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I’m voting for Tom Emmer tomorrow. A little part of me will be voting against Rhonda Sivarajah, too. I’ll have lots of reasons for votin Tom Emmer.

Chief among those reasons is something Tom said early in the campaign. At the first Townhall Tuesday meeting he attended, Tom said that he loved Tom Coborn’s Sequester This video series. He said that the Sixth District didn’t need a congressman who said we need to cut federal spending. He said the Sixth District needed a congressman who had a plan to cut federal spending.

Tom has instant credibility on spending restraint. In 2007, Tom was one of 4 legislators who got a perfect score from the Taxpayers League, joining Laura Brod, Mark Buesgens and Mark Olson. Tom was joined by Reps. Brod and Buesgens in 2009, too.

I’m voting for Tom because he’s got a reform agenda, too. He’s also willing to cast a no vote even if it isn’t popular. Tom was one of the few people people who voted against the Next Generation Energy Act, aka the NGEA. That horrific legislation got more than 115 votes in the House.

That leads me to why I’m voting against Rhonda Sivarajah. Last week, I heard one of her radio spots on KNSI. Saying that it repulsed me is understatement. In it, the narrator said that Rhonda was the only candidate with a proven track record of cutting spending. The clear implication was that Tom Emmer wasn’t a fiscal conservative.

I expect that type of BS from Democrats, whose fidelity to the truth is minimal at best. I won’t tolerate it from Republican candidates. That immediately eliminates Ms. Sivarajah from consideration.

I’m also voting be voting against Ms. Sivarajah because she’s proven she can’t raise money. In the summer of 2013, Ms. Sivarajah attended a BPOU fundraiser at Dan and Cathy Jo Severson’s home. While there, she openly said that we needed a candidate who wouldn’t let this be a tight race. Again, the implication was that Tom was a fatally flawed candidate that the DFL candidate could stay competitive with.

First, that’s BS. I’ve given Joe Perske a nickname. It’s ‘Sacrificial Lamb.’ Second, Ms. Sivarajah can’t raise money. In the last quarter of 2013 and the first quarter of 2014, she raised well short of $50,000. Combined. By comparison, Jim Knoblach, who is running for the legislature, has raised almost $60,000.

In the Sixth, it probably isn’t fatal if a Republican doesn’t raise tons of cash. The Sixth is conservative enough to let a qualified candidate win. That being said, why pick a candidate who would let the DFL candidate remain competitive when we have a candidate who will run away with the race?

Finally, Ms. Sivarajah hasn’t shown an ability to get her voters to turn out at the important meetings. They didn’t show up for the precinct caucuses. That’s when she lost the Straw Poll by 50 points. They certainly didn’t show up at the CD-6 Convention, where she got trounced again, this time by 52 points. If she loses tomorrow night by 40 points, it will represent her best showing of the cycle. Losing by 40 points shouldn’t be the high point of a campaign.

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This afternoon, I was contacted by former Rep. Laura Brod. She and her husband issued this statement, which I’m publishing in its entirety:

A message from Wade and Laura Brod

This is the last kind of message we ever thought we would have to write. Or ever wanted to write. Here goes…

Those who know us understand that we have had a difficult marriage for quite a number of years. And while we love each other as friends, and respect each other as parents, we have effectively led separate lives, have been separated and are presently going through a very amicable divorce. We felt no need to publicize or communicate this private matter.

Like many married couples, we have both made mistakes along the way, and wish we had some do-overs. Still, no matter how difficult our marriage may have been at times, our Number One focus has always been to do everything we could to jointly raise our children in a positive and loving environment. We have awesome kids.

The Brod Family loves each other and we stand united against anyone who would seek to do us harm. Specifically, someone has posted a photo – which was illegally disseminated – on the Internet for the sole purpose of embarrassing our family and damaging our reputations. We cannot begin to explain why someone would be so mean, and so hateful. Nor can we overstate the humiliation they have caused.

As embarrassing as this entire incident is, we know the larger nightmare of harassment, cyber-stalking and privacy invasion is not unique to us, and we plan to fight back with everything we have. This matter has been referred to the FBI and we are pursuing all legal means possible to prosecute whoever is responsible for the illegal dissemination of this material.

While we understand the desire by some to turn a difficult family situation into a public controversy, we hope you will respect our family’s privacy during this challenging time as we seek to ensure the safety and security of our family.

We will have no further comment on this matter.

Sincerely,

Wade and Laura Brod

The letter speaks for itself. That’s why I won’t add further commentary to it other than to say I wish the Brod family the best during this obviously painful time.

Matt Entenza must’ve felt out of his comfort zone when he debated Laura Brod on the issue of this year’s legislative races. Here’s part of what he said on the subject:

The DFL’s got a great story to tell. We saw alot of legislative gridlock after the GOP took control. There was a terrible government shutdown that people had a sense didn’t go anywhere. Gov. Dayton trying to compromise, trying to reach out.

That’s proof that Mr. Entenza doesn’t listen to the people. In the 2010 elections, people voted overwhelmingly for the people who promised not to raise taxes.

When Gov. Dayton went on his state tour to pressure the GOP, he met face to face with Minnesotans worried about the DFL raising their taxes. The response was so bad that he canceled half of his tour.

What’s particularly noticeable in Entenza’s response is that he didn’t say anything positive about the DFL. He started with “the DFL has a great story to tell” before launching into a laundry list of negatives, most of which are negatives against the DFL.

Gov. Dayton shut the government down when it wasn’t necessary. The documents prove Gov. Dayton twice agreed to a deal that would’ve averted a shutdown before going back on his word. Documents show Gov. Dayton rejected the opportunity to sign a lights-on bill that would’ve kept government operating while negotiations continued.

Instead of listening to Minnesotans, Gov. Dayton, Sen. Bakk and Rep. Thissen threw a hissy fit.

Meanwhile, the GOP has a great record to run on. They passed half a dozen major reforms, including permitting reform, alternative teacher licensure. The Sunset Advisory Commission from HF2 was included in the State Government Finance omnibus bill which Gov. Dayton signed.

The Sunset Advisory Commission is putting commissions, panels and councils on notice that their time is limited, their focus narrow.

Most importantly, the GOP’s budget took Minnesota from a projected $6.2 billion deficit and turned it into a $1.3 billion surplus in less than a year.

The GOP’s insistence on spending sanity and reforming the permitting system led to a surplus and a growth in job creation.

The GOP reformed government, held the line on taxes, balanced the budget, created jobs while keeping their promises.

Mr. Entenza, that’s what a positive story to tell sounds like. That’s what a list of real accomplishments looks like.

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There are many flaws with Gov. Dayton’s budget but the thing I’m waiting to hear is an explanation for why a tax increase on productive people is needed to pay for extending a government model that’s filled with wasteful spending.
This morning on @Issue With Tom Hauser, Matt Entenza and Ember Reichgott-Junge argued that Gov. Dayton’s positions were likely to prevail because a) he’s got the bully pulpit and b) Republicans will change their evil ways the minute the public starts criticizing them.

NEWSFLASH TO ENTENZA AND REICHGOTT-JUNGE: The public weighed in last November on this. That’s why Republicans control both chambers of the legislature for the first time since senators started disclosing their political affiliations.

I’ve been digging into MnSCU’s programs, its bureaucratic infrastructure, its campus locations and numbers. Gov. Dayton, Rep. Thissen, Sen. Bakk and Rep. Winkler insist that there isn’t a ton of unjustified replication in MnSCU. The unjustified replication translates into unjustified spending in the Higher Ed budget.

When I scrutinized MnSCU, I found a substantial amount of questionable policies and expenditures. Why do we need a gazillion schools scattered throughout the state? Why do a bunch of community colleges have multiple campuses offering identical degree offerings? Why does the MnSCU HQ need the staffing levels they’ve currently got?

The DFL is playing its annual inane game of saying Republicans are fighting to protect “the rich” who “aren’t paying their fair share” while never defining what a fair share is.

It’s time to tell Minnesotans that the DFL is the defender of a) status quo policies, b) cronyism in St. Paul government and c) unjustifiable spending within the MnSCU and Higher Ed budgets and throughout the various departments.

The Republican Party of Minnesota started going on the offensive this week. It’s off to a strong start, especially with the drubbing that Michael Brodkorb put on DFL Party Chair Ken Martin on Almanac Friday night. That’s when Michael told the watching audience that the Republicans had a) raised spending by $4,000,000,000 for the 2012-13 biennium and b) passed the biggest budget in state history.

Spinmeisters like Rep. Thissen, Rep. Winkler and Sen. Bakk continue to call the Republicans’ budget an all-cuts budget while ignoring statements made by Rep. Winkler, Sen. Cohen and Sen. Bakk that Republicans substantially increased spending after making their initial budget proposal.

Rep. Winkler chided Republicans because their budget changed from spending $32,000,000,000 early in the session to $34,000,000,000 after the February forecast. It’s impossible to credibly say that Republicans haven’t moved from their initial proposal, though that’s what Rep. Winkler, Ms. Reichgott-Junge, Mr. Entenza and Chairman Martin are saying now.

Chairman Martin still hasn’t lost his ABM touch, saying on Almanac that “Republicans started with a $34,000,000,000 budget and ended with a $34,000,000,000 budget.” That’s the dishonesty that ABM is famous for. Republicans started at $32,000,000,000 because the November forecast predicted a $6,200,000,000 deficit.

Let’s remember the relative jubilation caused by the improvement reported in the February forecast. That’s when it was announced that the deficit was ‘only’ $5,030,000,000.

The next step in the GOP’s campaign is to start highlighting the flood of reforms that Gov. Dayton vetoed. When Gov. Dayton vetoed the GOP budget, he didn’t just veto the appropriations. Gov. Dayton vetoed those important reforms when he vetoed those bills. That’s unconscienable.

Let’s remember that the DFL fought against downsizing government, saying that downsizing proved that the GOP hated working families. Republicans don’t hate working families. They just aren’t willing to give public union employees special treatment that hurts the rest of Minnesota’s pocketbooks.

During her debate against Matt Entenza, Laura Brod highlighted something that can’t be overemphasized, namely that it isn’t possible to continue increasing spending by 15+ percent per biennium. The taxpayers won’t put up with that type of raiding of their wallets.

Make no mistake about this: The DFL’s claim that they’re only taxing the “richest 2%” is hogwash. Their tax increase will affect workers, too. These workers will either get hit with paying a greater share of their health insurance premium, accept a lower pay increase or get told that their employer won’t be offering as good a health insurance policy as before.

That’s how businesses operate during struggling times.

The DFL knows that but doesn’t have the guts to tell people that their tax-the-rich scheme will hurt the middle class more than it’ll hurt “the rich.”

The DFL apparently doesn’t unnderstand that we’re competing with other states, especially North Dakota. If we don’t reform government and eliminate the waste from our budget and reduce taxes, there will be a serious brain drain over the next 10-15 years.

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Earlier this weekend, I wrote about DFL Chairman Ken Martin’s tough night debating MNGOP Chairman Tony Sutton. This morning, in watching him debate former legislator Laura Brod, his tough weekend continued.

Chairman Martin had just finished saying that Gov. Dayton had proven time and again that he was willing to reach across the aisle on issue after issue and that it was time for Republicans to do the same.

Rep. Brod jumped on that statement, saying that, before reaching across the aisle and asking for GOP support for his tax increases and his budget proposal, he should first talk to the DFL legislators. Rep. Brod said that there isn’t much DFL support for Gov. Dayton’s proposals.

Why should Republicans move an inch toward Gov. Dayton’s budget, especially considering the fact that the DFL doesn’t support Gov. Dayton’s budget?

I remember the silence in the House Chamber when Gov. Dayton delivered his state of the state address. There were a few bits of applause but most of his proposals were met with silence.

Remember, too, that the DFL refused to sponsor his budget in the legislature for a long, long time. MNGOP Vice-Chair Michael Brodkorb rightly highlighted, daily, the fact that it was another day that DFL legislators refused to sponsor Dayton’s budget.

In this past election, significantly more people voted for GOP legislators and candidates than voted for Mark Dayton. The people have spoken. They voted for candidates that promised not to raise taxes. That message turned a veto-proof DFL majority in the Senate into a minority party. That message turned an 87-47 DFL majority, near veto-proof, into a 72-62 minority.

In one instance, the DFL won by less than 1% of the vote to capture the governorship. On the other hand, Republican candidates in the House and Senate gained a net 41 seats, a 20% turnover in the state legislature. Many longtime DFL incumbents lost, sometimes by significant margins.

Dan Fabian defeated DFL incumbent Dave Olin by a 58-42% margin. Mike LeMuier defeated DFL incumbent Al Doty by a similar margin. Bruce Vogel defeated DFL incumbent and Chairman Al Junhke by a 53-47% margin. Sondra Erickson thumped Gail Kulick-Jackson by a 55-44 margin in their rematch. Linda Runbeck reclaimed Phil Krinkie’s old seat, defeating Paul Gardner by a 55-45% margin.

These aren’t tiny margins that incumbents got defeated by. By comparison, Gov. Dayton defeated Rep. Emmer by winning 41% of the vote. That’s hardly a mandate.

I’ve highlighted this in other posts but let’s understand that support for Sen. Bakk’s and Rep. Lenczewski’s tax increase bills passed by 35-31 and 68-66 margins respectively in 2009. That’s when the DFL held a 46-21 majority in the Senate and 87-47 in the House. Losing 11 votes in the Senate and 19 in the House isn’t a sign of strength.

The sooner Gov. Dayton admits that support for his budget is thin and support for his tax increases is almost nonexistent, the sooner he start serious negotiations with the legislature. Until then, he’s just wasting the legislature’s time and energy.

What’s fascinating is that the DFL is now being led by someone who isn’t as skilled a debater as his predecessor. Melendez held his own against Chairman Sutton when they met. He would’ve gotten trounced by Laura Brod because she’s a world-class debater and policy wonk.

By comparison, Chairman Martin got trounced by Chairman Sutton and Rep. Brod. The DFL’s message isn’t appealing and their chairman isn’t a skilled debater.

What could possibly go wrong with that?

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Yesterday morning, retired Rep. Laura Brod and SEIU Local 26 president Javier Morillo-Alicea debated the Fleebagger 14. It wasn’t a fair fight.

Morillo’s high point came when he said that workers had already agreed to Gov. Walker’s concessions. To him, this was proof that this was all about union-busting. It was a nice attempt at bait and switch.

Yes, there is the issue of solving a short-term deficit. If that was the only consideration, the concessions would’ve been enough. Morillo knows, though, that that isn’t the only consideration.

Rep. Brod highlighted that by noting that there’s a long-term problem called unfunded liabilities. A decade from now, those unfunded liabilities would’ve become a ticking time bomb. That’s why pension reform was such a high priority for Gov. Walker.

The thing that Morillo-Alicea didn’t say was most telling. He didn’t say that PEUs were willing to drop the early retirement provisions or the lavish pensions many unions are currently scheduled to receive. That’s the ticking time bomb that I refered to earlier.

The early retirement provisions are particularly onerous because it makes retire and rehire possible. Too often, retire and rehire allows a PEU employee to start collecting their pension when they retire when they’re 55, then get hired as a government consultant.

If people get hired as a consultant after retiring, they should forfeit a portion of their pension equal to the amount of money they’re paid for consulting. There should be no double-dipping.

Why should taxpayers be paying these people twice when they’re 55?

Morillo-Alicea knows that the unions could’ve renegotiated the pensions and health care contributions during their next negotiations. Then the ticking time bomb of unfunded liabilities would’ve started ticking again.

Thanks to Rep. Brod, people now know this. To be fair, though, Morillo-Alicea was fighting from a weak position. On the other hand, Morillo-Alicea resorted to the DFL’s time-tested trick of talking over their debating partner.

That might work sometimes but it didn’t this time. Plus it comes across as being terribly obnoxious. When I see that tactic, I know that the debate is over, that the shouter has run out of valid arguments to make.

SIDENOTE: It’s been my observation that the DFL doesn’t have many skilled debaters. Mike Hatch is one of their best, if not their best. After that, the talent pool drops of pretty sharply. The GOP have a bunch of great debaters, with Rep. Brod being one of the best. Greg Peppin is good, as are current legislators like David Hann, Pat Garofalo, Mike Beard, Claire Robling, Dave Thompson, King Banaian and Steve Gottwalt.

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Following yesterday’s joint session of the legislature to pick 4 U of M regents, the DFL was fuming, essentially because they’re spoiled brats, whining about how political the process was. At the heart of the matter was Rep. Laura Brod, who garnered more votes than Steven Hunter, the DFL’s choice for the at-large position. Hunter is the Secretary-Treasurer of the MN AFL-CIO.

The choice of Brod, who replaced sitting Regent Steven Hunter, the board’s only labor representative, also drew Democrat’s ire.

Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL lead on the Senate Higher Education Committee, said seniority and experience are important components for success governing the university. She called Hunter the “workforce of the board.”

Long-time labor supporter Rep. Tom Rukavina pleaded with Republicans on the House floor to “give us one, just one,” speaking of Hunter, an AFL-CIO leader.

“Don’t turn back a tradition that has been around for over 75 years,” he said. “Don’t slap working people in the face.”

Tradition is overrated, especially when you consider the fact that students experienced major tuition increases during Hunter’s time in office. If Hunter and the other regents aren’t holding the administration accountable, then it’s right to fire them, Hunter included.

This shouldn’t be an honorary position. What the AFL-CIO and Hunter and his supporters in the Legislature haven’t done yet is explain in any detail is what the importance of having a union member as a regent. Who cares if it’s tradition? Based on tuition increases, there’s no proof that Hunter stood
for Minnesota’s working families during his time in office.

I’ve seen Rep. Brod in action. If there’s anything I can say about her, it’s that I can’t picture her settling for the status quo. I can picture her doing is fighting for the parents and students who are attending or who’d like to attend the U of M.

Based on what Hunter’s history and what’s likely to happen with Rep. Brod, I’ll be surprised if things don’t improve for students and their parents. If that’s what happens, then Main Street Minnesota will be happy.

To those fighting for tradition, I’ll just say this: It’s about the accomplishments, stupid.

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If there’s anything more pathetic than liberals after not getting their way, it’s watching unions after they didn’t get their way. Late this afternoon, that’s what happened. A joint session of the House and Senate picked Rep. Laura Brod rather than AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Steven Hunter.

Predictably, the AFL-CIO issued a statement whining about how working families wouldn’t be represented on the U of M Board of Regents. Here’s the text of their statement:

Leaders of the Minnesota AFL-CIO sharply criticized the Minnesota Legislature’s decision to keep a labor representative off the University of Minnesota Board of Regents. This decision breaks with decades of tradition of giving labor a voice on the University’s governing board.

“The campuses of the University of Minnesota play a key role in educating our state’s workforce and driving business innovation,” said Minnesota AFL-CIO President Shar Knutson. “It’s just plain wrong that working Minnesotans will no longer have a say in how the University is run.”

Current Minnesota AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Steve Hunter has served as an at-large Regent since his bipartisan appointment in 2005.

Previous union leaders on the board have included Minnesota AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer George Lawson, 1933-1959; Minnesota AFL-CIO Executive Vice-President Robert Hess, 1959 – 1967; Minnesota AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Neil Sherburne, 1969-1981; Minnesota AFL-CIO President David Roe, 1981-1993; and Minnesota AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Bill Peterson, who served from 1993 until his death in 2000.

Today, the GOP-controlled legislature voted to replace Hunter with former Republican Legislator Laura Brod. They also appointed former Republican House Speaker and Pawlenty administration official Steve Sviggum to the board.

“Republican leaders have decided to take the partisan low road and reward their political allies,” added Knutson. “The University of Minnesota Board of Regents governs a statewide campus system and should be representative of all who make our state work.”

My initial reaction to this is that the AFL-CIO are a bunch of spoiled brats. The AFL-CIO’s statement is devoid of logic, essentially saying that they should have a spot on the U of M Board of Regents grandfathered in for them.

It’s also insulting that they’d say only unions can represent ‘working families’. (BTW, the term working families has been used instead of union households since the Clinton administration.) I wrote earlier that the U of M Board had let Minnesota’s families and students down. What type of representation did unions provide during that period?

If they won’t be part of setting intelligent policies, they don’t deserve a spot on the board. They shouldn’t be guaranteed anything if they aren’t part of the solution.

I’ve known Rep. Brod for 5 years. If anything can be said about her, it’s that she’s a tireless worker, a reformer and a true problem solver. Simply put, she’s overqualified for the responsibilities she’s about to be handed.

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When I read this post on MPP, it was difficult for me to not laugh. Here’s the part of MPP’s post that was the source of my laughter:

In recent years, the spiraling cost of tuition has caused concern that the University is no longer fulfilling its mission as a land-grant institution to make higher education available to all residents. Working people need an advocate on the Board of Regents now more than ever. More importantly, they’re entitled to one.

I just perused the U of M Charter, especially pertaining to Regents. There’s nothing in their charter that demands a union representative sit on the board. MPP’s whining in the perfect illustration of their thinking.

What qualifications does a union member bring to the equation that other people can’t bring to the Regents?

The DFL’s sense of entitlement is telling in that they’re indicating that substantive qualifications don’t matter, that identity politics is substantially more important.

That’s nonsense.

This morning, I got a notice that the MNCRs will be holding a rally at the Capitol tomorrow. Here’s the text of their statement:

COLLEGE REPUBLICANS RALLY TO RESTORE AFFORDABILITY AND FISCAL SANITY
College Republicans from across the state will join Minnesota Student Association representatives from the Twin Cities, Morris, and Duluth at a rally at the Minnesota State Capitol to support affordable tuition, and more importantly, fiscal sanity at the University of Minnesota.

“We are concerned about the lack of fiscal responsibility being shown by the University Administration, and the legislature must send a message to President-designate Kaler that the University must not balance their budget on the backs of students, blaming only the Minnesota Legislature,” said Tyler Verry, chair of the Minnesota College Republicans.

Citing ever-increasing administrative costs, specifically a study showing 30% increases from 2003-2007 alone at University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Duluth, and Morris, the College Republicans reject the notion that former Governor Tim Pawlenty and the now Republican controlled legislature is at all to blame for the soaring cost of tuition. Administrative increases drastically outpaced the increases in instructional spending during the same time period. The College Republicans believe the University chose to ignore the economic realities of the past several years and increase spending without regard to the fiscal climate in the state.

“Keith Ellison and other DFL legislators and activists will undoubtedly try to blame Minnesota Republicans for the tuition increases,” Verry said, “but the fact remains that administrators across the Minnesota system have exercised zero semblance of fiscal responsibility and continue to pad their paychecks and create more bureaucracy that fails to help educate students. They pay for these spending increases by raising tuition. Cutting spending and slashing unnecessary administrative jobs will allow the University to save money, streamline their operations and keep tuition at its current level.”

The press is invited to cover the protest.

The Board of regents sets policy for the U, including tuition policy and expansion policy. In that respect, they’ve failed students and families because they’ve let tuition costs spiral out of control.

Rather than trusting in an entitlement-based Board of Regents, I’d recommend that qualified people who care about families and students first be impaneled. This bunch certainly doesn’t qualify as caring about families and students first.

Why hasn’t the current Board of Regents, especially with the union member supposedly looking out for the little guy, kept tuitions under control? Is MPP’s assertion more about perception than reality? It appears that way, doesn’t it?

One thing that’s certain is that new blood is needed on the Board. Laura Brod is a fiscal hawk and a reform-minded person. If she’s on the board, she’ll do everything physically possible to insure fiscal responsibility by an out-of-control institution. The policy debates will be exceptionally lively, too.

Laura’s fiscal sanity message and her insistance that costs be kept under control will endear her to Minnesota’s families and U of M’s students.

That’s who the Board really works for, isn’t it?

UPDATE: Andrew Wagner of the MNCRs just emailed to correct me on what I posted. Here’s the text of Andrew’s email:

The event itself is being put on by the Minnesota Student Association as the “Rally to Restore Affordability”, not by the MNCRs.

Thanks for that information, Andrew.

I strongly recommend that anyone living in the Twin Cities to attend the event.

UPDATE II: This needs to be exposed, too:

Candidates for the Board of Regents are recommended to the legislature by a joint meeting of the House and Senate higher education committees. The selection of the Board of Regents has been largely bipartisan….until this year.

In 2007, Gov. Pawlenty recommended 4 people for regent positions. The DFL legislature rejected 3 of Gov. Pawlenty’s 4 recommendations. That was the last year in which the governor recommended regents. Shame on MPP for their slight of hand deception. Their statement should say “The Board of Regents has been largely bipartisan…except when it hasn’t been.”

That the DFL would try floating that lie is disgusting enough. That their media parrots would accept it as Gospel fact says everything about their media enablers’ character.

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The first thing I have to say is that I felt sorry for panelist Laura Brod. She battled Dee Long and Ember Reichgott-Junge the entire segment over the budget. Unfortunately, Long and Reichgott-Junge relied too much on their talking points to learn anything from Rep. Brod.

First things first: If there’s anything I learned over the years about Rep. Brod, it’s that she knows policy and budgeting better than almost anyone in the legislature. With things settled that Rep. Brod is a budget expert, the other thing that’s emerging is the DFL’s chanting points.

They’re talking about how the Republicans’ budget might force granny out of the nursing home and kick poor people off health care. That’s a stupid tactic considering the fact that Gov. Dayton’s budget calls for a) dropping 7,200 people from MinnesotaCare, b) reducing reimbursement rates to long-term care facilities by 4.5% and c) reducing reimbursement rates to nursing homes by 2 percent.

The DFL has started a whispering campaign. The DFL’s whispering campaign hints that the GOP might do things that are in Gov. Dayton’s budget. Meanwhile they’re acting that the DFL wouldn’t consider doing the things they’re planning on doing. Shame on the DFL. That’s worse than despicable.

Long and Reichgott-Junge insist that living within the state’s means, where families and job providers come first, will drive up property taxes. It’s apparent that they’re like the rest of the DFL in thinking that local officials, like county commissioners and city council members, can set intelligent spending priorities while finding better ways of delivering important services.

Granted, some things can’t be altered. A police chief’s salary is the police chief’s salary. That said, just because some budget items won’t change doesn’t mean that there aren’t other places where savings might be realized.

Gov. Dayton, Long and Reichgott-Junge shouldn’t treat local officials like they’re potted plants, though it’s tempting when dealing with mayors like St. Paul’s Chris Coleman and Minneapolis’ R.T. Rybak.

Long and Reichgott-Junge couldn’t have watched Amy Koch’s interview on WCCO last Sunday. Had they paid attention, they would’ve known that GOP legislators plan on working with local officials in reducing the number of unfunded mandates that local officials have to deal with at budget time.

While that won’t replace LGA, it’ll certainly give mayors like St. Cloud’s Dave Kleis additional flexibility.

During their flyaround, Sen. Koch spoke about the possibility of changing the entire LGA system, letting cities keep the sales taxes they collect rather than sending the money to St. Paul, then hoping that they get the money back.

The point is that, with the GOP now controlling both houses of the legislature, reform ideas are getting presented in unprecedented numbers. The reason that’s important in this context is because Reichgott-Junge and Long served during a time when reforms were the exception.

Because I’ve watched her so many times, it’s difficult for me to think of Reichgott-Junge as a change agent. It’s easy to think of her as the picture of the status quo.

The other highlight of the show was a debate between EdMinn’s Tom Dooher and House Education Committee Chairman Pat Garofalo about alternative licensure. One thing Dooher said that caught my attention was that “math teachers teachers should teach math”.

That seems pretty reasonable until you realize how often schools hire chemistry teachers to teach physics or biology teachers to teach earth science. They often are forced to do that because of teacher shortages.

Alternative licensure might be a useful tool in alleviating teacher shortages, which would certainly shrink class sizes while providing welcome expertise on important job skills.

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