- Associated Press - Saturday, August 23, 2014
2 views of state economy shade governor race

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - As Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton makes the case for a second term, a major theme he’s pressed is that the state economy has outperformed most of the Upper Midwest on his watch.

How voters view the economy will go a long way in determining how Dayton, a Democrat, fares in November. Republicans concede things have turned around but they say the recovery has been far from robust. There’s no shortage of ways to measure the economy, and each side will spend the next 10 weeks debating whether the glass is half-full or half-empty.

The market value of taxable property in the state hit an all-time high this year at $592 billion, surpassing the 2009 mark that tumbled during the recession. Minnesota’s per-capita income is nearing $48,000, well above the national average of $44,500. Tens of thousands more jobs exist now than on Dayton’s first day, and unemployment has fallen from 6.8 percent in 2011 to 4.5 percent today.

“We’ve got Minnesota unquestionably headed in the right direction,” Dayton told The Associated Press in an interview this week. “There’s more that needs to be done. There are still people out of work. There are still people who want better opportunities.”

Republicans argue that the good-looking numbers are misleading and that many people are “underemployed.” They point to research from the state’s Department of Employment and Economic Development pegging 53 percent of Minnesota workers as in positions beneath their qualification level.


Health care success causes Minn. clinic to close

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A Minneapolis medical clinic is closing, largely because more people are obtaining health insurance through the Affordable Care Act and seeking care elsewhere.

Minnesota Public Radio News reports (https://bit.ly/1twwYGqhttps://bit.ly/1twwYGq ) the Neighborhood Involvement Program provides medical care to thousands of uninsured and underinsured people.

While 3,000 patients will be without a medical provider when it shuts down Friday, its dental and mental health clinics and senior and youth programs will continue.

Because of the Affordable Care Act, some clients now have health insurance through MNSure, the state’s online insurance marketplace. Others qualified for Medicaid when the state expanded eligibility to 35,000 low-income adults.

Clinic CEO Patsy Bartley says the drop in paying patients has resulted in a 30-percent cut in revenue since January.


Congressional hopeful stands by old blog posts

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Republican congressional hopeful Jim Hagedorn is standing by his years-old blog posts where he lambasted women, American Indians, gays and national political figures.

The posts were written between 2002 and 2008 on a now-defunct blog titled “Mr. Conservative,” according to the Star Tribune (https://strib.mn/1p2JOquhttps://strib.mn/1p2JOqu ).

In a 2002 “masterpiece analysis,” Hagedorn called two female senators from Washington “bimbos in tennis shoes.” In 2008, he thanked Sen. John McCain for picking former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate on the Republican ticket and commented on Palin’s appearance.

“On behalf of all red-blooded American men: THANK YOU SENATOR McCAIN, SARAH’S HOT!” Hagedorn wrote.

He also railed against gay marriage and accused Democrats in South Dakota of using deceased American Indians’ names on absentee ballots.


Late spring delays Minnesota’s wild rice crop

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Minnesota’s wild rice crop is behind schedule this year because of the late spring.

Wild rice harvesting opened last weekend, but most rice stands are not ripe yet, according to the Star Tribune (https://strib.mn/1l3rBhr).

Beth Nelson, executive director for the Minnesota Cultivated Wild Rice Council, said harvesting is usually complete by Labor Day but this year it will likely be mid-September before it’s done, as long as the weather remains mild.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said people who harvest rice may want to scout areas because some stands that were abundant last year may not have any harvestable rice.

“Early and sustained high water levels this year have hurt some rice beds,” said David Kanz, DNR assistant wildlife manager in Aitkin. “As water levels continue to come down, we’ll have to watch how the rice responds and see if there is enough growing season left for it to recover.”

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