Archive for the ‘Taxpayer Revolt’ Category
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Technorati: Paul Thissen, Mark Dayton, Tax Increases, Warehouse Services Sales Tax, Farm Equipment Repair Sales Tax, Ryan Winkler, Minimum Wage Increase, DFL, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, Election 2014
After reading this article, I’m wondering if I’m living the United States or in the former Soviet Union. Seriously, does anyone think that governments should be able to use eminent domain to take private property from a family to build biking hiking trails? That’s what Dakota County is attempting to do:
The county is seeking a “quick-take” condemnation, effectively a compelled sale, of four parcels of land in the park reserve, offering a total of about $2 million.
County commissioners voted in November to take the land, saying the properties are a key part of a planned trail and other features.
What’s more important: private property rights or giving government to take any piece of land to do with it whatever it wants to do? This is stealing. What’s especially appalling is the taking of the land to build biking and hiking trails. What’s worse is that Dakota County is attempting to steal this private property for a questionable project while offering the property owners settlements at far less than fair market value:
Aho said the county hasn’t shown enough progress on other planned improvements besides the trail to demonstrate a need for condemnation.
She also said the county’s offer for the land, $370,000, “drastically undervalued” assets like a marina and 1,000-plus feet of lakeshore.
After WWII, eminent domain was used to buy the land needed to build the interstate highway or other high priority pieces of infrastructure that led to great increases of wealth and prosperity to the masses. Since Kelo v. New London, eminent domain has been used to take property from private property owners and give it to government so it can create parks or bike trails.
What’s upsetting to me is that Dakota County thinks that the perceived wishes of the many are more important than the rights of the individual. They aren’t. First, the community’s wish list shouldn’t rate as a higher priority than a private property landowner’s rights. The thought that the landowner’s rights are getting set aside is disturbing enough. The thought that they’re getting set aside for something as frivolous as a community park is especially upsetting.
Next, it’s worth noting that special interest organizations are likely behind this taking. County commissioners don’t just wake up one morning and say to themselves ‘Hey, let’s create a new park.’ It isn’t a stretch to think that they’re approached by special interest organizations who have an agenda but who don’t live near the proposed takings.
Finally, check out the government’s arrogance:
“There’s a great need for this,” commissioner Kathleen Gaylord said at the meeting. “We do need to move forward. The board has come to the conclusion that it is time to move forward. This is a needed piece of property in order to complete our trail in the Spring Lake Park area and to provide the access to the park that our master plan has envisioned for decades. We’re just coming to the head now. It’s time to move forward.”
The board’s conclusion. The commissioners’ needs. The project’s vision. What’s appalling is that Kathy Gaylord and 5 other commissioners put the government’s wish list ahead of the private property owner’s rights. Apparently, Kathy Gaylord and the other slugs who voted to take this land don’t care about these families’ rights.
Anytime that government puts a higher priority on their projects than they put on individuals’ rights, our nation moves closer to authoritarian rule. That isn’t who we are as a nation.
We The People should reject this type of tyrannical government ASAP.
Technorati: Takings Clause, Fifth Amendment, Kelo v. New London, Constitution, Dakota County Commissioners, Kathleen Gaylord, Special Interests, Moscow on the Mississippi, Authoritarianism, Weaponized Government, We The People, Private Property, Private Property Rights, Life, Liberty and Property
If this article is right, then we’re seeing the first signs that opposition to the Senate Office Building is mounting:
Lawmakers in Minnesota had hoped to break ground in March on a $63 million new state Senate office building next to the state Capitol in St. Paul.
But a fight has broken out over the project, which critics have called an unnecessary expense in a city with high office vacancy.
The project has been delayed amid the debate, and now could face further delays because a committee of the state House of Representatives intends to hold a hearing in coming weeks rather than vote immediately on the project.
House Majority Leader Erin Murphy said in an interview that she felt some of the concerns raised by critics were legitimate. “Before we’re going to take that vote, I want to make sure that we’ve had ample time to consider the options before us,” she said. Those options include using existing government space to house Senate workers, she said. “I think that it is important to get this right, versus get it fast.”
Yesterday, I wrote this post to highlight the fact that Sen. Bakk shrouded this project in secrecy because he knew that publicity would kill the plan. In that post, I highlighted the fact that Sen. Bakk didn’t write a standalone bill for this project.
That’s exceptionally odd for this big of a project, especially in light of the fact that legislators routinely write bills for tiny projects to be included in the Bonding Bill.
Sen. Bakk didn’t write a bill for this project, opting instead to introduce this project as an amendment to last year’s Tax Bill. Testimony wasn’t taken for or against Sen. Bakk’s ‘amendment’, probably because Sen. Bakk didn’t want the publicity.
Opposition to this project must be building. If it wasn’t, Erin Murphy wouldn’t be exercising this tiny amount of fiscal restraint. Rep. Murphy is lots of things but the taxpayers’ watchdog isn’t one of those things.
This feels like a sinking ship. Holding a hearing on the project will bring out tons of angry taxpayers protesting this project. I’m betting there won’t be many people testifying that the project should proceed. I’d bet the proverbial ranch that Sen. Bakk won’t testify that this project is needed.
Like the Tax Bill this project was contained in, this project is a portrait of the Democrats’ lack of fiscal restraint. Now that it’s exposed, they’ll try telling us that they had to vote for the Tax Bill. The Tax Bill itself is part of the Democrats’ attack on taxpayers.
This weekend, Javier Morillo-Alicea tried spinning the repeal of the B2B sales tax increases as proof of the DFL’s plan for tax relief. That’s chutzpah personified. They raised those taxes last May. If people hadn’t expressed their disgust with those tax increases, they’d still be in the bill.
Thanks to that opposition, they’re likely to repeal those sales taxes. Thanks to this uprising, they’re likely to defund the SOB (Senate Office Building).
The thing to remember is that the Democrats’ first instinct was to a) raise taxes on the middle class and b) spend money on a lavish, ill-advised palace for themselves. They voted for the Tax Bill. They voted against stripping out the Senate project. Democrat legislators can’t credibly say that they oppose it. They cast their votes. They expressed their priorities.
They’re opposing this project because they’d get clobbered this November if they didn’t.
Keep the pressure on. Don’t relent. Plan on attending this hearing. Plan on testifying against this project. Let’s sink this project once and for all.
If anything is gaining traction as a totally unexpected issue, it’s the DFL’s palace, aka the Senate Office Building. In January, Joe Soucheray wrote this blistering piece about the SOB foolishness. He wasn’t finished. He’s written this article to blast the foolishness again.
The duplicitous DFLers in the state Senate are moving the marble around under the thimbles. Again. Watch it. Keep your eyes sharp.
As near as I can understand it, they are now informing us that a new Senate office building they want to build for themselves has always been a part of the plan to renovate the Capitol building.
We didn’t know that. Most of us are on board to renovate the Capitol, but we didn’t sign on to build a new office building for 44 of the 67 senators as part of the project. No, they tossed that new building into a tax bill in the closing minutes of the last legislative session and are now trying to sell us on the idea of how desperately they need the new space and that was the plan all along.
Let’s cut through the DFL’s spin. It’s entirely possible that Democrats, starting with Sen. Bakk, always planned on building this monument. Before you get upset with me, take time to think of it from an Obamacare perspective. After President Obama said that people could keep their health plan if they liked it, they followed that up by saying it was never their intent to let people keep their “substandard health insurance plan.” There’s no disputing that.
Pay attention to this thinking. President Obama and DC Democrats always planned on quietly pushing people out of the health insurance plans that they liked. Likewise, it’s totally plausible that Sen. Bakk and the Democrats supported this ill-advised project if it was done quietly.
If you need to seriously remodel your house to the point where you have to move out, it is unlikely that you are going to build a new house for yourself in the interim. No, you would rent a house.
The senators can rent office space in St. Paul. They don’t need an opulent $63 million building with a $27 million parking ramp on the side. That parking ramp is a beautiful window into the minds of the people who brought you light rail. In fact, light rail will swing right by the Capitol. So they should put their mouths where your money is, rent some of the extraordinarily available office space in St. Paul, hop on the train and get dropped off at the Capitol for votes and meetings and whatnot. Why would they need a parking ramp? They don’t even like cars.
Let’s get to the heart of this. Had the Capitol press paid attention and if they were in touch with Main Street Minnesota, they would’ve highlighted this foolish spending. Rather than actually reading bills and asking questions about whether the bills working their way through the legislature, the Capitol press spends most of its time tracking down quotes from legislators.
That isn’t journalism. That’s stenography. If newspapers want to increase readership, they should require their reporters to read the bills that are getting passed.
Part of the problem, unfortunately, is because people don’t care until after the outrage has happened. If people don’t want money to be spent foolishly, the citizenry should be eternally vigilant. Then, if politicians spend money this foolishly, the citizens should boot their arses out.
Finally, let’s have a straightfoward discussion about what Sen. Bakk perpetrated. Sen. Bakk didn’t want anyone to testify about his ill-advised initiative. That’s why he slid the proposal into the Tax Bill as an amendment in the final weeks of the session. If you look, Sen. Bakk didn’t author legislation proposing construction of the Senate Office Building.
It’s time for Minnesotans to step forward and speak with a loud, passionate and unified voice that any politician that isn’t willing to stop this project dead in its tracks will be targeted and defeated this November. Legislators who aren’t the taxpayers’ watchdog are utterly worthless. They should be fired this November.
That’s the only remedy for this disease. When people get re-elected after spending money foolishly, citizens are sending the signal that they’re ok with foolish spending. I’m not ok with this foolish spending.
Defunding this project is imperative to good governance and protecting the taxpayers’ pocketbooks. The House Rules Committee can stop this ill-advised project with a simple vote. Here’s the committee website. All of the GOP legislators will vote against the project so it’s imperative to call or email the DFL committee members and politely but firmly tell them that a vote to approve this project is a vote that will be remembered this November.
Technorati: Tom Bakk, Plutocrats, Senate Office Building, House Rules Committee, Committee Hearing, Legislative Amendment, Secrecy, Pork, DFL, Accountability, Transparency, Taxpayer Revolt, MNGOP, Election 2014
This SCTimes Our View editorial highlights something obvious: that the “legislature didn’t consider [the] taxpayers’ interests:
The Legislature’s $90 million plan to build a Senate office building is as wasteful as it is self-serving.
Lawmakers signed off last session on a multimillion-dollar plan to construct a new Senate office building and parking structure across the street from the Capitol.
The office building is as pure of pork as you’ll ever find. It wouldn’t house the entire Senate. It would only house 44 of Minnesota’s 67 state senators. I agree with this part of the editorial, too:
Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk has said the new building is needed to ensure the Senate has enough office space the next three years during the Capitol renovation.
But a $90 million office building and parking ramp paid for by taxpayers is excessive, especially if some senators will not continue to have offices there once Capitol renovations are complete.
Lawmakers should have considered housing senators’ offices in rentable commercial properties near the Capitol. Surely that would have been a more affordable plan than building new offices, which also will take time to construct.
Sen. Bakk should be run out of St. Paul for shoving this project down our throats. It’s excessive. It shouldn’t have gotten a committee hearing. It certainly shouldn’t have gotten through a committee. The DFL legislators who voted for the Tax Bill had the opportunity to strip this provision from the bill. They voted against stripping the provision from the bill.
That means they’re just as guilty of pouring on the pork as Sen. Bakk and Gov. Dayton are. Gov. Dayton could’ve line-item vetoed out the appropriation of money for this project. That’s certainly within a governor’s rights under Minnesota’s constitution. They can’t line-item out policies but they can line-item out appropriations.
The House Rules Committee should reject the proposal. If they did that, they’d stop the project dead in its tracks, which is what it deserves. We know that ground hasn’t been broken yet. That means construction hasn’t started. While there’d be some hard feelings in the Senate if the House rejected the project, it’d be worth it because it would halt the project.