Dayton and GOP push pre-K aside, but parents want it

When Gov. Dayton and House Republican leaders agreed to spend $525 million more on schools over the next two years, it brought to an end the governor's push for universal pre-kindergarten. But the deal, which likely will help the state avoid a partial government shutdown on July 1, will deliver more money to Minnesota school districts that already offer free pre-K. Among them is Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan Public Schools in the southern part of the Twin Cities metro area, where officials will

Democrats and their allies redouble efforts in changing 8th District

Not long ago, Minnesota's 8th Congressional District was considered a DFL stronghold. But that's begun to change in recent years. Republican Chip Cravaack unexpectedly beat longtime U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar in 2010 after conservative areas closer to the Twin Cities were added to the huge district. Although the DFL regained the seat two years ago with U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan's defeat of Cravaack, Democrats say they can no longer take the northeastern part of the state for granted. With that in mind, this year Democrats and their allies are making a big push to turn out voters in the

In fight for Minn. House, GOP goes all-in on Willmar

Republicans need to win at least seven more seats on Election Day to take control of the Minnesota House, so they're targeting a few races they think may tip the balance. Two of them sit back-to-back in and around Willmar and with a few weeks left before the vote, groups are pouring in money to fight it out for Districts 17A and 17B. Democrat Mary Sawatzky won a narrow victory for 17B in 2012 even as voters chose Mitt Romney over Barack Obama for president. The district's long been on the GOP'

Chairman's spending decisions on insiders helped lead to GOP debt

A Republican leader with 25 years of hard-earned respect from the party that prides itself on fiscal discipline, awarded contracts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to consultants, lawmakers, candidates and party insiders over the course of nearly 30 months as state party chairman, contributing to the financial wreckage the party is trying to fix today. Tony Sutton, the Minnesota Republican Party's bombastic leader who resigned last month, continued to spend even as giving slowed over the

Same-sex marriage: Lobbying, polling, timing, key lawmakers led to victory

At 5 p.m. on May 8 -- less than 24 hours before the Minnesota House was to vote on a bill to legalize same-sex marriage -- Rep. Roger Erickson, DFL-Baudette, was sitting in his office when a couple walked in with a postcard explaining why he should vote to allow gay people to marry. Erickson said he had already spent months weighing the issue. The two visitors helped him make up his mind. "I was very undecided for quite a while," he said. "And then it just kind of hit me that it really should

Pop quiz: Is Minnesota's new budget $34.3B or $35.9B?

If you guessed "all of the above," pat yourself on the back. Either figure is right depending on your math and your politics. And between now and the 2012 elections, you'll be hearing a lot about both of them. Republicans lawmakers, like House Speaker Kurt Zellers, say the budget tops out at about $34 billion. "The $34 billion budget is a balanced solution of revenue, spending cuts and structural reforms," Zellers wrote in an email to constituents the day the budget was approved. But Gov. Mar