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.”
Nearly 400,000 veterans call Minnesota home. Their commitment to service and their personal sacrifices have earned them the right to education, opportunities, and benefits.
Governor Dayton’s budget seeks to underscore the service these men and women have given to our country and our state through GI Bill expansion, increased veteran services funding to secure benefits, Honor Guard preservation, and Health Care IT infrastructure improvements to raise the quality of care for our veterans to the highest degree.
The men and women of our armed forced have invaluable skills, skills the state of Minnesota looks to preserve and foster. The funds allocated in the budget invest in our veterans, help create a better Minnesota, and help veterans succeed.
» $1 Million to Expand the Minnesota GI Bill. The Governor’s budget expands the Minnesota GI Bill program to all generations of veterans, not just those serving on or after 9/11. This expansion will ensure all Minnesota veterans have access to the education and training they need to get good paying jobs.
» $1 Million for County Veteran Service Office Grants. The Governor’s budget provides increased grant funding for County Veteran Services Offices, which help veterans and their families obtain benefits and services earned through military service.
» $5 Million for Health Care IT Improvement. The Governor’s budget invests in IT infrastructure upgrades at the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs. This investment will allow the department to achieve industry standards in delivering high-quality health care to Minnesota veterans and ensure their safety.
» $400,000 for Honor Guards. The Governor’s budget includes $400,000 in permanent funding for the Honor Guard Program, which supports veterans and their families by providing military burial honors earned through their service and sacrifice. Governor Dayton is committed to ensuring all veterans who request funeral honors receive them.
» $200,000 for the Gold Star Program. The Governor’s budget includes $200,000 in permanent funding for the Gold Star Program, which supports the families of those service members who lost their lives in combat as they heal from their loss.
» $425,000 for new State Veterans Cemetery in Fillmore County. The Governor’s budget includes start-up and ongoing funding for a new state veterans cemetery in Fillmore County, opening in 2015. This State Veterans Cemetery will provide burial space for nearly 40,000 veterans. Governor Dayton believes every veteran deserves a dignified final resting place.
Photo Credit: Flickr user David Lipscomb
Keeping our Kids Safe and Healthy
The health an safety of our youngest Minnesotans is at the center of Governor Dayton’s Budget for a Better Minnesota. His budget proposal includes new funding to help prepare Minnesota schools for emergencies, provide expanded mental health services to our students, and prevents child abuse by expanding proven outreach strategies to at-risk families.
Every parent deserves the peace of mind that comes with knowing their child is safe at school. That’s why one of Governor Dayton’s budget priorities is the reestablishment of the Minnesota School Safety Center. The Center will provide training and education in the areas of emergency preparedness, response and recovery to schools, law enforcement, and outreach to community partners.
Governor Dayton’s budget expands access to mental health services for children with complex, high-cost conditions through increased funding to schools. This proposal doubles the percentage of Minnesota schools providing these services, ensuring that more Minnesota students have the resources they need to be healthy in the classroom. Finally, Governor Dayton’s budget also invests in the prevention and early detection of child abuse. The proposal expands proven outreach programs to at-risk families.
Governor Dayton is committed to investing in all aspects of public safety. For more information about Governor Dayton’s budget, visit http://mn.gov/governor/budget or follow the conversation on Twitter at #BetterMN.
Building a better Minnesota starts with our kids. That is why Governor Dayton’s budget invests $139 million in proven programs that will help Minnesota’s children thrive today and in the future.
Minnesota can help our youngest children thrive by investing in better early education to help narrow the state’s troubling achievement gap, and prepare children for success in school. In Governor Dayton's budget proposal, Early Childhood Education scholarships will help an additional 11,000 Minnesota children from low-income families afford high quality childcare and preschool. The proposed budget also allows for investments in optional All Day Kindergarten, providing access for 85% of Minnesota families—or nearly 54,000 children.
In addition to providing quality early childhood education, it is important to support strong and healthy Minnesota families. Governor Dayton’s budget provides for increased rental assistance to low-income families, ensuring children don’t have to endure a potentially disruptive move during the school year. The Governor’s budget also increases funding for high quality childcare for children with special needs, and streamlines the adoption process to ensure it best serves the interests of Minnesota children.
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.
On February 1, Governor Mark Dayton and Department of Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius, visited the North St. Paul-Maplewood Oakdale ISD 622, to celebrate February as “I Love to Read” Month. The Governor and Commissioner, along with Read It, enjoyed story time with the Kindergartners and third graders.
Two years into his administration, Governor Mark Dayton is making important progress toward building a Better Minnesota. Measuring that progress by the improvements Minnesotans have seen in their lives, families, communities, and economy, the Dayton Administration is taking inventory of what has been accomplished thus far, and considering the work that still remains to be done.
One crucial measure of that progress is ensuring Minnesotans have the education and skills they need to achieve their goals. Building a better Minnesota starts with giving our children and workforce a world-class education, and the skills they need to succeed in a global economy.
That is why Governor Dayton is strongly committed to providing more funding for K-12 classrooms and early childhood education, increasing per pupil spending, and making college more affordable for Minnesotans. Governor Dayton is also focused on helping working Minnesotans access the education and workforce training they need to compete and succeed in today’s economy.
In 2011, Governor Dayton invested more than $55 million in early literacy. The Department of Education worked with every school district to develop local literacy plans that outline how curriculum, instruction, and assessments will be used to improve third grade reading scores.
Early results of this key investment are promising: In 2012, student in grades 3-8 made substantial overall gains in reading, with notable progress among American Indian and Hispanic students.
Today, Governor Dayton congratulated Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius and the state Department of Education (MDE) for reducing excessive paperwork on Minnesota’s special education teachers. The reduction will enable educators to spend much less time filling out forms and much more time in the classroom teaching children with special needs.