January 15, 2010
Gubernatorial Race Update
Pat Anderson this week dropped out as a GOP gubernatorial candidate in order to run for her old job as State Auditor. Anderson indicated that the continued speculation regarding a potential bid for Governor by former US Senator Norm Coleman made it difficult for her to raise money and run a campaign. Indeed, rumors abound regarding Coleman as a candidate. In a statement this week, Coleman said that he would be making a decision soon. Former GOP State Party Chair Ron Eibensteiner this week authored an op-ed piece urging Coleman to stay out of the race.
DFL gubernatorial candidate Margaret Anderson Kelliher has been fined $9,000 and the DFL Party has paid a $15,000 penalty for sidestepping limits on campaign contributions. The Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board (CFPDB) found probable cause that the Kelliher campaign violated state election laws. Kelliher's campaign worked with the DFL Party to help cover costs for a voter database. Other campaigns had to pay for the database on their own and they accused the Party of setting up a special deal for the Kelliher campaign. Kelliher is not the only DFL candidate to face problems with CFPDB. In November, DFL gubernatorial candidate R.T. Rybak's campaign was ordered to repay $26,500 to his mayoral re-election committee for the cost of a poll used to gauge Rybak's viability as a gubernatorial candidate.
The latest Rasmussen Reports poll on the Governor's race shows Norm Coleman as the definitive leader amongst likely GOP voters. Former House Minority Leader Marty Seifert and State Representative Tom Emmer earned a distant 9 percent each to Coleman's 52 percent. On the DFL side, former US Senator Mark Dayton tallied 34 percent of the likely DFL voters followed by Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak at 25 percent. Undecided voters polled 13 percent, House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher came in at 12 percent and former State Representative Matt Entenza captured 5 percent.
Governor Tim Pawlenty continues his nationwide tour bolstering his conservative credentials as a potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate. He will be addressing the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans and in March he is the featured speaker for the Susan B. Anthony List.
On the home front, Pawlenty is dealing with a district court ruling by Chief Judge Kathleen Gearin regarding Pawlenty's use of executive power to reduce State spending via unallotment. Gearin ruled Pawlenty "trod upon the constitutional power of the Legislature" when he made unilateral cuts to the budget. Pawlenty stated that he used the power properly and has appealed the ruling to the Minnesota Supreme Court.
Caucus leaders are making the rounds and discussing the State's $1.2 billion budget deficit and how to solve it. At a recent public event featuring House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, House Minority Leader Kurt Zellers, Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller and Senate Minority Leader David Senjem all agreed it will be difficult to solve the budget crisis through cuts alone. There is some hope the federal health care legislation will help alleviate cuts to the General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC) program. When asked about the Viking Stadium issue, the leaders noted the lack of a proposal to review. Election reform will also be an issue due to the need to comply with recent federal law. The Legislature will need to move up the State's primary to be in compliance. The leaders are hopeful for bi-partisan efforts to grow jobs and a $750 million plus bonding bill is expected to pass.
Governor Announces 2010 Bonding Bill
Governor Tim Pawlenty held a press conference today to present his 2010 bonding bill. Pawlenty referred to it as a financially responsible, geographically balanced, affordable bonding plan. The proposal calls for $685 million in general obligation bonding. Pawlenty added $130 million to that total by including user-financed bonds, trunk highway bonds, University of Minnesota and MnSCU bonds and cash for a total bonding bill of $815 million.
Pawlenty said approximately 46 percent of the bill would be utilized for asset preservation and 37 percent for new assets. Of the total amount, 53 percent would be used in statewide programs, 28 percent for Greater Minnesota projects and 18 percent in the seven-county metro area. The proposal includes $39 million in cancelled projects from previous bonding bills. Pawlenty noted the proposal includes no local projects because the State cannot keep funding local projects.
At a press conference this morning, Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Tom Hanson outlined the proposal which includes:
- $246 million for Higher Education (30 percent of total)
- $159 million for Transportation (19 percent of total)
- $127 million for Public Safety and Corrections (16 percent of total)
- $114 million for Flood Mitigation and DNR (14 percent of total)
- $90 million for Economic Development (11 percent of total)
- $33 million for Veterans and Military (4 percent of total)
- $47 million for Other Projects (6 percent of total)
Pawlenty also announced an agreement with U.S. Steel allowing the State to purchase property on Lake Vermillion for a new state park for $18 million cash with the differential from U.S. Steel's appraisal of $2.3 million to be treated as a donation to the State of Minnesota.
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