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Session 2002

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Dear Citizen Spin:

A task force looks at the idea of a stadium for the Twins and comes up with a recommendation to build two? Is this fuzzy math? –Name withheld

Dear Citizen:

The panel's recommendation for two facilities has a certain Orwellian logic to it (Citizen Spin is well read and likes to make this obvious from time to time), the public (that's you) has repeatedly and forcefully said it doesn't want to pay for a stadium, so they must be trying to tell lawmakers they want to pay for more than one.

In reality, it seems like the natural response of a group charged with examining the entire sports facilities landscape. While the Twins, under the threat of contraction, seem like the fire most in need of water, there's no question that the Vikings' demands are primed to flare up. From the panel's perspective, it would be nearly impossible to provide the Twins with the hope of a ballpark without providing the Vikings the same hope. If you don't, you're daring the Vikings to threaten to move.

Note the key word in the previous paragraph: hope. That's all the panel is offering both teams at this point. Getting ballpark financing proved impossible in the best of times. Really, the best times this state has ever enjoyed economically. While opposition may have softened, and the situation may be more critical with the threat of contraction, the public still has demonstrated no eagerness to help fund a stadium, and state finances, in case you haven't noticed, have taken a nose dive.

Citizen Spin, by the way, believes the state should sell naming rights to the task force. There's bound to be another coming soon and Citizen Spin is bored with the name "legislative task force." –CS

Dear Citizen Spin:

How can a citizen learn more about the specific budget cuts proposed by the governor? I am specifically concerned about Gov. Ventura's attacks on funding for Early Childhood and Family Education on MPR's Midmorning show 1/29/02. –Name withheld, Edina

Dear Citizen:

Great question! The governor has often been overheard musing to himself, "How can I find out more about the specifics of my budget plan?" Unlike the rest of us, Ventura has John Wodele to hand him notes explaining what he meant after he said something. The governor also has the full staff of the state Finance Department to work out the details of the budget, so he can concentrate on bigger issues, like picking fights with the Legislature and working out arrangements for his next movie deal. So we ordinary citizens are pretty much left on our own to figure theses things out. Luckily, the Internet has made much of this information easier to get at than it used to be.

If you go to the Session 2002 issue page on state finances (Oh, here, I'll make it easy for you!) you'll find all the resources to examine the cuts, which he proposed on January 10. (See the original story).

On this particular issue, you'll want to keep an eye on the House Family and Early Childhood Education Finance Committee. It usually meets Mondays and Wednesdays at 12:30 p.m. and is chaired by Rep. Barb Sykora, R-Excelsior. In the Senate, the Education Committee has a subcommittee chaired by Sen. Becky Lourey. Lourey, citizen, is running for governor.

While listening to the governor's opinions on early education (so, listen!), one might reasonably inquire where Lt. Gov. Mae Shunk's voice is on the subject? –CS