Minn. gov., GOP leaders have deal to end shutdown

According to the Associated Press:

“Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican
legislators say they have reached a deal to end a budget impasse that
led to the longest state government shutdown in recent history.

The deal came after a three-hour negotiating session Thursday that
followed major concessions by Dayton, a Democrat. It would end a
two-week shutdown.

The two sides agreed on a proposal that would raise $1.4 billion in
new revenue, half by delaying state aid checks to school districts and
the other half by selling tobacco payment bonds.

Dayton’s concession was contingent on Republicans dropping a list of
policy changes plus a plan to cut the state workforce by 15 percent.” Source

Once an agreement is finalized, Dayton says he’s ready to call a special session to end the shutdown within three days. Source

Dayton willing to take GOP offer, with conditions

A sign of progress in Minnesota shutdown debacle

The Westport News is reporting:

“Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton offered Thursday to end a two-week government shutdown by accepting a Republican proposal to bring more money into Minnesota’s budget.

Dayton announced that he is willing to agree to an offer Republican legislative leaders made just before the shutdown started, if they will agree to drop a list of policy changes and a plan to reduce the state workforce by 15 percent. The Republican proposal would raise $1.4 billion, half by delaying state aid checks to school districts and the other half by selling tobacco payment bonds.

Aides said GOP leaders were reviewing Dayton’s offer and had no immediate comment.

If they agree to Dayton’s proposal and the pieces fall in place, the first-term governor said he is prepared to call a special session within three days.” Source

Dayton is prepared to call a special session within three days? How about immediately? I know that the 22,000 laid off state employees would  enjoy seeing a sense of urgency applied to this situation.

Minnesota vice

In other news, the shutdown has not only deprived Minnesota lottery ticket speculators of the joy of purchasing a lottery ticket in their home state, but now cigarettes and beer are in danger of falling victim to the shutdown. Minnesotans who fancy a fag (British slang for a cigarette) or thirst for a swig of beer may find themselves having to cross the state border to indulge their pleasures.

The Star Tribune reports:

“Hundreds of bars, restaurants and stores across Minnesota are running out of beer and alcohol and others may soon run out of cigarettes — a subtle and largely unforeseen consequence of a state government shutdown.” Read the entire report at the Star Tribune.

Governor Mark Dayton plans peripatetic pleadings

Day 12

The Maple Grove Patch is reporting:

Dayton to Tour Cities Asking End to Shutdown

“Gov Mark Dayton is embarking on a statewide journey the morning of Tuesday, July 11 to
explain his side of the Minnesota budget debate that has resulted in a
state government shutdown.

In a whirlwind tour that begins in
St. Cloud on Tuesday, the governor will also visit Rochester, Winona,
Albert Lea and Austin over the next two days. Dayton has preliminary
plans to fly to Moorhead later in the week.

“I’ll be traveling
throughout Minnesota to talk with people about why we’re going through
(the shutdown),” Dayton told reporters assembled on the steps of the
State Capitol. “The people of Minnesota overwhelmingly want us to
compromise. I am willing to consider other possibilities; other
reasonable alternatives.”

The Hometown Source also has news of his planned peripatetic pleadings: Dayton takes to the road as budget impasse lingers

Dayton takes to the road? I’d like to hear that he is taking to the talks — the budget talks.

NASA shuttle program’s last flight

Atlantis lifts off Friday in Florida for the International Space Station on the NASA shuttle program’s last flight, STS-135.
Photo courtesy of The Houston Chronicle

Friday’s final countdown

The Houston Chronicle reports:

“CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Less than 24 hours after space shuttle Atlantis’ thrilling final ascent through a hazy Florida sky, Americans awoke today to a sobering truth: No one has any idea of when they might again see such a sight or where it will be going if they do.

For the first time in two generations, there is no schedule for a resumption of human spaceflight in an American spacecraft after Atlantis completes its massive restocking mission to the International Space Station. The uncertainty leading up to Friday’s launch, threatened for days by stormy weather, mirrored a greater uncertainty over the nation’s future in space and its commitment to space superiority.”
Read the entire article here.

In the yard, in a car, on a rooftop

Growing up in Florida, all I had to do to see the space shuttle launches flaming across the sky was step out into my back yard. On the road in a car when a launch was happening? We’d just pull over onto the side of the road to watch. Needing to feel closer to the excitement? A rooftop is a launchpad to feeling closer to the stars.

Watching the launches, it felt like our collective hand was pushing the shuttle across the sky — writing a space adventure with a big silver pen.

I’m sad to see the end of this NASA shuttle program but I also can’t help thinking about the  invasive nature of space flight.

Pushing the envelope

Annette Marie Hyder

Pushing the white envelope of the clouds
the space shuttle is a big silver pen
we use to write our name LARGE
not just a flourishing signature in the chalk of exhaust
but an autograph painted in hubris.
We graffiti the walls of space
and love the way we say
“humans were here” in flags and sundry equipment left behind
carve our initials on everything — even the heavens
and steal souvenirs because we can
and no one in charge appears to be looking.

Links of interest:
Space Shuttle
How many Moon rocks were brought back to Earth?

They are not the legislators slurping on the big straw of greed and sucking the life out of Minnesota’s economy

Day 8

On July 4th, day 4 of the Minnesota state government shutdown, I said, in reference to the indignation inducing situation wherein the legislators who failed to balance the state budget continue to collect their
paychecks while the  22,000 laid off state employees do not get paid:

Think of those state workers as the ice-cubes in the legislator’s
drinks this weekend  — as taxpayers they — and all Minnesotans —
contribute to the cool refreshment in the legislator’s hands, the
delightful tinkle of ice in the sweltering heat, the refreshment of cold
sips and wet lips — while at the same time the workers slowly melt
under the pressure of the heat of being unemployed.

They are not the legislators slurping on the big straw of greed and sucking the life out of Minnesota’s economy

Here’s an update to that observation, a list, provided by City Pages, of those Minnesota lawmakers in the House of Representatives not accepting their salary:

Out of the 134 state representatives in Minnesota, 48 of them are declining their paychecks.

From City Pages:
In alphabetical order, the House members who declined paychecks this month are:
Paul Anderson (R)
Tom Anzelc (DFL)
Joe Atkins (DFL)
John Benson (DFL)
Kurt Bills (R)
Kathy Brynaert (DFL)
Lyndon Carlson (DFL)
Tony Cornish (R)
Roger Crawford (R)
Denise Dittrich (DFL)
Connie Doepke (R)
Keith Downey (R)
Steve Drazkowski (R)
Sondra Erickson (R)
Andrew Falk (DFL)
Pat Garofalo (R)
Mindy Greiling (DFL)
David Hancock (R)
Melissa Hortman (DFL)
Sheldon Johnson (DFL)
Phyllis Kahn (DFL)
Debra Kiel (R)
Kate Knuth (DFL)
Carolyn Laine (DFL)
Ann Lenczewski (DFL)
Diane Loeffler (DFL)
Kathy Lohmer (R)
Jennifer Loon (R)
Tim Mahoney (DFL)
Pat Mazorol (R)
Carolyn McElfatrick (R)
Carol McFarlane (R)
Terry Morrow (DFL)
Joe Mullery (DFL)
Erin Murphy (DFL)
Mary Murphy (DFL)
Rich Murray (R)
Kim Norton (DFL)
Michael Paymar (DFL)
Bev Scalze (DFL)
Steve Simon (DFL)
Linda Slocum (DFL)
Peggy Scott (R)
Chris Swedzinski (R)
Paul Thissen (DFL)
John Ward (DFL)
Doug Wardlow (R)
Ryan Winkler (DFL)

And here is one sucking away because he “simply isn’t sure he can afford to pass up his legislative salary”

The Post-Bulletin reports that despite the shutdown, many lawmakers continue to take checks. Here’s an excerpt:

“One legislator said he simply isn’t sure he can afford to pass up his legislative salary during a shutdown.

Rep. Larry Hosch, DFL-St. Joseph, has a reason for that: He says he’s being laid off from his other job as a social worker because of the shutdown.

Hosch works for Independent Lifestyles, a Central Minnesota nonprofit agency that serves people with disabilities. It receives state funds, part of which may be cut off during a shutdown, Independent Lifestyles executive director Cara Ruff told the Times.

“It’s personal, the shutdown,” Hosch said. “I definitely am seeing the effects of it, it seems, from every corner of my life.”

Legislators were given a choice about whether to accept their July paycheck, which was issued Friday.” Source: Post-Bulletin

As for the other half of the legislature, only 14 state senators are turning down a paycheck so far. A full Senate list is not available at this time, but City Pages says they are working on it.

A good idea

California has a new law stipulating that if the legislators don’t balance the budget — they don’t get paid. I heard about it from a co-worker. You can read about it here: Business Insider

You balance the budget

Image courtesy MinnPost

Want to try your hand at balancing the budget? Check out “You fix the Minnesota deficit” By Sharon Schmickle at MinnPost.com

Tumbling cloud (4th of July 2011)

I’m thinking of freedom and fireworks so before we head out the door, here is something from Yeats and something with fireworks — Happy 4th of July!

I will not be clapped in a hood,
Nor a cage, nor alight upon wrist,
Now I have learnt to be proud
Hovering over the wood
In the broken mist
…Or tumbling cloud.

— from The Hawk by William Butler Yeats

And click here for a poem with fireworks, a 4th of July tanka with kigo that links to the title.

Have fun, be safe!