FFM Bulletin 3/30/11


Minnesota Legislature’s “Masters Moment”


Meteorological spring is upon us in Minnesota and that means one thing: golf is on the minds of many – including city officials in Red Wing.

A bill that would allow the City of Red Wing to sell its municipal golf course to a private developer is headed to a vote in the Minnesota Senate. The State of Minnesota donated the land where Mississippi National Golf Links sits and Red Wing has owned and managed the course for nearly 40 years. According to the Red Wing Republican Eagle, city officials say selling the course would save the city an average of $200,000 a year. In a time where local governments are challenged to do more with less, cutting non-essential services (like golf and municipal liquor stores, to name just a few) is a key step.

The Freedom Foundation of Minnesota released a report in 2009 on municipal golf operations across the state and found that of the 500+ golf courses in the state,  over 100 are city-owned courses. Unfortunately, many of these taxpayer-funded golf courses are costing citizens money and “teeing off on the taxpayer’s dime.” To review our Municipal Golf Operations report and our other research, visit our website:www.freedomfoundationmn.com.  

This week from Minnesota State News


Republicans pass budget bills over DFL opposition; Dayton issues veto threat

There was a theatrical feel in the air Monday as legislators took to the House and Senate floors to debate budget bills that are likely to face the governor’s veto pen. Republicans have spent weeks scrambling to meet budget targets that would reduce biennial spending from $39.1 billion to $34.2 billion. But hours before Senate lawmakers met to debate jobs and agriculture bills, Gov. Mark Dayton issued a letter to GOP leaders expressing concerns, noting some of the bills lacked fiscal notes and
include policy items unrelated to the budget.

Read more…


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Senate advances bill freezing LGA; takes $780 million bite at deficit

After two days of testimony and discussion, the Senate Committee on Taxes advanced legislation Friday that would reduce the state’s $5 billion deficit by $780 million, largely by freezing Local Government Aid (LGA) at 2010 levels for two years and drawing down state cash reserves.

Read more…

Accountability Alert: Lake County Taxpayers Assume all the Risk While St. Louis County Residents Share the Rewards


Recently called “perhaps the worst” stimulus project in the country, taxpayers from Lake County are well aware of the proposed $70 million broadband network, especially with potentially $60 million of their own money on the line.  But another aspect of the already controversial project is St. Louis County’s involvement in the project. Though nearly 60 percent of the residents in the network’s proposed service area live in Lake County, the rest live in St. Louis County. The best part for these residents: no cost or risk, same broadband benefits. 

Read the entire report here

FFM in the news


Last Sunday the Star Tribune published an op-ed by FFM CEO Annette Meeks on state gambling expansion proposals currently being debated in the legislature.. From racinos to slot machines in bars, some pro-gambling groups and legislators argue that gambling expansion is the best way to generate revenue to the state.  But as we’ve seen in other states, it’s more complicated than collecting the “free money.”

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Channel 5 Eyewitness News’ Tracking Your Money segment last Sunday reported on Center for Energy and Environment (CEE), a Minneapolis-based energy efficiency nonprofit. FFM reported earlier this month on the large salaries and $15 million in budget reserves for CEE. The group is also slated to receive an additional $14.8 million from Xcel Energy ratepayers in 2012. According to an interview with 5 Eyewitness News, State Representative Mike Beard (R-Shakopee), chair of the Legislative Audit Commission, says he wants the state’s entire energy efficiency program audited.  Watch the entire segment from KSTP.com.

FFM Summer internships available

The Freedom Foundation of Minnesota is looking for part-time interns this summer to assist with research and communications projects. Interns will assist with FFM's government transparency and accountability initiative, monitor cases of government waste and abuse, and help maintain the FFM website. Interested applicants should send a resume to FFM Development Director Christina Pajak or call 612-354-2160.


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