WASHINGTON – There weren’t a lot of fireworks at the Senate confirmation hearing of Loretta Lynch to be the next U.S. Attorney General and certainly none from Minnesota’s two Democratic Senators, Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken.

The pair, who both sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee, limited their questioning of Lynch to areas of concern each has long voiced.

Klobuchar emphasized her own professional roots as a prosecutor with Lynch, who’s currently the U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn, asking Lynch about the relationship between federal and local prosecutors and federal-state cooperation to combat sex trafficking, drug abuse and Islamic extremism.

Lynch focused her responses on the close work she’s engaged in with local prosecutors in New York and her interest in all of those issues.

Franken asked Lynch about mental health, privacy law and the Department of Justice’s roles in reviewing Comcast’s proposed merger with Time Warner.

As his 10 minutes of questioning expired, Franken indicated his support for Lynch’s nomination saying, “OK, then I’ll probably vote for you,” and drawing laughs from the audience.

Officials with the Minnesota Department of Human Services are eliminating 43 jobs, as they try to correct an ongoing shortfall in their current budget.

They sent notices to 35 employees last week. The other eight positions are currently vacant.

Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson said the layoffs are within the Direct Care and Treatment division.

“We tried to reduce the deficit by holding openings, reducing out of town travel, but we weren’t able to make it,” Jesson said. “So, we targeted administrative and managerial positions that were not related to the direct care of clients in our facilities.”

Jesson said efforts are underway to help the affected employees find other jobs within state government.

The agency’s fiscal problems are linked to the cost of recent lawsuit settlements and improvements needed at the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter. State lawmakers have been working on a deficiency bill that would solve several agency budget shortfalls, including $10.3 million for the hospital.

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton’s new budget proposal would increase funding for the department. But the two-year spending plan also downsizes a chemical dependency treatment program known as Community Addiction Recovery Enterprise.

It also closes a psychiatric hospital for children, located in Willmar. Jesson said the governor’s plan would increase the number of beds in locations throughout the state.

“They do great work in the Willmar facility, but right now we have five or fewer children being served by more than 40 staff. I think part of that is the location in Willmar.”

Good morning!

In Minnesota

Facing a divided Legislature, Gov. Mark Dayton has proposed a $42 billion two year budget that includes new spending for child care tax credits, child protection and education. (MPR News)

Republican leaders of the Minnesota Legislature gave a chilly reception to the budget proposal, arguing that it spends too much and doesn’t go far enough in setting priorities for state government. (Star Tribune)

Dayton is using his budget hammer to force MnSCU and the Minneapolis Park Board to heed his priorities. (MPR News)

Railroads would have to pay more in taxes under the budget plan in order to help communities handle the growing freight train volume. (AP via Star Tribune)

While most of the additional funding in the budget proposal goes toward education, some school officials say it’s not enough. (MPR News)

A draft opinion from a key state board finds no conflict of interest on the part of Sen. David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm, who recently took a job with a group that lobbies the Legislature.  (Star Tribune)

National Politics

President Obama abandoned a proposal to end a major tax benefit of popular college savings accounts used by millions after the White House faced criticism from lawmakers and parents. (Washington Post)

The Obama administration moved Tuesday to open up a vast stretch of East Coast waters to oil and gas drilling. (New York Times)

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has taken the first formal step toward a presidential candidacy in 2016, establishing a committee that will help spread his message and underwrite his activities. (Washington Post)

Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson says he has two fundraisers scheduled and he’s “running at this point” for re-election next year. (Star Tribune)

The U.S. House has passed a bill from Rep. Erik Paulsen meant to target human trafficking. (MinnPost)