Laura McCallum

Laura McCallum is MPR News' managing editor for daily news.

Stories by Laura McCallum

Agreement on bill funding DNR, state parks reached

A partial state government shutdown could begin at midnight Thursday, after lawmakers once again failed to reach a budget deal on Wednesday night. Talks are resuming in the governor's office, but the clock is ticking toward tonight's deadline. Without a budget deal in place, some services won't be funded. There is one bright spot in the picture: lawmakers plan to pass a bill to fund state parks, just in time for the holiday weekend.

Minneapolis teachers pension fund in a deep financial hole

There's been a lot of talk about the possible state government shutdown that could happen on July 1. Most people know that differences over funding for education and health care programs have led to a stalemate. But there are other issues lawmakers are considering. One you may not have heard about involves a multi-million dollar fund designed to pay pensions to retired Minneapolis teachers. The pension fund is in serious financial trouble, and lawmakers disagree over how to fix it and even what caused the problem. And the financial future of about 13,000 teachers may be at stake.

Special master appointed to rule on essential services

A Ramsey County judge on Thursday ordered state officials to fund essential state services if there's a partial government shutdown at the end of the month. Lawmakers have been in special session for a month to work out a two-year budget. But if there's no budget deal by July 1, some services will cease. If there's any dispute over which services are essential, they will be mediated by former Supreme Court Justice Edward Stringer.

Minnesota Democrats' budget offers underwhelms GOP leaders

DFL legislative leaders say they'll support a 55-cent-a-pack cigarette tax increase, if the money goes to health care. The governor has proposed a 75-cent-a-pack increase, but wants to cut health programs. The DFL proposal was part of a much-anticipated budget offer intended to resolve the impasse at the Capitol. But Republican leaders immediately panned the offer, saying it does little to avoid a potential government shutdown.

Audit sounds alarm over Minnesota government's online transactions

An investigation has found serious security problems with a state Web site that allows Minnesotans to renew their license tabs online. A legislative auditor's report released on Tuesday concludes that hackers could get into the system and steal consumers' private data. State officials have shut down the Web site until the problems are fixed, and say they're not aware of any security breaches. Some legislators say that reassurance isn't good enough.