeper hole for Minnesota's budget officials.

Then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty grew frustrated and let the program expire, saying that Wisconsin’s 17-month delay was too much for Minnesota’s shaky budget.

The new agreement allows Wisconsin to make four equal payments a year, minimizing one-time blows that can be difficult in a sagging economy.

For state leaders, the issue has become a balance between protecting state money and promoting convenience for taxpayers.

Frans said the governor authorized the new $1 million dollar offer, but they refuse to make a deal unless it is fair for all Minnesota taxpayers.

Minnesota still has reciprocity agreements with Michigan and North Dakota.

Minn. DFL, GOP lay out state field office strategy

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: June 19, 2014 - 1:59 PM

Minnesota's two leading political parties are both opening campaign field offices throughout the state, as they get ready for a 2014 election cycle with statewide races and what's expected to be a hard-fought battle for control of the state House on tap. 

Field offices are tasked with mobilizing volunteers and motivating voter turnout through phone calls and other organizing. 

The DFL announced Thursday it has opened 18 field offices in locations throughout Minnesota. Several of the metro-area offices are hosting official openings in the next few days, including the Saturday opening of a Minneapolis office that's scheduled to include Gov. Mark Dayton, Sen. Al Franken and Congressman Keith Ellison. 

In addition to three Twin Cities-area sites, Democrats are also opening offices in Albert Lea, Bemidji, Brainerd, Duluth, Grand Rapids, Hibbing, Mankato, Moorhead, Rochester, Shoreview, St. Cloud, St. Paul, Virginia and Willmar. 

State GOP Chairman Keith Downey held a press conference on Thursday to lay out some of his party's plans for spreading its message around Minnesota. Republicans plan to open 20 field offices, or what they are calling "victory centers," throughout Minnesota. 

The party already has offices set up in Rochester, Woodbury, Mankato, St. Cloud, Marshall, Eagan, Golden Valley, Blaine, Waconia and Bloomington. Downey said the party was on track to open offices in Bemidji, Grand Rapids, North Branch, Duluth and Brainerd in the coming weeks.

For Republicans, the breadth of field offices is a significant expansion. Downey said two years ago the party had just one office in each of the state's eight congressional districts.

This year, the party needs to start its fight earlier -- Republican endorsed gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson will have to survive a four-way August primary before he could face Dayton in November.

"Every single one of these victory offices will be working to make sure that Jeff Johnson will be successful in the primary and in the general election," said Republican Party Deputy Chair Chris Fields.

Updated

Zellers urges probe into alleged MSOP cover-up; auditor says it's unlikely

Posted by: Abby Simons Updated: June 18, 2014 - 5:52 PM

Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Kurt Zellers urged the state’s legislative auditor to investigate the destruction of a serial rapist's violent fantasy logs as he vies for his release from the controversial Minnesota Sex Offender Program

On the heels of a Star Tribune report that the state’s attorney general alleges a coverup surrounding the potential release of Thomas Duvall, Zellers, a former Republican state House speaker, wrote a letter to Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles urging him to investigate the destruction of Duvall's journals, written as part of his treatment plan.

"What we have seen is a series of either distortions, cover-ups, misinterpretations, or just downright failure," Zellers said Wednesday. "Last February there was a news report that this was some sort of act by Mr. Duvall. Now here we are a few months later, it wasn't Mr. Duvall but someone with DHS destroying these documents."

Nobles ackowledged that he received Zellers' letter but doesn't intend to act.

"This issue is before a state Supreme Court appeals panel and I think that's where it belongs," Nobles said. "The issue was raised by the attorney general, and I think the proper place for this issue to be addressed and resoved is the appeals panel. I don't see a role for my office."

Zellers' comments came after the most recent revelations about the destruction of the logs surrounding the closely-watched and heated debate over whether Duvall can be released from custody. A federal judge urged the state Legislature to take action, but reform efforts went nowhere last session, with both lawmakers and Gov. Dayton urging one another to take action.

Zellers said a "top to bottom" audit is necessary to determine what happened to Duvall's journals, and to address whether he should be released. He blamed Dayton for a lack of leadership on the issue, brushing off criticism that the Legislature failed to act, noting that nothing passed with a House, Senate and governorship under DFL control.

"As governor it starts from the top down," he said. "You can legislate all you want but if your commissioners aren't going to abide by the law or at least the laws that were passed, as a governor it should start and end at the top. If you're not going to do your job then step aside."

Dayton's Deputy Chief of Staff Bob Hume fired back at Zeller's in a statement, blasting Zellers for "political posturing."

"The fact remains that Mr. Duvall is not a prisoner, he is civilly-committed," Hume said. "The decision to destroy his own personal property is between him and his lawyer. Under state statute, which Rep. Zellers helped write and has not mustered the will to change, that is the law."

Nobles' office has previously been involved in audits of MSOP. A 2011 report by the office that showed Minnesota has four times the number of civilly committed sex offenders per capita than 19 other states with similar programs and urged the Legislature to develop a plan for alternate placement for some offenders housed at MSOP along with other reforms.

GOP group launches radio ad against Dayton

Posted by: Baird Helgeson Updated: June 17, 2014 - 2:45 PM

A Republican group has launch a radio advertisement targeting Gov. Mark Dayton, criticizing the state’s health insurance exchange and for a new $77 million office building for state senators and staff.

The local branch of Americans for Prosperity is spending more than $100,000 to air the ad, mainly in Duluth, Mankato and Rochester. They also purchased some air time in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

“Minnesota families are suffering under harmful, big-government policies, and they’ve had enough,” said the group’s local director, John Cooney. “Governor Dayton would rather appease his liberal friends and allies in the state legislature in St. Paul than pursue policies that would create more jobs and more prosperity for his constituents throughout Minnesota.”

Listeners are directed to sign a petition at daytonsdisaster.com.

Alliance for a Better Minnesota, the lead outside group backing Dayton and other Democrats, immediately launched a fundraising appeal after the ad was launched.

ABM noted that the conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch founded Americans for Prosperity and spent $122 million in the 2012 election cycle.

Carrie Lucking, executive director of ABM, said the rival group is trying to take “Minnesota back to a state that looks out for the wealthy, not hard working Minnesotans.”

“We've made too many strides -- from raising the minimum wage to paying back our schools-- and have too much work left to do to let conservative billionaires stop us now,” Lucking said.

Listen to the ad here.

Dayton, Franken lead over GOP rivals in new poll

Posted by: Patrick Condon Updated: June 17, 2014 - 2:59 PM

Incumbent Democrats Gov. Mark Dayton and Sen. Al Franken both lead all their potential Republican opponents in a new poll

Public Policy Polling released the poll Tuesday. It showed Dayton and Franken with leads of 10 points or more above the respective fields of GOP candidates vying to challenge them in November. In both races, the Republican challenger won't be set until an August 12 primary election. 

In the U.S. Senate race, Franken leads Republican businessman Mike McFadden, 49 percent to 38 percent. McFadden is the GOP's endorsed candidate in the race and seen as heavy favorite in the August primary.

Franken, running for his second term, holds similar leads over the other Republicans on the primary ballot: Jim Abeler (50 to 39), David Carlson (49 to 38), Patrick Munro (50 to 35) and Ole Savior (50 to 33). 

Dayton holds similar leads over his possible GOP rivals, though his support tops out slightly lower than that of Franken. In five possible matchups, Dayton is at 47 percent in all of them. Of the Republican candidates, Scott Honour is at 35 percent, Jeff Johnson at 36 percent, Marty Seifert at 36 percent, Kurt Zellers at 37 percent and Merrill Anderson at 35 percent.

Johnson is the endorsed GOP candidate, but none of the candidates has emerged as a clear frontrunner in the Republican primary. 

The poll found most voters still know little about the Republican candidates in either race. In the Senate race, 71 percent of respondents said they were "not sure" when asked if they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of McFadden. That margin was even higher for the other GOP Senate candidates. 

The poll showed the party's candidates for governor are similarly not well known, with between 61 percent and 80 percent of respondents holding no opinion of them. 

There's much less gray area in voters' opinions of Franken and Dayton. Franken, elected by a razor-thin margin in 2008, has a 50 percent approval rating and a 40 percent disapproval rating. Dayton, who also won a close race in 2010, gets a 48 percent approval rating and a 41 percent disapproval. 

President Barack Obama got a 44 percent approval rating in the poll, with 50 percent disapproving. The state's other DFL senator, Amy Klobuchar, got a 56 percent approval rating with 32 percent disapproving. 

Public Policy Polling surveyed 633 registered voters in Minnesota from June 12-15. The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 3.9 percent. 

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