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 - Give Minnesota's Q Comp teacher pay and performance program an "incomplete." That was the message auditors delivered Tuesday to legislators who are considering Gov. Tim Pawlenty's request to expand Q Comp to all school districts. There is no proof the $49 million spent on the program this year is helping increase student achievement, Judy Randall of the legislative auditor's office told two legislative committees. "We're not quite there yet," she said, adding it has not been in effect long enough to know the results.
ST. PAUL -- Sen. Joe Gimse announced a plan to take $95 million from Twin Cities transit funds, and another $5 million from rural funds, to increase spending on school bus programs statewide. It is a plan that Democrats in control of the Minnesota Legislature say they will not consider. "It would ensure students get to school and back safely," Gimse, a Willmar Republican, said Monday about his plan. But taking money from the Metropolitan Council, which runs Twin Cities buses, is not sitting well with Democrats.
ST. PAUL -- Food inspectors are fanning out across Minnesota this week to make sure potentially tainted peanut butter products no longer are for sale. The list of products that could be infected with possibly deadly salmonella bacteria tops 800, leading to what some say is the biggest recall in the country's history. "They are looking for any of those 800 products ... making sure all of those identified products are removed from sale," Ben Miller of the Minnesota Agriculture Department said Monday about the inspectors. They will visit places such as grocery and convenience stores.
ST. PAUL -- Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle appeared before the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, asking that his state get its share of money from a federal economic recovery package. Minnesota House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher and Majority Leader Tony Sertich met privately with the state's congressional delegation in Washington and again in St.
ST. PAUL - Gov. Tim Pawlenty would chop many parts of the state budget - including dropping 84,000 people off state-funded health care programs -- but promises to increase public school funding and keeping public safety programs mostly untouched. The Republican governor's solution to a nearly $5 billion deficit that most experts expect to grow dramatically in coming weeks included deep cuts in state aid to cities, eliminating boards governing humanities and arts programs and a 5 percent cut in most government programs.
ST. PAUL -- Gov. Tim Pawlenty would chop many parts of the state budget -- including dropping 84,000 people off state-funded health care programs -- but promises to increase public school funding and keeping public safety programs mostly untouched. The Republican governor's solution to a nearly $5 billion deficit that most experts expect to grow dramatically in coming weeks included deep cuts in state aid to cities, eliminating boards governing humanities and arts programs and a 5 percent cut in most government programs.
ST. PAUL - Local governments, health providers, colleges and pretty much every other group that depends on state money are bracing for a punch in the gut today when Gov. Tim Pawlenty releases his proposed budget for the next two years. The Republican governor has been dropping broad hints that public school education will be spared most of the budget-cutting pain as state policy makers face a deficit of near $5 billion - although most in the Capitol expect it to near or top $7 billion when all is said and done.
ST. PAUL - Republicans want to require a photo identification card to be shown before a Minnesotan can vote. "The Voter Integrity Act of 2009 will simply serve as one more safeguard to ensuring that every Minnesotans' vote is counted fairly," said Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Delano. "Countless challenges and even the threat of litigation has irrevocably changed the way we as Americans conduct elections.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty is trying to tamper expectations that a federal economic stimulus package could significantly ease Minnesota's budget problems. Pawlenty said the state could receive more than $3 billion if the U.S. House version of an economic stimulus bill passes Congress and is signed by President Barack Obama. However, that version may not emerge from congressional negotiations. Even if it did, Pawlenty said, some of the funding is targeted to specific education, outdoors and infrastructure programs.
ST. PAUL -- A 2008 law change threatens farmland across the state - from the Twin Cities suburbs to land bordering lakes and rivers -- farmers Wednesday told a Minnesota House committee. The new law penalizes farmers who want to sell farmland for other uses, the farmers said. The law could backfire and convince many landowners to get rid of some of their property, farmers added, or to turn sensitive land into cropland that would get a better tax break.