David Montgomery / St. Paul Pioneer Press
ST. PAUL—Minnesota's plan to lower health insurance premiums next year had just one little complication, but it's threatening to turn into a big complication: It requires approval from the federal government. And with time running out, that approval still isn't here.
ST. PAUL—The "utter failure of a rollout" began in July. On Monday came the apologies. "As the Commissioner of Public Safety I apologize to you and to the people of Minnesota and to our stakeholders and business partners," said Commissioner Mona Dohman, who oversees the state's vehicle registrations, drivers licenses and other related areas. "We'll do better." Dohman was apologizing for the trouble-ridden debut of the Minnesota Licensing and Registration System, a $90 million computer system for managing vehicle licenses and registrations.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota's pension plans have long had a reputation as safe and solid, especially compared to notoriously underfunded plans in states like Illinois or New Jersey. But recent data is challenging that reputation. In 2015, Minnesota's public pensions had enough money to cover 80 percent of expected costs. Last year, under national standards, that plummeted to 53 percent. That's closer to Illinois than to well-funded Iowa or South Dakota. Local experts say that dismal picture is misleading, however.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota's National Guard is ready to deploy to the Gulf Coast to help with hurricane relief efforts but hasn't yet been asked to help. Adjutant Gen. Richard Nash said his staff are preparing for a deployment that could include the Minnesota National Guard's boats and skilled soldiers and airmen. "Texas has not asked for that," Nash said Wednesday, Aug. 30. "What we do in the military is always plan for the worst case."
ST. PAUL — Minnesota taxpayers are getting a happy surprise: An expensive new state program is coming in massively under budget. The program in question is a $310 million plan to give 25 percent rebates to eligible Minnesotans' health insurance premiums. It was passed in January amid estimates that more than 120,000 people might get state-funded discounts.
ST. PAUL — Gov. Mark Dayton added Minnesota to the alliance of governors committed to reducing carbon emissions despite President Donald Trump's decision to leave the 2015 Paris climate accord. Dayton is one of 12 state governors so far in the United States Climate Alliance, whose members commit to reduce carbon emissions significantly by 2025. The alliance was formed after Trump announced last week that he would pull the U.S. out of the international climate change agreement.
ST. CLOUD — Republican activists from around the state will gather Saturday, April 29, in St. Cloud to pick a new leader as they prepare for the 2018 election. The Republican Party of Minnesota's chair for the past four years, Keith Downey, isn't seeking another term. Vying to succeed him are four candidates with different backgrounds and skills who all say they're the best leader to help the party win a statewide election for the first time in a decade.
ST. PAUL — The leader of Minnesota’s Bureau of Mediation Services died Tuesday, April 18 after complications from a staph infection. Josh Tilsen, 67, was a 29-year employee of the bureau, which resolves contract disputes and grievances between state employees and state managers. He had been its commissioner since 2011, and previously worked as a hearing officer and mediator and as manager of administrative hearings.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota's Senate Republicans found more room in their proposed two-year state budget for transportation, tax cuts and other priorities by cutting the health and human services budget by $333 million. But many of those cuts are less than meets the eye. Out of those $333 million in cuts, $243 million (or around 73 percent) don't actually reduce state spending. Rather, they're budget shifts that push expenses into the next fiscal year.
ST. PAUL — A review by Minnesota's legislative auditor has found that some of Minnesota's welfare programs do a poor job of ensuring benefits don't go to ineligible people — a finding that could have political implications as lawmakers shape the state's budget. Republicans who control the state House and Senate have called for big cuts to the Department of Human Services' budget. One big area Republicans have identified for potential savings in the past is tightening the state's eligibility requirements for public programs — a push driven by a similar audit.