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Showing posts from February 2013. Show all posts

Kaila's Story: Why Reducing Tobacco Use Matters

Posted on February 28, 2013 at 3:05 PM

Kaila Narum of Andover, Minnesota was in 6th grade when her father was diagnosed with esophageal cancer caused by decades of smoking. At 37 years-old, he had just a 5 percent chance of survival.

Against the odds, after chemotherapy and radiation treatment, Kaila’s dad was pronounced cancer free. But one day later that year he began feeling sick again, was rushed to the hospital, and soon thereafter slipped into a coma. The cancer had spread to his stomach and lungs; and doctors told Kaila there was nothing they could do to save her father’s life.


Minnesota Mayors Show Their Support for Governor Dayton's Transit Plan

Posted on February 28, 2013 at 11:00 AM

Minnesota officials including Mayors Coleman, Rybak, Hovland, Williams, Tabke, Zanmiller, and Maguire, as well as Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, and MET Council Chair Susan Haigh, gathered on Wednesday in support of Governor Dayton’s Transit Plan. Highlights of the plan focus on expanding both the Light Rail Transitways and the Bus Rapid Transit Corridors, as well as maintaining our network of roads and bridges. 


Rahel’s Story: Why the State Grant Program Matters

Posted on February 27, 2013 at 10:21 AM

Click to enlarge Rahel Theodros is a full-time college student from Columbia Heights studying business marketing education at the University of Minnesota. In addition to her studies, Rahel works 15-20 hours per week as a waitress and is heavily involved in volunteeringand numerous campus activities.

Rahel has a younger sister and an older brother who are also attending college right now. She is one of nearly 100,000 Minnesota students who rely on the Minnesota State Grant program to pay for college.

In addition to the State Grant funding she receives, Rahel has also had to take out $5,000 to $6,000 in student loans each year. She anticipates that she will graduate with more than $20,000 in student debt. “Without the Minnesota State Grant Program,” she said, “I would not have been able to afford tuition.”

Under Governor Dayton’s budget proposal, Rahel’s State Grant award would increase by an estimated $1,200.

Helping Thousands of Students Like Rahel

State financial assistance has not kept pace with rising tuition and other increased costs of higher education. Over the last decade, tuition and fees have increased by three times the rate of inflation. Meanwhile, Minnesota students are taking out loans at one of the highest rates in the nation, with the average graduate leaving school with $29,800 in student debt.


Today in the Budget

Posted on February 26, 2013 at 12:08 PM
Categories: Transportation, Health, Budget

MN Mayors, Commissioners, and Metropolitan Council Chair Haigh

Today, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, and Metropolitan Council Chair Sue Haigh were joined by a group of mayors and county commissioners at a Capitol news conference urging legislators to support Governor Mark Dayton’s proposal to increase Minnesota’s investment in transit.
Joining Rybak, Coleman, and Haigh were Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, Eagan Mayor Mike Maguire, West St. Paul Mayor John Zanmiller, Shakopee Mayor Brad Tabke, Savage Mayor Janet Williams, and Golden Valley Mayor Shep Harris. In their words, Governor Dayton’s transit plan: "would create a 21st century transit system in Minnesota, which is critical for job creation, economic prosperity and our ability to be globally competitive."
This afternoon, Office of Higher Education Director Larry Pogemiller will meet with college students in Winona to discuss student debt, and Governor Dayton’s plan to increase higher education funding – including $80 million in direct financial aid to students. The governor’s proposed investment in the Minnesota State Grant Program would help make college more affordable students like Rahel Theodros. Under the governor’s plan, Rahel would receive an additional $1,200 in direct student aid. More information about Rahel’s story is attached and below.
Later today, Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson will visit with hospital administrators and medical professionals in St. Cloud. Commissioner Jesson will discuss health care investments in Governor Dayton’s budget proposal, and other strategies to reform Minnesota’s health care system.
In the News
Winona Daily News
William Mann: Budget proposal helps make college possible for some
As the president of Saint Mary’s University, one of the three institutions of higher education that call Winona home, I am compelled to speak for our students and families and commend Gov. Mark Dayton for making quality, affordable college education a priority in his most recent budget proposal.
Particularly meaningful among the priorities he has laid out is a 25 percent increase in funding for the Minnesota State Grant program. The state grant is a need-based state award which offers low- and middle-class students at Minnesota colleges or universities an annually renewable grant for tuition, books or living expenses while attending college. The program benefits students attending both public and private institutions of higher education.
The proposed increase to the state grant would help even more low- and middle-class families pay for college. According to the state Minnesota Office of Higher Education, current grant recipients would see their grants increase by an average of $300 per year. And 5,000 additional students would become eligible to receive grants. Many of these newly eligible recipients come from middle-class families that earn $50,000 or more per year and are ineligible for the federal Pell Grant.


Building a Better Minnesota: Investing in children’s mental health

Posted on February 25, 2013 at 4:45 PM


Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson (right) is joined by Cathleen Isaacson, her daughter Ava Paoletti, 9, and Lincoln Elementary School special education teacher Laurie Malkovich during a roundtable discussion on Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget proposal to expand funding for school-linked mental health services Friday, Feb. 15, in Hibbing.

Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson met with education and mental health leaders on the Iron Range last week to learn from their decades’ long experience providing school-linked mental health services. A proposal in Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget would double grants that bring mental health prevention and early intervention into schools across the state.


Governor Dayton Elected Chair of Midwestern Governor's Association

Posted on February 25, 2013 at 10:02 AM

Governor Dayton Speaks at the Asian Carp Summit 

Governor Dayton Speaks at the Minnesota Asian Carp Summit

This weekend in Washington D.C. Governor Dayton was elected to be the new Chair of the Midwestern Governors Association at its annual meeting. Replacing Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, Dayton will focus his agenda on creating responses to invasive species, primarily on Asian carp and zebra mussels.

Part of this initiative will include governors helping out to find opportunities to take and challenges to overcome. As a first step to the plan the MGA will hold a meeting of policy advisors, state natural resources and agriculture secretaries and various other experts.

“I am honored to have been chosen by my fellow governors to be Chair of the Midwestern Governors Association. I look forward to working with them to further strengthen our region and address invasive species,” said Dayton, who will serve in this new position until February 2014.

Dayton will also continue Branstad’s initiative to help increase the production of low-cost energy which includes finding ways to increase alternative vehicle fueling stations.

More information about Dayton’s agenda can be found on the MGA’s website .


Today in the Budget

Posted on February 22, 2013 at 1:11 PM
Categories: Budget, Economy, Greater Minnesota

MSU Logo photo credit: Flickr user xavierla

Today, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman submitted a commentary to the Star Tribune, strongly supporting Governor Dayton’s proposed investments in aid to local governments and $1.4 billion in direct property tax relief to homeowners. Mayor Coleman’s commentary is provided in the attached document. The governor has proposed a $120 million increase in aid to cities and counties, and a $500 property tax rebate for every Minnesota homeowner. More details on the governor’s property tax relief plan are detailed below.


Today in the Budget

Posted on February 21, 2013 at 1:24 PM
Categories: Budget, Education, Greater Minnesota

Governor Dayton and Commissioner Cassellius read to students at Northport Elementary School
Governor Dayton and Commissioner Cassellius read to students at Northport Elementary School 

Today, the Star Tribune editorial board highlighted the need to invest in early learning, citing the work of Minnesota economist Art Rolnick that shows “for every dollar invested in preschool, society receives a $17 return.” The Star Tribune praised President Obama and Governor Dayton for making early childhood education a priority. The governor’s plan would boost funding for early childhood education and all-day Kindergarten – giving our youngest learners the tools to succeed in school and life.
Right now, half of Minnesota children are coming to school unprepared to learn; and Minnesota’s achievement gap is one of the worst in the nation. That is why Governor Dayton’s budget would provide early childhood scholarships for 11,000 more Minnesota students. And it would provide free all-day Kindergarten for 46,000 students statewide. These investments require new revenues proposed in the governor’s tax reform plan.
Today, Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius is meeting with students and teachers in Austin to discuss the governor’s proposed investments in all-day Kindergarten, and to highlight the need for additional investments in our youngest learners.
In the News
Star Tribune Editorial
For too long, Minnesota’s 3- to 5-year-olds have not been high on the state funding priority list — even though most research proves the educational and societal value of strong early education.
But welcome momentum is building in St. Paul and Washington, and this could be a banner year for Minnesota’s youngest learners. Under proposals at both the state and federal levels, early learning could receive a much-needed funding boost that would give thousands more youngsters a shot to be better lifelong students and successful adults.
Under Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget plan and the supporting House education bill, preschool and kindergarten would receive an additional $84 million annually. That would fund the expansion of all-day kindergarten, preschool and scholarships for quality child care for the state’s neediest students.


250,000 Minnesotans to Benefit from Fairer, Simpler Taxes

Posted on February 20, 2013 at 12:48 PM
Categories: Budget

Click to enlarge

Today, Governor Mark Dayton signed legislation (HF6/SF119) that will extend key tax benefits for 250,000 teachers, college students, homeowners, businesses, senior citizens, and other Minnesotans. The bill, authored by state Rep. Ann Lenczewski and state Sen. Rod Skoe, will also make it easier for Minnesotans to claim these benefits by eliminating time-consuming and confusing paperwork.
“As Minnesotans file their income taxes over the next several months, this legislation will deliver the simplicity and relief they deserve,” said Governor Dayton. “I want to thank legislators from both parties for working together to quickly pass this important legislation. Hundreds of thousands of teachers, students, senior citizens, and middle-class families now stand to benefit as a result.”

According to the Minnesota Department of Revenue, over 250,000 Minnesotans will benefit from federal tax conformity, including: 

  • Minnesota Teachers. The educator expense deduction will be extended, which will allow 55,000 teachers to continue claiming the $250 reimbursement for personal, out-of-pocket classroom expenses. 
  • Minnesota Homeowners. Roughly 90,000 homeowners who claim an itemized deduction for mortgage insurance premiums will continue receiving those benefits. 
  • Minnesota College Students. The higher education tuition deduction is extended, allowing 60,000 students or parents of students to receive up to $4,000 in tax relief based on the tuition and fees they pay for post-secondary education.
  • Senior Citizens. Minnesota seniors, who would otherwise need to recalculate the amount of social security benefits taxable in our state, will instead be allowed to transfer up to $100,000 from an IRA or Roth IRA directly to a qualified charity.  

By signing the bill into law today, Governor Dayton has ensured that Minnesota taxpayers can claim these deductions without filing an additional form to complete their taxes. 


Today in the Budget

Posted on February 20, 2013 at 12:06 PM
Categories: Budget, Economy, Education, Health

At a news conference this morning, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis, Richfield Mayor Debbie Goettel, Circle Pines Mayor Dave Bartholomay, and other Minnesota mayors urged legislators to pass Governor Dayton’s plan to stabilize local government aid and deliver property tax relief to Minnesota homeowners and businesses.

Over the last ten years, property taxes have gone up 86 percent, placing a huge burden on the middle class. The governor’s plan would deliver $1.4 billion in direct property tax relief to homeowners, increase aid to cities and counties by $120 million over the next two years. Businesses would also benefit from Governor Dayton’s plan. His budget freezes state property taxes for all businesses and cuts state business property taxes by 3.6 percent, or over $120 million through 2017. More information about these measures is outlined below.

Today in Duluth, DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben and Duluth Mayor Don Ness held a news conference to discuss Governor Dayton’s proposed $30 million investment in the Minnesota Investment Fund (MIF).

MIF is one of the state’s key job creation tools. It helps encourage Minnesota firms that have options outside of the state to expand here, and provides incentives for businesses outside Minnesota to locate in our state. In recent years, MIF sustained an 86 percent budget cut which severely limited its impact in creating and retaining Minnesota jobs. The governor’s proposed reinvestment in the program will help create tens of thousands of jobs and leverage an estimated $990 million in private investment. More information about MIF is included below.

For additional details about the Governor’s budget, visit and follow the conversation on Twitter at #BetterMN.

In the News

Wadena Pioneer Journal
Minnesota expands health care for poor

Another 35,000 poor Minnesotans will get health care under a bill Gov. Mark Dayton signed Tuesday. The bill expands Medical Assistance, the state’s Medicaid program. The federally funded expansion would save $129 million in the next two-year budget, supporters say.

“Minnesotans who will be covered by this legislation desperately need better-quality health care,” Dayton said. “Instead of taking their health crises to emergency rooms, thousands of low-income children, families and individuals will be able to see doctors sooner and live healthier lives.”

State Rep. Tom Huntley added: “This legislation allows us to cover more Minnesotans with health insurance and at the same time get more bang for our buck for Minnesota taxpayers.”

The senior citizen advocacy group AARP praised the action. “We represent thousands of consumers who have either gone without health care for years because they didn’t qualify for coverage or have lost their health insurance during the economic downturn; they will benefit greatly from this expansion,” AARP Minnesota Director Michele Kimball said.


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