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 - State-run colleges and universities' budgets would be cut under a bill senators reluctantly passed 41-23 Friday. Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system schools would receive 3 percent less in the next two-year budget than they receive now. The University of Minnesota's cut is 4 percent. "This means we are going in the wrong direction..." Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, said. "We should not be cutting higher education.
ST. PAUL - Bullying and other types of harassment would not be tolerated in Minnesota schools under a bill senators tentatively approved Thursday. On a 43-22 vote, the Senate approved a bill requiring school boards to adopt a policy that prohibits harassment. The policy applies to students and school workers. "The fact is some kids suffer vastly more significant forms of harassment," Sen.
ST. PAUL - Minnesota senators are considering increasing court fees nearly $36 million to prevent deep budget cuts for the courts system, but a leading judge and the senator in charge of judicial spending say the budget still would be too small. "They are moving in the right direction," Hennepin County District Judge Charles Porter said.
ST. PAUL - Paula Leach received training so she could deal with challenges she faces as an early-childhood special education teacher. The Hastings teacher fears that if the state gives an easy route for those who did not get such extensive training to get teaching licenses that students will suffer. Leach told a House education finance committee about her concerns Tuesday, one of several teachers to complain about a provision contained in an overall education measure. The provision, like one proposed by Gov.
ST. PAUL - Minnesota senators want to lift some mandates the state places on local governments, all in the name of saving money. Senators Monday gave the measure tentative approval on a voice vote, including doing away with long-standing truth-in-taxation hearings local governments are required to hold as a way to give citizens a chance to comment on their budgets. Instead, the bill requires local governments to notify citizens that they can appear at a regularly scheduled meeting during which local officials will consider future budgets. Sen.
ST. PAUL - Minnesota senators voted to chop public school budgets $273 per pupil Tuesday while opting to expand a program that pays teachers based on performance instead of seniority. Those on the winning side of the 37-29 vote were not happy to be cutting schools, but said a massive state budget deficit left them no choice. "This bill expects more from our educational system and gives them less resources to carry it out," said Sen. LeRoy Stumpf, DFL-Plummer, chairman of the Senate education finance committee. "There is no way to sugar coat this," Stumpf added.
ST. PAUL - Minnesota lawmakers begin a Passover-Easter break today with most of their major 2009 work left. When they return to St. Paul on April 14, senators and representatives will have less than five weeks to accomplish their biggest task - writing a $33 billion, two-year budget that plugs a $6.4 billion deficit. The state constitution requires lawmakers to adjourn by May 18, although there is talk in the Capitol that lawmakers and Gov. Tim Pawlenty may not be able to plug the record-high deficit by then. A failure would send the Legislature into a special session this summer. Sen.
ST. PAUL - American Indian leaders fear their native languages are being lost, calling the situation a crisis. "When a person passes away, it is like a whole dictionary that is gone," Lillian Rice told a Minnesota House committee. A Native American's language, she added, "is the very sense of who we are. ... Without that, we are lost." Indian leaders are working to save languages, and now the Minnesota Legislature is considering helping the cause.
ST. PAUL - The first major item to be debated by Minnesota legislators this year finally is headed to the governor for his signature. The Senate passed a Green Acres law change 59-5 Wednesday, continuing a farmland property tax break. The provision is part of an overall tax bill that conforms state law to federal tax law. Green Acres is a law that allows farmland to be taxed at the agriculture rate rather than the pricier tax charged on property that is developed into housing or business uses.
ST. PAUL - The governor would increase public school education funding 2.2 percent. Minnesota House leaders propose keeping education spending the next two years about the same as in the budget that ends on June 30. And on Wednesday Senate Democrats proposed cutting education funding 3.2 percent, setting up parameters for school funding debate that will share the spotlight with taxes and other issues as Minnesota legislators and Gov.