Christopher Magan / St. Paul Pioneer Press
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota needs to spend about $4 billion more every two years to “fully fund” public schools and the state teachers union wants businesses and the wealthy to pick up the tab. “We believe the public is on our side,” said Denise Specht, president of Education Minnesota, said at a Friday, Feb. 15, news conference. “There was a time when all Minnesotans believed and invested in our education system. … I think we know there is an imbalance in who is contributing to public education.”
ST. PAUL - It’s the thing Minnesota Republicans and Democrats have to agree on — eventually. Crafting a new, two-year state budget is lawmakers’ top priority this legislative session. The current, $45.5 billion biennial spending plan runs out June 30 and without a new one, state government will shut down. Gov. Tim Walz, House Speaker Melissa Hortman and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka have vowed not to let that happen. With the nation’s only divided Legislature, they say they want to prove government can still get things done in a bipartisan way.
ST. PAUL — As many as 800,000 low- and middle-income Minnesotans could get free help filing their taxes, but don’t take advantage of it. Tax-preparation companies and nonprofits offer free software and services that nearly 65 percent of Minnesota taxpayers may qualify to receive. Services are income dependent and available across the state.
St. Paul -- Several Minnesota lawmakers think the state constitution needs an update. The 2019 legislative session is not even a month old, but there’s already a handful of bills in the Minnesota House and Senate to amend the state’s founding document. Several of them deal with enshrining gender equality in the state’s legal framework. The rest would make marijuana legal, protect against unwarranted digital searches, cut the size of the Legislature and impose term limits on those elected to serve there.
STILLWATER, Minn. -- For the first time in a long time, state lawmakers who make policies about prisons spent some time in one. Five members of the House Corrections Subcommittee toured the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Stillwater on Friday, Jan. 25. Next week, the subcommittee will hold a legislative hearing at the prison in Bayport. For Warden Eddie Miles, both are firsts in his decade-long tenure. “It gives us an opportunity to show just what we do and who we are,” Miles said.
ST. PAUL -- “Unconscionable,” an “unforced ridiculous error,” “cruel,” and “insane” — Gov. Tim Walz didn’t hold back when describing his feelings about the month-long government shutdown and the reasons behind it. He expressed his frustrations with the shutdown Thursday, Jan 24, while hosting a roundtable discussion at a St. Paul affordable housing complex where residents are growing anxious that the federal benefits they rely on will soon dry up.
ST. PAUL — As the partial shutdown of the federal government drags on, the University of Minnesota is covering $500,000 per day worth of government grants that are not being paid. The tally has reached $10 million so far and there’s an expectation, but not certainty, the university will get paid back.
ST PAUL -- Minnesota’s courts can decide if students are deprived of their right to an adequate education, but a group of parents arguing teacher union protections hurt their children’s chances of attending a good school lack evidence. That’s the essence of a ruling from a Minnesota Court of Appeals panel released Tuesday, Jan. 22, in a lawsuit against the state that claims teacher union protections like tenure and seniority-based layoffs deprive students of an equal and adequate education.
ST. PAUL -- Federal employees are working without pay, farmers can’t borrow money to buy seed, Native American communities have limited access to health care — these are just a few of the ways the monthlong federal government shutdown is hurting Minnesotans. The state is home to about 17,000 federal workers, and about 6,000 of those are either furloughed or working without pay. Hundreds of government programs also are not receiving money.
ST. PAUL -- The longest federal government shutdown in U.S. history is now a month old with no end in sight. How did we get here? What services are impacted? What are local leaders doing to help? Here’s a primer: What happens in a government shutdown? When Congress and the president cannot agree on spending plans for various state agencies, those agencies run out of money and have to furlough workers and stop providing all but essential services. The departments cannot fully reopen until a new budget becomes law.