Political Notes: Dayton compares bonding with flood needs
ST. PAUL -- Gov. Mark Dayton puts the need for Minnesota to fund public works projects up there with flood fighting.
The reason public works projects, funded by the state selling bonds, are so important is because they could put thousands of people to work, the Democratic governor said.
"They are in emergency conditions," he said of the jobless.
In recent days, Dayton has renewed his push to invest $1 billion in public works projects ranging from new trails to fixing university roofs. He and other supporters claim that could result in 28,000 construction jobs.
"Putting people back to work is the ultimate solution to these economic problems," Dayton said.
Republicans who control the Legislature do not agree with Democrat Dayton.
Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch of Buffalo said she and her fellow Republicans think private business, not government, creates jobs. If government created jobs, she added, past bonding and other government programs would have left the Minnesota economy in better shape.
Still, House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, left the door open to a bonding bill that would include both flood-prevention needs and traditional projects.
"I don't' think we ever said absolutely no," he said, but quickly added that legislative attention first must continue to be focused on writing a two-year state budget.
House and Senate bonding committees have $55 million anti-flood proposals in front of them, but there is no indication when, or if, they will receive votes.
Duluth, St. Paul and Minneapolis mayors have told Republican legislative leaders that their budget cuts "amount to an attack on Minnesota's economic engines."
A letter Duluth Mayor Don Ness, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak wrote to leaders wasted no time attacking Republican budget ideas: "They hurt Minnesota's economic future and serve to undo years of progress that we have made in the metro area, working cooperatively with the private sector, on regionwide economic growth."
The trio said their cities are "disproportionately targeted" by in several ways, including:
* Much state aid paid to cities is due to disappear in GOP plans.
* Education budget proposals would drain money from their cities and send it to other school districts.
* Cuts in transit funding would lead to increase bus fares.
* Since renters make up a higher percentage of residents in the cities, they will be hurt more by a reduction in a renters' tax credit.
Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton has said he opposes Republican cuts to the cities, all overwhelmingly Democratic communities.
Ritchie in Congress
Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie told a U.S. House committee that his state has worked bipartisanly to improve elections and increase military voter turnout.
Ritchie urged Congress to invest in new voter technology.
"Tremendous advances in election integrity are now possible by using these new opportunities for data matching," Ritchie said.
Minnesota traditionally leads the country in voter turnout, which was helped last year with new laws that made it easier for veterans overseas to vote.
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is right about at least one thing: He is not well known.
That was proven on a recent "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me," a public radio show from Chicago.
With an introductory quote from the Huffington Post of "He's a super nice fella, personal and down to earth, but he's also kind of boring," an Iowan calling from a friend's house in Falcon Heights, Minn., could not name the person who just announced he is exploring a run for the White House.
"This is his problem: He announced an exploratory committee this week and you have no idea," show host Peter Sagal said. "That sort of sums up this guy."
Sagal let the Iowan, who may see Pawlenty's name on a caucus ballot early next year, know a bit about Republican Pawlenty.
"He succeeded there in Minnesota because unlike his predecessor, Jesse 'The Body' Ventura, he was not completely nuts," Sagal said. "And he plans, pretty much, to apply the same strategy to the race for the Republican presidential nomination.
"His campaign slogan will be: Pawlenty: you know, in your heart, you'll have to settle.
"Maybe Pawlenty: Not Reagan, but not Newt Gingrich, either.
"Pawlenty: Hey, you have to vote for somebody."
He may have been a hockey player, but Gov. Mark Dayton wowed state champion wrestling teams visiting the Capitol.
"Politics is kind of like wrestling," he told boys from four high schools. "You are wrestling with ideas."
He said he got the idea of inviting championship sports teams to the Capitol from then-President George W. Bush, who often had national championship teams as White House guests.
"Recognizing excellence," he gave as the reason he likes the idea.
Dayton stood with teams to have photos taken, even wearing a Jackson County Central jersey when it came time for that team to go in front of the camera.
Davis works for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Daily Globe.