Archive for the ‘Fiscal Restraint’ Category

Nancy Gohman has been my city council member since 2010. This week, she resigned from the City Council to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. That was proof of what I’ve known all along about Nancy Gohman. It’s proof she’s a person of impeccable character and sound judgment.

It’s important that people understand the real reason why she resigned. Here’s what the SC Times article said:

Gohman resigned from the council Monday, citing concerns about perceived conflict of interest. On Monday the council awarded her husband’s company a construction manager contract for the community and aquatics center.

There never was a conflict of interest in my mind. The bid for the community and aquatics center was totally independent of the City Council in the sense that they were obligated to award the bid to the lowest bidder.

The bid was verifiable and quantifiable. The measurements were objective, not subjective. If you didn’t have the lowest bid, you didn’t get the contract. It’s pretty straightforward.

As for her running again, that’s straightforward, too. Monday’s resignation came too late to take her name off the ballot. In fact, absentee ballots have already been cast. It’s impossible to unring that bell.

The other reason why I’ll vote for her again is because she’s a principled public servant who takes her responsibilities seriously. Nancy Gohman is a public servant.

Sonja Berg is someone who just won’t go away. She should’ve retired a decade ago. She’s St. Cloud’s version of Phyllis Kahn, only worse. (That’s a frightening thought, isn’t it?)

Tom Hauser’s Truth Test of Gov. Dayton’s ad might’ve gotten an A in accuracy if he hadn’t tried marketing himself as a tax cutter:

NARRATOR: Cut taxes while increasing our rainy day fund and investing in education.
HAUSER: It’s true that Gov. Dayton increased the rainy day fund and invested more in education but it’s false to say that Dayton cut taxes, so false that it nearly overwhelms everything else that’s true in this ad. In fact, Dayton and the DFL legislature raised taxes by $2,000,000,000 in the 2013 session. In 2014, they cut taxes $508,000,000, partially by repealing taxes that they’d increased the year before. So over those 2 years, there’s a net tax increase of $1,500,000,000.

Later in the segment, Hauser said that “He admits it. He ran for governor by promising he’d raise taxes.” I’ll repeat what I’ve said previously. Repealing taxes that you just raised and/or created isn’t a tax cut. It’s a reduction in the size of the tax increase.

Gov. Dayton’s first instinct, which is shared by House and Senate DFL leadership, is to propose raising taxes first, then submitting a mulligan budget later when political pressure mounts:

In 2011, Gov. Dayton proposed massive tax increases, including a top income tax bracket of 10.95% and a 3% surcharge for people making $1,000,000 or more. When the deficit forecast was revised down from $6,200,000,000 to $5,030,000,000, Gov. Dayton immediately dropped the income tax surcharge. Eventually, the GOP majority forced him to drop his tax increases.

Raising taxes won’t be Jeff Johnson’s first instinct. He’ll ride herd on bureaucrats that don’t have the taxpayers’ best interests at heart because that’s who he is:

The difference between Jeff Johnson and Gov. Dayton is stunning. Gov. Dayton starts with the assumption that every state agency should have its budget increased. Jeff Johnson doesn’t start with the assumption that agencies’ budgets should be automatically increased.

Jeff Johnson has a lengthy history as Hennepin County Commissioner of highlighting government spending money foolishly. He’ll continue that habit as governor.

Minnesota families don’t need a governor who raises taxes first, spends money foolishly second, then tells them that he’s cut taxes on the campaign trail. Minnesota families deserve a governor who’s proven that he’ll be the taxpayers’ watchdog.

Jeff Johnson is the only gubernatorial candidate who fits that last description.

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The Strib’s article about a nonprofit’s reckless spending is worthy of multiple posts because this isn’t the first time the NPO has gotten caught:

This is not the first time that an audit has found issues with Community Action’s spending. A 2012 audit by the state’s legislative auditor singled out $1.35 million given to households that were not eligible for emergency benefits. Community Action paid a $100,000 fine to the federal government.

You’d think that the Dayton administration would pay additional attention to this NPO after they were fined for misappropriation of funds. It’s pretty apparent that the Dayton administration didn’t pay the requisite attention to this NPO. Unfortunately, that isn’t surprising. This administration is the Asleep-at-the-Switch administration when it comes to tracking the details.

Gov. Dayton has a substantial history of not knowing important things. He didn’t know that the tax bill he personally negotiated included a sales tax on farm equipment repairs. He didn’t find that out until right before talking at FarmFest. He didn’t know that the Vikings stadium bill that he personally negotiated included a provision that allows the Vikings to sell personal seat licenses, aka PSLs, to season ticket holders.

Gov. Dayton is taking credit for lots of things that aren’t accomplishments, starting with the low unemployment rate. It isn’t that high unemployment is a positive thing. It’s that far too many people in those jobs reports have part-time jobs or are working in jobs that they’re overqualified for. The headline is nice but families need sustained economic growth that produces full-time jobs with good pay, not headlines.

No matter how much concern the DFL, starting with Gov. Dayton, express about Community Action’s mismanagement and the betrayal of the public’s trust, the DFL, starting with Gov. Dayton, can’t hide the fact that they aren’t interested in being watchdogs of the taxpayers’ money.

The inescapable truth is that government has tons of slop in it that the DFL hasn’t paid attention to. The inescapable truth is that Minnesota’s unemployment rate is the only positive in an otherwise mediocre economy.

Gov. Dayton and the DFL haven’t grown the economy. Gov. Dayton and the DFL haven’t paid enough attention to whether the taxpayers’ money is spent wisely or foolishly. Finally, they’ve supported a fatally flawed health insurance system.

In 2012, the board also approved a $17,624 bonus to Davis, three times the amount allowed by state guidelines, according to the audit. Davis made $273,060 in salary, bonuses and deferred compensation in 2011, according to the most recent tax records.

It’s time we hired a governor with a lengthy history of highlighting, then eliminating, foolish and disrespectful spending. That’s Jeff Johnson’s history, not Gov. Dayton’s.

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While reading the Strib’s article on Jeff Johnson’s primary victory, I came across this bit of information about Gov. Dayton’s campaign:

Dayton’s campaign says it will hit three main themes come Sept. 1: strengthening the middle class, improving education and making government more efficient.

There’s no question that Gov. Dayton and the DFL legislature spent tons of money on education. Education questions arise, though, when you start asking whether we’re getting our money’s worth. Appeasing Education Minnesota isn’t the same as improving education.

In 2011, Gov. Dayton signed a Republican reform that teachers pass a basic skills test. In 2013, Gov. Dayton signed the repeal of that reform because too many teachers failed the test, then got waivers from the Department of Education that let them continue teaching.

Let’s see how Gov. Dayton defends that.

As for strengthening the middle class, I’d simply ask whether families in Hibbing, Chisholm, Eveleth and Virginia are better off now than they were 4 years ago. The answer is an emphatic ‘Hell no.’ In fact, those cities have some haves and tons of have nots.

Finally, on whether Gov. Dayton has made “government more efficient”, eliminating a few archaic laws doesn’t make government more efficient. Spending $90,000,000 on an office building to house part-time legislators definitely isn’t making government efficient. Spending $200,000,000 on a health insurance exchange website didn’t make government more efficient. Those projects could’ve been used to fix roads and bridges.

Q: What has Gov. Dayton done to fight for high-paying mining jobs in northeastern and southeastern Minnesota? A: He’s said that Republican gubernatorial candidate were “highly irresponsible” for promising to open PolyMet. He thought about imposing a total moratorium on frack-sand mining, too.

Minnesotans need to learn that Gov. Dayton doesn’t know what’s in the bills he’s signed. Gov. Dayton claims he didn’t know that the Vikings stadium bill had a provision in it that allows the Vikings to sell personal seat licenses, aka PSLs, on season tickets. Gov. Dayton supposedly didn’t know that the tax bill he negotiated included a sales tax on farm equipment repairs.

Gov. Dayton supposedly didn’t know that the Senate Office Building was in the tax bill that he signed. At least, that’s what he said.

At what point should we aay that our CEO should know what’s in the bills he’s signing? At what point do people say we can’t afford 4 more years of reckless DFL spending? I hope it’s soon.

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Tomorrow morning, I’ll enthusiastically cast my primary vote for Jeff Johnson. The reasons I’ll cast my vote for Jeff are similar to why I’ll vote for Tom Emmer.

Though he hasn’t published a post to the Hennepin County Taxpayers Watchdog blog in over a year, it’s clear that Jeff Johnson isn’t afraid to highlight wasteful government spending. The fact that he’s willing to do that in the Twin Cities shows that, if he’s elected governor this November, he won’t hesitate in calling out Tom Bakk’s pork. He certainly won’t hesitate in line-item vetoing things that, had they happened while he was commissioner, would’ve earned the Golden Hydrant award.

Things like spending $500,000 on 10 artistic drinking fountains would’ve won the Golden Hydrant Award.

Simply put, Jeff’s a proven watchdog of the taxpayers’ money. The DFL legislature and Gov. Dayton trampled taxpayers the last 2 years. They spent money on things drunken sailors would’ve been ashamed of.

On that note, Jeff Johnson held a special event last week at the site of Gov. Dayton’s and the DFL legislature’s biggest pork project. Last week, Jeff held a mock groundbreaking ceremony for Sen. Bakk’s Senate Legislative Office Building, aka the SLOB.

That’s a $90,000,000 monument to the DFL’s disdain for the taxpayers. After the event, the Dayton administration and the DFL legislators who voted for that ‘monument’ issued a statement saying that they didn’t hold a groundbreaking ceremony because there’s a tight schedule to get the thing built. That’s BS.

Gov. Dayton didn’t hold a ground-breaking ceremony because he didn’t want that to be turned into an ad against him this election cycle. (You know something’s terrible when even Gov. Dayton thinks it’s excessive.)

I’m voting for Jeff Johnson because Jeff will be a reform-minded governor. That’s what’s required of Minnesota’s government at this critical point in our history.

I’ll also be voting against Marty Seifert. I’m voting against him because of the stunt he tried pulling at the GOP State Convention in Rochester.

Dave Thompson spoke at the podium and withdrew from the race, telling his delegates to support Jeff Johnson. When Mr. Seifert asked to address the delegates, it was understood that it would be to withdraw his name from the endorsement fight. Instead, he instructed his delegates that they could leave.

With that decision, Seifert alienated 2,000 delegates and alternates in a single action. Now he’s saying that he’s the right candidate to unite the party. What a joke. I suppose he’d unite people in opposing him. I’m fairly certain that isn’t the type of unification he’s talking about, though.

The bottom line is this: I have lots of reasons to enthusiastically pull the trigger for Jeff Johnson. He’ll be a great governor.

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Contrary to what this SC Times editorial says, St. Cloud legislators should vote against the DFL’s pork-filled bonding bill. When you factor this information into the equation, it’s the right thing to do:

Not quite so clear-cut are a mix of additional projects statewide proposed to be paid for with cash lawmakers want to pull from the state’s projected budget surplus.

Unlike the bonding bill, any negotiated bonding deal using this money requires majority votes only, meaning the DFL controls the outcome.

Dayton’s surplus-funded list totals about $126 million. The Senate plan pushes $200 million. And the House plan sits at $125 million, although House DFL leaders have talked of increasing that amount.

If the DFL insists on spending $200,000,000 of one-time surplus money in addition to the $850,000,000 bonding bill, then Republicans should vote no without hesitating. If the DFL wants to be that fiscally reckless, let them explain their actions. Republicans shouldn’t provide political cover for DFL legislators.

The Senate plan provides $11 million for a parking ramp near the center. Plans released earlier from the House and Gov. Mark Dayton both provided $11.56 million, which equates to full funding for the ramp. Obviously, full funding is preferred. Regardless, inclusion in all three plans is the best sign yet that the state will finally contribute to this vital regional project.

There’s no question that the St. Cloud business community and St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis want this project. Similarly, there’s no question whether the DFL’s additional nonbonding spending is a deal breaker, especially in light of the fact that none of the bonding bills includes much money for filling Minnesota’s potholes or fixing Minnesota’s bridges.

A bonding bill that prioritized fixing Minnesota’s potholes and bridges would be a worthwhile investment. It’s impossible to sell Minnesotans that a bill that’s mostly about funding convention centers and renovating the Ordway isn’t a Minnesota priority.

That’s why voting no on the current proposal is imperative.

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This past Friday, I received an email from the McFadden campaign in which he announced an initiative to reduce spending. Here’s the heart of that email:

There’s a culture among our nation’s professional political class that accepts the fact that our government wastes over $200 billion every year – that’s nearly one-third of last year’s deficit!

Some senators like Al Franken don’t seem to think it’s a big deal. I couldn’t disagree more.

That’s why I announced yesterday that I will release an annual report on wasteful spending as your senator. I’ll go through the budget line-by-line and expose the wasteful projects that are eating up your tax dollars and adding to our deficit. Some say this report will make Washington uncomfortable, and that’s fine with me because I want to get rid of the culture of waste in our Capitol.

I’ve written articles about Sen. Tom Coborn’s Sequester This video series. Follow this link to the first article. This link will take you to the second article. It sounds like Mr. McFadden would fit into the Coborn wing of the Senate quickly. This video explains why Mr. McFadden wants to get spending under control:

While it’s imperative that we eliminate deficits for financial reasons, it’s morally imperative to get the economy growing robustly so families don’t have to live paycheck to paycheck like they’ve been doing the last 5+ years. It’s time to reject the Obama-Franken economic policies. It’s time to embrace pro-growth economic policies that return the U.S. economy to being the envy of the world.

That won’t happen if Sen. Franken is re-elected. He’s proven that he doesn’t know how to get America’s economy growing. Mike McFadden knows how to grow the economy because that’s what he’s done the last 25 years. If you want to grow the economy, hire a businessman. Hiring a comedian to grow the economy is a joke. At least it would be if it wasn’t such a serious matter. But I digress.

The McFadden campaign is highlighting the ways in which he’ll eliminate wasteful spending and how he’ll reduce the scope of the federal government through regulatory relief.

According to the Minnesota Morning Watchdog, Tom Emmer got a shot of good news from last night’s precinct caucuses:

6th District Congress (97% Reporting):

Tom Emmer with 67.7%, Rhonda Sivarajah with 17.7%, Phil Krinkie with 10.1%

Only 4.3% of caucus voters were undecided. While this straw poll isn’t binding, it can’t be ignored. Rhonda Sivarajah can’t be happy finishing 50 points behind Emmer. Phil Krinkie can’t be happy that he finished almost 60 points behind Emmer.

I’d be surprised if CD-6 delegates will be impressed with Commissioner Sivarajah’s or Rep. Krinkie’s showing. At this point, I’d argue that both face steep uphill fights to win the endorsement. I’d also argue that the odds of Tom Emmer winning a first ballot endorsement victory seem more likely this morning than they were a week ago.

In other straw poll news, Marty Seifert, Jeff Johnson and Dave Thompson appear to be heading for top 3 finishes in the gubernatorial straw poll. With 96% of precincts reporting, Seifert had 28% of the vote, followed by Dave Thompson with 26% and Jeff Johnson with 17%.

That’s got to put a smile on Sen. Thompson’s face. With a strong finish like that, Sen. Thompson can credibly tell potential contributors that his message is popular.

Marty Seifert has to be pleased, too. He can credibly tell potential contributors that he’s got the experience, organization and name recognition it’ll take to defeat Gov. Dayton.

While this wasn’t the strong showing the Johnson campaign was hoping for, Jeff Johnson must still be considered a top tier candidate. He’s got a solid fundraising team. He’s managing his resources well (he’s got the most cash-on-hand of the candidates) and he’s got a terrific record of being a fiscal conservative.

This couldn’t have been the night that Kurt Zellers was hoping for. Finishing a next-to-last 6th place with 8% can’t instill confidence in potential campaign contributors or in potential delegates.

Based on the results of last night’s U.S. Senate Straw Poll, it’s looking like it’s down to a 2-person race. With 96% of precincts reporting, Julianne Ortman led Mike McFadden by a 31%-22% margin. Finishing in third place was Undecided with 16%, followed by Jim Abeler with 15%.

With that many undecideds and soon-to-be undecided delegates, this is another race to watch.

This LTE in the St. Cloud Times insists that we aren’t a deadbeat nation:

There should never be any bargaining about raising the debt ceiling. We are not a deadbeat nation.

KrisAnne Hall has a different perspective:

On Friday, President Barack Obama told workers at a Ford plant in Liberty, Missouri, “if we don’t raise the debt ceiling, we’re deadbeats.” This is a prime example of “fundamentally transforming” America. This is part of the strategy that leftists use, change the definition of words, seize the vocabulary. Obama wants you to believe that racking up bills that you can’t pay for in the first place, and then borrowing money to pay those bills, and then passing on that debt to your children is the responsible thing. It used to be that people understood that if you robbed from your children you were, fundamentally, a deadbeat.

To Ms. Maizan’s point that we aren’t a deadbeat nation, I’d simply argue that a government that spends money it doesn’t have on things it doesn’t need is the quintessential deadbeat nation. Glenn Reynolds’ column provides a fantastic solution:

With these lessons learned, here’s my budget proposal: An across-the-board cut of 5% in every government department’s budget line. (You can’t convince me — and you’ll certainly have a hard time convincing voters — that there’s not 5% waste to be found in any government program.) Then a five-year freeze at that level. Likewise, a one-year moratorium on new regulations, followed by strict limits on new regulatory action: Perhaps a rule that all new business regulations won’t have the force of law until approved by Congress.

Earlier in his column, Professor Reynolds stated something elementary:

As economist Herbert Stein once observed, something that can’t go on forever, won’t. And this can’t go on forever.

Anyone that thinks federal spending can be sustained is foolish. By this definition, Ms. Maizan is foolish. Taxing the rich more to pay for irresponsible spending won’t fix anything. In fact, I’d argue that raising taxes without questioning what politicians are spending money on is the political equivalent of a junkie scoring a fix for his addiction.

Professor Reynolds makes a string of fantastic points on the shutdown. Here’s my favorite:

The big lesson of the shutdown is that, in a time when so-called “draconian cuts” usually refer to mere decreases in the rate of growth of spending on programs, America was able to do without all the “non-essential” government workers just fine. (The same AP poll cited above says that 80% have felt no impact from the shutdown; a majority also oppose increasing the debt limit.) Turns out that most of those nonessential workers really are non-essential. And it’s a safe bet that some of those who stayed on the job, like the National Park Service people who chased veterans away from an open-air memorial, could be done without, too, in a pinch. Under the shutdown, new regulations also slowed to a trickle, suggesting that we can do just fine without those, too.

Let’s not forget this point. If President Obama hadn’t implemented his World War II Memorial strategy, taxpayers wouldn’t have noticed that government is shut down.

I agree with Reynolds and KrisAnne Hall. It’s time to stop spending like a deadbeat. It’s time to say NO MORE!!! This administration’s reckless spending isn’t sustainable. If it can’t be sustained, it won’t continue. This nation can’t afford 3 more years of President Obama playing the role of deadbeat politician.

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To: SCSU Faculty
From: Gary Gross, citizen journalist
Subject: SCSU’s financial mismanagement

Since last spring and throughout the summer, I’ve written about the financial mismanagement issues afflicting SCSU. I’ve been blessed by Silence Dogood’s insights and information throughout. Silence’s information is irrefutable.

Still, administrators and a few members of the faculty have taken cheapshots at me. They’ve insisted that I’m “an archconservative who doesn’t have the University’s best interests at heart.” They couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve lived in St. Cloud all my life. I want St. Cloud State to succeed because a thriving St. Cloud State contributes to St. Cloud’s economy.

It’s just that I can’t sit back and watch while President Potter decimate SCSU with one shoddy financial decision after another. Thanks to contracts he’s signed, St. Cloud State’s checkbook is lighter by almost $1,600,000 this year. It might be more but I’m certain of those outlays.

St. Cloud State is spending $240,000 this year for police protection, protection that the City of St. Cloud is obligated to pay for. An additional $1,200,000 left St. Cloud State’s checkbook thanks to Coborn’s Plaza being significantly underpopulated. Coborn’s Plaza lightened St. Cloud State’s checkbook by $2,250,000 the first 2 years in addition to this year’s $1,200,000. That’s before subtracting $150,000 for the Confucius Institute.

It’s important to ask the question whether the University would be better off with the money in department budgets or in these initiatives. I suspect they’d be better off if President Potter hadn’t misspent the money on these initiatives. I’m confident you’ll agree.

Silence Dogood wrote powerfully about the impact declining tuition revenue will have on the University’s budget. Then Silence talked about the impending budget cuts:

At the most recent Meet and Confer on September 5, 2013, the administration presented a document that indicates that there is a need to cut the budget to cover the lost tuition dollars from the administration’s now predicted 5% drop in enrollment. The total amount to be cut is $2,861,117.

Then Silence added this:

According to the September 19, 2013 email sent by Provost Malhotra, “We are taking the necessary steps to adjust our current FY14 budget for the additional 1.0% enrollment shift, which equals about $620,000.

It’s time to ask yourself some questions, starting with whether an additional enrollment drop should be called an “enrollment shift.” That’s outright spin. It isn’t a shift. It’s a drop. Second, it’s important to ask whether this administration has been honest with you. I’d submit it hasn’t. Third, it’s important to question whether the administration’s decisions have led to a healthier St. Cloud State or whether they’ve contributed to a crumbling institution. I’d submit they’ve contributed to the latter.

The decision is your’s. Do you think this leadership team will right the ship? If you answered no, then it’s time to be part of the solution instead of being an enabler. It’s that simple.

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