Archive for the ‘Transportation’ Category
When I wrote this post about St. Cloud getting daily air service, I intentionally highlighted the fact that this is a one-year agreement, that fares aren’t exactly cheap and that profitability is more than a bit questionable at this point. A year from now, we’ll have a better picture of whether the air service is profitable. We’ll know that because we’ll have hard numbers to crunch.
As informational as the Times article was, they didn’t talk about other air carriers undercutting SkyWest’s prices and they certainly didn’t talk about workforce issues. I just googled pilot shortages. According to Google, there are over 19,000,000 articles on the subject. Workforce issues are dragging the airline industry down. This WSJ article highlights the how severe the pilot shortage is:
A decade of restructuring in the U.S. airline industry has produced a sharp reduction in air service that is curtailing traveler choice and some local economies even as it improves the industry’s health, new research shows.
The study, by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, shows that from 2007 through last year, U.S. airlines cut the number of scheduled domestic flights by 14%. The number of seats offered fell by slightly less, as airlines pushed passengers onto bigger planes, says the study, which was prepared by MIT’s International Center for Air Transportation and is expected to be made public Wednesday.
If airlines are cutting flights to Memphis and Pittsburgh, cities that have large customer bases, shouldn’t St. Cloud wondering if they’re being unrealistic? I’m an optimist but I can’t ignore the fact that the supply of qualified pilots is deteriorating rapidly. Wishing and hoping is nice for birthdays and Christmas but it isn’t the way to set public policy. Public policy should be put together by crunching numbers and fitting policies with reality.
At this point, what’s needed is a discussion about increasing the number of pilots and other airline support personnel. That necessarily means talking with President Potter and Chancellor Rosenstone about the foolishness of shutting the SCSU aviation program. That means talking with Chancellor Rosenstone and SCTCC President Helens about starting a program that trains air maintenance personnel. (Pilots aren’t the only things that airlines are in short supply of.)
While it’ll take time to start graduating pilots from schools, the reality is that we’ll be in worse shape 5 years from now if nothing is done. That isn’t wise. As the supply of pilots deteriorates, we should understand that airlines will staff flights from places like Memphis and Pittsburgh first while pilots flying for regional airlines will be cut.
President Potter made a major mistake in shutting the aviation program. Unfortunately, he won’t admit what’s obvious. Chancellor Rosenstone hasn’t shown leadership in this matter, either. A leader would’ve told President Potter that he made a mistake and that it’s time to correct that mistake.
If society wants fewer flights staffed with fewer experienced pilots, we’re on the right path. If society doesn’t want that, then it’s time that leaders to step forward and correct this mistake. That means local politicians and state legislators pressuring people like President Potter and Chancellor Rosenstone.
It’s time for Mayor Kleis to step up and put pressure on President Potter. Scheduled air service to Chicago depends on the availability of flight crews and flight maintenance people.
It’s that simple.
This St. Cloud Times article trumpets the return of regional air service to the St. Cloud Regional Airport. While this is a worthwhile accomplishment, it comes with some worries. First, let’s learn what St. Cloud is ‘getting’:
How much are tickets, when are the flights and how do you book them?
The initial flights cost $206 round-trip, according to www.united.com. You can also find a reservation link at www.skywest.com. There will be two flights from O’Hare to St. Cloud on May 6 and one flight from St. Cloud to O’Hare. That’s because the plane will originate from Chicago the first day but thereafter will sit overnight at the St. Cloud Regional Airport. Beginning May 7, typical departure times from St. Cloud will be 6:30 a.m. and 1:54 p.m. Those flights are scheduled to arrive at O’Hare at 7:56 a.m. and 3:20 p.m., respectively. Typical departures from Chicago will be at 11:55 a.m. and 8:30 p.m., with arrivals in St. Cloud at 1:22 p.m. and 9:57 p.m. United is in the process of making a limited-time offer for a loyalty program status match to get frequent fliers to switch from other carriers.
How big are the planes?
The CRJ 200s are 88 feet long, 21 feet high and have a wingspan of 70 feet. They can fly to a height of 41,000 feet and cruise at 488 mph. They carry two flight crew members, one flight attendant and 50 passengers in rows of two on each side of the cabin, which is 8-feet-5-inches wide and 6-feet-1-inch tall.
It’s a good thing these jets are only flying to Chicago. They’d be torture for tall people if it were a longer flight. Now let’s talk about important things:
What is the risk that the $1 million guarantee fund, made up mostly of a federal grant but including local public and private donations, will be used?
Studies by Forecast indicate these flights will be profitable for the air carrier with a 70 percent load factor. With an average round-trip ticket cost of about $200, that would require between 25,000 and 30,000 passengers per year to be successful. By comparison, there were 28,767 people on the Allegiant flights to Mesa in the first year of that service, which began in December 2012. That being said, Towle cautions that the airport enters the relationship with SkyWest and United Express on the understanding that it is possible the air carrier could use the guarantee.
Pat Mattson, a retired professor in St. Cloud State’s aviation program, has done some research into these figures. This figure should startle people:
Eau Claire, WI which is a similar market, has a load factor of about 42%.
While I hope SkyWest is profitable, I’m skeptical that they’ll achieve that 70% load factor. Next, these statistics should frighten people:
$206 RT is high for STC-ORD when you consider Spirit Airlines lowest fare for service MSP to ORD for $72 RT. (June 16, one day RT) STC-ORD is $266; MSP to ORD Spirit is $108.
(July 7, return July 14) STC-ORD is $326; MSP to ORD Delta is $180.
(Aug 22 return Sept 6) STC-ORD is $226 or $296; MSP to ORD Spirit is $128 and American $190.
Put succinctly, flying from St. Cloud is substantially more expensive than flying from MSP. Let’s connect the dots. SkyWest needs to hit 70% load capacity to be profitable. That will be difficult considering how expensive it is to fly from STC as opposed to flying out of MSP. Again, I wish them the best but I’m not confident in predicting success.
UPDATE: Here’s another tidbit of information worth considering:
In some of the most remote communities, such as tiny Ely, Nevada, those subsidies have paid for empty seats on flights with hardly a passenger, making EAS a prime target for those looking to eliminate waste in Washington. In Eau Claire, a city of more than 70,000 residents, the planes are more than half full, many of them business travelers, like Brady Foust.
“I fly two or three times a month. My wife flies two or three times a month,” Foust said. “There are lots and lots of business people who fly out of Eau Claire every week.”
“If you start taking away those transportation options from them, boy, those companies in a heartbeat have the ability to move and move somewhere else,” Rep. Kind said. But there still aren’t enough passengers for the airline to turn a profit.
In other words, the EAS subsidy provides Sky West their profit.
Yesterday, I wrote this post highlighting Paul Thissen’s reaction to my post about how unions didn’t build the middle class. The activists in the MOB, aka the Minnesota Organization of Bloggers, aren’t unlike NATO in that, an attack against one is an attack against all of us. When they saw that Speaker Thissen had taken issue with my post, Mitch Berg and the Lady Logician jumped into the discussion. Here’s how the Lady Logician responded to Speaker Thissen’s tweets:
You misrepresent the smaller gov’t policy stance to mean no govt & that is simply NOT what small gov’t ppl want. No one is arguing against roads & education but when govt gets in2 the minutia of telling ppl what lightbulbs 2 buy or what HEALTHCARE to buy or whether or not they can own a specific type of dog, then we are going to argue.
Here’s Mitch’s response to one of Speaker Thissen’s tweets:
The evidence is, in fact, that gov’t research *follows* corp. innovation. Ditto education. Not other way around.
Mitch wasn’t done schooling Speaker Thissen. Here’s the rest of Mitch’s tweets to Speaker Thissen:
So did gov’t build roads out of pure goodwill? Or did biz pay for them? You’re saying government is the only body that can give us clean water? Record shows that’s untrue. Most municipal water systems in the US *started* as private enterprises. Nearly a quarter still are. The “gov’t brings us all riches” argument is the black/white one. Markets, not politics, deal well with nuance. Either is “private enterprise is lost without government”. Or rather it’s a fallacious place to start the conversation. At best, it’s “assisted” by gov’t. But the idea that prosperity follows infrastructure is utterly ahistorical.
That’s a typical Mitch-slap. Spoeaker Thissen probably didn’t realize conservatives were this principled about free markets and limited government. The reality is that Speaker Thissen didn’t address why he thinks government is equipped to run a complex online health insurance business for the entire state. That’s essentially what MNsure is. (That isn’t just my opinion. It’s what Jim Nobles said on Almanac last Friday.)
Was government responding to free markets when they passed legislation that specified what types of lightbulbs could be used? Why did government inject itself into the discussion as to what dogs were legal in Minnesota? Was there an outbreak of dog violence against people? Or were they just inserting themselves into an issue because they were reacting to one of their special interest allies? I’m pretty certain it’s the latter.
Speaker Thissen’s tweet that questioned whether people could get to their jobs or companies could move their goods without public roads dovetails with President Obama’s now-infamous statement that entrepreneurs didn’t build their companies, that government did. That’s BS. Mitch is right in saying that government might assist entrepreneurs but government isn’t what makes businesses thrive.
The Anything But Affordable Care Act is a perfect example of how twisted leftist thinking is. I wrote here about how MNsure made things worse for one Minnesota family:
This Minnesota family is a young married couple with three children. Until ObamaCare and Dayton’s MNsure came along they shared the cost of their Blue Cross-Blue Shield family health insurance policy 50/50 with the father’s employer. Thanks to ObamaCare, the cost of that policy sky rocketed and is no longer affordable to the family. After endless hours of working with MNsure, here is what resulted.
Without the parent’s consent, MNsure jammed their three children onto government insurance. The children are now covered by Medicaid at no cost to the family or employer, but 100 percent cost to the taxpayers. The father had to go with a single insurance plan from his employer and purchase a separate new policy for his wife. Because of the confusion and disarray at MNsure, neither he nor his wife currently has health insurance ID cards for the insurance they have already paid for.
That’s why limited government conservatives complain about government overstepping their constitutional authority. Additionally, this shows government isn’t capable of running a business.
In other words, government should get its claws out of the things it isn’t qualified to do and focus on the things that constitutions limits it to. Limited government conservatives don’t hate government, even though that’s the propaganda that ABM and other leftist propaganda organizations spread. It’s that we understand that the best decisions for families happen at a family’s kitchen table.
It’s time Speaker Thissen figured that out.
Technorati: Paul Thissen, Nanny State, Anything But Affordable Care Act, MNsure, Transportation, Water Treatment Facilities, DFL, Limited Government Conservatism, Free Markets, Entrepreneurship, Capitalism, MNGOP
Earlier today, I wrote this post about whether unions deserve most of the credit for building America’s middle class. Apparently, the DFL is feeling more than a little defensive about what I wrote. It’s apparent because Paul Thissen, the Speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives, responded with 3 defensive-sounding tweets to my post. Here’s Speaker Thissen’s first tweet:
Do innovative cos take advantage of govt basic rsch? Do business & employees benefit from a broadly educated populace?
Here’s Speaker Thissen’s second tweet:
do workers get to jobs and companies move product without public roads? Do middle class economies exist without clean water?
Here’s Speaker Thissen’s final tweet:
your black & white, either/or world view may serve you rhetorically but no one in real world operates by it.
First, let me address the subject of whether “workers get to jobs and companies move products without public roads.” They do in Indiana. While government funds the building of highways through gas taxes in Minnesota, it’s indisputable that that’s an archaic way of funding highway maintenance. Indiana, not Minnesota, is the future of highway funding. PS- Privatization works in improving highways. Indiana’s proof of that.
Next, Speaker Thissen apparently thinks, like many leftists, that Republicans oppose all forms of government. That’s silliness. They’ve read too many of ABM’s smear campaign messages for their own good. (Then again, the DFL are puppets. ABM is their puppeteer.) Minnesota’s Constitution requires funding of public schools so there’s no question about whether taxpayers will fund government schools.
Third, isn’t it possible that Speaker Thissen is living in an either/or, black or white world? Based upon his past actions, there’s no question that Speaker Thissen thinks that the nanny state isn’t intrusive enough. He’s voted for higher taxes on the richest of the rich. He’s voted for middle class tax increases, too, as recently as last May. Those are indisputable facts. He’s voted for legislation that would prohibit people from owning certain types of dogs in Minnesota.
It isn’t that Republicans hate government. It’s that we’ve seen government expand into areas that government shouldn’t intrude into. We’ve seen the DFL elitists in the Twin Cities tell people in northern Minnesota that they don’t have the right to make a living even if they live by Minnesota’s environmental regulations. Yes, that’s what Conservation Minnesota is pushing. Here in central Minnesota, another of the DFL’s environmentalist allies, the Sierra Club, is pushing for shutting down of the Sherco power plants.
There’s no question whether Speaker Thissen will defend these special interest organizations. There’s no question because he’s defended them in the past. Considering his ambitition to succeed Gov. Dayton as governor, and his need for substantial campaign contributions from environmentalists, there’s no question Speaker Thissen will continue defending these black or white organizations.
Finally, let’s cover Speaker Thissen’s question about whether middle class economies exist without clean water. Not that we’d want this but yes, middle class economies have existed without clean water. Ohio’s and Pennsylvania’s middle class thrived with some of the nastiest water in the nation.
Like I said, however, that shouldn’t be the goal we shoot towards. The linkage between clean water and robust job creation is questionable at best. There’s no disputing whether those things can co-exist. They’re co-existing right now. What’s equally indisputable is that the DFL’s special interest allies love moving the goalposts on industries, especially the mining industry, by increasing the regulatory restrictions on Minnesota’s biggest industries.
Last year, Speaker Thissen didn’t hesitate in pushing a bill that limits silica sand mining even though it would kill Minnesota jobs. Here’s what Rep. Pat Garofalo said about the bill:
You’re gonna actually tax an industry out of existence with a tax on silica mining. I actually had a liberal activist say to me they thought that by raising taxes on silica mining, they would somehow impact the fracking in North Dakota. (Laughter in background) Spoiler alert. They’re gonna get the sand from other states. Doesn’t matter. It’s gonna have no impact whatsoever on other states’ ability to do fracking of natural gas and oil but it will kill jobs here. And it’s not business groups saying that. It’s not small businesses saying it.
We’ve heard from the local 49ers. We’ve heard from the local unions. In fact, members, this is how totally delusional this tax increase is: Mark Dayton actually labeled the House DFL silica sand tax “ridiculous.” So when a tax increase is so high that Gov. Dayton labels it ridiculous, you know you’re checked out for lunch.
Speaker Thissen, the question isn’t whether government will exist. The question is whether the DFL will continue to insist on limiting Minnesota’s economic growth through their abuse of Minnesota’s regulatory system. At this point, there’s little disputing whether the DFL will tell the environmentalists no every once in awhile. They won’t.
The only question is whether Minnesotans will reject the DFL’s vision of ever more intrusive government. Let’s hope they answer that question with an emphatic yes this November.
Technorati: Paul Thissen, Special Interests, Conservation Minnesota, Environmental Extremists, Environmental Regulations, Nanny State, DFL, Metrocrats, Transportation, K-12 Education, Public Safety, Limited Government
Yes, the title of this post uses a bit of hyperbole. Still, the case that Katherine Kersten makes in this article tells a disturbing tale:
The Met Council intends to change that in its 30-year plan for the seven-county metro area: “Thrive MSP 2040,” due out in 2014.
Some of us, of course, prefer to live in a condo above a coffee shop on a transit line. But the rest of us likely won’t enjoy lugging rock salt home on the bus, getting the kids to soccer practice on the light rail or pedaling to the dentist on our bikes. Nevertheless, the council has announced that “transit-oriented development” (TOD) will be the guiding principle for development in the metro area for the next 30 years. In its 84-page “TOD Strategic Action Plan,” released in June, it held up Portland and San Francisco as enlightened places we should emulate.
TOD will be an “enormous undertaking,” the council acknowledged. No kidding. To remake our metro area around transit, the council will do all it can to steer new jobs, homes and economic development in our region to areas within “easy walking distance” (one-half mile) of major transit stops — primarily in the urban core and inner-ring suburbs. In these favored places, tax dollars (mostly from people who live elsewhere) will be lavished on high-density housing, bike and pedestrian amenities, and subsidized retail shops.
If you think that’s hyperbole, you haven’t read this part of the TOD’s Executive Summary:
Transit-oriented development (TOD) provides the opportunity to enhance the transit investment by shaping regional development around transit. The working definition of TOD, as defined by the Metropolitan Council and partners at regional think tanks in September 2012 and February 2013, is: A moderate to higher density district/corridor located within easy walking distance of a major transit stop that typically contains a mix of uses such as housing, jobs, restaurants, shops, services and entertainment. These districts/corridors enable people of all ages, backgrounds, and incomes abundant transportation choices and the opportunity to live convenient, affordable and active lives.
In other words, the Met Council and a litany of progressive special interest organizations will do their best to establish these hubs, then, through time, force people to tolerate being told where they’ll live and how they’ll get from where the Met Council tells them to live to where the Met Council tells them to work.
There’s no denying that, theoretically, that’s efficient. Dictatorships and kingdoms are the most efficient forms of government in the history of the world. The Founding Fathers hated that type of efficiency. They established the Constitution in the way that they did to prevent autocratic boards like the Met Council from exercising this type of autocratic control over people.
The Met Council needs that type of control because their ideas run contrary to the American spirit. We love going wherever we want to go whenever we want to go there. The only way TOD becomes reality is through force. Here’s why abolishing the Met Council is imperative:
The TOD Strategic Action Plan has many parts, all emanating from the Metropolitan Council mission, goals and policies. Each component builds off the other and all lead back to the Council’s mission to “foster efficient and economic growth for a prosperous metropolitan region.”
This unaccountable council has put together a plan that forces lifestyle changes on people who are content with where they live, where they work and how they get from one to the other. That’s irrelevant to the Met Council and their progressive special interest groups allies. They know what’s best and they’ll do whatever it takes to force their vision down other people’s throats. Ms. Kersten’s article shows the foolishness of the Met Council’s vision:
The council forecasts that, by 2040, the population of Minneapolis and St. Paul will grow 24 percent and jobs there will grow a whopping 47 percent, while suburban growth on both measures will parallel each other. Such core city growth is strongly counter to historic trends both locally and nationally and seems unlikely to occur, despite TOD policies that attempt to engineer it.
The last census showed how foolish this prediction is. People voted with their mortgages to abandon the Twin Cities for the bedroom communities. They moved away from liberal mayors like R.T. Rybak and Chris Coleman. They moved away from progressive representation in DC and St. Paul. The most conservative congressional districts grew like wildfire while the most liberal districs shrunk rapidly. Thus far this census cycle, that pattern isn’t reversing.
What is TOD’s track record in Portland, the nirvana of TOD enthusiasts? Portland has poured huge sums into light rail, streetcars, and developments around transit stations. Now its streets are crumbling, and it can’t afford to repave them until at least 2017.
In other words, the Met Council’s vision is a verified failure. That figures. This part of the Executive Summary shows why TOD will be a failure:
Each strategy is ranked as high, medium or low priorities based on the impact and ease of implementation. The highest priority recommendations are collaboration strategies or relate to the creation of a TOD policy:
- Establish TOD staff capability within the Council to work with partners to deliver high-quality TOD outcomes.
- Create an internal Council TOD working group and dedicated TOD program staff to improve internal coordination and collaboration across the organizational divisions.
- Continue talking with regional partners and begin the process of creating a regional TOD Advisory Group to work with the Council on implementing the Action Plan recommendations.
Nowhere in that strategy is it mentioned that the Met Council or the TOD working group hold actual town halls to hear from businesses and other citizens. Nowhere is it mentioned that local units of government should take the lead. In fact, the only thing that’s mentioned is an unelected group of bureaucrats creating another layer of bureaucrats without the consent of the governed.
No taxation without representation and government without the consent of the governed started a revolution 200+ years ago. Under the DFL’s ‘leadership’, taxation without representation and government without the consent of the governed is apparently the norm.
Technorati: Met Council, Transit-oriented development, Thrive MSP 2040, Transit, LRT, Multi-Family Dwellings, Sustainability, Mark Dayton, DFL, No Taxation Without Representation, Revolutionary War, Founding Fathers, Individual Liberty
This St. Cloud Times article reads like a Dayton administration press release. Here’s the newsy part of the Dayton press release:
Gov. Mark Dayton’s announcement Thursday that up to $46 million will be spent as soon as summer to expand Interstate Highway 94 between Rogers and St. Michael is extremely welcome news.
As Dayton and Minnesota Department of Transportation Charlie Zelle noted in meeting with this board prior to the announcement, these bonding dollars are not just a down payment on expanding this critical corridor all the way to St. Cloud, but in providing the funding necessary to maintain and expand roads and highways statewide.
Nowhere in the Dayton press release did they talk about the Dayton administration’s disapproval for the expansion project when they attempted to thwart Michele Bachmann’s proposal:
But Minnesota Department of Transportation spokesman Kevin Gutknecht said the I-94 widening doesn’t rank high on the agency’s long-term list of priority projects. “There are projects like this all across the state — really good projects, really important projects, projects that have tremendous support like this,” he said. “It all really boils down to the funding piece.”
It’s clear that the Dayton administration is talking out of both sides of its mouth. Here’s how the Times attempts to spin this project:
The focus of Corridors of Commerce is to improve roads that are bottlenecked or considered critical to regional economic development but not funded under MnDOT’s latest “fiscally constrained” 20-year transportation plan.
That’s insulting. MnDOT’s budget isn’t “fiscally constrained.” It’s politically constrained, especially when Michele Bachmann was trying to get I-94 expanded. Back then, MnDOT said directly that I-94 expansion didn’t “rank high on the agency’s…priority projects.” Back then, MnDOT’s spokesman hinted that the expansion ranked behind “really important projects.”
Gov. Dayton’s facade is that of a nice guy. When politics are involved, he’s a sharp-elbowed ideologue. I’m betting that he’s only supporting the I-94 expansion to get support for a massive tax increase to pay for his light rail projects. Minnesotans are taxed too much already. The last thing we need is to raise taxes to support failed light rail projects.
When Steve Murphy’s Transportation Tax Bill passed in 2008, I predicted that the DFL would whine that the tax increase wasn’t enough to add lanes to roads. I also predicted that they’d be back for another massive tax increase. It took them longer than I expected but they’re back asking for another major tax increase.
Expanding I-94 is the right thing to do. That’s why Michele Bachmann fought for it. Gov. Dayton isn’t as interested in doing the right thing as he is interested in playing politics with economic growth. Gov. Dayton didn’t like the expansion until he was pressured by David Fitzsimmons, Mary Kiffmeyer and other Republicans from central Minnesota.
Minnesota needs a governor who does the right thing for the right reasons. We don’t need a governor who moistens his finger before making a policy decision.
Anyone who’s paid attention to St. Cloud’s transportation priorities list knows that getting regional air service to Chicago, IL is St. Cloud’s highest priority. The fact that the Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation, the Central Minnesota Transportation Alliance, the St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce and the APO are each working this issue is testimony to the fact that this is St. Cloud’s top transportation priority.
The only institution that isn’t helping in this process is St. Cloud State. If SCSU won’t help with workforce training, St. Cloud will face a difficult, uphill fight to get air service to St. Cloud.
Regional air service is a critical building block for Central Minnesota’s business and economic growth. That’s why securing scheduled commercial air service at the St. Cloud Regional Airport is the Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation’s first initiative, in it’s efforts to lead economic development for the benefit of the Greater St. Cloud community.
President Potter belongs to an organization that’s put a high priority on getting a regional carrier into the airport. What’s he done lately to make that a reality?
Further down the page, this bullet-pointed case for air service is made:
The City of St. Cloud, the St. Cloud Regional Airport and the Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation have made air service to Chicago O’Hare (ORD) a top priority due to the critical impact it will have on the region by:
- Providing $17+ million in economic impact annually
- Helping the greater St. Cloud community more easily connect with the global business community
- Creating a gateway to and from the region
- Attracting talented individuals and national and multinational companies
- Offering more domestic and international connections than MSP
- Decreasing auto and travel costs with less driving mileage, free parking and free Wi-Fi
- Providing convenience with local proximity, shorter lines, quick check in and accessible parking.
Finally, it’s fitting that President Potter hasn’t stepped forward on this:
We’re waiting for you. It’s time for you to get on board and partner with us today. Let’s Go.
I couldn’t agree more. It’s time for President Potter’s institution to get on board.
When Gov. Dayton visited St. Cloud Tuesday night, he said that he wouldn’t raise taxes on the middle class. That’s a verifiable lie. His budget includes increases in the metro sales tax and the cigarette tax. Both taxes are regressive taxes, meaning they’ll hit the middle class and the working poor harder than they’ll hit 1-percenters.
Appearing on Ox in the Afternoon, Sen. John Pederson said that he’s the ranking minority member on the Senate Transportation and Public Safety Committee. He’s also the ranking minority member on the Finance- Transportation and Public Safety Committee. As a member of the Senate Transportation Finance Division, he got a fiscal note on the Senate’s proposed .75% metro sales tax increase. That fiscal note said that it would raise $300,000,000 a year, all of it dedicated to metro transit projects.
That tax will hit the middle class and the working poor the hardest.
That’s before talking about Gov. Dayton’s 94-cent-per-pack cigarette tax increase, which hurts convenience store operators:
Convenience store owners challenged a cigarette tax hike proposal by Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton at a town hall meeting earlier this week, Minnesota Public Radio reports.
The retailers said that the governor’s plan to raise the cigarette tax by 94 cents a pack will send their customers to bordering North Dakota.
“When you lose those tobacco customers, those guys and gals that come in every single morning and get their coffee, their pop, they buy their gas, they buy their car washes…we’re all of a sudden looking at running our business on 75%-60% of our customer base. And that’s pretty tough to do,” said Frank Orton, owner of 15 convenience stores.
Dayton said the tax is designed to deter smoking, though he told Orton that he is willing to consider adding tobacco products to legislation that equalizes taxes for businesses located along state borders.
“If people can go across the river and buy their cigarettes in Fargo for whatever less the tax difference is it’s obviously undermining the intent of our raising the tax at all because they can just go over there and not be affected by it,” Dayton said.
Gov. Dayton is utterly clueless. People driving across the Red River to North Dakota or crossing into Wisconsin or Iowa is the totally predictable outcome to his proposal. Though this wasn’t the intent of the legislation, that’s the predictable outcome of raising taxes.
In that article, Gov. Dayton admitted that people change their behavior when taxes get raised. What’s galling about that is that he apparently thinks that businesses that can relocate to other states won’t move if he raises income taxes. According to this article, St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce President Teresa Bohnen has proof he’s wrong:
St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce President Teresa Bohen says she’s recently talked with four local companies who say they may have to transfer their investments to other states, if the Governor’s plan goes through.
That’s a polite way of saying they’ll move if their taxes get raised.
One thing that came through clearly from Tuesday’s meeting was that Gov. Dayton and his supporters think of businesses as second class citizens. That attitude was clear this week. It was clear when Gov. Dayton addressed the State Chamber of Commerce gathering in St. Paul 2 weeks ago.
That’s after they applauded Gov. Dayton for pulling his sales tax increase from his budget proposal. Gov. Dayton then went on a hissy fit tirade, saying that businesses weren’t paying their fair share, that they were essentially getting a free ride.
In addition to being dishonest, Gov. Dayton apparently isn’t the brightest bulb in the DFL chandelier. If Minnesota’s businesses start expanding in other states as a direct result of Gov. Dayton’s and the DFL’s tax policies, their move will undercut whatever growth is happening right now.
Gov. Dayton hasn’t made economic growth his highest priority. Apparently, tax fairness is Gov. Dayton’s and the DFL’s guiding principle. They apparently haven’t learned that a rising tide lifts all ships and that a growing economy benefits everyone.
That’s a sad day in Minnesota.
Most of the pundits on local TV shouldn’t be on TV. Former state senator Don Betzold is one of those pundits. While criticizing Michele Bachmann for not supporting expansion of the North Star Corridor to St. Cloud, he insisted that extending the corridor would solve I-94′s congestion problems. He hinted that expanding I-94 wasn’t a priority.
That last part parrots a line from MnDOT Spokesman Kevin Gutknecht:
But Minnesota Department of Transportation spokesman Kevin Gutknecht said the I-94 widening doesn’t rank high on the agency’s long-term list of priority projects. “There are projects like this all across the state — really good projects, really important projects, projects that have tremendous support like this,” he said. “It all really boils down to the funding piece.”
Anyone that thinks fixing I-94′s congestion problems isn’t an important problem worthy of solution isn’t qualified for a MnDOT job. Either that or he’s a political hack attempting to undercut a sitting US congressperson.
But I digress.
Betzold’s commentary suggested that expanding North Star was a solution. It isn’t. In fact, it’s a death trap that should be avoided at all costs. In addition to the construction costs, the taxpayers’ subsidies that help bring the cost to riders down total tens of millions of dollars over the next decade. Without those subsidies, the cost per rider would be wildly expensive.
Then there’s the consideration that people don’t like transit that much. The DFL frequently insists that transit is the wave of the future. It isn’t. Americans love the freedom of driving. We love being in control of our lives. That includes the ability to go where we want to go when we want to go there. Transit doesn’t give us that option.
What transit lacks in mobility, it makes up for in subsidies. We shouldn’t be in the business of subsidizing private industries. If they can’t make it without subsidies, that’s proof they aren’t viable. A key economic principle is that if something isn’t sustainable, it can’t be sustained indefinitely. I’d take that a step further. If something can’t be sustained, it’s likely heading for a quick collapse.
The only thing as painful as listening to Betzold was hearing Tom Hauser call the I-94 project an earmark. Earmarks typically are dropped into a conference committee report in the dead of night. They don’t go through the scrutiny of a committee mark-up. The I-94 project Michele Bachmann proposed went through the committee process. It was done in the light of day. Most importantly, the I-94 project isn’t pork designed mostly to prove she’s ‘bringing home the bacon.’ The I-94 project Michele proposed is actually a solution to a major problem.
Contrary to what Mssrs. Gutknecht and Betzold said, anyone who’s been trapped at the bottlenecks where I-94, 694 and 494 connect knows that that’s been a major problem for a generation. Anyone who’s tried getting on I-94 near Bass Lake Road or Highway 101 knows that those have been problem areas for a decade.
If that isn’t worthy of prioritizing, then nothing is. Mr. Hauser is usually a pretty good reporter. This time, though, he slipped.
This recent LTE is titled “We all want the same things.” It’s possible that the LTE was written by someone wanting to be polite and professional. It’s possible that it’s accurate most of the time. It’s impossible to say, though, that it’s right the vast majority of the time.
This part of the LTE shouldn’t be underexamined:
When he came into the room to speak to the Chamber of Commerce, all the members stood up and applauded. He could have owned that room if he would have said a few things: Thank you for all the jobs you provide in Minnesota; thank you for being the economic engine that drives this state; thank you for taking out time in your schedule to talk about the issues today that are important to Minnesota; and we can work together to make some difficult decisions and compromises to make Minnesota the greatest state to do business in.
It’s true that Gov. Dayton would’ve been a hero had he said those things. Likewise, it’s true that that isn’t in his, or the DFL’s, nature. Gov. Dayton and the DFL have repeatedly stated that funding K-12 and higher education was the cornerstone to a thriving economy. At other times, they’ve said that funding transportation was integral to prosperity. While it’s true that those things contribute to economic growth, there’s no question that they’re only part of the equation that delivers economic prosperity.
Based on the DFL’s actions and the actions of their political allies, the DFL apparently thinks that crippling regulations, especially on precious metals mining and frack-sand harvest, won’t hurt Minnesota’s economic growth. The frack-sand moratorium will hurt job and income growth. North Dakota has a booming need for this sand. Minnesota’s environmentalists’ response has been disdain or outrage. They want to prevent this industry from getting started.
That’s hardly the picture of “everyone wanting the same things.”
Conservation Minnesota (with special emphasis on the CON) is doing everything possible to prevent Iron Rangers from providing for their families. Though other states have proven that it’s quite possible to harvest copper, gold, nickel and other precious metals in an environmentally friendly way, Conservation Minnesota has fought hard to prevent the PolyMet and Twin Metals projects from starting.
That isn’t the picture of “everyone wanting the same things.”
I’d agree that everyone professes to wanting the same things. President Reagan was right, though, in saying you can’t love jobs but hate the employer. Though that was said 30 years ago, President Reagan’s statement accurately depicts the DFL/ABM/Mark Dayton/Paul Thissen/Tom Bakk mindset perfectly.
Gov. Dayton and other likeminded politicians think that businesses aren’t contributing “their fair share” to Minnesota’s economic health. They’ve taken the jobs these companies have created for granted. The thought of actually appreciating the benefits these companies provide Minnesota’s families and communities doesn’t cross the DFL’s mind.
The truth is that the DFL doesn’t consistently want what Minnesota wants. The DFL frequently talks about using a “balanced approach” to balancing Minnesota’s budget. That’s a nice-sounding thing but it doesn’t make sense. That implies that Minnesota’s problem is revenue-based, not spending-based.
For instance, Don Betzold was on At Issue With Tom Hauser. He was discussing Michele Bachmann’s plan to expand I-94 and Highway 10. He said “She (Bachmann) can’t have it both ways. I wish she had supported extending the North Star Corridor to St. Cloud.”
Betzold’s argument is fatally flawed, starting with the undeniable fact that all transit lines, North Star included, require massive taxpayer subsidies. Betzold also ignored the fact that, without the taxpayers’ massive annual bailout, North Star ridership wouldn’t put a significant dent in the I-94 traffic.
I’m not alone in thinking that North Star shouldn’t be extended to St. Cloud. I’m not alone in thinking that the taxpayers’ subsidies, aka the taxpayers’ annual bailout of transit, is a good investment. By definition, that means the DFL doesn’t want what Minnesotans want on this issue.
It’s time Minnesota’s taxpayers stopped pretending that the DFL pretty much wants what they want. The facts don’t bear that out.
Tags: Mark Dayton, Tax Increases, Don Betzold, North Star Corridor, Taxpayer Subsidies, Bailouts, Conservation Minnesota, Frack-Sand Moratorium, Unemployment, DFL, Michele Bachmann, Transportation, Interstate Highways, Public Safety, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, Economic Growth, MNGOP