– St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman was talking up the city's paid leave policy at the White House on Friday — an idea generating popularity nationally and touted by President Obama in this week's State of the Union address.

St. Paul started giving opportunities for its 2,700 employees to take paid paternity as of Jan. 1. Non-birthparents get two weeks and birthparents get four weeks. St. Paul was among the first cities nationally to adopt the plan.

The policy will cost the city about $200,000 annually, though Coleman says he expects to make that back in retaining talented staffers amid the state's booming economy.

Coleman says it helps the city stay competitive with the private sector.

"Everyone says you should run government like a business," he said. "We'll never be able to offer the benefits that Google does … but this helps."

In Tuesday's State of the Union address, Obama touted the plan.

"Today, we're the only advanced country on Earth that doesn't guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers. … And that forces too many parents to make the gut-wrenching choice between a paycheck and a sick kid at home," he said. "So I'll be taking new action to help states adopt paid leave laws of their own."

ALLISON SHERRY

Budget targets kids' needs

Gov. Mark Dayton on Friday told a group of education and child-advocacy groups gathered for a conference that he plans to spend half of the state's $1 billion projected surplus on education and policies benefiting children.

The DFL governor is set to release his full budget proposal Tuesday; in recent days, he has released partial details on proposals that include expanding a child-care tax credit and investing $30 million in the University of Minnesota Medical School.

Dayton on Friday said he would allocate $516 million for children. Of that, $372 million would go toward education, $44 million for human services and $100 million for the child-care tax credits.

The money would pay for programs such as early-childhood education and support for families in need.

Ricardo lopez

Bill aligns state, U.S. tax code

Days into the income-tax filing season, a bill that awards up to $20 million in extra deductions and credits is on the verge of becoming law.

The Minnesota Senate voted unanimously Thursday for the measure that previously sailed through the House. Gov. Mark Dayton intends to sign it.

The breaks are narrowly tailored and accomplished by aligning Minnesota's tax code with recent federal changes.

Teachers who buy supplies, homeowners paying mortgage insurance and college students with certain tuition costs are among the beneficiaries. Several types of businesses would have more flexibility in claiming deductions.

Without the changes, some Minnesota taxpayers would have had to add back for state tax forms some of the income they can subtract on federal forms.

Associated Press