Archive for the ‘Lobbyists’ Category
This video shows how the DFL is attempting to distract attention from the pothole crisis by claiming the problem is part of a bigger spending problem:
Here’s the stunt that the DFL is playing:
“It’s a result of our road system in this state is more than 50 years old. More than half of our roads are crumbling as we drive over them every day,” said Darin Broton, campaign manager for Move MN. “It’s not until we get a broken axle or bent rim that people understand we have a bigger transportation problem we need to solve.”
The problem is that the DFL didn’t deliver on its promise of fixing Minnesota’s roads and bridges after they increased transportation taxes by $6.6 billion in 2008. They complained about Minnesota’s roads and bridges, then raised the gas tax by a nickel a gallon but raised taxes for transit by huge amounts.
The day after the tax increase went into effect, I predicted that the DFL would return soon to raise taxes again. Here’s what Move MN identifies as their mission:
The Move MN coalition consists of a large, diverse group of advocates that knows that funding for transportation is critical to growing jobs, economic competitiveness and quality of life, and it directly impacts the missions of the diverse organizations and people we each serve. We believe it is crucial that the Minnesota Legislature pass a comprehensive transportation funding package in 2014 that requires additional transparency and efficiency for current resources and provides long-term sustainable funding for roads, bridges, transit, and bike and walk connections.
Here’s my simple response to that BS: First, prioritize fixing potholes in the short-term. They’re a crisis that needs fixing ASAP. People are getting injured because roads are in such disrepair. Second, it’s time to stop directing existing taxes to transit. Fixing Minnesota’s bridges is infinitely more important than spending money on another ribbon-cutting ceremony for another light rail project.
Third, Minnesota needs a comprehensive transportation strategy that sets new priorities based on a comprehensive plan. Putting a plan together that deals with issues on an ad hoc basis isn’t what’s needed. In fact, that’s a major part of the problem.
This comprehensive transportation strategy must prioritize which projects are worthy of funding. That means telling the choo-choo activists that their priorities are lowest on the list. That means telling MnDOT that repairing our bridges is their highest priority starting ASAP. It means putting a higher priority on adding lanes to highways than on extending Northstar from Big Lake to St. Cloud.
This comprehensive transportation strategy must also include making better use of Minnesota’s riverways and airports, too. In short, it must be a strategy that’s driven by people’s needs, not lobbyists’ wish lists. It’s time that people’s needs are met. That’s infinitely more important than fulfilling transportation lobbyists’ wish lists.
Until the DFL gets serious about doing the people’s business with transportation, they should be removed from that part of the decisionmaking process.
The problem isn’t that Minnesotans aren’t taxed enough for transportation. It’s that Minnesotans are getting ripped off because the DFL’s priorities are totally screwed up.
The key to getting Minnesota’s transportation priorities right is figuring out what will help grow Minnesota commerce through roads, bridges, waterways and airports. Transportation strategies that focus primarily on social engineering are doomed to failure.
It’s vitally important to get roads and bridges right because that’s the heart of Minnesota’s transportation system. That won’t happen with the DFL in charge. The proof of that is in Minnesota’s potholes.
The last time Ken Martin and Keith Downey faced off on Almanac, Martin said Republicans didn’t offer solutions to Minnesota’s problems. At the time, I said that Martin was lying through his teeth because, as a legislator, Keith Downey was a one-man ideas factory according to his colleagues.
Since then, the Republican Party of Minnesota, aka the RPM, has started accepting solutions to Minnesota’s problems through their solutions website. One of the biggest problems facing Minnesotans is the deteriorating road conditions in the state. On the GOP’s solutions website, the GOP turned to Rep. Mike Beard to talk about transportation issues. Here’s what Rep. Beard said:
“Transportation is the foundation of commerce in our state,” said State Representative Michael Beard (R-Shakopee). Beard served as the chair of the House Transportation Finance and Policy Committee during the 2011-2012 biennium.
“Driving to work each morning should not be like driving through a war zone of potholes,” said Beard. “We should not have to be concerned that our bridges are unstable. Our outstate roads should not be allowed to fall into disrepair and should be sufficient for transporting harvest and livestock.”
If you talked with the DFL legislators who’ve served with Rep. Beard over the last 12 years, the most likely statement they’d make is that he’s one of the most thoughtful legislators that they’ve ever worked with. They’d also likely say that he isn’t prone to making incendiary comments. If Rep. Beard talks about “driving through a war zone of potholes”, rest assured that those statements aren’t hyperbole.
Rep. Beard’s statement also brings up another point that hasn’t gotten highlighted enough. Specifically, we haven’t paid enough attention to the state of disrepair of our bridges. This session, the House and Senate Transportation committees devoted lots of attention to the Southwest Light Rail project. The bonding bill calls for $750,000,000 worth of projects but only $25,000,000 worth of “local road improvements.”
Here’s the GOP solution to this depressing situation:
While Democrats call for the usual tax increases to satisfy metro-area public transit and other special interest groups, Republicans will focus on prioritizing road and bridge projects in both the budget and in bonding. They will seek to make the Department of Transportation more efficient, reduce overlapping state and local functions and direct money toward the top values of safety, maintenance and congestion-relief on Minnesota roads.
The Southwest Light Rail project is a priority with transportation lobbyists and environmental activists. It isn’t a priority with Minnesotans using their cities’ streets, the interstate system and Minnesota’s trunk highways. Those people want their potholes filled so they don’t hit a pothole and snap an axel or get a concussion when their airbag deploys.
When Steve Murphy and the DFL raised the gas tax in 2008, Minnesotans expected that money to be used to fix Minnesota’s roads and bridges. It’s apparent that that didn’t happened. Now that there’s a DFL governor, a DFL legislature and pothole problems aplenty, Minnesotans expect these problems to get fixed.
Debating whether they should spend $1,700,000,000 on the Southwest Light Rail project or spending $1,200,000,000 for bonding projects might satisfy the lobbyists but it won’t satisfy the people using Minnesota’s potholed roads and bridges.
Last week, the DFL Senate’s spin about passing ‘tax relief’ was that the DFL added money to Minnesota’s Rainy Day Fund while providing tax relief to the people:
Nearly every Republican joined most DFLers in backing it, but GOP members criticized the majority for a provision in the bill that adds $150 million to state budget reserves. That brings the state’s rainy-day fund to more than $800 million, but Republicans said that money should go back to taxpayers too.
This puts the DFL in a difficult position. When they talk about a bonding bill, their predictable mantra is that spending x amount of dollars in a bonding bill creates thousands of jobs. When they’re talking about tax relief, though, taking $800,000,000 out of the private sector’s hands, the DFL’s argument essentially is that this doesn’t hurt job creation.
Having some money in the Rainy Day Fund is appropriate but having almost $1,000,000,000 in the Rainy Day Fund is criminal because it’s taking money that should be used for creating jobs and putting it away to maintain government spending longer than government spending should be maintained.
The other thing that the DFL has to be exposed on is the myth that the surplus is proof that Minnesota’s economy is booming. That’s BS. The government is wealthier than it was with the GOP legislature but that’s it. The surplus is proof that the DFL’s tax increase is stealing too much money from families and small businesses.
The DFL is ok with that because the DFL has sworn its allegiance to growing government to the point that it’s intruding in people’s lives too much. The DFL objected to PolyMet until recently. They’re still objecting to the silica sand mining in southern Minnesota. They’re objecting while chanting ‘the environment’. Nowhere in their chanting points is there a mention about families needing the high-paying jobs that silica sand mining and PolyMet would provide.
The DFL’s Rainy Day rip-off is proof that the DFL’s highest priorities are feeding government while appeasing militant environmentalists. Those aren’t the average Minnesotan’s priorities. They want policies that create jobs that don’t require raising taxes to create. At this point, the DFL doesn’t champion policies like that.
The DFL’s policies promote intrusive, expensive and inefficient government. How many people know that taxpayers’ money is being used to lobby the legislature to spend more of the taxpayers’ money? The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities spent $840,000 lobbying for the legislature to spend more of the taxpayers’ money. While they’re the biggest in that classification, they weren’t the only organization doing that. The League of Minnesota Cities spent $628,945 lobbying the legislature to spend more of the taxpayers’ money on cities.
The definition of corruption is using the taxpayers’ money to convince legislators that they aren’t spending enough of the taxpayers’ money. In that scenario, the taxpayers are getting shafted twice. How isn’t that corrupt?
That’s before talking about the millions of dollars being paid to legislative liaisons. Legislative liaisons is government-speak for taxpayer-funded lobbyists. State agencies are littered with legislative liaisons. If that position was eliminated from state government, government spending would drop dramatically.
It isn’t that legislative liaisons get expensive salaries. It’s that they convince DFL legislators to spend tons of money they don’t need to spend.
If Minnesotans want a real economy, the DFL is the worst option. If Minnesotans want money spent efficiently, the DFL is the worst option. If Minnesota families want government dictating to them what they can and can’t do, then the DFL is the right choice. If Minnesota families want government ripping them off and putting productive money into a dead fund, then the DFL is the only choice.
Technorati: Tom Bakk, Mark Dayton, Paul Thissen, Tax Increases, Rainy Day Fund, Silica Sand Mining, Environmentalists, Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, League of Minnesota Cities, Legislative Liaisons, , DFL
If people are interested in facts, this article should suffice in putting to rest the notion of expanding the Northstar Rail:
Last month, in an effort to tamp down customers’ anger, Metro Transit launched its new alert service that allows passengers to get notices by e-mail or text message. Callie Bird is one of 975 people who have signed up for the free service, a small number of users on a line that averages 2,783 boardings each weekday.
I’d love hearing a transportation lobbyist explain how spending millions of dollars on something that’s used by 2,800 people per week is spending money wisely. Simply put, there’s no justification for expanding it.
What’s worse is that it isn’t running on time lately. That’s why they’ve created this “alert service.”
Riders have had lots to say about the frequent delays that have occurred on the Northstar Commuter line over the past two months. Their latest beef is about the agency’s electronic alerts, which they say are as unreliable as the trains.
Imagine that. The government takes tens of millions of dollars to build a train that only activists want. Then they build the train that nobody except activists want. Then the people who didn’t want the train in the first place don’t use the train they didn’t want.
That’s terrible. Unfortunately, that’s just part of this story of ineptitude. Now the train nobody except activists wanted isn’t running on time with any regularity.
How much ineptitude do people have to experience before people tell the politicians to stop spending their money on things we don’t need or want? Apparently, it’s too much to ask the government to be competent with the things it runs:
“After standing at a train station for 10 to 15 minutes, alerts may arrive. They may arrive 20 to 30 minutes into the ‘situation,’ or they do not alert at all,” she said. “I like that Metro has the text alert system and I am receiving such messages. However, the alerts are usually so much after the fact that I find myself shaking my head and feeling somewhat embarrassed for Metro Transit’s late alerts.”
At this rate, Northstar’s reputation will soon be in the same range as the IRS or NSA.
Hopefully, Minnesotans will step forward and tell the activists and politicians that Northstar isn’t transportation, that only roads and bridges and urban transit systems constitute transportation systems. Northstar and other similar projects are just politicians’ boondoggles aimed at securing campaign contributions from lobbyists.
The important part of this SC Times editorial is that it reminds people of a tax policy debate at the St. Cloud City Council chambers this Wednesday evening:
Please be part of the Times Editorial Board’s 2014 Sales Tax Round-Table Talk set for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at St. Cloud City Hall’s council chambers. If you cannot attend, please watch it online at www.sctimes.com.
Here’s the information of who’s participating as panelists:
- Myron Frans, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Revenue.
- Mark Haveman, executive director of the Minnesota Center for Fiscal Excellence.
- Beth Kadoun, director of tax and fiscal policy for the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.
- Sean Kershaw, president of the Citizens League.
- Jeff Van Wychen, director of tax policy and analysis for Minnesota 2020.
Then it included this foolish statement:
As noted since September, the intent is to have a policy discussion, not a political debate. (That’s a main reason there are no elected officials on the panel.)
Of course this is a political debate. Myron Frans travelled throughout Minnesota when he was appointed to be Gov. Dayton’s Department of Revenue with the stated purpose of listening to people’s ideas on tax reform. Upon returning from said travels, the Dayton budget proposal of 2011 was all about raising taxes. It didn’t do a thing about reforming Minnesota’s antiquated tax system.
In 2013, things got worse. Frans didn’t travel the state pretending to listen to the uppity peasants about tax reform. Instead, Gov. Dayton just proposed a ton of tax increases. Then they hailed the biggest tax rate increases in Minnesota history as tax reform.
Technically, Commissioner Frans isn’t an elected official. That doesn’t mean he isn’t a politician. He’s the commissioner because he agrees with Gov. Dayton’s philosophy of raising taxes.
As for Jeff van Wychen, he’s from Minnesota 2020. There isn’t a nonpartisan bone in his body. Again, van Wychen is a raise-taxes-first-last-and-always type. Simply put, he’s a political hack. He isn’t a serious tax policy analyst.
Notably missing from the list of panelists is Prof. John Spry. Prof. Spry has served on multiple tax policy study commissions appointed by both Gov. Dayton and Gov. Pawlenty. Simply put, he’s the gold standard on tax policy analysis in Minnesota. If you want to have a serious discussion on tax policy, Prof. Spry should participate in that discussion.
Finally, the stated goal of making this a policy discussion is worthwhile. That being said, it’s foolish to think that this discussion isn’t slanted towards increasing taxes. There’s no doubt that the Chamber of Commerce will advocate for repealing the B2B sales taxes. After that, the rest of the panel believes passionately in raising tax.
Please understand that I’m thankful that this discussion is happening. I’m thankful because it’ll expose the DFL’s tax increase agenda. I’m thankful because the DFL’s special interest support organizations will be on the record about their desire to raise Minnesotans’ taxes.
UPDATE: I just was contacted by Prof. Spry about something I said. Prof. Spry informed me that he “was appointed to the 21st Century Tax Reform Commission by Governor Pawlenty.” Prof. Spry continued, saying “My consulting on the Tax Expenditure Review Report was the result of competitive bidding” and that the “other members of that TERR study team are also expert economists.”
I regret publishing inaccurate information. I hope this new information clarifies things.
GOP gubernatorial candidate Marty Seifert is running on a reform-minded platform. One of the reforms he’ll push is elimination of the Met Council. Here’s Seifert’s statement on why the MC should disappear:
Dear Fellow Minnesotan,
As the start of a new year approaches, we can look forward to the opportunity for new leadership in our state in 2014. My campaign for governor is less than a month old, but our message of restoring leadership at the State Capitol is resonating across Minnesota.
Part of leadership is offering bold ideas to address critical problems. The Metropolitan Council is a major problem for the people of Minnesota and I am calling for it to be abolished. For far too long, the Met Council’s unelected bureaucrats have imposed higher taxes, burdensome regulations and “urban planning” without representation and against the will of local governments. This weekend’s Star Tribune called the Met Council a “master of imposition” – I encourage you to read the editorial.
I hope you will visit my website, learn more about the issues I am focusing on, and consider making a small donation to help our campaign finish this year strong. I’m asking for your support to dramatically downsize the size and scope of state government, reverse harmful taxes and regulations, bring real job growth to our economy and halt the damaging implications of Obamacare in Minnesota.
From my family to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
No taxation without representation was one of the principles that started the Revolutionary War. Nearly 250 years later, Minnesota politicians think that taxation without representation is a great idea. The DFL and the Met Council’s lobbyists will fight against abolishing the Met Council if Rep. Seifert is elected. In fact, they’re likely to fight him to prevent him from becoming governor.
Here’s what Rep. Seifert said about abolishing the Met Council on his issues page:
Abolishment of three cabinet departments, in addition to complete elimination of the Metropolitan Council. Over a one-year period, the functions no longer required will be eliminated and needed functions will be transferred to local units of government or other cabinet departments.
Assuming that each part of the Met Council is essential is foolish. Ditto with cabinet offices.
Republicans should run on a positive, pro-growth reform agenda next year, whether they’re runnning for the legislature, governor, Congress or the US Senate. Telling the people how electing Republicans will lead to more prosperity with more disposable income and more representative government will sell.
Just telling people that the next Republican administration won’t rationalize a bureaucrat going on a 2-week vacation while her agency is in crisis will highlight the difference between Republicans and Democrats.
In 2012, I wrote frequently that relying on e-tab revenues to pay the public share of the Vikings stadium was foolish. Last week, Gov. Dayton, the most numerically-challenged governor in Minnesota history, admitted that:
More like a plane crash, Dayton told MPR News.
“The National Transportation Safety Board says that in an airplane crash, there’s seldom just one factor, one mistake that is the sole causation, and I would say in this case as well,” Dayton said in a recent interview. “You know, there were multiple errors made, and in hindsight, obviously we were terribly wrong. But everything, as far as I know, was done in good faith with the best of intentions.”
The NTSB typically identifies who’s at fault in plane crashes. A year into e-pulltabs, people are still picking through the pieces, trying to understand what happened.
“We all agreed that we didn’t want to use general revenue funds, so this was a new source of revenue, and one that everyone who was involved appeared to believe,” said Dayton, who backed a hike in cigarette and corporate taxes to finance the Vikings stadium bonds after it was clear e-pulltabs were falling short.
“These projections were as good as anybody could do.”
That last sentence is BS. At the time, I spoke with Dr. John Spry, often regarded as the best tax economist in Minnesota. At the time, Dr. Spry said that revenues could wildly exceed expectations or fall woefully short depending on the definitions that went into the gaming regulations.
During the debate, I also spoke with King Wilson, then the executive director of Allied Charities of Minnesota, explained to me why e-tabs were a disaster waiting to happen:
King Wilson explained that the key to making this work for the charities is tax reform and volume business.
Wilson said that he’s been involved in charitable gaming since the late 1980s. Back then, he oversaw a charitable gaming operation in Columbia Heights. At the time, their payout was approaching 86% of revenues. Wilson noted that this operation was depositing approximately $90,000 a month with the higher percentage payout.
More importantly, Wilson said there was a different tax system for charitable gaming operations then. Wilson said that the tax system for charitable gaming changed to a progressive tax system in 1989. As a result, his operation was forced to a smaller payout percentage to the players.
It was forced to a smaller payout rate because, if 86% of revenues go to payouts, another 8% goes to taxes and another 8% goes to other expenses, that’s 102% of revenues. As a result of the payout drop, monthly revenues dropped to $45,000 per month. With fewer winners, sales volume plummeted.
That’s the information that was known then. Here’s what they’ve learned since approving e-tabs:
Bar owners dismiss e-pulltabs as not worth the cost and hassle to install. Gamblers say the electronic games just aren’t that much fun.
Gov. Dayton didn’t want to hear from bar owners, restaurant operators or the director of Minnesota’s biggest charitable gambling organization. Instead, he listened to an organization committed to expanding gambling in Minnesota for the projections. Apparently, Gov. Dayton didn’t understand that the organization’s projections were the rosiest of rosy scenarios. That isn’t surprising since he’s been numerically challenged since the gubernatorial campaign. That year, he submitted his tax increase proposals to the Minnesota Department of Revenue 3 times for scoring. the best he did was a $1,000,000,000 deficit.
We can’t afford a governor that’s this numerically and policy-challenged. His Vikings stadium funding mechanism was off by the financial equivalent of several solar systems. His tax increases for this year are already chasing iconic Minnesota businesses into other states.
On Main Street, that’s known as a disaster. In the DFL, that’s known as Gov. Dayton.
Karen Cyson’s monthly op-ed is stunningly propagandist in nature. Here’s a sampling of Cyson’s propaganda:
The right to vote for representation was a catalyst for the American Revolution. It wasn’t until 124 years later, in 1920 with the passage of the 19th Amendment, that women were given that right.
How patronizing then that the current conflagration about a child care providers union isn’t about whether to form a union, but whether the providers be allowed to vote on whether to form a union.
That’s right. Another 93 years later, many in a mostly male Minnesota government are telling a mostly female profession, “Now, now, little lady. We know what’s best for you. Don’t you go worrying your pretty little head over this dang union thing.”
If Ms. Cyson didn’t have a history of spewing liberal propaganda, I’d be upset. The truth is that Ms. Cyson didn’t accidentally get her facts badly wrong on this issue. It’s that she’s lying through her teeth.
I watched about 4 hrs. of the debate on the House floor. Rep. Mike Nelson carried the bill for the DFL. Rep. Nelson is “a trades business agent for the Lakes and Plains Regional Council of Carpenters and Joiners.” In short, he’s belonged to a carpenters union for over 20 years. While I can’t find his voting record on union issues, I’m betting the ranch it’s 100%.
By comparison, the chief Republicans fighting against the DFL’s child care unionization legislation were Rep. Mary Franson, Rep. Sarah Anderson and Rep. Joyce Peppin. Rep. Franson, in fact, read from a legal study from the law firm of Seaton, Peters and Revnew that talks about the NLRA, aka the National Labor Relations Act. Here’s a quote from the NLRA:
Federal law mandates that it is an unfair labor practice for an employer to “…dominate or interfere with the formation or administration of any labor organization or contribute financial or other support to it…” 29 U.S.C. 158 (a)(2)
One of the highlights of the child care debate came after Rep. Nelson said for the umpteenth time that the BMS, aka the Bureau of Mediation Services, “has been doing these elections for 40 years and they’ve been doing a fine job.” That’s when Rep. Anderson asked Rep. Nelson if the BMS had ever been audited. He admitted he didn’t know, at which point Rep. Anderson asked “Then how do you know that they’ve been doing a fine job?”
At another key point, Rep. Nelson argued against an amendment on the font size of the print on the mailer sent to child care providers. He held up a mailer that met the requirements of the amendment. Minutes later, Rep. Peppin introduced a mailer she’d gotten from the child care providers still outside the House floor at 4:05 am. Rep. Peppin showed that this mailer had lots of fine print that was difficult to read.
That’s before talking about Hollee Saville, the leader of the opposition to the DFL’s child care unionization efforts. Saying that Hollee is well-informed on this issue is understatement. She’s the heart and soul of the leadership that’s trying to defeat this illegal effort.
That’s before talking about the dozens of women outside the House floor who oppose the legislation. They outnumbered the pro-union child care advocates by a wide margin.
Ms. Cyson’s statement that an all-male gang of legislators told the women that they “know what’s best for you. Don’t you go worrying your pretty little head over this dang union thing” is pure bullshit. In fact, the DFL told the women child care providers that they knew best of how to run their child care small businessses. They did it by having Rep. Nelson, a pro-union man, repeatedly say that the “BMS has been doing these elections for 40 years and have been doing a fine job.”
That’s proof positive that the DFL, not a bunch of know-it-all men, told the women who run child chare small businesses they the DFL knows what’s best for these women. The DFL essentially said that these female entrepreneurs shouldn’t “worry their pretty little heads” about unionization.
Finally, Rep. Nelson admitted in an interview on WCCO radio that this was a payoff to AFSCME:
Thankfully, this legislation will be defeated in the federal court system. The NLRA is quite clear that it doesn’t allow business owners to “dominate or interfere with the formation or administration of any labor organization or contribute financial or other support to it.” Further, governments can’t say that private sector business owners are public sector union employees just because it says so.
Ms. Cyson should pay attention to the laws on the books. She shouldn’t be ignoring the ones she doesn’t like.
For years, teachers have been double-dipping their pension accounts. Once again, the St. Paul Teachers’ Retirement Association is asking for another bailout of their pension plan while selling it as a reasonable fix to the situation. It isn’t reasonable to the taxpayers. It’s a rip-off.
A proposal is expected to be introduced in the Minnesota Legislature in the next two weeks.
The goal is to close a projected $16.7 million per year gap between what the fund needs each year and what it actually brings in.
“This is a problem that’s easier to remedy now than 10 years from now,” said Paul Doane, the association’s executive director. “I’m convinced this is a major step forward that will help both the long-term solvency and sustainability issue.”
It’s imperative that the remedy include 3 things. First, it’s imperative that the fix end the defined benefit plan. Next, it’s imperative that retire-and-rehire programs stop ASAP. Finally, it’s imperative that early retirement be eliminated. Here’s why it’s imperative the retire-then-rehire program is stopped:
The fund estimates it could get another $3.4 million by increasing employee and employer contributions by 1 percent for each and modifying early retirement and return-to-work policies.
Under the proposal, retirees would have to wait six months before they can return to a job with the district, up from 30 days now. And, if they make more than $46,000 after they return, they would lose some pension benefits, which are now set aside and paid out after returnees leave the district.
TRANSLATION: Retire-then-rehire programs are costing taxpayers millions of dollars in pensions.
What’s fair about telling private sector employees that they’re getting hit with a tax increase to pay for a teacher to retire when they’re 55, then start collecting a pension, then go on a month-long vacation before getting a cushy consultant’s job? That’s the system as it currently exists.
Why should taxpayers be funding a pension fund so public sector employees can retire when they’re fifty-something, especially when it’s a defined benefit pension plan?
There’s a fight brewing on this crisis. This provides a good glimpse into the bailout fight:
Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, who will sponsor the House version of the bill, said this proposal is “fair, appropriate and prudent.”
She noted that St. Paul Teachers received no state aid from 1987 to 1993. The state provided $22 million in annual aid to help the former Minneapolis teachers’ pension fund reduce its shortfall before it merged into the state’s larger Teachers Retirement Association pension fund.
But Thompson rejects the idea of using taxpayer dollars to shore up the fund while many private-sector workers are scaling back their own retirement plans because of the market downturn. He said the proposal is especially unpalatable because its proposed benefit increase negates the higher contributions from employees.
“In a nutshell, the St. Paul Teachers’ Retirement Fund is looking for a net increase in benefits, with the state acting as a guarantor of their investments,” he said. “In this economy, that’s really asking a lot.”
Rep. Kahn’s reply exposed the system’s flaw when she said that St. Paul teachers didn’t receive any state aid from 1987 through 1993. The first pertinent question is “why should Minnesota taxpayers bailout a St. Paul public employees pension plan”? The thinking should’ve been that a pension plan that’s underfunded at a time when the economy and stock market are going strong has a major structural flaw.
The response back then should’ve been to either insist on major structural reforms or let the teachers and trustees run the pension into bankruptcy. Overpromising isn’t a virtue. It’s a curse.
Sen. Thompson is right in saying that it’s wrong to ask taxpayers to fund a bailout that would improve benefits for people in the St. Paul Teachers’ Retirement Fund. With people living longer, increasing benefits isn’t sustainable. That means this pension fund will need another bailout a decade from now.
How’s that fair to private sector taxpayers?
Follow this link to read more on the subject.
Tags: Public Employee Unions, St. Paul Teachers’ Retirement Fund, Unfunded Liability, Pension Bailout, Phyllis Kahn, DFL, Dave Thompson, Pension Reform, Taxpayers, MNGOP
For most of the life of this blog, I’ve advocated for politicians to ditch their jargon. Instead, I’ve argued that politicians should use the language of Main Street. This morning, while perusing RealClealPolitics, I gained a powerful ally in Scott Rasmussen. To avoid any confusion, I’ll first state that I met Scott Rasmussen last summer at the RightOnline Conference. That meeting, coupled with his many TV appearances, proved that he’s a man who uses Main Street Speak.
Here’s what Scott Rasmussen wrote that caught my attention:
This gap was highlighted by a recent Pew Research Center poll showing that “for 18 of 19 programs tested, majorities want either to increase spending or maintain it at current levels.”
On the surface, those results appear to support the Political Class conceit that voters like spending cuts in the abstract but not in specific programs. That’s the way it was reported by most media outlets.
But the reality is quite different. The Pew results actually show support for what official Washington would consider massive spending cuts.
Just to be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the Pew poll questions or results. The raw numbers are similar to what we find at Rasmussen Reports. The problem is with the way the numbers were reported.
The questions were asked using the language of America, but they were reported using the language of the Political Class.
To most Americans, maintaining spending at current levels would mean spending the same amount in 2013 as we spent in 2012. However, to those experienced in the mysterious ways of Washington, maintaining spending at current levels means spending $3.5 trillion this year and $4.5 trillion in five years. To most Americans, that’s a trillion dollars in spending growth.
The Political Class, on the other hand, would consider holding spending unchanged at current levels to be a massive spending cut. Why? Because it wouldn’t allow for the trillion dollar spending growth that is already built into the budget.
Normal people don’t expect pay raises on autopilot. The federal government does.
Washington, DC would throw a hissy fit if they were forced to use zero-based budgeting instead of using baseline budgeting. Without baseline budgeting helps DC pay off their political allies. Zero-based budgeting wouldn’t let that happen. That’s why politicians and lobbyists insist on baseline budgeting. Frankly, it makes their jobs easier.
Speaking candidly, I don’t want to make life easy for politicians or lobbyists. I’d prefer they have to justify every penny of their spending. That’s the only way to guarantee that every penny of the taxpayers’ money is spent wisely.
Thanks, Scott, for speaking so clearly on this important issue. Let’s just hope it’s contageous.