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Minnesota Government Update


September 11, 2009



Minnesota Leadership Summit
A panel of former governors and DFL legislative leaders met on Tuesday, September 8, 2009 to discuss the state's fiscal crisis. In 2011 the state budget deficit will be double the size of the previous financial shortfalls. The projected shortfall is $7.2 billion. The global recession, rising health care costs and retiring baby boomers are part of the cause. Solutions suggested during the summit include delaying retirement, preventing chronic health conditions and cutting corporate tax rates in exchange for expansion of the sales tax. Leaders at the summit called on gubernatorial candidates to speak plainly to voters regarding plans to solve the $7.2 billion budget deficit. DFL leaders invited Governor Pawlenty to attend the summit but Pawlenty declined stating the DFL leaders should have fixed the state budget during the 2009 legislative session.
 
Meanwhile, Governor Tim Pawlenty and many of his cabinet leaders met with GOP officials and business leaders for an economic forum. The forum took place at Eaton Corporation in Eden Prairie. At the forum, Republican House and Senate leadership announced a statewide series of meetings throughout the fall bringing together regional business leaders, state government decision makers and others to exchange ideas about jumpstarting Minnesota's economy. The series of meetings will provide elected officials the opportunity to listen to local business leaders concerns about state government and the business climate in Minnesota. The GOP legislators will gather suggestions and create a package of bills for the 2010 session that encourages business growth.

State Fair Polls
Both the House and Senate solicited opinions from State Fair-goers during the Great Minnesota Get Together. To view the complete results go the House and Senate websites. The House poll had 8,746 participants. Of those polled, 47.5 percent generally support budget cuts to balance the state budget and nearly 44 percent supported tax increases. 81 percent strongly believe homeowners should be entitled to attorney fees and other costs related to the legal action against a builder or contractor to have a home warranty enforced while 51 percent oppose a state-run casino at the Minneapolis-Saint Paul airport.
 
The Senate poll had 6,702 respondents. The Senate poll included 15 questions dealing with issues that came up during the past session and issues likely to be dealt with during the in 2010 legislative session. 54 percent of participants support repealing a ban on the construction of nuclear power plants. Only 31 percent supported inclusion of private business developments such as the Mall of America in job creation and stimulus bills while 53 percent were opposed to State support of these enterprises. 45 percent opposed any expansion of gambling to raise revenue for the state; 30 percent supported slot machines in bars and at a licensed horse racing facility.

Political Scene
Governor Pawlenty's post-session announcement that he would not seek re-election in 2010 has encouraged almost 30 actual or potential candidates to enter the fray. While the number of gubernatorial candidates will be reduced before the end of the year, there is also the potential for additional candidates to jump into the race. There is no clear front runner among either the DFL or the Republican announced candidates.
 
As all this interest peaks for the Minnesota gubernatorial race, Pawlenty continues to try to position himself on the national stage for a potential race for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2012. This week, the Governor travelled to Virginia to campaign for Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell. Last week, Pawlenty campaigned in New Jersey for Chris Christie, the Republican candidate for governor of that state. Pawlenty has also spoken to various Republican organizations around the country this summer.

For up-to-date information about the Minnesota Legislature, tune into Almanac: At the Capitol. This lively and informative program is aired Wednesdays during the legislative session on Twin Cities Public Television at 7:00 PM on Channel 17 and at 10:00 PM on Channel 2.
 
Almanac: At the Capitol is seen on all public television stations throughout Minnesota and in Fargo. Winthrop & Weinstine is the exclusive law-firm partner and a sponsor of the program.
 
For more information and to see previous broadcasts, check out the Almanac: At the Capitol Web site at http://tpt.org/aatc/.
 
 
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