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After I wrote this post, I was invited onto Dan Ochsner’s Ox in the Afternoon radio program to discuss the alarming disparity between the ISD 742 estimates and the bid that was put together for Sarah Murphy and Claire VanderEyk.

During the campaign to pass the Tech bonding referendum, the ISD 742 school board said it would cost between $85,800,000 and $96,800,000 to temporarily fix Tech for 5-10 years. When Ms. Murphy and Ms. VanderEyk toured the facility, they took notes on what was in disrepair and needed fixing. Since they’re both architects, they’re qualified to determine what’s in need of repair, what’s structurally deficient and what’s in good repair.

Ms. Murphy and Ms. VanderEyk are both Tech alums so they’d like to preserve the building if that’s possible. That’s why they took their notes to a contractor to see how much it would actually cost to repair the existing Tech campus. Saying that their estimate came in at less than $97,000,000 is understatement. It came in at $15,696,000, which is approximately $100,000,000 less than the School Board said it would cost to build a brand new Tech High School.

It’s worth noting that the new Tech High School would be able to hold 1,800 students, which is significantly more than it needs. It’s also worth noting that the School Board wanted $46,500,000 in bonding authority to fix Apollo High School, which is less than 50 years old. (Tech is over 100 years old.)

Considering the fact that the bid put together for Ms. Murphy and Ms. VanderEyk to refurbish and repair a 100-year-old building was less than $16,000,000, it isn’t a stretch to think that it wouldn’t cost $46,500,000 to repair Apollo. In fact, it isn’t a stretch to think that both projects combined could be done for less than what the Apollo renovation would’ve cost.

As I said in the earlier post, I’m not arguing to do nothing. That ship has sailed. It isn’t returning to port. What I’m arguing for is to rethink the entire project and see if we shouldn’t adopt a more taxpayer-friendly option that still helps students attend a high school where they can prepare for a college education and a productive working career.

Simply put, I’m arguing to kill last fall’s plan once and for all. It isn’t needed and it can’t be afforded. It’s that simple.

When I wrote this post about the ISD 742 School Board’s numbers on how much it would cost to fix Tech High School, I unintentionally omitted the enrollment figures for the district. The point of the article was to highlight the fallibility of the School Board’s numbers. Specifically, I quoted Sarah Murphy’s criticism of the repair cost figures.

Kevin Allenspach’s article quotes Ms. Murphy as saying “Those numbers are really round, so it’s hard to take them seriously.” Rather than just criticizing the figures, Ms. Murphy and Claire VanderEyk, both Tech alumni and architects, got a bid on how much it would cost to fix Tech.

The ISD 742 School Board estimated the cost at between $85,750,000 and $96,750,000. The estimate put together for Ms. Murphy and Ms. VanderEyk was $15,696,000. That’s a difference of more than $70,000,000. As terrible as those numbers are, that isn’t the whole story. This St. Cloud Times article on open enrollment is just another nail in the School Board’s bonding project coffin.

According to the School Board, the new Tech High School and the renovated Apollo High would have had an enrollment capacity of 1,800 students each. Here’s what the Times’ open enrollment article says:

The Sauk Rapids-Rice school district has seen a steady increase in the number of students open-enrolling from other districts. This fall, the district gained more than 500 students more than it lost to other districts. Almost a quarter of Sauk Rapids-Rice students aren’t residents of the school district. On the flip side, the St. Cloud school district lost about 1,660 more students this year to other public school districts than it gained through open enrollment.

The combined enrollment at Tech and Apollo was 2,700+ students last year. The trend is declining enrollment. Taxpayers aren’t out of line in questioning the School Board’s decision to build a new school that’s bigger than they need at a price nobody can afford.

It’s important to remember that the School Board’s price tag on a new Tech High School was $113.8 million. Compare that with Ms. Murphy’s and Ms. VanderEyk’s estimate to fix the existing Tech High School is $16,000,000. Additionally, the School Board’s estimate of fixing Apollo was $46.5 million.

Why would anyone trust the School Board’s figures for either project, especially given their proclivity for wild exaggerations? It’s time to scrap the School Board’s plan entirely. That doesn’t mean we can afford to do nothing. That isn’t an option. It just means we should fix what needs fixing at a price that’s taxpayer friendly.

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After reading Kevin Allenspach’s article, it’s difficult to give the ISD 742 School Board the benefit of the doubt.

Last fall, the school board argued that it was wiser to build a new school (estimated cost of $113.8 million) than to remodel the current Tech High School. Allenspach’s article highlights the untrustworthiness of the School Board’s numbers. For instance, Allenspach notes that “the district’s pre-referendum estimate of $85 million in maintenance during the next 10 years just to keep the school in use” is being questioned by 2 Tech grads.

Sarah Murphy and Claire VanderEyk are both architects and Tech graduates. They’re both convinced that the ISD 742 School Board’s $85,000,000 estimate isn’t accurate. The School Board’s estimate includes “$10 million-$15 million for roofing, $20 million for a boiler replacement, $5 million for a chiller replacement, $5 million for window replacement, $10 million for asbestos removal, $1 million for brick tuckpointing, $5 million for plumbing, $2 million for lighting, $1 million for parking lots, $2 million-$3 million for electrical service, $3 million to replace classroom ceilings, $3 million to replace doors and hardware, $2 million to replace flooring, $750,000 for a building control system and $15 million-$20 million for general building repairs.”

Murphy’s response was powerful:

“Those numbers are really round, so it’s hard to take them seriously,” said Murphy, who worked for architectural firms in Minnesota and Colorado before becoming a space planner for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. “The building is 100 years old, so it’s going to need some help. But if there are real structural problems, there shouldn’t be anybody in the building. If the cafeteria has major structural issues, why are they using it? They’d be putting the kids at risk. There’s a difference between structural problems and things that are inconvenient or don’t look good, like floor tiles popping up.”

The School Board’s pitch was essentially a sky-is-falling pitch. The Board essentially said that not approving the bonds for the new Tech High School was the equivalent of putting these students at risk. It isn’t a stretch to think that the School Board tried shaming voters into approving the bonds.

Murphy has worked on similar projects, including North High School in Denver, which required technology updates and other renovations but preserved a building built in 1907. Both she and VanderEyk said they will work with the Friends of Clark Field citizens group to see if there is a way to get more information about renovating Tech.

Ms. Murphy and Ms. VanderEyk should be applauded for their efforts. I’ve learned more from them in a short period of time than I learned from the Vote Yes campaign all last fall. Most importantly, I’m thinking that I’d make a more informed decision because of these ladies’ works.

This is information that we should’ve gotten from the School Board but didn’t. That leads to the question of why we got this financial information from them. Let’s recall that Barclay Carriar admitted that the blueprint for the new Tech High School wasn’t available:

According to Barclay Carriar, a 57-year-old adviser with Ameriprise Financial and co-chair of Neighbors for School Excellence, “What a lot of them don’t recognize is, with the cost of designing a building, 80 percent of it isn’t going to be designed until after the referendum. And the plans we’ve got now are still tentative.”

That’s stunning. They asked taxpayers for $113,800,000 in bonding approval but they hadn’t designed the building. What’s up with that? How many banks would lend money based on that type of information and still be solvent 5 years from now? Hint: the number rhymes with Nero.

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When I read this Our View editorial, my first reaction was that of disgust. The Times has tried to portray itself as object, as allies of ‘the people’. That façade disappeared when they wrote about setting a revote on the Tech-Apollo bonding referendum for this spring.

When they wrote that “a huge turnout expected in presidential election years may not enhance the chances for a school referendum to pass”, the Times essentially said that the right outcome was more important than giving the people the right to make informed decisions based on information gathered during meetings where the school board took questions and answered them on point. If the school board doesn’t answer the people’s questions directly, then citizens should continue to defeat the bonding referendum.

BTW, giving platitude-filled answers doesn’t constitute answering the citizens’ questions. That’s deception, which isn’t tolerated. The citizens have a right to know more of the specifics about the building that would be built with their money. When Barclay Carriar admitted that “80 percent of [the new Tech HS] isn’t going to be designed until after the referendum”, he essentially told voters that they should approve the bonds without knowing what they’d get.

Carriar is an “adviser with Ameriprise Financial and co-chair of Neighbors for School Excellence.” Think of adviser Neighbors for School Excellence as the DFL’s Vote Yes campaign organization for pushing the bonding referendum down voters’ throats. It’s important to remember that the bonding referendum was defeated in November because the School Board tried getting their referendum passed without answering voters’ questions.

That time, with the bonding referendum being the only thing on the ballot, voters rejected the proposal by an 8,460 to 7,393 vote margin. That 53.4% of the people voted to reject the proposal is a major upset.

Supporters and district campaign materials first cited a 10-year maintenance tab of $140 million at Tech. However, as the Election Day neared, credible evidence arose to question it. Yet supporters and even district leaders remain tight-lipped to this day about its validity.

That was a major nail in the School Board’s coffin. That wasn’t the only thing, though, that people questioned. They also questioned whether the buildings both needed to have a capacity of 1,800 students, especially considering the fact that there are 2,700 students in Tech and Apollo right now.

The chances of ISD742 increasing enrollment by one-third over the next 20-50 years is approximately zero. The school board tried convincing their constituents that writing the school board a blank check based on a platitude-filled campaign.

That measure went down in flames.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk isn’t having fun, thanks in large part to Senate Republicans and Senate Minority Leader David Hann. Sen. Bakk is insisting that Republicans move into Bakk’s Palace, the building Sen. Bakk shoved down taxpayers’ throats in the 2013 Tax Bill in the dead of night the last weekend of session without going through the committee process. It didn’t go through the committee process intentionally because Bakk didn’t want it to be scrutinized by anyone.

Now, Sen. Bakk is attempting to play hardball, insisting that “other state entities need Republicans’ current quarters in the State Office Building.” Senate Minority Leader Hann isn’t buying, saying “if that’s the case, Bakk should say who is it and when they’re going to move, ‘because that’s all news to us.'”

What’s especially laughable is that Bakk calls their refusal to move “short-term political gamesmanship.” The truth is that Sen. Bakk doesn’t like it when GOP legislators shine the spotlight on Bakk’s Palace, my nickname for the new Senate Building. Bakk doesn’t like the attention because he’s trying to maintain his majority through the 2016 election. When House Republicans highlighted the House DFL’s support for Bakk’s Palace, they lost their majority.

When people take a look at Bakk’s Palace, Republicans will remind them that Democrats voted to raise taxes on citizens, which paid for the $90,000,000 building. They’ll also remind citizens that the DFL also voted to dramatically raise the pay of Gov. Dayton’s commissioners.

Sen. Bakk should stop worrying about political gamesmanship. He should start worrying about the DFL’s legislative history since the last election. Then he should kiss his majority status goodbye.

Tim O’Driscoll’s op-ed on MNsure’s rate increases is the best explanation I’ve seen on the subject. Here’s the key paragraph in Rep. O’Driscoll’s op-ed:

But if you’re still wondering how the state arrived at a 4.5 percent average increase, Commerce simply took the four average rate changes for providers in the exchange (up 17.15 percent, up 8.12 percent, up 1.8 percent, and down 9.07 percent) and divided them by four.

First, it’s important to note that the Commerce Department intentionally misled Minnesotans. While the average rate increase for each of the 4 remaining plans equals 4.5%, that’s misleading at best. Here’s why:

The reality is people are paying more than ever because of Obamacare in Minnesota. For people in Benton, Sherburne and Stearns counties, MNsure enrollees will see their average rates go up between 18 and 37 percent. And people in the bronze plans, which offer the lowest cost options, will see premiums increase about 20 percent. This is simply unaffordable for too many hardworking Minnesotans.

So why are their numbers off by so much?

First, it’s important to note the comparison of last year’s rates to this year’s is not an apples-to-apples comparison. Instead, when calculating rates, Commerce chose to ignore that the lowest cost provider (which covered about 60 percent of MNsure enrollees) dropped out of the exchange because of continued technical problems and inefficiencies.

The Minnesota Senate Republicans put together this interactive map showing how much insurance premiums were increasing in each of Minnesota’s 87 counties.

For instance, Benton County’s least expensive health insurance premiums will increase by 22% in 2015. Stearns County’s least expensive health insurance premiums will increase by 22% in 2015, too. Ditto with Sherburne and Wright counties.

They should consider themselves lucky that they aren’t in Meeker, Kandiyohi, Chippewa or Yellow Medicine counties, where their least expensive health insurance premiums will jump by 43%. (Does that sound affordable?)

Cottonwood, Lyons, Nobles and Murray counties’ least expensive health insurance premiums hit a less-than-happy medium, increasing by 34%.

But I digress. Here’s more important information from Rep. O’Driscoll’s op-ed:

Additionally, I offer this to people who argue rates still aren’t going up as fast as they did before the Affordable Care Act or before Minnesota taxpayers spent $160 million on a broken MNsure website. From 2003 to 2010, individual market insurance premiums rose a total of 35 percent in Minnesota, compared with 47 percent in our first year under Obamacare.

That isn’t Rep. O’Driscoll’s opinion. That’s from statistics compiled by the Department of Commerce. Finally, this is great advice:

Keep a copy of this article, and when open enrollment begins Nov. 15, take a look at your new premiums and compare my math to the 4.5 percent number being marketed by MNsure.

I’ve just got one tiny dispute with Rep. O’Driscoll. In fact, it isn’t really a dispute. The 4.5% increase figure is being peddled by the Dayton re-election campaign through the Commerce Department. There’s no sense in being polite. The 4.5% figure is fiction. Every real journalist should be highlighting the Dayton campaign’s dishonesty.

Finally, while I agree with Rep. O’Driscoll’s statement that people should “keep a copy of this article” and compare their “new premiums” with the Commerce Department’s 4.5% fiction, I’d additionally suggest that people remember Gov. Dayton’s and the DFL’s dishonesty in pimping the 4.5% figure. They know it’s intellectually dishonest. They don’t care about honesty when Gov. Dayton and the DFL are trying to win elections.

While there’s no doubt that people think that politicians aren’t the most honest people, there’s no doubt that people should take politicians that are intentionally dishonest to the proverbial woodshed. It’s time to take Gov. Dayton and the dishonest DFL legislators to that woodshed.

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Monday night, the St. Cloud City Council missed an opportunity to put pressure on the J.A. Wedum Foundation. Instead, they voted to give the Foundation permission to refinance their apartment complex on Fifth Ave.

Had the City Council told the J.A. Wedum Foundation they’d only approve the refinancing if the Foundation renegotiated their lease with St. Cloud State, Wedum wouldn’t have had a choice but to renegotiate with SCSU.

Instead, the City Council essentially gave the Foundation permission to save money while the taxpayers foot the bill. This is aggravating because St. Cloud State has lost $6.4 million the last 4 years of the lease. This official SCSU budget document verifies that fact:

George Hontos and Jeff Johnson were the dissenting votes to approve the resolution. Unfortunately, the other council members didn’t think it was the City Council’s job to, in their terms, meddle in SCSU’s affairs. That’s a great way of saying ‘it isn’t my problem’.

That’s rubbish. If the City Council would’ve put the Foundation’s refinancing on hold, it would’ve gotten St. Cloud’s attention. It would’ve shined the light on the fact that SCSU President Earl Potter signed a terrible lease. It would’ve shined the light on the fact that the Foundation is making money hand over fist at the taxpayers’ expense. It would’ve highlighted the cozy relationship between President Potter and the Foundation.

SCSU’s downward trajectory is the City Council’s business because it affects St. Cloud’s economy. If President Potter won’t protect the University’s and the taxpayers’ interests, then it’s perfectly appropriate for the City Council to do an intervention.

Hontos questioned the public benefit of an arrangement where the taxpayers “take a bath” over this money losing project. None of the council members argued the city should be involved in the specifics of trying to renegotiate the Wedum lease with SCSU. However, Hontos argued that the council’s action in turning down the resolution might provide an incentive for Wedum to renegotiate the lease with SCSU.

Watching this video (starting at the 29:00 mark) makes me sick. Councilman Hontos entered into the record a statement from the Wedum Foundation asking for the city of St. Cloud’s help in an effort to keep the lease “at an affordable rate” for SCSU.

That letter from the J.A. Wedum Foundation directly to the City of St. Cloud insists that the City has an important responsibility in this lease. Hearing Carol Lewis say that this isn’t the City’s business highlights her indifference towards the taxpayers. The only one I’d criticize more than Ms. Lewis is City Council President Jeff Goerger.

It’s clear that Goerger and Lewis had their minds made up long before the meeting. The information presented at the City Council meeting was irrelevant to them. Shame on them for their closemindedness. Shame on them for their indifference towards taxpayers.

Finally, thanks to President Potter’s inept handling of St. Cloud State’s finances have given the Wedum Foundation millions of dollars they didn’t earn. Let’s be clear about this. I don’t have a problem with companies making money in the private sector. I’ve got a major problem with nonprofit organizations raking in money from mismanaged government entities.

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This article sickens me because it’s intellectually dishonest. Baird Helgeson is intent on portraying the DFL as heroic tax cutters. That’s BS. The DFL is the party that taxes first, then waits to see if there’s a backlash. If there’s a backlash, they pass a Tax Repair Bill like they did Friday.

“This is a monumental victory for the DFL leadership in the Legislature and just shows that we have a balanced approach to Minnesota,” Dayton said during a celebratory news conference with DFL House and Senate leaders. “That’s what people wanted.”

Despite Gov. Dayton’s attempt to praise the DFL leadership in the House and Senate, it’s just proof that Gov. Dayton is intent on painting over his criticism of Sen. Bakk earlier this week. Here’s what he said earlier this week:

I’m very disappointed that we have not been able to reach a bill and frankly, we’ve got a meeting this afternoon with House and Senate leaders. I just have to say that the impasse isn’t around the tax bill. It’s about the Legislative Office Building and the Senate’s insistence that they have the building and they aren’t willing to let a reasonable tax bill proceed on a timely basis until they get the building and the House’s unwillingness at this point to agree to that. So I hope that Minnesotans will communicate with their legislators, and these are Democrat legislators, I’m sorry to say, that this is inexcusable and unacceptable.

Which is it, Gov. Dayton? Does Sen. Bakk deserve praise for stalling a bill to pressure the House into approving Bakk’s Palace? Does the DFL deserve praise for passing the biggest tax increase in Minnesota history last year, then repealing a tiny fraction of them this year? Does the DFL deserve praise for raising taxes and fees by $2,400,000,000 last year, then giving $440,000,000 of that back this year?

Minnesotans shouldn’t be happy that the DFL finally listened to them. They shouldn’t be happy that the DFL did the right thing only after the DFL started worrying about this year’s elections. That isn’t representing the people. That’s voting the DFL’s ideology.

It’s proof that the DFL will always do the right thing…when it’s the only option left.

The House and Senate passed the bill overwhelmingly on Friday. 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.

Putting that much money into the state’s rainy day fund is criminal. That’s stealing money from businesses that would create jobs with it. The DFL is putting money aside so the DFL won’t have to spend money efficiently. They’d rather pay off their special interest allies with the taxpayers’ hard-earned money. The DFL wouldn’t be able to pay off their special interest allies with taxpayers money if money was spent efficiently. It’s time the DFL stopped feeding their special interest allies and started representing their constituents.

Thus far, the DFL hasn’t proven that they’re interested in doing the right thing the first time. They’ve proven quite the opposite. This week, the DFL proved that they’ll do the right thing only when they’re worried about the next election.

That isn’t leadership. That’s called brinksmanship, which shouldn’t be rewarded with praise. This isn’t tax relief:

Much of the tax relief is delivered by conforming to recent changes in federal tax law, and about $57 million of it is retroactive to taxes paid in 2013.

Typically, tax conformity is the first bill passed by the legislature each year. It’s typically the first bill the governor signs each year. By waiting until after thousands of people have filed their tax returns before passing the tax conformity bill, the DFL just caused taxpayers the headache of filing an amended return. The DFL didn’t give thousands of people the opportunity to do their taxes once. Instead, Sen. Bakk opted to force thousands to file amended returns.

That isn’t cause for celebration. That’s cause for criticism. The DFL, specifically Sen. Bakk, put a high priority on getting the Senate Office Building approved. The DFL, especially Sen. Bakk, didn’t put a high priority on passing what I’m calling the Tax Repair Bill. Sen. Bakk said that the Senate couldn’t be rushed into passing the Tax Repair Bill because they were studying the impacts the tax repeals would have.

Sen. Bakk said that until he was exposed as playing political games with the Tax Repair Bill. Then he went into warp speed.

The GOP deserves praise in this for not supporting the biggest tax increase in Minnesota history. The GOP deserves praise for not buying into the DFL’s counterproductive tax increases. Minnesotans deserve praise for passionately criticizing the DFL’s tax increases.

UPDATE: This video is sickening:

Speaker Thissen spoke about tax relief for possibly 1,000,000 Minnesotans. Sen. Bakk praised the DFL for working at warp speed to get these tax ‘cuts’ passed. Isn’t it interesting that Sen. Bakk conveniently omitted the part about how he tried holding the tax repeals hostage to force the House to approve his Senate Office Building project? He didn’t budge until Gov. Dayton threw him under the bus because the political backlash was threatening a second Dayton term.

Sen. Bakk deserves criticism for playing politics with this Tax Repair Bill. Speaker Thissen and Gov. Dayton deserve criticism for passing the original tax increases which they repealed Friday. The DFL ‘leadership’ deserves criticism for putting a higher priority on voting their ideology than representing their constituents.

The good news is that we can fix two-thirds of the problem this November.

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Last spring, Zach Dorholt willingly voted for the DFL’s tax increase bill. This year, Rep. Dorholt is trying to wiggle out of that vote with a little spin:

For local Republicans, the DFLer in the crosshairs on this issue is St. Cloud Rep. Zachary Dorholt. He’s among the DFLers who voted for last year’s broad-ranging tax measure that included the business-to-business taxes.

Dorholt since has lobbied to repeal those taxes.

“I’m encouraged to see that Rep. Dorholt has changed his mind,” Sen. John Pederson, R-St. Cloud, said last week. “He originally supported those business-to-business taxes coming out of the House.”

Well, yes and no.

There’s no question Dorholt voted for the measure that put the taxes into law. He says the measure, which also raised taxes on wealthy people and tobacco, made other priorities possible, such as boosting funding for schools and freezing tuition at state colleges and universities.

“I’m not somebody who’s going to vote against a bill when it has much more good in it than bad,” Dorholt said.

But Dorholt says he never supported the business-to-business taxes.

Actually, it’s yes, no and yes again. Rep. Dorholt allegedly promised Teresa Bohnen, the president of the St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce, that he wouldn’t vote for the B2B taxes. Then he voted for the B2B sales taxes. That’s bad enough but it’s more than that, though. Rep. Dorholt said that he wouldn’t “vote against a bill” that “has much more good in it than bad.”

That sounds relatively reasonable. Unfortunately, further investigation of the bill shows that the bill didn’t have more good than bad in it. The final tax bill that Rep. Dorholt voted for didn’t just include the B2B sales taxes in it. That tax bill also had the Senate Office Building appropriations in it.

Did Rep. Dorholt think it was right to impose sales taxes on farmers and small businesses that rent warehouses? I’d love hearing Rep. Dorholt’s explanation on that. The B2B taxes were awful enough. Rep. Dorholt didn’t just vote for those taxes. He voted to fund a Taj Mahal building that the legislature didn’t need, too. He also voted to raise income taxes on small businesses.

Rep. Dorholt isn’t voting to repeal those B2B taxes. He’s voting to hide his mistake. He doesn’t want taxpayers noticing the fact that he voted to raise taxes on small businesses, farmers and the middle class while voting to fund a palace for Senate fat cats.

That isn’t the definition of voting for something that “has much more good in it than bad” in it. That’s voting to raise taxes regardless of the details.

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The DFL’s hostility towards businesses has been frequently documented. Tax the Rich became their mantra in 2008. It’s still part of their mantra today. Unfortunately for Minnesotans, Gov. Dayton and the DFL didn’t just ‘tax the rich.’ They dropped a ton of taxes on the middle class and the working poor.

Speaker Thissen officially went on the record at a Minnesota Chamber of Commerce event that the DFL will raise the minimum wage and that it’s likely to be closer to $9.50 per hour than $7.75 per hour:

Tuesday’s Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Session Priorities event may have been full of literature, displays and speeches promoting business interests, but House Speaker Paul Thissen wasn’t shy about telling business leaders that they won’t be getting some of the biggest items on their wish list.

For starters, the highest income tax bracket is not going away, the DFLer from Minneapolis predicted. There will be a minimum wage hike, and that new minimum wage will be closer to the high end than the low end, he said.

“Quite frankly, I think this is the right direction for Minnesota to go. I know that’s going to disappoint a lot of the people in the room, but I think it’s where we should head,” Thissen said at the RiverCentre in St. Paul, where 1,650 tickets were sold to the annual event.

The short-term effect of raising the minimum wage to $9.50 per hour is that fewer teenagers will find jobs if the minimum wage is raised. In this sluggish economy, employers will have an additional excuse not to hire teenagers for summer jobs.

What’s most disturbing is that Thissen thinks that Democrats think this is the right direction to head in. It indicates that the DFL doesn’t understand what creates prosperity. One of Thissen’s top lieutenants, Rep. Ryan Winkler, repeatedly says that raising the minimum wage doesn’t hurt hiring. He’s both right and wrong. There’s sufficient proof that raising the minimum wage during good times isn’t tragic for businesses. It isn’t helpful but it isn’t catastrophic.

Likewise, there’s sufficient proof that raising the minimum wage during a struggling economy hurts hiring, especially with young people looking for their first job.

Finally, it looks like the warehousing services sales tax and the farm equipment repair sales tax will be repealed. Two weekends ago, SEIU Local 26 President Javier Morillo-Alicea tried spinning the repeal of these taxes as DFL tax relief. That’s the most deceitful spin I’ve heard in ages.

The DFL legislature passed a Tax Bill that raised too many taxes. After a lengthy public outcry, they’ve decided that it’s in the Democrats’ political self-interest to repeal their mistake before voters punish them this November. This isn’t about the Democrats realizing that their tax increases will hurt businesses.

It’s important to remember that these taxes were in Gov. Dayton’s initial budget. They were stripped from the Democrats’ Tax Bill thanks to an intense lobbying campaign by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. On the final weekend of last year’s session, the DFL put the tax increases back into the final bill.

Simply put, Democrats thumbed their noses at the Chamber. The DFL only changed directions when they noticed how upset the Chamber was with these tax hikes. Thissen is especially worried because the Senate isn’t up for re-election. That means all of the Chamber’s anger will be directed at House DFL legislators.

That isn’t automatically catastrophic with a statewide candidate, though it can’t help. It’s likely to have the biggest impact in House races where a well-funded challenger can defeat a vulnerable incumbent. That’s why Thissen is rightfully worried.

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