Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's cities, counties and poor people needing health care would be most affected by Gov. Tim Pawlenty's plan to balance the state budget. Pawlenty Monday announced that he recommends cutting: -- $347 million from health-care programs, affecting 40,000 people. Half would lose MinnesotaCare insurance coverage, half would lose or experience cuts in other programs. -- $387 million from other health-care funding.
ST. PAUL -- City leaders are working on a proposal to fund continued local government aid. Since 2003, cities have complained that Gov. Tim Pawlenty and legislators cut state payments to them when the state budget needed to be balanced. Next week, the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities will draw up a way to raise revenue to keep money flowing to cities. Cloquet Mayor Bruce Ahlgren said among the ideas being floated is extending the sales tax to services such as hair cuts and tattoos.
ST. PAUL -- Gov.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesotans have a new chance to tell legislators how they would like to see government operate. "How can we provide better services and better results at a better price?" Rep. Paul Marquart said is the question being asked of the public. Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, announced Monday the formation of a state government redesign caucus, with both Democrats and Republicans involved. "This is a start," Marquart said. He had no blueprint of how a newly designed government would look or how much money it could save.
MINNEAPOLIS -- More Minnesota governor candidates showed up for a massive Wednesday night debate than the average precinct caucus will host next week. And still, just two-thirds of the candidates planning to run this year were at the gathering, the biggest such forum political observers remember. In front of hundreds of newspaper workers, candidates found some ways to separate themselves from each other. However, for the most part, Republicans and Democrats gave predictable answers, such as Republicans favoring spending cuts to balance the budget and Democrats supporting some tax increases.
ST. PAUL -- Low-income Minnesotans who depend on a state program for health care won a one-month extension. General Assistance Medical Care will remain in operation a month longer than expected, Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Human Services Commissioner Cal Ludeman announced Wednesday. The new date for the program to end is April 1. "This extra month of GAMC coverage is possible because program costs and new enrollment were lower than projected," Pawlenty said.
ST. PAUL -- Children fussed. Parents cried. Senators were outraged. Bureaucrats explained. "We have been pushed into the living conditions of a third-world country," Jeff Brouse told a Senate health committee hearing about a three-year effort to clean up a rural Thief River Falls dairy operation. Residents from near Excel Dairy drove to St. Paul Thursday to tell their plight.
ST. PAUL -- Norm Coleman joked that he is "free at last, free at last" Monday, hours after he opted out of the Minnesota governor's race. Other Republican candidates also may have been chanting that refrain on Martin Luther King Jr. Day after complaining that donations and support were harder to find as GOP activists waited to see what Coleman would do. Late Sunday, Coleman posted a statement to his Facebook page saying that the timing was not right for a candidacy, noting that it is just six months after a grueling U.S.
ST. PAUL -- Gov. Tim Pawlenty wants to spend $315 million less to build and repair facilities around Minnesota than legislative leaders want. Republican Pawlenty this morning said he hopes lawmakers approve $685 million in public works spending, to be repaid by general tax dollars, while Democratic-Farmer-Labor party legislative leaders prefer spending about $1 billion. "You have got to be willing to say, 'No,'" Pawlenty said. Public colleges and universities would get the biggest chunk of money, 30 percent, mostly for fixing existing facilities.