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Posts about State budgets

Dayton touts passage of 1,200 government streamlining initiatives

Posted by: Updated: May 27, 2014 - 3:31 PM
Governor Mark Dayton, Pollution Control Commissioner John Linc Stine and IRRRB Commissioner Tony Sertich spoke about the Unsession at a state Capitol news conference.

Governor Mark Dayton, Pollution Control Commissioner John Linc Stine and IRRRB Commissioner Tony Sertich spoke about the government streamlining effort at a state Capitol news conference.

Minnesota campers, anglers and taxpayers will see improved services under a massive government streamlining effort passed by legislators and signed into law by Gov. Mark Dayton.

Dayton celebrated the achievements Tuesday, calling passage of nearly 1,200 measures to eliminate antiquated laws and improve government services “a phenomenal success.”

“Things don’t get undone in government very readily,” the DFL governor said. “I think we are off to a very good start.”

Dayton's signature streamlining initiative was to be a centerpiece of the last legislative session, but he saw it slip from legislators’ priority list due to a surprisingly large budget surplus and other attention-grabbing issues, like medical marijuana.

The governor’s team leading the initiative kept at it while other political battles flared overhead, unveiling more than 1,000 proposals and doggedly shepherding them through the committee process. With a database tracking each measure, Dayton’s team ditched some that became controversial and took on others pitched by legislators as the session wore on.

“The one thing that can unite us all, that we shouild agree upon, is that government should run better,” said Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board Commissioner Tony Sertich, who led Dayton’s initiative. “That has a hallmark of the Dayton administration and a hallmark of this initiative.”

Republicans criticized the effort for focusing on sometimes silly and otherwise common-sense reforms rather than giving a serious rethinking of the state’s troubled health insurance exchange and the new $77 million office building for state Senators and staff.

House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, criticized Democrats for not stopping the new office building. “Minnesotans are unimpressed,” he said.

Dayton said the changes will make it less time-consuming and aggravating for Minnesotans and business owners when they need to deal with state government.

The governor even signed an executive order that requires state agencies to do something seemingly so simple, but which has proven so hard – requiring communication with the public to be clear, concise and easy to understand.

As part of the effort, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources converted 92-pages of fishing regulations into a slick and easy to use computer application that works on mobile phones.

Legislators wiped out myriad antiquated laws that generated a chuckle around the Capitol. They eliminated telegraph regulations, repealed a law that made it a misdemeanor to carry fruit in the wrong sized container and eliminated a nearly 80-year-old law that made it illegal to drive in neutral.

But many of the changes were serious and substantive.

Dayton is seeking to shorten waiting times for business permit applications to 90 days, a dramatic drop from the current 150 days.

The administration is expecting that 11,000 of the 15,000 annual permits applications quickly reach this new standard.

The effort will make it easier for some Minnesotans to file taxes, eliminating an often confusing multi-step process to deduct student loan interest.

Honour loans campaign $250k, Cravaack renews support

Posted by: Updated: May 22, 2014 - 4:16 PM

UPDATED TO CLARIFY CRAVAACK SUPPORT

Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Honour is tapping into his personal fortune to competes in the wide open GOP field for the state’s highest-elected office.

Pat Shortridge, a senior adviser for Honour, confirmed that the candidate renewed his commitment to his campaign with an additional loan of $250,000. Shortridge said the new infusion is part of a major fundraising push for the next phase of the campaign.

That comes on top of $50,000 that Honour loaned his campaign in the first quarter of this year.

Honour had the best fundraising quarter of any of the GOP rivals, netting more than $200,000 through March, even outraising DFL Gov. Mark Dayton.

Honour is not abiding by the GOP endorsement at the end of the month, so he is pressing on to the August primary.

On Wednesday, former Minnesota U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack renewed his support of Honour. Cravaack endorsed Honour previously.

"He is a business leader, and will take on the tough problems facing our state rather than doing what is politically convenient just to get re-elected," said Cravaack, a Republican who represented Minnesota's 8th Congressional District. "Scott hasn't spent his career in politics, and electing him will send a message to career politicians that it's the end of business as usual, that it is time for new leaders and a new direction for our state."

Honour and Cravaack have spent the week traveling together, stopping in Virginia, Duluth, Hinkley and elsewhere.

"I am grateful and honored to have the support of Chip Cravaack," Honour said. "With his help I'll continue building a strong coalition of leaders and supporters that will be successful in defeating Mark Dayton in November."

Dayton signs $1.7 billion in new construction, millions in tax breaks

Posted by: Updated: May 20, 2014 - 12:43 PM

Minnesotans will see millions in tax relief and $1.17 billion in new construction projects as part of measures DFL Gov. Mark Dayton signed into law Tuesday.

The measures are a significant accomplishment for Dayton and DFL legislators who now head into the campaign season in an attempt to hold control at the Capitol.

“Progress,” Dayton said at a Capitol news conference, flanked by House and Senate DFL leaders said. “That is what we have achieved.”

Dayton said he had some regrets about the session and a couple measures left unfinished.

A new measure requiring toxic chemicals to be disclosed on products for children died in the closing hours of session, as did tougher campaign finance and public disclosure requirements for nonprofit groups, which drew strong opposition from anti-abortion groups and the National Rifle Association.

“It’s very telling and very troubling that a couple of interest groups could bludgeon their way to deny people to know where all this money is coming from,” Dayton said.

Dayton said he is still weighing whether to veto a ban on online lottery tickets sales, which emerged as a hotly debated issue in the closing days of the legislative session. He said he would make a final determination on that measure in coming days.

Legislators adjourned late Friday night, ending a legislative session where Democratic majorities in the House and Senate raised the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour, approved more than $550 million in tax breaks, poured more money into the state’s rainy-day fund and legalized medical marijuana.

Republican legislators are flying around the state to persuade Minnesotans against one-party control at the Capitol. With Dayton and the House up for election this fall, Republicans are scrambling to win back the governor’s office or control of the House.

Democrats brought “unhealthy taxing and spending, hurting Minnesota’s economy and hurting Minnesota families,” said House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown.

Republicans need just seven more seats to gain control, and Daudt expects they will win back nearly 20 additional seats on Election Day.

The GOP urged Minnesotans to embrace their “balanced Republican approach.”

Republicans criticized Democrats for a new $77 million office building and for last year's tax hikes, particularly as some early indications show that Minnesota’s employment and budget picture might be dimming a bit.

“Democrats have really let Minnesotans down,” said Senate Majority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie.

  

Republicans bring 'balanced' message to Minnesotans

Posted by: Updated: May 19, 2014 - 10:00 AM

Legislative Republicans were blitzing the state Monday to make the case that one-party Democratic control at the Capitol is bad for Minnesota.

Democrats brought “unhealthy taxing and spending, hurting Minnesota’s economy and hurting Minnesota families,” said House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown.

GOP leaders converged at the Capitol for an early-morning news conference before taking off for Moorhead, Austin and Luverne, areas where Republicans believe they can best make their case and help win back the House.

Legislators adjourned late Friday night, capping a three-month legislative session where Democratic majorities in the House and Senate raised the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour, approved more than $550 million in tax breaks, threw more money into the state’s rainy-day fund and legalized medical marijuana.

“This Legislature did what we said we were going to do,” said House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis. “We balanced the budget responsibly in order to focus on priorities important to most Minnesotans: investing in education from kindergarten to college, investing in proven job creation initiatives, and reducing property taxes for homeowners, renters and farmers.”

The Senate is not up for election this November, so Republicans and conservative donors are placing enormous emphasis on winning control of the House. Ousting Democrats from power would give Republicans a solid platform to block DFL initiatives and pass their own measures.

Republicans need just seven more seats to gain control, and Daudt predicted they could win back nearly 20 additional seats on Election Day.

The GOP urged Minnesotans to embrace their “balanced Republican approach.” They did not highlight some of the more polarizing issues at the Capitol this year, such as the anti-bullying measure and a minimum wage increase that had strong opposition from business leaders.

Instead, they talked about the need for tougher education standards and more commitment to transportation spending, particularly in rural areas.

Republicans criticized Democrats for a new $77 million office building and for last year's tax hikes, particularly as some early indications show that Minnesota’s employment and budget picture might be dimming a bit.

“Democrats have really let Minnesotans down,” said Senate Majority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie.

Republicans continued to hammer on the state’s bungled roll out of MNsure, the state’s health insurance exchange.

“The one glaring omission is that we did nothing with health care,” Hann said.

He called the new system a “failure.”

Hann said he plans to meet with health care officials over the summer to see what changes could be feasible.  

Democrats are trying to keep the debate more focused on the economy. They warned that Republican control brought years of back-to-back budget deficits that drained budget reserves, resulting in billions being borrowed from public schools to patch up the state budget.

DLFers said their budget balancing repaid public schools, left the state with its highest ever budget reserves in state history and ushered in a $1.2 billion budget surplus.

"The best way to build on our progress is to continue growing our economy from the middle-out,” House Majority Leader Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul. "That means fighting for working families and our local communities instead of engaging in partisan gridlock that only benefits the wealthy special interests."
 

Senate Minority Leader Hann: 'We spent too much'

Posted by: Updated: May 16, 2014 - 10:58 PM

Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, said legislative leaders spent too much money this session.

He said there were some good accomplishments on tax relief and new construction projects, but he called for more focus on education and healthcare.

“We spent a lot of money, and I think we spent too much,” Hann said after senators adjourned.

Over two years, he said, legislators added roughly $6 billion in new spending, about $2,900 for every household in the state.

“Spending money isn’t always evidence that we’ve accomplished anything,” Hann said.

High school graduation rates are low, standardized test scores are flat and the achievement gap is still huge, he said.

“Spending money and having good intentions is not enough," Hann said. "There are too many kids in this state who are left behind. Spending money hasn’t helped them.”

“We have to do some things differently; we have to do some things better,” Hann said.

Hann

Hann

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