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Deficit dims bonding outlook

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Deficit dims bonding outlook
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Known as a bonding bill, the Minnesota Legislature normally would pass at least a modest-sized one when it meets. However, even if no new borrowing is authorized for public works projects, the state is over a self-imposed limit for loan interest payments.

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The guideline does not allow more than 3 percent of the state budget to be spent on interest.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty said the state already is beyond its credit limit but refused to completely rule out a bonding bill.

Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, said a bonding bill would be good for jobs, but he stopped short of endorsing one. However, he did indicate a desire for a state bill if needed to match federal funds to build projects in Minnesota.

Digital help OK'd

Minnesota's public broadcasters will get funds to help convert to digital transmissions.

A $792,000 Corporation for Public Broadcasting grant is the country's second largest, said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., who has worried that many Minnesotans will be left out of next year's digital conversion.

The grant is for both public television and radio.

Fitzgerald to ND?

The Chicago Tribune picked up on North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem's protests that a USA Today "analysis" last week showed North Dakota, not Illinois, as having the most corrupt public officials.

The un-bylined opinion piece says: "That's right, Gov. (Blagojevich), North bleeping Dakota." The line borrowed from prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's liberal use of the word "bleeping" in releasing the details of Blagojevich's criminal charges last week, as he cleaned up the governor's alleged off-color quotes.

The Chicago paper also quipped, "When he (Fitzgerald) is finished with Illinois, maybe he could go clean up North Dakota."

Tax holiday

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., says the American economy can best be helped if taxes are not collected for a short time.

"In this sagging economy, our nation's taxpayers are really hurting, and this year's marathon of bailouts hurts them more than ever," she said. "I come here today to support the tax holiday legislation because it's time that Washington bail out Americans, not bury them with extraordinary debt."

Federal taxes would be suspended in January and February under the bill she co-sponsors. Democrats who control Congress are not expected to back the idea.

Ramstad honor set

Jamestown, N.D., native and retiring Minnesota Congressman Jim Ramstad is being honored Wednesday "for his 18 years of outstanding service" in the U.S. House. The event is the Adath Jeshurun Congregation in Minnetonka, Minn., sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas.

Not ready

A federal economic stimulus package that is expected to include money for construction projects ready to begin with two or three months may not be the best for Minnesota, House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis, said.

"Go look outside the door," she said, adding that the only shovel working in these parts this time of year is a show shovel.

Inauguration help

The planning group for President-elect Barack Obama's inaugural says it wants "the most open and accessible inauguration in history," and announced Friday that it would take make available an online database of donors who have contributed more than $200 to the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

Search by name, employer, city or state. Web site visitors can also sign up for e-mail updates from the inaugural committee at www.pic2009.

org/invitefriends.

The donor database is at www.pic2009.org/donors.

As of late Friday, there were no North Dakota donors, but there is at least one former North Dakotan, Theodore Boutrous, attorney and partner with the Los Angeles law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. He gave $25,000.

It lists one donor from Minnesota so far, Alida Messinger of Minneapolis, $37,500. Messinger,

self-employed philanthropist and political activist, has also given $65,300 to various Democratic campaigns and liberal groups during the 2008 campaign, according www.campaignmoney.com.

One of the prominent and predictable donors is noted liberal activist and donor George Soros, $50,000. Several other people named Soros are also on the list.

Quite a few show-business names are among the donors, including Sharon Stone, Samuel Jackson, Christopher Guest, Halle Berry and Berry Gordy, most for $50,000.

Davis and Cole work for Forum Communications Co., which owns The Forum

Davis can be reached at (651) 290-0707 or ddavis@forumcomm.com. Cole can be reached at (701) 224-0830 or forumcap@btinet.net.

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