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Back in February of 2007, then-Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller pushed through a $30-a-day increase in per diem payments for senators:

The Senate voted 59-7 to ratify an increase in daily expense allowances from $66 to $96 per senator, a 45 percent boost. The ratification came with a hitch: Those who voted for it automatically get the expense payments, known as per diems. The seven senators who voted against it don’t get it. “You can’t vote ‘no’ and take the dough,” Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, said after the vote.

The seven dissenters, all Republicans, can still collect expense checks. But first, they must tell the Senate fiscal staff how much they will take, and that paperwork will be public. Voting “no” were Sens. Ray Vandeveer, of Forest Lake; Dick Day, of Owatonna; David Hann, of Eden Prairie; Bill Ingebrigtsen, of Alexandria; Amy Koch, of Buffalo; Geoff Michel, of Edina; and Pat Pariseau, of Farmington.

One of the senators that voted for that outrageous increase was Julianne Ortman. According to this article, Sen. Ortman was a busy person that winter:

It’s been a busy and prosperous spring for Sen. Julianne Ortman.

For the past six weeks, Ortman has been working full time in her new $91,000-a-year job as chief financial manager for the office of Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, a political ally. At the same time, she has been collecting her $31,149-a-year legislative salary and a $96 daily expense allowance while missing some committee hearings and Senate floor sessions.

The dual roles of the Republican from Chanhassen, an assistant leader of the minority caucus, were evident May 11. Ortman was paid by Hennepin County as working on county business from 8 until 10 a.m., while state records show her answering a roll call for the start of the day’s Senate session in St. Paul at 9:20 a.m. A review of county payroll records and Senate documents from April and early May show that Ortman often bounced between her two jobs, at times starting one job just minutes after officially punching out from the other.

According to this search website, the article was first published by the Star Tribune on May 19, 2007. Mark Brunswick and Mike Kaszuba were the reporters. Mssrs. Brunswick and Kaszuba should be praised for their work in piecing this information puzzle together.

It’s bad enough that Sen. Ortman voted for that expensive per diem increase. I said at the time that $66 a day is more than enough, especially when the senators that voted for the per diem increase were getting the per diem 7 days a week from the first day of the session until the last night of the session.

It’s worse knowing that Sen. Ortman was on the clock for the legislature and for Hennepin County at the same time:

In two instances, she missed Senate committee meetings while working for the county, according to the records. Meanwhile, many of her county payroll records show her working long hours, evenings and weekends on days when the Senate was in session.

Sen. Ortman owes taxpayers an explanation for how she worked long hours for Hennepin County at the same time the Senate was also in session. They’d probably like to know how it’s possible to be in two places at the same time.

Obviously, this isn’t a policy difference. However, it’s the type of thing that raises ethical and potentially legal questions about Sen. Ortman.

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Tim Walz knows how to play the DC spin game. This article is proof of that:

At the U.S. Capitol, Walz said, “there’s not democracy.” Instead, “there’s just a speaker who holds a gavel.” The only legislation that can get voted on is that which the House speaker allows.

The reason Tim Walz is in the minority is because the politicians he voted for for Speaker didn’t just hold the House hostage. Then-Speaker Pelosi wouldn’t even let Republicans participate in writing a bill the vast majority of Americans didn’t want. It wasn’t enough for Ms. Pelosi to play the role of tyrant. She wasn’t satisfied until she ruled with an iron fist.

I don’t recall Rep. Walz complaining about Ms. Pelosi’s dictatorial stranglehold on the House from 2007-2011. Perhaps that’s because getting his way was the only principle that mattered to him.

Walz wasn’t the only spinmeister on stage:

With Republicans in charge of the Legislature and a Republican governor, Smith said, Minnesota ended up with a $6 billion debt.Under Democratic control, the deficit was erased, and money has been put aside for future emergencies.

Tina Smith should be ridiculed and criticized for lying like that. There’s never been a time when a Republican governor got to work with Republican majorities in the House and Senate. N-E-V-E-R. In 2010, Republicans gained control of the Minnesota Senate since it became a partisan election in 1972. From 1972 through 2010, Democrats had a stranglehold on the Senate.

That part of Smith’s BS is bad enough but that isn’t the only BS Smith peddled. In 2011, Republicans inherited a $6,000,000,000 deficit from Sen. Pogemiller and Speaker Kelliher. Sen. Pogemiller had a veto-proof DFL majority in the Senate while Speaker Kelliher lead 87 Democrats in the 134-member in the House.

When the DFL regained control of the House and Senate in 2012, Sen. Bakk and Speaker Thissen inherited a $640,000,000 deficit, not a $6,000,000,000 deficit.

That means Smith was only off by $5,360,000,000. In other words, she was as close to being accurate on the deficit as Gov. Dayton was with the e-tabs projection. That means neither was particularly accurate.

If spin was a $100 bill, the DFL could pay off the national debt. If accuracy and honesty was a gold bar, Walz and Smith couldn’t afford a stick of gum.

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Gov. Dayton, the DFL and their puppeteers with the Alliance for a Better Minnesota have been telling people that the sales tax increase they’re preparing to pass this session won’t negatively affect the middle class or the working poor. This report from the Minnesota Department of Revenue indicates otherwise.

According to the Department of Revenue report, the proposed sales tax is projected to collect $198,700,000 from auto repairs in 2014-15. “The rich” don’t pay that because they often trade their vehicles before their warranties expire. That means the vast majority of that $198,700,000 tax increase will be paid by the middle class and the working poor.

Another situation where the middle class will get hit with a sales tax increase is the area of personal services. According to the Minnesota Department of Revenue’s projections, they’ll collect $107,600,000 in sales tax revenues from barber shops, beauty salons, nail salons and from body piercings and tattoos. What’s the likelihood that “the rich” will pay a significant percentage of those taxes? I’m betting it isn’t likely that “the rich” will pay a significant portion of that tax increase.

The DFL isn’t telling anyone that their sales tax increases will drive up property taxes on smaller cities. Imagine the outrage that people will express when find out that their cities (think Sauk Rapids, Sartell and similar-sized cities) will get charged sales tax when their city hires an auditor or a city attorney.

Some cities will have their sales tax bill double. Read that again. That isn’t a typo. Some cities’ sales tax bill will double as a direct result of Gov. Dayton’s sales tax proposal. Those cities won’t have an option that doesn’t include either massive budget cuts or massive property tax hikes.

Comparatively speaking, cities getting LGA won’t get hurt that bad by the DFL’s sales tax expansion. That doesn’t mean they won’t get hit by this tax increase. Whenever the DFL has the legislature, one thing’s always worth keeping in mind. In 2007, Rep. Cy Thao made this epic statement:

“When you guys win, you get to keep your money. When we win, we take your money.”

I don’t see any proof that the DFL’s mindset has changed since 2007.

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Mitch has a great post up reminding us of famous DFL quotes. One of his golden oldies was initially reported in this post:

Cy Thao said “When you win, you get to keep your money. When we win, we take your money.”

Mitch then added this quote from Larry Pogemiller:

“I think it’s silly to assume people can spend their own money better than government can.”

It’s time to add another quote to the DFL Taxpayers Hall of Shame. It’s something I wrote about here. Eliot Seide made this assinine comment:

This is not necessary. We have a revenue problem, not a spending problem.

Mitch thinks we need to make a T-shirt out of those quotes. I heartily concur with that opinion. I’ll get things started by suggesting that the T-shirt should have Thao’s quote on the front, Seide’ quote on the back. What’s your opinion? Vote in the comments section. Feel free to make your own suggestions too. At LFR, we’re all about empowering people.

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I just wrote that Gov. Dayton isn’t dealing with budget realities. It appears as though the DFL’s grip on reality is slipping. This time, it appears as though Ember Reichgott-Junge is suffering from Dayton Deficit Delusion Disorder.

Appearing on @Issue With Tom Hauser, Reichgott-Junge said that, in years past, “the legislature passed budgets that were at least close to the governor’s budget.” That isn’t attached to reality in any meaningful way. It simply isn’t.

First, the DFL supermajorities didn’t pass budget targets in 2007 or 2009. It didn’t happen. I recall one of Gov. Pawlenty’s veto notes in 2007 to Speaker Kelliher and Sen. Pogemiller saying that he wouldn’t sign budget bills until the DFL said how much the DFL wanted to spend that biennium.

I recall that the first set of DFL omnibus spending bills in 2007 would’ve increased general fund spending by 17+ percent. The final omnibus spending bills increased spending by 9.3%. That’s a $2,500,000,000 difference.

I’d love hearing Sen. Reichgott-Junge explain that a $2,500,000,000 spending difference is “at least close to the governor’s budget.”

The reality is that there isn’t a huge difference between the GOP legislature and where the DFL is really if the DFL isn’t willing to raise taxes. The gap is less than $500,000,000.

Gov. Dayton’s budget proposes to spend $37,000,000,000. Since the DFL won’t vote for Gov. Dayton’s tax-the-rich scheme, that requires removing another $2,700,000,000 in spending because the revenue isn’t there. In practical terms, that puts the DFL budget at $34,300,000,000. The GOP budget calls for spending $34,000,000,000 during the 2012-2013 biennium.

That isn’t a big gap. It’s anything but insurmountable.

The only way it doesn’t get closed on time is if Gov. Dayton insists that his tax-the-rich scheme be part of the final solution. If he insists on that, he’ll isolate himself from the DFL and reality. Good luck with that.

Let’s be clear about something else. The DFL isn’t being honest with Minnesota. Their chanting points include complaining that the GOP won’t raise taxes. The DFL’s dishonesty is exposed by the fact that the DFL won’t vote for Gov. Dayton’s tax-the-rich scheme. They’ll just criticize the GOP for not breaking the promise that they made with Minnesota voters.

The DFL must decide in the next 2 weeks whether they’ll follow their failed leader off the proverbial cliff or whether they’ll put a serious budget together.

With Gov. Dayton’s budget so unrealistic, the DFL is faced with a put up or shut up moment. The DFL’s options are to follow Gov. Dayton into oblivion or vote for the GOP budget.

The GOP knows the DFL’s game. Just this once, the DFL says, we must raise taxes. What they’re really saying is that they want a free pass this time and they’ll think of another excuse the next time they want to spend recklessly.

The GOP is right in saying ‘No Thank You’ to Gov. Dayton’s tax increases. I hope the GOP just closes up the conference committees and passes the omnibus bills. Further, I hope they force an override vote on the tax bill because I’d love putting the DFL on the spot of either supporting Gov. Dayton’s job-killing tax increases or supporting the GOP’s tax sanity plan.

I’m fed up with the DFL’s tricks and gamesmanship. They’re acting like it’s just a big game aimed at winning back seats. Gamesmanship isn’t what’s needed. Statesmanship is required.

Unfortunately, statesmanship in the DFL died years ago. I haven’t found and DFL legislators that’s classify as a statesman. I’m not holding my breath on it either.

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Gov. Dayton has built a reputation of throwing temper tantrums. Now he’s building a reputation of throwing hand grenades while he’s throwing his temper tantrums. Yesterday, he threw another hand grenade:

Gov. Mark Dayton rolled a political hand grenade into Republican leaders’ piecemeal budget solution Monday, informing them he will reject all bills until they present a complete, balanced financial package.

Dayton issued a sternly worded, three-page letter hours before the GOP-controlled House passed a tax bill that would gut aid for the state’s largest cities, a signature Republican initiative designed to kick off a week’s worth of votes on budget bills that cut most state agencies.

GOP reaction to Gov. Dayton’s ultimatum wasn’t positive:

The letter “was probably a step backward,” House Majority Leader Matt Dean said Monday.

Deputy Senate Majority Leader Geoff Michel, R-Edina, took more pointed aim at the governor. “Leadership is not writing letters,” he said. “Leadership is not drawing lines in the sand.”

Gov. Temper Tantrum can veto the GOP’s budget bills if he likes. It’s important that he understands that his veto, and the DFL legislature’s sustaining them, will come with a political price in 2012. I’d love watching the DFL campaign on being the party that wanted to raise taxes and spending more. That didn’t work in 2010. It’ll fail in 2012, too.

Dayton also wants the GOP to do what other Legislatures have done, abide by Revenue Department estimates for what each proposal will save or cost the state. He said he won’t negotiate with them until they do so. Republicans last week revealed that they were basing their estimates on numbers from private business and other states.

If Gov. Temper Tantrum wants to stomp his feet or hold his breath till his face turns blue, that’s his right. The only thing that John Q. Public cares about is whether MMB says that the GOP’s budget balances. When John Q. Public finds out that it balances without raising taxes, Main Street Minnesota will side with the GOP. PERIOD.

If Gov. Dayton refuses to negotiate with the MNGOP after they’ve balanced the budget, Main Street Minnesota will demand Gov. Dayton provide a better explanation than what he’s offered thus far.

It’s important that we’re clear about something else, namely that the DFL, whether we’re talking about Gov. Dayton or the DFL legislature of the past 4 years, doesn’t have credibility on putting balanced budgets together.

Then-Candidate Dayton put forth a supposedly detailed balanced budget proposal early in the election cycle. The cornerstone of the budget was a $4,000,000,000 tax-the-rich increase.

Then it met reality.

MMB said that his tax-the-rich scheme would only generate $1,900,000,000, meaning his supposedly detailed budget still had a $2,000,000,000 deficit.

Dayton 2.0 didn’t turn out substantially better, finishing with a $1,000,000,000 deficit.

Dayton 3.0 dropped his promise of raising education funding every year without exceptions, without excuses and added more taxes. Finally, it balanced.

Then there’s the 2009 budget session. That’s the year when DFL legislative leadership didn’t offer their own budget. That’s the year they tried raising taxes only to see its members reject the DFL’s tax increase proposals. That’s the year when the only balanced budget proposal was their final proposal. That’s the budget that passed the House with 9 minutes left in the session. Even then, that ‘budget’ had a paltry $36,000 estimated surplus at the end of the 2010-11 biennium.

That surplus disappeared before Labor Day, 2009.

Throughout all their machinations, the DFL hasn’t put together a reform-minded, pro-growth budget in ages. That they’re afforded any credibility on budgetary issues is astonishing.

They’ve been abetted by their media allies who’ve covered ‘reported’ about the DFL’s witnesses rather than seriously questioning the DFL’s policies.

Does anyone with real gravitas think that Gov. Dayton, Rep. Thissen and the DFL will produce a real balanced budget that appeals to Main Street Minnesotans? I’m betting against it.

Today’s DFL is expert at appealing to their special interest puppeteers. They’re substantially less than expert at putting together a reform-minded, pro-growth budget that leads Minnesota into the state’s next generation of sustained prosperity.

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I didn’t think I’d say this but the DFL isn’t as bright as I thought. I’m basing that opinion on the DFL’s highlighting the failures of the Pogemiller/Kelliher legislature. The Minnesota DFL retweeted this message:

RT @epmurphy: Former Gov. left @GovMarkDayton a mess.

Actually, the DFL legislature produced one balanced budget that the media treated like a joke. When the media treats a DFL budget like it’s a joke, you know it’s noteworthy.

Not only did the DFL retweet this message but they attached a new button that the GOP is circulating:

The DFL hasn’t presented a serious budget in at least 6 years, possibly longer. In 2007, when they took over the House, there was a $2,163,000,000 surplus. By the time the 2008 election rolled around, that surplus had essentially disappeared.

In September, 2007, Rep. Steve Gottwalt, Rep. Larry Haws and Sen. Tarryl Clark participated in the St. Cloud League of Women Voters Education Forum, which I wrote about in this post. The most stunning part of that event was this exchange:

Steve Gottwalt had just said that we needed to do a better job prioritizing education spending, prompting Larry Haws to say “Maybe we do need to prioritize.”

This is instructive for multiple reasons. First, the situation Minnesota was faced with was that of a significant surplus and a slowing economy. That’s the worst combination imaginable if you aren’t paying attention.

With that big a surplus, it isn’t difficult to get complacent. That’s obviously what happened with Rep. Haws.

Rep. Gottwalt had talked about the slowing economy and had urged restraint during the previous spring’s budget negotiations. He wasn’t alarmist. He was just exercising justified caution.

By the time 2009 rolled around, Minnesota faced “a $6.4 billion deficit”, a fact Rep. Buesgens reminded people of almost daily. Despite the reminders, the DFL submitted one balanced budget the entire session. That budget came with less than 10 minutes left in the session.

Two months into the biennium, the budget was in deficit. That’s how big a joke the DFL’s 2009 budget was. In a $33,000,000,000 budget, MMB projected a surplus at the end of the biennium of less than $35,000.

That the DFL is now accusing Gov. Pawlenty of ruining the state is utterly laughable. Let’s remember Cy Thao’s infamous quote, which I broke in this post:

“When you win, you get to keep your money. When we win, we take your money.”

Does that sound like a legislator who views himself as the taxpayers’ watchdog? Or does it sound like someone who’s intent on spending like a drunken sailor?

That the DFL has the audacity to be that reckless with spending is terrifying enough. That they’d then accuse Gov. Pawlenty of ruining the state is proof that the DFL isn’t in touch with reality.

Thank God Minnesota had the sense to elect GOP majorities in the House and Senate to be the taxpayers’ clean-up crew.

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Bob von Sternberg’s post says that Republican leadership is recycling its talking points about Gov. Dayton’s budget:

Republican legislative leaders resumed their criticism Wednesday of Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget blueprint, aiming most of their rhetorical fire at his plan to raise income taxes on the wealthiest Minnesotans.

Such a tax increase is simply not acceptable, said House Speaker Kurt Zellers. “This budget is detatched from the reality every other state has recognized,” he said.

The GOP leaders largely recycled the talking points they made Tuesday in the wake of Dayton’s budget presentation,including displaying a U.S. map that declared “state governments take a stand against new taxes, except Gov. Mark Dayton.”

I’d disagree with von Sternberg’s characterization of the GOP’s “talking points.” I’d argue that they’re the GOP’s long-held policy beliefs. Talking points are more what politicians and political operatives use to “stay on message” rather than deal with specific questions.

Talking points usually are used when a politician doesn’t have a substantive answer or when they’re plain wrong.

That isn’t the case here. The GOP leadership has a ‘tax map’ showing every governor either cutting taxes pledging not to raise taxes. There’s bipartisan support for not raising taxes.

While Zellers said the “depth and breadth of concerns we have about the budget can’t be expressed,” the Republican leaders offered no specific alternatives to Dayton’s plan.

What wasn’t said in that sentence is that the GOP has identified wasteful spending that’s happening in this biennium. That was the basis of the bill they passed that Gov. Dayton vetoed.

I know from conversations with legislators that they’ll submit a budget bill to the public the minute the February forecast is unveiled. That’s a stark contrast with the DFL majority in 2009:

It happened again Thursday. The Minnesota House was meeting in full session, running through some routine business, when Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Delano, rose, cleared his throat and said to DFLers, “We’ve been here a month; why are we still waiting for your budget proposal?”

There were some head shakes, but no response. The House got back to the business at hand.

Emmer’s question has become the mantra of state Republicans. In every public forum, at least one or two Republican legislators raise the question: If DFL legislators don’t like Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s proposed budget, why don’t they come up with one of their own?

“It’s strategic,” said House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis, of the Republican cry. “It’s designed to freak people out on our side, and it takes attention off the governor’s budget.”

Kelliher and Pogemiller never submitted a budget. They spent their time criticizing Gov. Pawlenty’s budget. Some people are sure to say that this sounds similar. They have a bit of a point…with this exception: the GOP has already submitted substantial legislation reforming the budgeting and permitting processes. They’ve also passed legislation cutting wasteful spending ahead of the Feb. forecast.

This is far beyond what the DFL did in 2009. That year, they spent a month trying to solicit testimony proving the need for tax increases:

From: Gene Pelowski [mailto:Rep.Gene.Pelowski@house.mn]
Sent: Tuesday, February 17, 2009 10:13 AM
This Friday, February 20, there will be a bicameral hearing held in our region. Senators and Representatives from both political parties will be in Winona from 3:30 to 5:30 PM, Winona City Hall, 207 Lafayette St. The purpose of this hearing is to get testimony from affected programs in every level of government, education, health care or service impacted by the cuts suggested by the Governor’s state budget.

I am writing you to ask that you or a designee get scheduled to testify. You may do this by going to the House website at www.house.mn and clicking on ‘Town Meetings’.

We would ask you to focus your comments on the impact of the Governor’s budget including what is the harm to your area of government or program. Please be as precise as possible using facts such as number of lay offs, increases in property taxes, cuts in services, increases in tuition, elimination of programs. To be respectful of the time necessary to hear from a large number of constituents it would be advised to use no more than 3-5 minutes to convey your message. If you choose to provide handouts or printed materials, please plan to bring approximately 25 copies, enough for committee members and media.

Sincerely,
Representative Gene Pelowski
District 31A

This GOP legislature has held more hearings on substantive reforms already than the DFL held during the entire 2009 session.

It’s important to highlight the fact that Gov. Dayton’s tax increases are totally out of touch with Minnesotans’ priorities. The business community certainly isn’t pleased with Gov. Dayton’s tax increases. Main Street Minnesotans aren’t happy with them either, mostly because they elected GOP majorities to stop the insane spending.

Gov. Dayton’s budget doesn’t cut spending. According to King Banaian, Dayton’s budget solves the deficit with $4 of tax increases for each dollar in spending cuts:

Gov. Mark Dayton today unveiled historic tax increases and the nation’s highest income-tax bracket as his means to setting Minnesota’s budget.

His plan calls for around $4 billion in tax increases; that’s approximately $4 in tax increases for every $1 in spending reductions. Our state would increase spending by 22 percent over current levels, to around $37 billion.

Gov. Dayton better drop these demands ASAP because they’re unrealistic and unsustainable. It’s time that Gov. Dayton started dealing with reality rather than with what satisfies his political allies.

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OMG. I’ve thought from the beginning that Gov. Dayton’s decisionmaking and ability to champion liberal causes was limited. After reading this post, which is essentially his defense of bloated government, though, I’m beginning to question his priorities.

The Democratic governor said the proposals “exploit the opportunity” to drive wedges between Minnesotans, demonize public employees and suggested they show a lack of understanding and care.

“Most state employees, most public employees, most teachers are extraordinarily dedicated, hard working people, who are striving to make ends meet for their families…just as people in the private sector are,” Dayton said.

The governor addressed a bill that would freeze teacher pay and limit teachers’ ability to strike as well as a measure to cut 15 percent of the state workforce.

“The myth that there’s been this explosion of (the numbers of) public employees in Minnesota is just that,” Dayton said. “In a difficult economic time, some people exploit the opportunity to try to drive wedges between Minnesotans.”

He said: “I wish the legislators would take the time and the care to really understand these issues and the complexity and to hold public hearings and allow for public input on all sides of the question and then present something that really reflects a caring and concern for the well being of all Minnesotans.”

I wish Gov. Dayton would quit thinking that government doesn’t need major reformation. I wish he’d stop thinking that Minnesota’s priorities are great and don’t need major changes.

The GOP legislature isn’t attempting to villainize unions as much as it’s just trying to set sensible priorities for state spending. Meanwhile, Gov. Dayton is obviously playing to his political base while driving away independents.

Those Minnesotans who haven’t gotten laid off during this current recession have either had their pay cut, their hours cut or had their insurance premiums increased substantially. Rep. Downey’s legislation simply says that the public sector must share in the sacrifice.

The House and Senate leadership started with trimming their budgets. They’ve refused to adopt a Cuts for Thee but not for Me attitude. They’ve adopted a me first attitude.

In light of that attitude, Gov. Dayton appears to be saying he’ll continue then-Speaker Kelliher’s and then-Leader Pogemiller’s plan to exempt public sector employees while demanding tax increases. If Gov. Dayton intends on continuing down that path, he’d best be prepared to take alot of lumps.

He’s defending the indefensible.

Rep. Banaian’s budgeting reform and sunset bill does away with the assumption that government’s current structure fits the 21st Century. HINT: It doesn’t. Government’s current structure might’ve been justified in the 1980s but it’s outdated for the 21st Century.

The governor condemned Rep. Keith Downey’s words that he wanted to strangle the beast” of public worker rolls. Downey, R-Edina, proposed the state workforce cut, which breezed through a House committee Wednesday.

“I’m really shocked,” Dayton said. “Government is not a beast. Public servants are not beasts. They are fellow citizens…To demonize people who are,in most respects. hard working committed people is very unfair and unnecessarily divisive.”

Perhaps Gov. Dayton should contemplate the possibility that Rep. Downey wasn’t attacking individual workers but rather the current structure of government. If Gov. Dayton wasn’t so trained in practicing victimhood politics, he might’ve noticed that Rep. Downey was talking about reforming government.

Instead of asking Rep. Downey what he was talking about, Gov. Dayton flew into a temper tantrum, thinking that Rep. Downey was being personal. Had Gov. Dayton looked at the totality of what was said, he might’ve noticed that government reform, spread across many departments, was the target.

If Gov. Dayton wants to keep having these childish temper tantrums while playing exclusively to his base, that’s his right. Nonetheless, that’s a great recipe for losing legislative fights and elections.

Each week, Gov. Dayton is getting exposed as a puppet for the DFL’s special interest group masters. They’re either controlling him or he’s a true believer that what’s best for these special interest groups is what’s best for Minnesota.

Thankfully, Rep. Downey, Rep. Banaian and others are in touch with Main Street Minnesota’s priorities. Thankfully, they’ll set the right priorities.

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If there’s anything reliable about the DFL other than having an unquenchable thirst for raising taxes, it’s their mantra that not raising taxes inevitably leads to higher property taxes. That’s the upshot of this article:

The Republicans in the majority of both houses have said they do not favor any tax increases to deal with the deficit. Minneapolis legislators, however, are strong supporters of income tax increases or other revenue sources to help balance the budget.

Dayton favors a mix of tax increases, budget cuts and reform.

Pogemiller said taxes will rise one way or another. He favors an income tax hike on higher earners. If not, the Legislature will be forced to cut its aid to local governments.

“If you cut (Local Government Aid) you will raise property taxes,” he said.

Pogemiller said Minneapolis lost about half of its Local Government Aid during the Tim Pawlenty administration.

Loeffler also favors new state revenue, and she cited closing corporate tax loopholes and raising fees and permitting costs as possible solutions.

“Property taxes have been going up dramatically even though peoples’ housing values have been flat or gone down,” she said. “That’s not fair. It’s one of our least progressive taxes.”

What isn’t fair is when mayors and city councils raise property taxes because they refuse to set sensible spending priorities. They should be ashamed of themselves for mistreating their citizens.

In 2008, I went through St. Paul’s operating budget. I wish I’d made a list of all the wasteful spending I found. It was pathetic. The crap they spent money on made me want to scream. If I’d lived in St. Paul, I would’ve created that list, then I would’ve brought it to a city council meeting to ask them why they’d spent money so recklessly.

Why aren’t R.T. Rybak and Chris Coleman required to act with any fiscal discipline? I won’t lose a splitsecond of sleep over Minneapolis and St. Paul not getting a big increase in LGA. If they can’t run their cities properly, then let their citizens see how inept they are. Let their citizens experience the pain that comes from electing spendaholic mayors and city councils.

I hope that this GOP majority tells R.T. Rybak and Chris Coleman that they won’t get their annual bailout stipend, that they’re gonna have to figure out ways to make their dollars stretch a little farther.

This is Minnesota, a state of innovators. It’s time R.T. Rybak and Chris Coleman discovered their innovative side. It’s time they put their innovative skills to use by setting smart spending priorities and saving its citizens’ money.

In St. Paul and Minneapolis, that would be a rare change indeed.

Even with new revenue sources, Minneapolis legislators say reforms and tough cuts will be coming.

Loeffler, Greene and Pogemiller spoke of the importance of funding education. However, K-12 Education funding makes up 38 percent of the state budget and higher education makes up 9 percent of the state budget.

Pogemiller said state health care costs are rising by 8 percent annually. Because of the state’s aging population, it’s unlikely to make any real cuts to the health and human services budget, which is about 29 percent of the total budget.

“I would love to see a bill that addresses the $6.2 billion deficit without raising taxes, but I just don’t think it’s going to be possible,” Greene said.

The DFL legislators admit that they’ll have a number of tough votes ahead even if they raised taxes. Shouldn’t Minnesota’s legislature start with figuring out how many dollars can be saved via reforms and actually saying no to the DFL’s special interest group allies? Shouldn’t the DFL legislators say that the first option to balancing the budget is raising taxes on people?

After all, it isn’t as though they’re undertaxed. It isn’t as though cities are setting smart spending priorities.

When cities have made the difficult decisions, they’ll understand what the legislature does.

This quote really irritates me:

“I would love to see a bill that addresses the $6.2 billion deficit without raising taxes, but I just don’t think it’s going to be possible,” Greene said.

Did Rep. Greene attempt to put a list of line items together that could be cut? Did she think that there might be a less expensive way of providing the same service level at a cheaper price? Does Rep. Greene have any reform proposals in the HF hopper? If she doesn’t, isn’t she saying something isn’t possible without checking what’s possible?

Shame on her for not doing her due diligence first. Shame on her for giving up without making a spirited attempt at rethinking how government works.

Cities will certainly attempt to get their LGA payments ‘restored’. They shouldn’t get their hopes too high. It’s time cities became reform-oriented. It’s time they relied on themselves first, the state second. (A distant second at that.)

Minnesota families have been making sacrifices for a few years already. The state has made some difficult choices, too. Isn’t it time that cities started making difficult decisions and reforming their government?

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