Can mining dig schools out of budget woes?

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The Strib reports on a budget dynamic that’s bound to influence debate in St. Paul as lawmakers continue to wrestle with education funding needs and a state deficit.

The state of Minnesota owns more than 6,000 acres of land targeted for copper mining, and stands to collect $2.5 billion in royalties in the coming decades if two mining projects go ahead, according to a new analysis.

The ore-rich properties are scattered south of Ely and Babbitt, Minn. — the legacy of a massive land grant from the federal government in 1858, when Minnesota became a state.

The pay out could be $59 per student. The state currently spends more than $5,000 per pupil, so the money won’t radically change the budget forecast. But on the local level it could mean more teachers. The article doesn’t look at environmental trade offs or long-term impacts on the tourism industry.

This plays into the bigger story local governments are facing across the state. A new report shows that cities and towns across Minnesota rely, increasingly, on Local Government Aid. The report finds that smaller communities are bringing in less revenue, even with higher property taxes, and are cutting expenditures. The situation in New Ulm seems common across the state:

Since 2000, city revenues have dropped 11 percent and city spending has dropped 8 percent after adjusting for inflation. Additionally, cities have decreased their capital outlay expenditures since 2006, which is money used for road repairs and replacement of equipment (New Ulm Journal).

Cathy Wurzer examined this dynamic and the role of Local Government Assistance on Midmorning yesterday with Jim Miller, the Executive director of the League of Minnesota Cities and Burnsville Mayor Elizabeth Kautz.

ST. CLOUD EYES ENERGY CREDITS

The city has entered into a contract with Avant Energy to market and sell its credits for the next two years. The company has a $1,000 flat fee for its services, reimbursement of any direct expenses and a 5 percent share of gross revenue from any sales (St. Cloud Times).

MNDOT SPENDING ON SNOW REMOVAL THIS YEAR: $74 MILLION

It’s a new state record and officials expect to spend more by the time winter wraps up. Mn/DOT never fails to clean up the dirty mess left behind by mother nature, but that hard work comes with a price. It’s about seven million dollars more than average (KAAL).

INSIGHT NOW

Can temp work lead the unemployed back to work?

More companies will hire temporary workers to fill vacancies. And some see the temp-to-permanent path as a way to fuel a jobs recovery.

Insight Now asked its community members whether the temp route can succeed as an employment boost. One commentator, a business owner, said “adding full time employees is very scary” in this economy. The temp path provides business with a way to bring in new people without the instant commitment. Another Insight Now community member said she was a temp for a year before getting hired at her current company. But as company gain security from the temp hire, the employee gains a measure of instability, not knowing whether the job will truly become permanent, and not getting the same kind of pay and benefits.

Join the conversation: Given the lack of benefits and security in these positions, what does the growth of temp jobs mean for our workforce and our economy?

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