Your Tuesday Digest leads off with a couple of perennial political topics — school budgets and property taxes.
1. Schools claim budget crunch. Around the state, dozens of districts are beginning a new school year amid some of the toughest financial circumstances they’ve faced in recent years. Nearly 60 districts spent this spring determining how to fill in a combined $127 million in budget deficits, a situation they attribute in part to higher costs for special education and English-language-learner programs and inadequate support from the state government. Now, they are figuring out how to keep schools running with fewer resources — and in some cases, trying to persuade local voters to provide more help. (Star Tribune)
2. St. Paul residents face higher property taxes. The typical St. Paul homeowner is looking at a big property tax increase next year if the city, county and school district pass their 2019 tax proposals and voters approve new funding for schools in November, according to projections released Monday. The presentation to a joint panel of city, Ramsey County and St. Paul Public Schools leaders showed property taxes on the city’s $186,200 median-valued home rising by $323, or 12.8 percent, if all pieces of the tax puzzle fall into place. (Star Tribune)
3. Nothing changes, Knoblach opponent says. A DFL candidate for the Minnesota House is adjusting to the sudden departure of the Republican incumbent he was running against. Dan Wolgamott of St. Cloud is now the lone candidate in District 14B. Jim Knoblach suspended his campaign Friday ahead of an MPR News report on allegations his adult daughter made about years of inappropriate physical contact. Wolgamott says the situation is tragic, but he won’t make any changes in the way he is campaigning. (MPR News)
4. Two visions in secretary of state race. The secretary of state’s office has two main functions: elections and business records. Each candidate running for the office wants to focus on one of those aspects. Democratic candidate and incumbent Steve Simon was in office in 2016 when Russian hackers unsuccessfully tried to get into Minnesota’s Statewide Voter Registration System. Even though Simon said there have not been any more election interference attempts as serious as the one in 2016, he still lists election security and accessibility as his top priority going into the November elections. Simon’s challenger, former state Sen. John Howe, a Republican, acknowledged that cybersecurity is a big concern. But he said, “There is so much more to the office than just elections … I think the secretary of state should reach out and try and enhance Minnesota’s reputation for business opportunities and growth.” (Pioneer Press)
5. A Democratic call to investigate Ellison allegation. Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called for an investigation into allegations of abuse against U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, who is running for attorney general in the state. Hirono’s comments came as she criticized Brett Kavanaugh over an allegation that he assaulted Christine Blasey Ford in high school. Many conservatives have protested that Ellison has not faced similar scrutiny. (Slate)