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

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

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

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

Walz wasn’t the only spinmeister on stage:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Based on what’s in this editorial and what’s in this editorial, the DFL’s divisions might soon be front and center. Let’s start with the ‘PolyMet’ editorial:

While Duluth and other media speculated that opponents and supporters were evenly split at the five-hour public hearing that included a two-hour open house session and a three-hour comment period, the numbers just don’t add up that way.

They reported that attendance was 1,300 to 1,500. But of that number, a caravan of seven buses and a passenger van journeyed from the Range with at least 500 supporters and another 100 or more arrived in advance by cars.

Simply put, there are lots of Iron Rangers who badly want PolyMet to happen. They might not have sophisticated presentations but what they lack in sophistication, they more than make up for in passion and verifiable information.

The unified message of business and labor all across the Iron Range to Duluth and the Twin Cities delivered in a fact-based and civil manner was outstanding.

That paragraph indicates that Iron Rangers are tired of being told by elitist metro Democrats, aka Metrocrats, that they don’t have the right to earn a living. This has the potential of turning the relatively conservative, pro-Second Amendment, Range Democrats against the anti-mining Metrocrats. This indicates the hostility isn’t that far below the proverbial surface:

Yes, some opponents and preservation groups will continue their misinformation campaigns which are part of an excessive rhetoric fear campaign of damage to the environment.

The facts, however, will win out in the EIS and then permitting processes. And the preservationist fear mongers do not hold those cards.

The “preservationist fear mongers” that the editorial cites have this in common: they’re almost exclusively elitist Metrocrats. That’s a stark contrast with the blue collar Iron Rangers who supported Gov. Dayton in 2010. The ‘Lt. Gov. editorial’ offers a different perspective of the same potential problem:

The list of four is heavily female-metrocentric-weighted. The governor’s chief of staff, Tina Smith, state Sen. Katie Sieben and Kelliher, all of the Twin Cities area, are strongly suggested.

The other person that’s supposedly on Gov. Dayton’s short list is IRRRB Commissioner Tony Sertich. I haven’t confirmed whether Sertich is actually on Gov. Dayton’s short of if he’s more of a ‘wishful thinking’ candidate. Still, the risks are high for Gov. Dayton. If he picks a Metrocrat, he risks alienating Iron Rangers. If Gov. Dayton picks Sertich, he’s essentially snubbing the check-writing, anti-mining Metrocrats from the Twin Cities.

The other name I’ve heard floated is former Sen. Tarryl Clark, aka Taxin’ Tarryl Clark. With Gov. Dayton’s tax increases likely to be a major campaign issue, Taxin’ Tarryl would just add fuel to that fire. That’s before talking about her responsibilities with the Blue-Green Alliance. ‘Carpetbagger’ Tarryl didn’t win many friends when she ran for the Eighth District endorsement. DFL activists rejected her, in part because she was a carpetbagger, partially because she’s as anti-mining as the Metrocrats on that short list.

The simple truth is that Gov. Dayton will have to choose. Either Gov. Dayton sides with the elitist Metrocrats and alienates Iron Range Democrats or he sides with the more conservative Iron Democrats and alienates elitist, anti-mining Metrocrats.

There’s an old, ancient really, joke about giving a chameleon a nervous breakdown. The way to give a chameleon a nervous breakdown is to put it against a plaid background. In this situation, I’d argue that Gov. Dayton is the chameleon and the DFL is the plaid background.

Good luck with that.

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Conservatives have long known that the people in the progressive messaging machine aren’t the brightest bulbs in the political chandelier. Still, it’s difficult to think that they’d sound this foolish:

How the mighty have fallen. Paul Wellstone and Hubert Humphrey were great debaters. By comparison, Carrie Lucking, Denise Cardinal and Javier Morillo-Alicea are best known for their name-calling, not for fidelity to the truth.

Progressives are still peddling their storyline of Republicans shutting state government down. They won’t admit that Gov. Dayton shut state government down:

June 30

  • Shift school aid payments from 70/30 to 60/40 for $700 million.
  • Increase per-student aid to cover borrowing costs.
  • Issue appropriation bonds to cover the remaining gap, if any gap remains, between the Governor, Speaker and Majority Leader.
  • Add $10 million to University of Minnesota funding.
  • Restore funding for the Department of Human Rights and the Trade Office
  • Special session: lights-on thru July 11. Return to pass budget bills on July 11.

Notice that last line. The GOP and Gov. Dayton agreed to a special session to pass a lights-on funding bill that would’ve kept funding government through July 11. Further, they agreed to finish negotiations, then pass the budget bills funding government for the rest of the biennium.

Gov. Dayton initially accepted that offer, then broke his promise. Note that this was the second time Gov. Dayton reached agreement with the GOP legislature on the budget, then slithered away from their agreement at the insistence of Rep. Thissen and Sen. Bakk.

Another of this ad’s claims is that the GOP insisted on preserving tax cuts for the wealthy. Here’s another dose of reality. The tax rates haven’t changed since Jesse Ventura was governor. That means the Margaret Anderson-Kelliher-Larry Pogemiller led legislature kept the tax rates for the wealthy in place.

Another ‘accusation’ in the video is that King voted to kill Gov. Dayton’s ‘jobs bill’ that would’ve “put Minnesotans back to work.” Yesterday, I read this report from MMB concerning revenues. Here’s the key takeaway:

Net non-dedicated general fund revenues totaled $3.750 billion during the first quarter of fiscal 2013, $145 million (4.0 percent) more than projected in February. Each of the major taxes showed a positive variance for the quarter. Individual income tax receipts exceeded forecast by 2.2 percent, sales tax receipts were up 1.7 percent and corporate tax revenues were 15.3 percent more than anticipated in February.

Government revenues don’t rise when people aren’t working. The fact that non-dedicated revenues rose by 4% during Q1 indicates that jobs are being created. In fact, it suggests that lots of jobs were created under the GOP’s stewarship.

The truth is that progressives’ attacks on GOP legislators are mythical, not reality. They’ve accused GOP legislators of shutting down government. Documents prove that Gov. Dayton shut government down. Progressives accuse GOP legislators like King Banaian of voting against job creation. Official reports prove that jobs are being created at a fairly brisk pace, which is leading to increased revenues.

Progressives insisted that it wasn’t possible to balance the budget without creating one of the highest income tax rates in the nation. The GOP refused to create that highest-in-the-nation tax rate. Revenues are up 4%.

If I didn’t know better, I’d think that doing the opposite of what progressives are demanding is a pretty smart idea.

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According to Gov. Dayton’s blog, Gov. Dayton is touring the Iron Range today:

Continuing his strong commitment to job creation and economic prosperity, Governor Dayton is traveling statewide to identify opportunities and barriers to economic growth in key sectors of Minnesota’s economy. The Governor is meeting directly with business owners, workers, and local leaders to seek input on what measures should be taken in the upcoming legislative session to enhance Minnesota’s economic competitiveness, stimulate private sector job growth, and open new doors of employment opportunity for Minnesota workers.

First, if Gov. Dayton wants to create high paying mining jobs, his time would be better spent lobbying his ex-wife to call off her war against mining. She’s made it perfectly clear that she doesn’t want to see a robust mining industry in Minnesota.

The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce stated their biggest concerns for creating jobs:

  • Taxes remain a key obstacle to job creation, identified by seven out of 10 employers as one of the two most important barriers in Minnesota. The tax burden continues to grow compared with five years ago.
  • The stability and predictability of government regulations are important factors in business decisions to invest in Minnesota operations.

Gov. Dayton still wants to create a fourth income tax bracket, which would make Minnesota one of the highest income tax rates in the nation.

When it comes to the Range, nothing’s more important than regulations, both from St. Paul and from Washington, DC. Enter Gov. Dayton’s ex-wife, Alida Messinger. She sits on the board of directors for an organization called Conservation Minnesota. Here’s a glimpse at CM’s agenda

Conservation Minnesota, Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness and the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy are targeting the proposed PolyMet mine near Hoyt Lakes and the proposed Twin Metals mine near Ely.

The campaign includes the web site MiningTruth.org, a 40-page report examining mining in detail, a Facebook community, and four billboards along Interstate 35 between the Twin Cities and Duluth to reach summer travelers.

While Gov. Dayton poses for photos with DFL candidates pledging their unswerving loyalty to the mining industry, the mining industry isn’t what’s holding up high paying mining jobs. What’s standing in the way of mining jobs are DFL heavyweights like Alida Messinger, former speakers Dee Long and Margaret Anderson-Kelliher, former Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, former MPCA Commissioner Paul Aasen, and RINOs Arne Carlson, Dave Durenberger and Jim Ramstad.

Gov. Dayton’s taxation and regulatory policies create uncertain, which hinders job creation. That’s what the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce members said in their annual survey.

Rather than spending time taking photos, Gov. Dayton should spend his time figuring out how to clean up what’s wrong with St. Paul.

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When it comes to political ideology, it’s difficult picturing 2 people more opposite of each other than Chip Cravaack and Tom Rukavina. Still, they’re on the same side of the federal-state land swap that Gov. Dayton signed into law. This op-ed from State Rep. Ruckavina argues for the land swap from an Iron Range DFL perspective. Here’s the part of Rep. Ruckavina’s op-ed that deserves highlighting:

Next, let’s talk about Mr. Carron’s claim that “Ely area residents…will lose scores of thousands of acres of Superior National Forest land that are now available for hunting, snowmobiling, hiking, snowshoeing, and many other recreational pursuits.” While many of the “old immigrants” from the Ely and Tower area must be thinking that he’s talking about the original Boundary Waters Act, Mr. Carron, let me assure them that this claim about the land exchange is an absolute lie. In fact, Ely and Tower area residents will have an easier time recreating on the new state land. But that’s really why environmentalists oppose this bill— because they know it will be easier to put in a snowmobile trail or cut down a tree on state land than on federal land.

There’s a name for Iron Rangers that vote against making outdoor recreation more difficult. That term is retired. (It’s irrelevant whether it’s a voluntary or involuntary retirement. The important part is that that Ranger is history.) Rep. Rukavina didn’t stop there, though:

Mr. Carron’s letter, to put it in Range-speak, is just a bunch of BS. To imply that any member of the Iron Range delegation is supporting this legislation because we are stoolies for “multinational mining companies” is nuts. I am always going to be on the side of the miners and our mining communities, and not the big companies. But while I am no economic genius, I know that without mining and mining companies, we have no Iron Range.

That last sentence is the Rukavina equivalent of Reagan’s line that you can’t be pro jobs and anti-business.

Rukavina’s closing shows how big the difference there is between Iron Range DFLers and DFL politicians of the Twin Cities:

Here’s Mr. Rukavina’s final strong shot at the Twin Cities enviro-elitists:

Ely, Tower, Winton, Cook Grand Rapids, and the North Shore couldn’t exist without our taconite industry. And the truth is, we are currently mining in the Superior National Forest, and we haven’t harmed it, have we? Minntac, Arcelor Mittal, North Shore Mining, and Mesabi Nugget are all currently operating in the Superior National Forest and it’s their taconite taxes that keep all our communities, including Duluth, alive.

That’s gotta sting people like Alida Rockefeller-Messinger, Dee Long, Tom Horner, Jim Ramstad and Margaret Anderson-Kelliher. They, along with Arne Carlson, Dave Durenberger and Paul Aasen, are the people that should get hurt by Rep. Ruckavina’s op-ed.

I wrote here that Chip Cravaack’s legislation mirrored the bill that Gov. Dayton signed into law. In fact, Chip’s legislation includes this language:

“(7) The Legislature of the State of Minnesota, meeting in its 87th Legislative Session, passed (and on April 27, 2012, the Governor of Minnesota approved) S.F No. 1750 (Chapter 236), section 4 of which adds section 92.80 to the Minnesota Statutes to expedite the exchange of a portion of the State trust lands located within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

(b) LAND EXCHANGE REQUIRED.—The Secretary of Agriculture shall consummate a land exchange with the State of Minnesota pursuant to section 4 of S.F No. 1750 (Chapter 236) of the Legislature of the State of Minnesota (section 92.80 of the Minnesota Statutes) to acquire all right, title, and interest of the State in and to certain State trust lands identified as provided in such section in exchange for all right, title, and interest of the United States in and to National Forest System land in the State for inclusion in the State trust lands.

Tom Rukavina voted for S.F.1750. Chip Cravaack authored legislation that made S.F.1750 federal law.

The only thing stranger than those bedfellows would be seeing Sen. Franken and Sen. Klobuchar pushing Senate Majority Leader Reid to get this bill passed and to have President Obama sign it.

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This week, Gov. Dayton interviewed candidates interested in being MnSCU trustees. Among those interviewed is one pretty recognizable name: Margaret Anderson-Kelliher. Here’s the entire list:

The governor is picking six new board members, two at-large members, two students and one each from the 2nd and 6th Congressional Districts. Myres, who is from Clear Lake, lives in the 6th District.

Myres is a 1983 graduate of St. Cloud State University. He has worked at ING almost 11 years. He also serves on the Central Minnesota Community Foundation board.

The other candidates are: Sarah Caruso, John Kaul, Margaret Anderson-Keliher, Ann Anaya, Dawn Erlandson, Readus Fletcher, Dr. Wynn Kearney, Mary Hickerson, Alex Cirillo, Joseph Grafft and Janet Mohr.

The big question for the people confirmed as trustees is simple. Will they see themselves as rubberstamps to Chancellor Rosenstone and the university presidents? Will they see themselves as people holding Chancellor Rosenstone and the university presidents accountable to their students and their communities?

There’s no question that students and other taxpayers need the entire MnSCU Board of Trustees to hold administrators, including Chancellor Rosenstone, accountable.

The other key question is whether the people confirmed to represent congressional districts will actually hold townhall meetings within the district. The trustees need to know that they represent the people and the businesses of their districts, not just the university presidents and their administrators.

Minnesota taxpayers and students can’t afford for the next group of trustees to see their position to be an honorary position. If that’s what they do, then the legislature might as well blow up the entire MnSCU system.

These shouldn’t be positions for people waiting for their next political office.

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It’s a long-held belief that the DFL best represents northern Minnesota. To a degree, that’s still true, especially in the parts that environmentalists rule the roost.

Chip Cravaack’s victory proved that the door is opening for the GOP. Carolyn McElfatrick’s victory over Loren Solberg is proof that that door might be open wider than the DFL is willing to admit.

I wrote this post in the hopes of proving that the DFL isn’t supportive of the Iron Rangers. Tonight, I’m taking a different approach. Conservation Minnesota has a team of strategic advisors. Here’s who serves as strategic advisors:
Arne Carlson

Dave Durenberger

Dean Johnson

Dee Long

Jim Ramstad

Paul Aasen

Margaret Anderson-Kelliher

Tom Horner

Here’s Conservation Minnesota’s agenda:

Conservation Minnesota, Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness and the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy are targeting the proposed PolyMet mine near Hoyt Lakes and the proposed Twin Metals mine near Ely.

Outsiders to the Range are trying to tell Rangers what’s best for them. That’s insulting. The only strategic advisor that doesn’t live in the Twin Cities is Dean Johnson. The rest of them live in the Twin Cities. What do they know about the Iron Range’s needs?

Let’s compare that with the GOP. Chip Cravaack has done a terrific job staying in touch with his constituents. They appreciate the job he’s done, too, as evidenced by the fact that he’s had an army of volunteers at all of the parades on the range.

The pictures in this post say that 15 volunteers showed up at the Peter Mitchell Days Parade in Babbitt. The DFL was nowhere to be found.

Whether the Range tips to the GOP in 2012, 2014 or 2016, it will happen. The DFL’s days of Range domination are coming to a halt. Chip Cravaack’s and Carolyn McElfatrick’s victories are just the leading indicators of that shift.

The bottom line is this: The Rangers can vote for DFL candidates that align themselves with anti-mining special interest groups from the Twin Cities. Otherwise, they can vote for GOP candidates that will vote to improve the economy on the range.

That’s a pretty straightforward pick.

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Earlier this week, Gov. Dayton joined DFL lawmakers in Duluth to pretend that building a new Vikings stadium was all that was needed for a great Minnesota economy:

“Thousands of people are going to be working on that stadium, and on the transit center in Duluth. Those aren’t just words, those are real jobs,” Dayton said, referring to $6 million included in the state bonding construction bill for the $27 million downtown transit hub supporters say will link bus, taxi and train passengers with hikers and bikers.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said Republicans seemed content the past two years with passing little or no legislation to create jobs or move the state forward.

“We saved the Republicans from what would have been the largest do-nothing session in state history,” Bakk said, noting DFLers in the minority put up more votes than Republicans to get the Vikings’ stadium bill passed, 22 compared to 16 for Republicans who hold a 37-30 majority in the Senate.

Notice how the DFL was quick to tout the need to go into debt to create jobs that won’t help the Iron Range? Apparently, the Executive Council isn’t interested in creating good-paying jobs on the range. Prof. Kent Kaiser criticized the State Executive Council for not creating jobs on the Iron Range:

This month, Minnesota’s State Executive Council, which includes the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general and state auditor, voted to delay 77 leases to explore for copper and nickel on private lands in northern Minnesota.

This short-sighted action was initiated by Gov. Mark Dayton and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie. It was unfortunate for the job situation in the Northland, and I know many Minnesotans are terribly disappointed.

After all, the people of Minnesota own the rights to minerals in the state, including those under private land. Anyone from Northeastern Minnesota knows this; I remember learning this fact in elementary school.

Dayton and Ritchie said they were responding to the complaints of a handful of Isabella-area landowners who supposedly didn’t know about the state’s century-old mineral laws. Yet most of the people testifying against the leases actually live in the Twin Cities area or are only transplants to the Northland. I think most Northlanders would agree: It’s inconceivable that someone from the Twin Cities or elsewhere would buy property in Northeastern Minnesota without being astute enough to learn the laws relevant to that land. If they didn’t: well, tough.

Gov. Dayton and the other DFL politicians on the Council caved to the militant environmentalists rather than doing what’s right for the mining families that live on the Iron Range.

That’s becoming typical thinking for anti-industry progressives. Think President Obama shafting the construction unions in not approving the Keystone XL Pipeline project.

In fact, it’s becoming apparent that the GOP cares more about getting construction workers employed than does the DFL, the party that continuously talks about putting construction workers to work.

Prior to his becoming the Senate Minority Leader, I thought that Sen. Bakk was a semi-intelligent man. I even held out hope he might resemble a capitalist. Now that he’s in a position of leadership, his true colors shine through. He’s just like the other DFL politicians who think that jobs come from creating debt.

When HF1 was signed into law, it streamlined the permitting process, which made it easier to expand businesses and create jobs. Apparently, Sen. Bakk doesn’t think that making it easier to expand companies creates jobs.

When Rep. Abeler, Rep. Gottwalt and Sen. Hann reformed HHS, they shrunk the HHS per biennium spending increases from 16% to a mere 5%. That’s a per biennium savings of $1,100,000,000.

That politicians think of saving the taxpayers $1,100,000,000 per biennium as not being a major accomplishment is stunning. That the DFL didn’t figure out how to save the taxpayers $1.1 billion per biennium should be enough to seal their fate of being the minority party for the next decade.

Bakk noted that the governor was sent only 245 bills over the two years of the biennial legislative session, the fewest of any Minnesota Legislature since 1869 when lawmakers met only every other year.

“They just didn’t think anything was important. They didn’t care if they passed any bills,” Bakk said of Republicans who control the state House as well as the Senate.

The first thing that came to mind when I read that was that Sen. Bakk said he didn’t see the need for the DFL to propose a budget. Let’s remember that the DFL didn’t put a set of redistricting maps together, either.

Think about that because it’s stunning. Redistricting is a once-in-a-decade responsibility. Sen. Bakk and Rep. Thissen thought it was so unimportant that they didn’t put a set of redistricting maps together even though it’s required by law to do so.

Think about the DFL hiring some redistricting specialists at the cost of $66,000 per specialist, then not putting a set of redistricting maps together.

If that’s got you furious, think about this: One of the people that the DFL hired was Jaime Tincher. If Ms. Tincher’s name rings a bell, it’s possible you remember that she ran then-Speaker Kelliher’s gubernatorial campaign.

Not only did the DFL think putting a set of redistricting maps wasn’t important. Not only didn’t they think it was important to not piss away $188,000 of the taxpayers’ money. No, it’s that the DFL pissed away that amount of money one political cronies that didn’t do a damn thing.

And Sen. Bakk has the chutzpah to say the GOP didn’t think anything was important? Sen. Bakk is a joke. To put it politely, he’s full of the stuff that makes plants grow.

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There’s no doubt who the culprit is if there’s a state shutdown. If people think it’s anyone other than Gov. Dayton, they didn’t read this MPR article. Thanks to John Gunyou’s letter to MnDOT Commissioner Tom Sorel, we now see who’s pulling the strings:

Perhaps more importantly, the 169/Bren Road project is a locally contracted and managedproject. Unlike state highway projects, the city of Minnetonka is fully administering all phases of construction, including inspection and testing, and has already received all necessary project approvals from MnDOT. This leaves a very limited role for MnDOT during the actual construction phase, which is now well underway. In short, the Minnetonka project is not dependent on any legislative or administrative action, and is wholly independent of and unaffected by any state shutdown. Construction can clearly proceed according to the already authorized schedule and standards, whether or not MnDOT is fully or partially staffed.

After reading that paragraph, you’d think that this project shouldn’t be affected by a state government shutdown. That’s what I thought. This paragraph shows who’s sabotaging the project:

I hope you appreciate how troubling it was to be informed by your staff on June 21, just yesterday, and only a few days before scheduled demolition of the Bren Road bridge that MnDOT is unreasonably exercising a little-known clause in the state contract, and forbidding the city from using state right-of-way for this project during a state shutdown. Your staff gave no reason for why they are exercising this right. Given the limited amount of space in which contractors have to work on this project, it would be all but impossible for work to continue without utilizing the state right-of-way.

Suffice it to say that Sen. Gimse, the chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, wasn’t happy with Gov. Dayton:

Gimse says the letter is proof that MnDOT is telling contrators that they won’t have legal access to state right of way, the room they need to work, if the state shuts down.

“They have thousands and thousands of miles of road right of way across the state of Minensota,” Gimse said at a Capitol press briefing this afternoon.

“They don’t supervise every mile of that road right of way. These contractors know what they’re doing, they understand what they’re doing. It’s simply a way, I believe, for them to inflict additional pain. It makes no sense. It’s simply grass area on the sides of the road where equipment will stand, where materials will stand. And maybe a staging area.

Here’s MnDOT’s flimsy excuse for shutting the right-of-way down:

MnDOT is the legal owner of trunk highway right-of-way and is responsible for its condition. By state law, it is illegal to do work in state right-of-way unless it is authorized by the state road authority. MS 160.2715.

MnDOT inspectors insure that contractors are meeting contract specifications when constructing any type of infrastructure. Not conducting the inspections could put taxpayers at risk financially if the work needs to be done over. And, if work does not meet appropriate safety specifications, it could put the driving public at risk.

MnDOT’s explanation isn’t a serious explanation. It’s a PR dodge used to deflect criticism from Gov. Dayton. The right of way isn’t getting rebuilt. It’s merely being used as a staging area for supplies.

According to Gunyou’s letter, MnDOT isn’t responsible for this project’s inspections. MnDOT knew this because they were reacting to Gunyou’s letter to MnDOT Commissioner Sorel in which Gunyou stated that the city of Minnetonka was doing the inspecting.

Simply put, this is Gov. Dayton acting like a vindictive spoiled brat because, for the first time in his life, an adult told him he couldn’t have his way.

Pressure is mounting on Gov. Dayton. Gunyou isn’t just anybody. Last year at this time, he was Speaker Kelliher’s runing mate. That isn’t the only pressure, either. Gov. Dayton knows support is crumbling beneath his feet because MinnPost is running this article, which is critical of raising taxes.

Will Gov. Dayton back down? With the DFL starting to criticize him, there’s hope.
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The questions that the DFL haven’t answered are the most important questions in this budget fight.
The most important question, in my opinion, is whether Gov. Dayton’s proposed tax increase will actually strengthen Minnesota’s economy. I haven’t heard from anyone involved in the legislative process or in Gov. Dayton’s administration argue that raising taxes on the owners of the local pharmacy, the local grocery store, the home remodelling business or the local hardware store will strengthen Minnesota’s economy.

I’ve heard Rep. Thissen, Rep. Winkler, Sen. Bakk and Gov. Dayton complain that “the rich aren’t paying their fair share.” I’ve heard that so many times that I’ll probably grumble about Rep. Thissen’s whining when I’m in the grave.

Their argument usually consists, especially on Twitter, of ‘Republicans just voted to cut [fill in the blank] to protect the richest 2% of Minnesotans.’ Their mindset has been that Minnesotans actually think that government spending lots of money is what jumpstarts an economy.

In arguing against that philosophy, I’d just highlight the fact that President Obama adopted that strategy in February, 2009. Unemployment skyrocketted after that before settling into unacceptably high, some might say chronic, unemployment numbers.

In fact, Sen. Bakk argued against raising taxes in 2009:

Senate Taxes Committee Chairman Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said eliminating the current mortgage interest deduction could hurt Minnesota’s high rate of home ownership and higher alcohol taxes would drive some liquor shoppers across the Wisconsin border.

Now Sen. Bakk is singing the praises of Gov. Dayton’s more draconian tax increase. It wasn’t always that way. In fact, I thought Rachel Stassen-Berger might have to resort to harsh interrogation techniques to get Sen. Bakk and Rep. Thissen to talk about Gov. Dayton’s tax increases:

Question: “Do you support the tax increases in this bill?”
Thissen: “The governor is delivering on what he promised. We have always been in our DFL caucus in favor of a solution that is going to be fair…We need to look at the details of it. I think the most important thing now to look at is asking the Republicans, okay, what’s your answer.”
Question: “That didn’t answer the question…Do you support these tax increases?”
Bakk: “If you look at the tax incidence study, it will show you that more well to do Minnesotans, especially those over $500,000 in income pay a little bit over eight percent of their income in taxes and the rest of us, in the middle class and lower income Minnesotans, pay about 12.3 percent. And I think from a policy standpoint, the governor is right that everyone should be expect to pay about the same percentage of their income in state and local taxes.”

A third:

Question: “So yes or no. Do you two support the tax package in the governor’s proposal? Yes or no.”

Bakk: “Well, I certainly want to see the budget pages and I’m not going to tell you if they offer a vote on it I’m going to vote yes or no on it because we are actually having a hearing in the tax committee (to delve into the budget) either tomorrow or Thursday…After Thursday I can probably give you an answer.”

Let’s remember that the DFL initially refused to support Gov. Dayton’s budget. Half of the DFL’s leadership team admitted that raising taxes changes people’s behavior in a negative way.

When Gov. Dayton insists that he won’t sign a budget that doesn’t include a tax increase, what he’s saying is that he’s ideologically wedded to that policy. In fact, he hasn’t attempted an economic argument defending raising taxes.
I think that’s rather telling.
The other question that I’d raise is whether Gov. Dayton and the Democrats took seriously the job of being the taxpayers’ watchdog. Based on their statements and their arguments, I’d argue that they didn’t. Did DFL legislators look into whether the money already appropriated for higher ed was being spent wisely?

Of course they didn’t.
Did the DFL examine whether we needed the multiple layers of government to the point that there’s a commissioner, deputy commissioner, multiple assistant commissioners and multiple legislative liasons in the Department of Health and in the Department of Human Services?

Of course they didn’t.

It doesn’t sound like protecting Minnesota’s taxpayers is the DFL’s highest priority.

In 2009, the DFL didn’t support Sen. Bakk’s or Rep. Lenczewski’s tax increase legislation. Rep. Pelowski openly criticized their tax increases and voted against their tax increases and Speaker Kelliher’s attempt to override Gov. Pawlenty’s veto.
That’s a major reality that Gov. Dayton isn’t dealing with. The other major reality that he isn’t dealing with is that his tax increases will hurt Minnesota’s families and Minnesota’s economy.
Damaging Minnesota’s families is heartless and unacceptable. Frankly, I’m certain that Minnesota voters won’t applaud the DFL for voting for Gov. Dayton’s tax increases. Similarly, I’m certain they won’t applaud the DFL for voting to not fix Minnesota’s economy.
Here’s a bonus question, starting with an opening statement: The Republicans’ budget balances without raising taxes. Going on another government spending binge won’t improve Minnesota’s economy. Why won’t voters agree with Republicans that the Republicans’ budget is the sensible path to prosperity?

Thus far, the DFL hasn’t attempted to answer that question. I’ll count that as proof that they don’t have confidence in their approach.
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