Jul 1, 2021

Axios Twin Cities

It's Thursday!

  • ☀️ We just finished the sunniest June in the Twin Cities since 1988. It was also the second-hottest June on record.
  • Today: All sun with a high of 86.

Today's newsletter is 1,005 words, a 4-minute read.

1 big thing: Highlights of the state budget

Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Lawmakers completed work on a $52.5 billion biennial budget before last night's midnight deadline, avoiding a state government shutdown.

  • A late-breaking agreement this week to end the pandemic state of emergency now — versus by August as Gov. Tim Walz had proposed — sealed the on-time finish.

Why it matters: Provisions in the deal have implications for you and your wallet, affecting everything from farming to policing.

  • A shutdown could have led to temporary layoffs of tens of thousands state employees, park closures and the halting of road construction projects.

The big picture: There are no new taxes in the final agreement, thanks to an infusion of federal aid and better-than-expected tax revenues.

  • There are tax exemptions for people who received income from unemployment benefits and Paycheck Protection Program loans.

Here are some of the measures that made it into the budget bills:

  • Classroom spending: Lawmakers boosted education funding by $1.2 billion over several years, an amount the Star Tribune said was the single largest increase in school funding in 15 years.
  • Environment: The "forever chemicals" — per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS — used in food packaging will be banned as part of the environmental budget.
  • Evictions: A moratorium on rental housing evictions will end over the coming three months as part of the $115 million housing bill. A federally funded program will help renters make payments over the next year.
  • Money for frontline workers: Lawmakers agreed on a $250 million package to make direct payments to frontline workers. A nine-person commission will make recommendations to the Legislature this fall on how to spend that money.

And a couple things that didn't:

  • Major police reforms: There are new limits on no-knock warrants and a "sign-and-release" warrant so that police aren't required to arrest low-level offenders who miss a court appearance. But the large, sweeping police reforms sought by activists and some DFL lawmakers didn't make it into the public safety bill.
  • Fare evasion: An effort to decriminalize nonpayment of fares on Metro Transit buses and trains was left out of the final transportation bill.

Of note — Clean Cars: Republicans dropped their bid to block the Walz administration from implementing its "Clean Cars" policy that required auto manufacturers to provide more electric vehicles in Minnesota.

What's next: While the budget is done for the year, the Legislature is probably not.

Keep reading.

2. Pandemic recovery, explained by General Mills' earnings

Photo: Tiffany Hagler-Geard/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sales of General Mills products were down 10% in the most recent fiscal quarter, the Golden Valley-based food company reported yesterday.

Between the lines: Look closer at General Mills' earnings and the report tells the story of the pandemic recovery in the U.S.

  • North American retail sales declined 17% in the company's fourth quarter, which ended May 30.
  • Food service and convenience stores sales, meanwhile, increased by 25% as consumers left their kitchens and headed back to restaurants.

Context: General Mills saw this slowdown coming and disclosed a major restructuring that could lead to as many as 600 job cuts at its Twin Cities headquarters.

What's next: General Mills, whose brands include Cheerios, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury and Annie's, is preparing to raise prices to deal with rising costs, CEO Jeff Harmening told the Wall Street Journal.

3. Minimum wage increase takes effect
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Data: City of Minneapolis, City of St. Paul, and State of Minnesota; Chart: Michelle McGhee/Axios

The minimum wage in both Minneapolis and St. Paul increase today.

Driving the news: Both cities passed phased ordinances that will eventually bring a $15 minimum wage.

  • Minneapolis is moving faster than St. Paul.

Why it matters: For thousands of workers, it means an extra 75 cents or $1 in their pocket every hour.

How it works: In Minneapolis, companies with 100 or fewer employees will now pay at least $12.50 an hour, an increase of 75 cents.

  • Those with more than 100 workers will pay $14.25 an hour, a $1 hike.

In St. Paul, there's a four-tier schedule.

  • Businesses with more than 10,000 employees will stay at $12.50 an hour.
  • Those with 101 to 10,000 employees will go from $11.50 to $12.50.
  • Businesses with six to 100 employees will jump from $10 to $11.
  • Micro-businesses with five or fewer workers will go from $9.25 to $10 an hour.
4. Twins prospect taking minor leagues by storm

Jose Miranda is quickly rising through the Twins minor leagues. Photo: Minnesota Twins

Twins prospect Jose Miranda has come out of nowhere to light the minor leagues on fire this year.

State of play: The Puerto Rican was barely on the radar for most baseball observers until this season. He hit .345 with 13 home runs in the first 47 games for the Double A Wichita Wind Surge.

  • He earned a call-up to the Triple A St. Paul Saints and made his debut on Tuesday night, which happened to be his 23rd birthday.

What happened: He went 5-for-6 with three home runs.

Watch: Highlights from Miranda's big night.

5. Fireworks etiquette: Hold those bottle rockets

Photo: Michael Smith/Getty Images

Axios Twin Cities readers say you should probably wait until this weekend to light off fireworks, and keep your display quick and early.

Be alert: Minnesota, particularly the northern half of the state, is at high risk of forest fires, and many areas have burning restrictions. See the DNR's map here.

Here's where some of you stand on pyrotechnics:

  • "I think fireworks should be reserved for the Fourth of July itself and possibly the night before and after. That gives people who have PTSD or who have other issues with fireworks a chance to prepare."
  • "Please limit fireworks to Fourth of July only. They are terrible for pets (dogs especially) and for people with trauma (like soldiers, first responders, and survivors)."
  • "We have a tradition where we boo at the fireworks we hear in our neighborhood."
  • "I think it's OK to do small residential fireworks for a day or two before and after the Fourth, and 10 or 11pm is late enough."
  • "They're illegal for a reason. People suffer serious third-degree burns every year, including children and teens."
  • "I don’t mind hearing the 'bangs' and 'booms' of fireworks as it's a reminder to me of what we are actually celebrating with Fourth of July — our independence and freedom as a country! However, with respect for everyone, I think they should be limited to only July 4 and no later than 10pm."

Thanks for reading!