America Is Regressing Into A Developing Nation For Most People

The following article by Lynn Parramore was posted on the Alternet website April 22, 2017:

This post originally appeared on the blog of the Institute for New Economic Thinking.

Photo: Reuters

You’ve probably heard the news that the celebrated post-WW II beating heart of America known as the middle class has gone from “burdened,” to “squeezed” to “dying.” But you might have heard less about what exactly is emerging in its place.

In a new book, The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy, Peter Temin, professor emeritus of economics at MIT, draws a portrait of the new reality in a way that is frighteningly, indelibly clear: America is not one country anymore. It is becoming two, each with vastly different resources, expectations and fates. (more…)

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War of words over Southwest light-rail transit line grows

The following article by Janet Moore was posted on the Star Tribune website April 22, 2017:

In office just three months, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao has already received an earful from Minnesota officials about the controversial $1.9 billion light-rail line.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has heard from both sides about the $1.9 billion Southwest light-rail line project.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao has been in office just under three months, and she’s already received an earful from Minnesota legislators about the controversial $1.9 billion Southwest light-rail line. A new salvo in the transit saga was released this week.

On March 17, 84 Minnesota GOP legislators wrote Chao urging her to block $928 million in federal funding for the Southwest LRT project, which would connect downtown Minneapolis to Eden Prairie. They argued that the line “would recklessly consume scarce transit resources.” (more…)

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Rep. Melissa Hortman Update: April 21, 2017

Rep. Melissa Hortman (36B) – Legislative Update


Dear Neighbors,

The House and Senate have passed all the major budget bills, and now the House and Senate will work on budget compromise bills to send to Governor Dayton for final consideration. In order to finish session on time, the legislature must adjourn by May 22nd.

Minnesota has a $1.6 billion budget surplus and a stable economy. Unfortunately, so far the Republican majority is choosing to prioritize tax cuts for corporations and the rich instead of investing in the areas that have made Minnesota’s economy strong, like education. I am hopeful for a bipartisan compromise that will make investments in Minnesotans and budget responsibly for the future. (more…)

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Sen. John Hoffman Update: April 21, 2017

Welcome to week 15. I hope you had a good Passover/Easter week. There have been many conference committees meeting this week as there are major differences between the Senate, House, and Governor’s budget proposals that affect the next two years. Conference committees will need plenty of time with their budget targets to come to agreements. From there they still need to be voted on in each legislative body and then sent to Governor Mark Dayton. Governor Dayton has sent letters highlighting priorities and if these bills don’t match them. I would expect him to veto. (more…)

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Sen. Jerry Newton Update: April 21, 2017


Preemption Bill is a Bad Deal for Minnesotans

A bill that strips power away from local governments passed the Senate on Thursday by a thin party-line vote.

I am strongly opposed to this legislation because it takes away local control from our communities and strikes down worker protections and benefits for 150,000 hardworking Minnesotans. The preemption measure bans local employment regulations on minimum wage, unpaid leave and scheduling requirements. The state legislature’s job is to set minimum standards, not maximum standards. We should not be restricting the authority of local governments to implement what is best for their communities. This bill strips away local decision making power and will hurt working families. (more…)

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Sen. Steve Cwodzinski Update: April 21, 2017

Week of April 16 – 23, 2017

Refining Educator Licensure, the Good and the Bad

A bill to revamp the state’s Board of Teaching and create a tiered educator licensing system was debated and passed off the floor of the Senate on Thursday, April 20. This language was also included in the E-12 education finance bill, but this version of it stands alone and separated from general funding measures.

While well-intentioned, this legislation seriously changes the alternative teacher preparation provider requirements, making it easier for an alternative program, such as Teach for America, to be established in Minnesota. I very supportive of getting young people into the teaching profession, however these changes could threaten teacher preparation quality. Concerns include elimination of student teaching requirement for alternative preparation candidates, mandatory teacher prep program approval with minimum educator standards, and removal of higher education partnership requirement. Additionally, there was nothing in the bill to make sure that young people stay in the profession once they are in it. (more…)

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Sen. Melisa Franzen Update: April 21, 2017

A weekly message from your Senator

Dear Constituents and Friends,

We are five weeks away from adjourning from the 2017 Legislative Session. Conference committee members have been appointed and we are now waiting for them to meet and find compromise in the differences between the House and the Senate on bills and the budget for the state. State commissioners are involved in the budget negotiations with the conference committees this week. I fully support Governor Dayton’s request that the House and Senate set joint conference committee targets no later than Friday, April 28. That gives conferees two weeks after the Legislature returned from the Easter/Passover break and leaves more than three weeks to negotiate the details of the omnibus budgets before the May 22 adjournment date. (more…)

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Rep. Debra Hilstrom Update: April 21, 2017


Rep. Debra Hilstrom (40B) – Legislative Update

Dear Neighbors,

The Legislative break has concluded and we returned to St. Paul on Tuesday to begin wrapping up the 2017 legislative session. Here is an update:

One month to go

We have a full agenda ahead as we complete the budget process before the constitutional adjournment deadline of May 22. Most finance bills have been passed and either are in conference committee or will be shortly. House and Senate conferees were appointed by the Speaker of the House to compare the different versions of each finance bill. Governor Dayton will also be very involved in the process as we seek to reach agreement on the final budget. (more…)

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Rep. Paul Rosenthal Update: April 21, 2017

Rep. Paul Rosenthal (49B) – Legislative Update

Dear Neighbors,

The Easter/Passover Recess has concluded and we returned to our legislative work this week. The House and Senate majorities have passed their omnibus budget bills out of both chambers and conference committees have started meeting to sort out the differences between each body’s bills.  Although both chambers are GOP-controlled, several of the final House and Senate omnibus bills have fairly significant policy and finance differences.  One example is the Health and Human Services Omnibus bill.  The House version, which passed on the Friday before break, contains a $600 million cut and would eliminate MNSure.  The Senate’s cut is half of the House’s and keeps MNSure.  These differences are parallel to the current leadership styles in the Minnesota Legislature; you can read about these here. (more…)

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Rep. Laurie Pryor Update: April 21, 2017

Rep. Laurie Pryor (48A) – Legislative Update

Dear Neighbors,

After being on recess last week, we are back at the State Capitol for the final five weeks of the legislative session. With both the House and Senate passing their versions of the major budget bills, conference committees have been appointed to iron out the differences between them. Governor Dayton will also be very involved in the process as we seek to reach agreement on the final budget.


Wednesday, Sen. Steve Cwodzinski and I sat in on the conference committee for the Education Finance Bill. With each of us serving on our respective body’s Education Policy Committees, Steve and I are both quite interested in these deliberations. The House’s version of the finance bill underfunds our public schools. By not keeping pace with inflation, the bill essentially is a cut in funding which would result in possible teacher layoffs, larger class sizes, and fewer resources for students. I hope the committee, with Gov. Dayton’s input, will reach a compromise that improves opportunities for all learners and gives our local schools the resources they need. (more…)

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