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Ricardo Lopez

Reporter | Politics and government
phone: 651-925-5044
Ricardo Lopez covers all aspects of Minnesota politics, the state budget, the administration and state agencies.
Recent content from Ricardo Lopez
With divided Legislature, what was -- and wasn't -- accomplished in 2015

With divided Legislature, what was -- and wasn't -- accomplished in 2015

A big surplus had some thinking this session would be smooth, but the extra money fueled extra debates.

CAPITOL SCORECARD • 2015 LEGISLATIVE SESSION Divided Legislature, mixed results

Minnesotans chose divided government in last year’s election, giving Gov. Mark Dayton a second term while flipping control of the House to Republicans. And division…

Dayton signs spending bills, prepares for school funding standoff with House Republicans

$25 billion approved for human services, higher-ed, transportation, public safety.
Minnesota Rep. Ryan Winkler will resign seat as family relocates to Belgium

Minnesota Rep. Ryan Winkler will resign seat as family relocates to Belgium

The Golden Valley DFLer, a Harvard-educated attorney, will stay for the special session.

Gov. Dayton follows through on threat to veto education budget bill

Governor is determined to get funding for universal pre-K in education bill.
Dayton blitzed with requests as special session approaches

Dayton blitzed with requests as special session approaches

Gov. Mark Dayton and House Speaker Kurt Daudt will begin negotiations over a special session on Tuesday, with the governor saying he hopes to convene the session by early June.
Dayton to make good on veto vow, call for special session

Dayton to make good on veto vow, call for special session

Dayton said he would veto $17 billion in education spending as soon as the bill lands on his desk and will call a special legislative session once he and House Republicans can settle the standoff.
Last night of session brings confusion at Minnesota Capitol, uncertainty over schools funding

Last night of session brings confusion at Minnesota Capitol, uncertainty over schools funding

Governor holds firm to veto threat over early ed funding
Gov. Dayton threatens to veto budget over early education

Gov. Dayton threatens to veto budget over early education

Budget deal hinges on Dayton's insistence on securing $173 million for a scaled-down version of his top priority, universal access to preschool for all the state’s 4-year-olds.
Minnesota teachers' salaries stall, but health spending soars

Minnesota teachers' salaries stall, but health spending soars

Salaries are stagnant, but health and pension costs have skyrocketed. The analysis comes at a critical juncture in budget negotiations at the Capitol.
Nienow readies a Plan B in case of government shutdown

Nienow readies a Plan B in case of government shutdown

  With eight days left until the end of the session, and no final deal on the budget yet in sight, state Sen. Sean Nienow…
Dayton appointees to Met Council, Commerce survive Senate confirmation

Dayton appointees to Met Council, Commerce survive Senate confirmation

Republicans opposed Gov. Dayton’s picks, but Rothman and Duininck had the votes to keep their posts.

Four-day school weeks approved for five Minnesota districts

As legislators consider giving school boards more flexibility, state education officials gave these plans a one-year approval.
Dayton's universal preschool, transportation plans in jeopardy

Dayton's universal preschool, transportation plans in jeopardy

Gov. Dayton is holding firm, despite opposition from seemingly all sides.

Minn. House sends $1 billion in cuts to health, human services to Senate

Plan would eliminate MinnesotaCare program.
GOP House plan offers tuition relief for some Minn. students

GOP House plan offers tuition relief for some Minn. students

More than 400,000 MnSCU students stand to benefit from House-passed higher-ed budget. The University of Minnesota, which had requested $65 million for tuition freezes, was largely shut out.
Republicans advance education budget bill through Minn. House

Republicans advance education budget bill through Minn. House

House Republicans on Saturday approved an education budget bill that increases spending by $157 million, setting up a confrontation with DFLers in the House and Senate who call the amount paltry.

Hot Dish: How legislators define Minnesotans

What is a Minnesotan? An innocuous question, but the word morphs into a rhetorical device often invoked by legislators during floor sessions, committee hearings and…
Sheriffs join the push for more preschool money

Sheriffs join the push for more preschool money

Hennepin, Ramsey and Dakota authorities are among the several urging state funding for preschool.
Preschool funding fight shows teachers union's political muscle

Preschool funding fight shows teachers union's political muscle

Education Minnesota's top issues this year are seniority, pre-K funding.
House, Senate education bills don't include Dayton preschool plan

House, Senate education bills don't include Dayton preschool plan

Gov. Mark Dayton ripped into House and Senate legislators Wednesday for their rejection of his top legislative priority: universal preschool for the state’s 4-year-olds.
Minnesota House representative among youngest in the country

Minnesota House representative among youngest in the country

During a recent committee hearing, University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler was outlining to lawmakers why the university says it needs $148 million in additional…

Senate DFLers unveil budget plan, setting up debate

The last of three proposals that will now define the spending debate comes in closer to Gov. Dayton’s blueprint.
Legislation aims to reform state ethnic councils

Legislation aims to reform state ethnic councils

Senate bill is dealt a setback, getting tabled without action.

House Republicans' budget plan calls for $2 billion in tax relief

Republicans say they want to give $1.9B surplus back to taxpayers; DFL says budget cuts services.
House passes bill allowing lower minimum wage for tipped workers

House passes bill allowing lower minimum wage for tipped workers

The bill passed 78-55, with seven DFLers supporting it. It faces stiff opposition, making its passage by the DFL-led Senate unlikely.
Minnesota Poll: Majority say let performance guide teacher layoffs

Minnesota Poll: Majority say let performance guide teacher layoffs

The support comes at a time when teacher seniority rules have emerged as a contentious issues at the Capitol.
Teacher layoff bills gain little traction in DFL-led Senate

Teacher layoff bills gain little traction in DFL-led Senate

No vote taken after lively debate on measures that would weaken seniority.

Legislative budget office proposal clears House committee

Legislative leaders who want their own budget office saw that effort inch closer to reality Wednesday after a measure sponsored by top leaders in both chambers cleared a House committee.
Schools, colleges win big in Dayton's updated budget

Schools, colleges win big in Dayton's updated budget

Governor has additional $444 million in budget proposal, which will be released Tuesday; most of new spending going to schools.
Dayton, GOP have different visions for $1.9B surplus

Dayton, GOP have different visions for $1.9B surplus

Minnesota’s predicted budget surplus has nearly doubled, leaving Gov. Mark Dayton and state lawmakers with $1.9 billion to spend, save or return to taxpayers. But parties are split on how best to use the windfall.
Legislators debate Dayton's $348 million preschool proposal

Legislators debate Dayton's $348 million preschool proposal

He wants another $238M to make initiative available for all of the state’s 4-year-olds.
GOP House OKs bill diminishing seniority in teacher layoffs

GOP House OKs bill diminishing seniority in teacher layoffs

House votes 70-63 to require school districts to consider performance, not just seniority.
Legislators propose a 'Legislative Budget Office'

Legislators propose a 'Legislative Budget Office'

Legislative leaders cite the need for “full independent analysis” of proposed measures.
Minn. teacher tenure vote stalled by questions of cost

Minn. teacher tenure vote stalled by questions of cost

Last-minute state report on the measure’s costs surprises GOP leaders.
Minnesota Senate GOP wants to give schools more money for local needs

Minnesota Senate GOP wants to give schools more money for local needs

Senate Republicans propose giving school districts $455 million.
Minimum-wage exemption sought for tipped workers

Minimum-wage exemption sought for tipped workers

Measure focuses on food workers who receive tips.
Lawmakers: Factor teacher performance into layoffs

Lawmakers: Factor teacher performance into layoffs

Some lawmakers want merit to become a bigger factor in layoff decisions.
Coin flip? College GPA? How do Minn. schools break seniority ties?

Coin flip? College GPA? How do Minn. schools break seniority ties?

Efforts are underway at the Capitol to change a system governing teacher layoffs during budget cuts. Often referred to as “last in, first out,” the…
Minnesota says cigarette smuggling is a growing problem

Minnesota says cigarette smuggling is a growing problem

To fight back, officials seek more funds and tougher penalties.
Minnesota stops taking TurboTax returns due to possible fraud

Minnesota stops taking TurboTax returns due to possible fraud

Minnesota officials made the urgent move late Thursday after two taxpayers reported that they had logged into Intuit’s TurboTax but were advised a return had already been filed. Intuit said Friday that it has stopped processing state tax returns nationwide.

Additional state funding for teacher evaluations proposed

Group says a merger of the 2011 law with the merit pay system would help.
Minnesota DFL senators want $500 million for education package

Minnesota DFL senators want $500 million for education package

The ambitious 11-bill Senate package includes free breakfast and preschool, along with funding for counselors, building upgrades.
Dayton's $42B budget gives most new money to education

Dayton's $42B budget gives most new money to education

Proposing a state budget $7 billion larger than when he took office, Dayton seeks major spending boosts for schools, learning programs.
Dayton's plan aimed at tax relief for families gains traction

Dayton's plan aimed at tax relief for families gains traction

Minnesota taxpayers, particularly families, senior citizens and those who work from home, could see $24 million in overall tax relief under Gov. Mark Dayton’s recent budget proposal, a more precisely crafted plan compared with past budget blueprints.
State, federal plans to aid Minnesota tribal school are at cross-purposes

State, federal plans to aid Minnesota tribal school are at cross-purposes

A DFL state senator’s bill could undercut efforts already begun by U.S. Rep Betty McCollum.
Dayton proposes child-care tax credit expansion

Dayton proposes child-care tax credit expansion

Senate Republicans call for ending Social Security tax.
DFL senator introduces bill that would strip teacher seniority

DFL senator introduces bill that would strip teacher seniority

State Sen. Terri Bonoff, DFL-Minnetonka, is siding with Republicans who want to end teacher seniority protections.

Teachers, students could reap benefit of realigned state tax code

Legislation would allow deductions for teachers and some students.
State confronts shrinking labor force as baby boomers retire

State confronts shrinking labor force as baby boomers retire

Lawmakers introduced bills last week aimed at a lack of skilled workers, but the state will face a bigger problem in the coming decade: a slower-growing labor force.
Free college vs. tax cuts as visions contrast at Capitol

Free college vs. tax cuts as visions contrast at Capitol

The real work of the Legislature began Thursday as the DFL-controlled Senate and Republican House served up contrasting visions.
Gov. Dayton puts second-term priority on education

Gov. Dayton puts second-term priority on education

GOP signals there’s room for common ground, but not on teacher-tenure protections.
Minnesota GOP outlines transportation, education priorities

Minnesota GOP outlines transportation, education priorities

“Solution Center” offers a broad view of legislative priorities.
Rural school district appeals to state to keep four-day schedule

Rural school district appeals to state to keep four-day schedule

Rural school district lobbies to keep its shorter schedule born of fiscal struggles.
Commerce Department defends agency's handling of Community Action of Minneapolis

Commerce Department defends agency's handling of Community Action of Minneapolis

Commerce Department chief defends actions on Community Action of Mpls. spending issues.
Minnesota lawmakers target uninsured drivers

Minnesota lawmakers target uninsured drivers

With one in 10 drivers lacking coverage, state looks at how affordability and other factors play a role.
Minnesota officials expect good budget news Thursday

Minnesota officials expect good budget news Thursday

Budget decisions loom as the state's latest economic forecast is due Thursday.
Handicapping the next race for governor: The Republicans

Handicapping the next race for governor: The Republicans

Potential GOP contenders begin to take shape for the 2018 governor's race, with Mark Dayton saying he won't run again.
GOP rethinks strategy after losing statewide offices

GOP rethinks strategy after losing statewide offices

Despite its House victories, the party says it needs new strategy to capture state’s top offices.
DFLers Otto, Swanson hold onto auditor, AG jobs; Simon wins secretary of state

DFLers Otto, Swanson hold onto auditor, AG jobs; Simon wins secretary of state

The secretary of state post as overseer of elections has been at the forefront of high-stakes U.S. Senate and gubernatorial election recounts in 2008 and 2010.
Dayton, Johnson make final arguments in final debate

Dayton, Johnson make final arguments in final debate

Dayton, Johnson stick to their respective narratives in last debate ahead of the election.
DFL bus tour seeks to drive a midterm turnout

DFL bus tour seeks to drive a midterm turnout

Party launches bus tour to rally support in strongholds, hoping to combat a sharp drop-off in nonpresidential elections.
Experts question MNsure average rate increase of 4.5 percent

Experts question MNsure average rate increase of 4.5 percent

Republicans say premium increases are much higher than Gov. Dayton reported.
Sept. 23: Unions will play key role in Dayton re-election bid

Sept. 23: Unions will play key role in Dayton re-election bid

Gov. Mark Dayton is working hard to court union support. GOP opponent Jeff Johnson says Dayton has gone overboard
Republicans focus on ground game to win seats in November

Republicans focus on ground game to win seats in November

Minnesota Republicans have a get-out-the-vote effort aimed at combating the Democrats’ field office edge.

Policy, personality split Minnesota governor candidates

Personal questions and fresh topics enliven latest Dayton, Johnson debate.
N.J. Gov. Christie comes to Minnesota for GOP candidates

N.J. Gov. Christie comes to Minnesota for GOP candidates

Christie, a possible presidential candidate, stumped for gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson and Mike McFadden, who's running against Sen. Al Franken.

IP congressional candidate sees uphill battle outside of norm

Paula Overby said the Second District campaign has “been an enormous learning experience.”
Dayton seeks to clarify gas tax remark from Moorhead debate

Dayton seeks to clarify gas tax remark from Moorhead debate

Wholesale gas tax is just one option, governor said, after Republican challenger seized on comment.
Pipeline, flood control dominate 2nd debate in governor's race

Pipeline, flood control dominate 2nd debate in governor's race

Gov. Dayton backs gas tax hike to improve roads while Jeff Johnson backs new oil pipeline.
GOP's Johnson accuses Dayton of slighting outstate Minnesota

GOP's Johnson accuses Dayton of slighting outstate Minnesota

At a campaign stop in Eldred, the candidate for governor took aim at regulators’ decision to delay pipeline expansion.
Motto of 'learn, earn, serve' fuels McFadden's Senate run

Motto of 'learn, earn, serve' fuels McFadden's Senate run

Mike McFadden says his great asset is that he’s not a politician, nor was he bred to be one. He doesn’t need this job, but he wants it.
Minnesota Poll: Majority say state economy doing better

Minnesota Poll: Majority say state economy doing better

A majority said personal finances stayed the same.
Republican Jeff Johnson proposes private audit of state agencies

Republican Jeff Johnson proposes private audit of state agencies

GOP candidate says state agencies can be run better.
For first time, Gov. Mark Dayton is building re-election machine

For first time, Gov. Mark Dayton is building re-election machine

Unlike GOP challenger Jeff Johnson, who has to pivot from the primary battle, the DFL governor and his allies have been planning for months.
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