Today in the News
Don't tell Wendy Brown that a business can't charge a sales tax and survive. She's been collecting the tax every time she gives a Schnauzer or a golden doodle a shampoo and a clip at her shop in south Minneapolis. So to her, Gov. Mark Dayton's proposal to lower the tax rate and spread it to a wider variety of businesses -- such as hair salons for humans -- is about fairness.
"I'm just surprised that hair salons have not been taxed," said Brown, owner since 1976 of Wendy's Doghouse, a pet grooming shop a few blocks west of the Minnehaha Dog Park. "I've been paying sales tax forever."
"The lines have been drawn over the years, and they've been relatively arbitrary," said Myron Frans, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Revenue. "There's some people that say the rationale is simply, it depends on who was in the room when the bill was written."
"It's really silly that we've narrowed our sales tax so much," said Wade Vitalis, owner of the Drive-In Restaurant in Taylors Falls (closed for the winter) and Gransburg, Wis. Vitalis has been collecting sales tax for 26 years, adding it to the price of each patty melt and butterscotch malt. When businesses argue that they wouldn't be able to handle it and still prosper, he doesn't buy it.
"I don't have a lot of sympathy for that argument," he said. "If you can't figure out how to do it, someone will, because this is America."
Minnesota Public Radio
Dayton wants to boost funding for English language learning
CHASKA, Minn. — In hopes of boosting student achievement, Gov. Mark Dayton wants to boost funding for the state's English language learning programs by about $4.5 million a year, a 12 percent increase over current levels.
The governor's proposal is aimed at helping the 65,000 students in Minnesota for whom English is not a first language.
The state spends $40 million a year helping those students learn English, while they also study math, reading, writing, and other subjects.
Around the State
This week, cabinet level commissioners continued bringing the governor’s budget proposal to the people of Minnesota. Yesterday, Office of Higher Education Director Larry Pogemiller visited with college students in Moorhead, discussing Governor Dayton’s proposed investments in student financial aid. Today, Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson is in Duluth with Lt. Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon to discuss the governor’s proposed investments in children’s mental health. The governor’s cabinet will continue traveling across Minnesota next week, holding conversations with Minnesotans about Governor Dayton’s Budget for a Better Minnesota.
Today in the News
Higher education grants may get boost
Higher education backers are excited that the governor’s budget proposal could substantially increase state grant funding for lower-income students. Gov. Mark Dayton’s biennial budget proposal provides $80 million for the Minnesota State Grant Program — a need-based financial assistance program used by a quarter of undergraduates at the University of Minnesota.
The proposed increase in student aid is the largest in more than 25 years, said Larry Pogemiller, director of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education.
“We’ve slipped behind in higher education, and now we are in a catch-up mode,” said Rep. Lyndon Carlson Sr., DFL-Crystal. “The governor is trying to get us there as rapidly as he can with his proposal.”
Minnesota has the third-highest postgraduate student debt rate in the country, according to the Institute for College Access and Success.
WJON – AM1240
Gov. Dayton Addresses Issues at CSB
Governor Mark Dayton defended his budget proposal at a public forum last night. The governor said we have, “a rare opportunity to lead,” in front of a large crowd at the College of St. Benedict.
Dayton covered a range of issues that include taxes, marriage equality and gun control. The governor called for an increase in taxes on wealthy Minnesotans to provide new revenue for the state. He said, “If people are doing better, they should want to pay more taxes.” Dayton says everyone needs to chip in and pay their fair share.
The governor also made a pitch for an increase in higher education spending. He said Minnesota needs to, “put money where our values are.”
ST. PAUL, MN – Governor Mark Dayton announced today a new reform initiative that will provide better health care for 100,000 Minnesotans and lower costs for taxpayers. In an effort to further improve the state’s Medicaid program, the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) is partnering with six health care providers to test a new payment model that prioritizes quality, preventive care and rewards providers for achieving mutually-agreed upon health goals.
Two years into his administration, Governor Mark Dayton is continuing his efforts to build a Better Minnesota. The Dayton Administration is taking note of what has been accomplished so far while still considering the work that is yet to be done.
One important component of building a Better Minnesota is supporting a clean and healthy environment. Minnesota is the Land of 10,000 lakes and a state where people care about the health and integrity of our natural resources. A healthy environment is central to the quality of life that all Minnesotans enjoy, and a crucial component in the success of our economy. Governor Dayton is committed to protecting and improving our natural resources, and leaving a legacy of clean water, cleaner air, and better parks and trails for future generations of Minnesotans.
For years, the Minnesota River has been considered one of the most polluted rivers in the state. But collaborative efforts across agencies have made important progress toward improving the health of the river.
Recent testing from the Pollution Control Agency showed marked improvements in dissolved oxygen, phosphorus, and chlorophyll levels. That means conditions have improved to support the health of fish and aquatic species populations in the river.
More work must be done to reduce sediment, bacteria, nutrients, and other contaminants in the river. But the work of over 40 wastewater treatment plants and other clean up efforts have put the Minnesota River on the path to recovery.
The MPCA is a major partner of Clean Air Minnesota’s Project Green Fleet (PGF). Since it began in 2005, PGF has worked with school districts and school bus fleet operators to retrofit buses with Diesel Oxidation Catalysts and closed crankcase filtration systems.
After two years in office, Governor Mark Dayton is continuing to make important progress toward building a Better Minnesota.
One crucial measure of that progress is improving the health of Minnesotans, which is essential to a high quality of life in Minnesota. Governor Dayton is pursuing a variety of strategies to improve the health of individuals, families, and communities across our state, including increasing access to high quality, affordable health insurance and promoting strong community health programs. The Dayton Administration is focused on improving the quality of life for all Minnesotans, and lowering the cost of health care in our great state of Minnesota.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has worked to reduce diesel emission in school buses, snowplows, fire trucks, and other large vehicles. Emissions retrofits on school buses alone have improved air quality for nearly 85,000 kids in 91 school districts statewide.
In 2012, MPCA focused on reducing diesel emission in long-haul semi-trucks. At current fuel prices, retrofits made to 282 vehicle engines, and reduced idling on 155 trucks, will save trucking companies $600,000 each year in fuel costs. Health benefits derived from these emissions reductions are estimated to total $123.5 million.
On Nov. 27, the regional Citizen Forums on the Environment will begin with forums in Rochester and Bloomington.
The forums are an opportunity for Minnesotans to interact with state agency commissioners and staff, and learn more about Minnesota’s Environment & Energy Report Card. Those attending the forums will be asked to answer key questions and submit more in-depth ideas for consideration.
The State of Minnesota wants to hear what Minnesotans’ priorities and visions are for the environment. The input gathered at the forums will be compiled and presented to the Dayton Administration at a statewide Environmental Congress next March.
The Minnesota Environmental Congress and the Citizens Forums leading up to it are the result of Governor Dayton’s Executive Order 11-32. To assess Minnesota’s progress toward clean air, water and energy, the Environmental Quality Board is convening Citizen Forums around the state to engage citizens in constructive dialogue, identify environmental challenges, and define a vision for Minnesota’s environmental future.
To ride free, disabled veterans need to show a Veterans Identification Card issued by a VA Medical Center with the words "Service Connected" or "SC" below the photo.
Bus routes and the Hiawatha Line provide connections to the VA Medical Center in South Minneapolis. Ramsey Station on the Northstar line will open on November 14. It is adjacent to the year-old VA Outpatient Clinic in Ramsey.
For more information, call MN Dept. of Veterans Affairs at (651) 556-0596 or visit the Department of Veterans Affairs website for details on obtaining a Veterans Identification Card.
Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger meets with local officials in Cannon Falls
State Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger will make the final leg of his “Pitch the Commissioner” campaign next week in Bemidji as he seeks ideas to keep the state healthy.
The Commissioner has already visited several Minnesota communities, meeting with local officials to enjoy a game of horseshoes and talk public health.
“Pitching horseshoes is a fun and easy way for people to be physically active and engage in conversation at the same time,” Ehlinger said. “I want to hear what Minnesotans have to say about what their communities need to be healthy.”
The tour has emphasized prevention and public health as the Commissioner has sought to find out what kind of infrastructure Minnesota communities need to help residents stay active.
New partnerships are making a home of their own possible for hundreds of Minnesota citizens with disabilities- as over 500 people since 2009 have said welcome home to the new possibilities of independent living.
These new possibilities have been created through the Housing Access Services (HAS), which is a partnership of The Arc of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Human Services. For many adults with disabilities, living at home or living in a group home is no longer the right fit. They desire the same independent lifestyles that many take for granted. HAS helps adults with disabilities navigate many of the logistical problems with reaching independence, such as finding housing, filling out paperwork and financial documents, moving in, and finding access to jobs and transportation.
Governor Dayton proclaims October Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the State of Minnesota
Breast cancer touches the lives of many Minnesotans and according to the National Cancer Institute, will affect one in every eight women, with most having no family history of the disease. An increasing number of women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. When diagnosed early, breast cancer is highly treatable and the best way to detect breast cancer in early stages is through annual screening mammograms beginning at age 40.Breast Cancer Awareness Month provides both a time to honor those lost to the disease as well as an opportunity to empower women in their fight against breast cancer by spreading the message of prevention and early detection through annual screening mammograms.
Financial and social barriers often prevent women from seeking screening mammograms. In addition to raising awareness, fundraising initiatives such as the Be Pink initiative, help institutions like the Park Nicollet Jane Brattain Breast Center make mammography accessible to more women in our Minnesotan community.