'The Power Broker,' the budget and the never-ending campaign

Somehow I got this far in life, a decent portion of it covering politics, without having read “The Power Broker.” Until last night, and the tale of Robert Moses is thus far riveting. This isn’t midcentury New York City, so clearly there’s no Minnesota equivalent, but I’m looking.

Ricardo Lopez and Pat Condon report on the governor’s $42 billion budget, which mostly goes to schools, pre-K and programs for families but drew immediate criticism from Republicans as throwing more money at the same problems.

The budget, which sets Dayton’s main priorities for the next two years, would, if approved by the Legislature, amount to a nearly 20 percent increase in total state spending since he took office.

When coupled with Monday’s proposed gas tax increase and new transportation funding, it’s an ambitious program, making Dayton one of the most unabashedly progressive Democratic governors in the country.

Among the losers: The Minneapolis Parks Board took a beating for what Dayton explicitly called its obstruction of the Southwest light-rail line to Eden Prairie. And the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities was down on the budget for lack of local government aid.

Read the whole thing for details and budget docs.

Abby Simons reports there’s money for the sex offender program.

Dayton and Lt. Gov. Tina Smith will meet with GOP legislative leaders this morning. Closed press. (Really?) Dayton then meets with Xcel Energy CEO Ben Fowke. Later, meetings of the GOP House and Senate caucuses, and DFL House and Senate caucuses. In the evening, Dayton will attend a retirement party honoring Pioneer Press reporter Bill Salisbury. (Congrats, Bill.)

Smith has a similar day except also at 3:45, she will swear in Adam Duininck as chair of Met Council (390 Robert Street North, Saint Paul).

Legislative committees start to take up the governor's budget, and House Commerce will address some interesting gambling bills. Full schedule

School choice debate: Tim Keller, Institute for Justice, and Steve Kelley, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Wednesday, January 28, 12:15 - 1:15 p.m.; FREE LUNCH. (Alternate debate: Resolved, there is such thing as a free lunch.) University of Minnesota Law School; 229 19th Ave. S., Rm. 50; Minneapolis.

Tea Party coronary alert: Found: drinks coaster at Amsterdam bar, downtown St. Paul, advertising MNsure. Stick figure and his drink are on fire, with ad copy: “It’s good to have health insurance.” You could argue it’s fiscally prudent because they’re trying to reach younger consumers, who would improve the risk pool and drive down costs. On the other hand, it’s a bar coaster. While we’re talking MNsure, more money for MNsure, Chris Snowbeck reports.

Sen. Tomassoni in the clear? My blog post on the draft opinion of the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board, which says a job isn’t a conflict of interest.

Star Trib blogger Michael Brodkorb has been blogging about this subject. Check it out. Same with Aaron Brown. (Note to readers: As with events, I’ll sometimes share relevant opinion pieces, but they should be viewed like retweets; they are not endorsements.)

The Permanent Campaign

(Occasional reporting on how legislative politics and electoral politics bleed together this year.)

By most accounts, the Republicans have a livelier ongoing campaign operation than in the past, via the Minnesota Jobs Coalition, the business backed, Republican-aligned group from which Ben Golnik was plucked to head the new House Republican majority caucus. It’s the same group that spent hundreds of thousands last year to flip the House.

The emails come a few times per week from MJC’s Executive Director John Rouleau, this time Monday about the Dayton transpo plan: “Back To The Drawing Board: Dayton Plan DOA.”

Here is part of the unsolicited response of DFLer Zach Rodvold, “Who is calling the shots at the (House Republican Campaign Committee?) Asked rhetorically, because I think it's obvious.” The implication is that the Jobs Coalition is calling the shots.

This back-and-forth will only get more intense now that the governor’s budget has dropped.

Crystal ball

Been meaning to post this: Rep. Joe Atkins, DFL-Inver Grove Heights, a savvy veteran legislator, made some predictions about this session in his newsletter to constituents. Edited for length. Let’s remember to check back in the Spring to see how he did.

Bipartisanship.  I'm not kidding. College tuition freeze. Transportation funding.  Some, not all. Met Council takes a pounding.  Child care tax credit for middle-income families. E-12 funding increase. Nursing home and caregiver funding increase.  These folks are severely underpaid. Property tax caps. Income tax cut.  Sex offender relocation. Relocating some low-level offenders, but not enough to fully satisfy the federal judge.

Back to me: What’s missing here? Nothing on Sunday liquor sales.

Proposal would prohibit permanent deer stands on state lands

The North

Our new name, “The North” instead of “Midwest,” made the Wall Street Journal (h/t Ricardo Lopez.)

Then Chicago and its Tribune turned around and laughed at us about it. Can’t find it, but years ago the New Yorker had a long story about South Dakota’s perennial attempt to become merely, “Dakota.” I like “The North” because it sounds like a David Lynch movie, but generally speaking, there’s something a little weird about someone changing his name, a sign of either corporate machinations (Altria?) or identity crisis (“Flynn” in “Breaking Bad.”)

Washington and beyond

Rep. John Kline on the radio, talking K12 education reform.

Sen. Al Franken pushing Uber again on privacy, Allison Sherry reports.

Rep. Collin Peterson is running for re-election, Sherry reports.

AP: Swift backlash and the White House backs off plan to end college savings plans.

Wis. Gov. Scott Walker is headed to Israel for a trade mission next month, reports the Milwaukee Business Journal. A trade mission.

Why did Michele Bachmann spend so much in December raising money?

Interesting Brendan Nyhan analysis matching up 2016 candidates with those who came before. 

In Politico, an anonymous writer with a letter to the new Saudi King.

you know where to find me

Tips, complaints, insider stock trading advice to patrick.coolican@startribune.com; follow me on twitter: @jpcoolican