Archive for the ‘Pork’ Category
Jeff Johnson’s campaign is highlighting what’s been happening with the Community Action Partnership of Minneapolis fiasco. This time, the Johnson campaign highlights Gov. Dayton’s past statements about the Community Action Partnership of Minneapolis:
Johnson has proposed performance and fiscal audits of all state programs, beginning with human services programs, to determine which ones work and which ones are a waste of taxpayers dollars. In a September 14 Star Tribune story on Johnson’s audit proposal, Mark Dayton said: “The decades-old accusation that Minnesota government recklessly wastes money on people who are poor, sick, or elderly is unfair and unfounded.”
Actually, Gov. Dayton, Commissioner Johnson’s statement is accurate. Since Gov. Dayton made that ill-advised statement, he’s changed his perspective:
“It’s incredibly ironic that, after criticizing my plan to audit all state programs—beginning with human services programs—this egregious waste of taxpayer dollars has surfaced,” Johnson added. “My audit plan is clearly needed, and Mark Dayton is clearly out-of-touch.”
Actually, Dayton’s statements aren’t as much out-of-touch as they are a predictable defense of liberalism. The most important principle behind liberalism and budgeting is that every penny ever appropriated is forever justified. In fact, in 2007, the DFL legislature fought to have inflation calculated into the budget:
That’s bad enough but Democrats pushing to install “an automatic inflator put into the calculation of the state budget forecast” ain’t gonna fly. This is something that should be rejected before it’s ever proposed. There should be a public outcry against this type of reckless spending. We should recognize this scheme for what it is: an attempt to codify into law liberalism’s dream of ever-increasing taxing and spending.
The thought that government was spending money foolishly was the farthest thing from the DFL’s mind. I had multiple arguments with liberal commenters about that at the time. Gov. Dayton certainly would’ve agreed with the principles behind baseline budgeting, which is based on the thought that budgets must increase each year.
That’s the principle behind not spotting the mismanagement seen in the Community Action Partnership of Minneapolis fiasco. The DFL thinks that budgets should increase each year. Therefore, in the DFL’s thinking, auditing special interest organizations that get government grant money isn’t needed.
“I’m very troubled by and tired of Mark Dayton’s continuous pattern of creating or contributing to problems and then trying to claim credit for fixing them after the damage is done,” Johnson said. “Today, for the second time this week, Dayton’s DHS has employed its ‘arsonist with a fire hose’ strategy. Dayton’s ties to the leaders of Community Action Partnership of Minneapolis are numerous, and if he and his DHS commissioner were competent and aware of what’s happening, they would have discovered these issues long ago, without a tip from a whistleblower.”
It’s one thing for Gov. Dayton and the DFL to propose spending more money. It’s quite different, though, for Gov. Dayton and the DFL to initially pretend that money is being spent wisely, then expressing outrage once it’s proven that the money is getting spent foolishly.
It’s unacceptable that the all-DFL government didn’t care about Community Action Partnership of Minneapolis until it became a political liability. It’s better to be proactive in preventing these fiascos than to clean up the mess after the fact.
Jeff Johnson’s audit plan will identify organizations and agencies that are spending money foolishly. There’s no question that Jeff Johnson will implement proactive policies to prevent these things from happening. There’s no doubt that Gov. Dayton has operated government with a clean-up-the-mess-after-the-fact attitude.
It’s time Minnesota took a proactive approach to protecting the taxpayers. Only Jeff Johnson will bring that approach to governing. Gov. Dayton certainly hasn’t.
Tom Hauser’s Truth Test of Gov. Dayton’s ad might’ve gotten an A in accuracy if he hadn’t tried marketing himself as a tax cutter:
NARRATOR: Cut taxes while increasing our rainy day fund and investing in education.
HAUSER: It’s true that Gov. Dayton increased the rainy day fund and invested more in education but it’s false to say that Dayton cut taxes, so false that it nearly overwhelms everything else that’s true in this ad. In fact, Dayton and the DFL legislature raised taxes by $2,000,000,000 in the 2013 session. In 2014, they cut taxes $508,000,000, partially by repealing taxes that they’d increased the year before. So over those 2 years, there’s a net tax increase of $1,500,000,000.
Later in the segment, Hauser said that “He admits it. He ran for governor by promising he’d raise taxes.” I’ll repeat what I’ve said previously. Repealing taxes that you just raised and/or created isn’t a tax cut. It’s a reduction in the size of the tax increase.
Gov. Dayton’s first instinct, which is shared by House and Senate DFL leadership, is to propose raising taxes first, then submitting a mulligan budget later when political pressure mounts:
In 2011, Gov. Dayton proposed massive tax increases, including a top income tax bracket of 10.95% and a 3% surcharge for people making $1,000,000 or more. When the deficit forecast was revised down from $6,200,000,000 to $5,030,000,000, Gov. Dayton immediately dropped the income tax surcharge. Eventually, the GOP majority forced him to drop his tax increases.
Raising taxes won’t be Jeff Johnson’s first instinct. He’ll ride herd on bureaucrats that don’t have the taxpayers’ best interests at heart because that’s who he is:
The difference between Jeff Johnson and Gov. Dayton is stunning. Gov. Dayton starts with the assumption that every state agency should have its budget increased. Jeff Johnson doesn’t start with the assumption that agencies’ budgets should be automatically increased.
Jeff Johnson has a lengthy history as Hennepin County Commissioner of highlighting government spending money foolishly. He’ll continue that habit as governor.
Minnesota families don’t need a governor who raises taxes first, spends money foolishly second, then tells them that he’s cut taxes on the campaign trail. Minnesota families deserve a governor who’s proven that he’ll be the taxpayers’ watchdog.
Jeff Johnson is the only gubernatorial candidate who fits that last description.
This Star Tribune article isn’t stunning from the perspective that people generally don’t worry how they spend other people’s money. It’s startling from the perspective that Gov. Dayton didn’t have a clue about this. First, here’s what the Star Tribune is reporting:
Leaders of a Minneapolis nonprofit that serves low-income residents used taxpayer money to pay for a celebrity cruise and trips to Palm Beach and the Bahamas, according to a recently completed state audit.
Along with the trips, the audit by the state Department of Human Services found that the nonprofit’s leaders spent public money on bonuses, golf, spa treatments, furniture, alcohol and even a personal car loan.
The audit concluded that the organization’s longtime chief executive, Bill Davis, misspent hundreds of thousands of dollars from 2011 to 2013.
I’m not a prosecutor but I’ve got to think that it’s illegal to use taxpayer money to make payments on a personal car loan. It isn’t that I think that the other things listed are good governance. It’s just that I think there might be a semi-plausible explanation for some of the things listed. This part jumps off the page at me:
Davis said his group, Community Action of Minneapolis, sent the state 112 pages of information in early September challenging some of the audit’s findings. He said in an interview that information has been “totally ignored” in the final report.
“I’ve been here for 24 years,” Davis said. “I’m well aware of my responsibilities. I wouldn’t be elected to national boards if I was doing things I shouldn’t be doing.”
Let’s look at that last statement about being “elected to national boards” if he was doing things he shouldn’t have been doing. Of course he would. That wouldn’t matter to people swimming in the same cesspool. They’re cronies who think that they’re entitled to the perks. In this instance, Mr. Davis went too far.
This part is jaw-dropping stunning:
Auditors blamed Community Action’s board, which includes several well-known politicians and community leaders, for a lack of oversight and for personally benefiting from $34,892 worth of activities that “do not appear to serve a business purpose, and are considered waste and abuse as defined in state policy.”
Those activities included two weekend trips, between 2011 and 2013, to Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria, where board members and senior management spent $9,000 for lodging, $3,200 for food and $900 for spas.
Davis defended the trips as a “small gesture on our part to offer them a moment of relaxation or entertainment. It’s not like we do this every single week of the year.”
Spending $13,100 isn’t a “small gesture on our part.” That’s spending lavishly and/or extravagantly. Other than identifying that fact, I’d like to know what Community Action of Minneapolis’s employees did to justify this lavish spending.
Our taxes are paying for a significant portion of Community Action’s budget:
Community Action had an $11 million budget in fiscal year 2011, with over half of its revenue coming from government grants. The audit’s findings put Community Action at risk of losing at least $2.8 million in aid.
Initially, Mark Dayton responded to Jeff Johnson’s call for an extensive audit of NPOs by saying “The decades-old accusation that Minnesota government recklessly wastes money on people who are poor, sick, or elderly is unfair and unfounded.” Now that the facts are out, Gov. Dayton is singing a different tune:
Gov. Mark Dayton on Monday said that a Star Tribune report of a nonprofit using state funds to subsidize cruises, a director’s car lease and spa treatments was very concerning and alarming. “I was personally really appalled,” Dayton said. “I take it very seriously.”
Now that it’s been proven that Community Action of Minneapolis spent taxpayers’ money foolishly, Gov. Dayton is backtracking. Fast. We don’t need a governor who takes things seriously after the fact. What’s needed is someone who takes steps to prevent it from happening in the first place.
Technorati: Bill Davis, Community Action of Minneapolis, Non-profit Organization, Mark Dayton, Personal Car Loan, Spa Treatments, Arrowwood Lodge, Audit, DFL, Jeff Johnson, Taxpayers’ Watchdog, MNGOP, Election 2014
The highlight of Bill Hanna’s article about his interview with DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin is this quote:
“I think we’re in a good position to close out the election. But we can’t be too cocky. That’s how we lose.”
Here’s a hint for Martin. The DFL doesn’t lose when it’s too cocky. It’s always too cocky. The DFL loses when it pays too much attention to its special interest allies and ignores the people. It loses when it goes hard ideological. That’s what happened in 2009-2010. That’s when the DFL legislature insisted on passing a budget filled with tax increases that paid for its payoffs to its special interests.
Tom Bakk, the Senate Majority Leader, has said that Minnesotans “don’t mind paying a little more in taxes” because they get their money’s worth from those taxes. That’s the DFL’s Achille’s Heal this year.
- Minnesotans aren’t getting their money’s worth from those increased taxes when DFL plutocrats take $90,000,000 to pay for an office building for part-time politicians instead of paying to fix Minnesota’s pothole-riddled streets.
- Minnesotans definitely aren’t getting their money’s worth from those increased taxes to pay for the utter incompetence at MNsure.
- The DFL can’t claim that Minnesota’s entrepreneurs were helped by raising their taxes. Job creation has virtually stopped since the Dayton-DFL tax increases hit these small businesses.
The only thing that’s helping the DFL right now is that the Twin Cities media’s coverage has changed since early summer. Back then, they actually talked about the negative effects the DFL’s policies were having, especially on the Iron Range. Now they’ve returned to talking only about the race to the finish.
DFL pundits, from Larry Jacobs to Ember Reichgott-Junge to Mindy Greiling, praise the strength of the Dayton-DFL economy because Minnesota’s unemployment rate is artificially low. They don’t talk about things like how many people have quit looking for work or how many “Starbucks MBAs” are employed in jobs that they’re vastly overqualified for.
The DFL promised jobs during their campaigns. They didn’t promise careers, with the exception of a career as a government bureaucrat. During the past 12 months, the Dayton-DFL economy has created 21,523 public sector jobs. That’s compared with the Dayton-DFL economy creating 2,900 total jobs in the last 7 months.
Chairman Martin’s job is to elect as many Democrats as possible, regardless of how much that’d hurt Minnesota. With outstate Minnesota’s unemployment rate high, it’s safe to say that the Dayton-DFL economic policies are hurting Minnesotans.
That’s especially true for the Range, where the region-wide unemployment rate is 8.02% compared with a statewide unemployment rate of 4.88%. Doing nothing while a major region of the state stagnates isn’t doing what’s best for the state. That’s the result of the DFL telling the Range that they’ll pay attention to the environmental activist-elitist wing of the DFL while ignoring the blue collar wing of the DFL represented by the Range.
It’s time for the Range to wake up and realize that the DFL is playing them for fools. It’s time they realized that Ken Martin’s DFL isn’t the Iron Range’s friend. It’s its enemy.
If the Iron Range realizes that, it’ll result in a happy ending for the Range because it’ll mean an end to DFL reign in St. Paul.
Technorati: Ken Martin, Iron Range, Blue Collar Workers, Twin Cities Elitists, Environmental Activists, Media Bias, Twin Cities Media, Larry Jacobs, Mindy Greiling, Ember Reichgott-Junge, DFL, Election 2014
Tim Pugmire’s article on the Senate Office Building highlights the DFL’s misplaced priorities and the DFL’s campaign year spin:
A recent KSTP poll found the public disapproval of the building at 68 percent. The four Republicans trying to unseat Dayton are making it a campaign issue, and so are their allies. The group Americans for Prosperity highlighted the issue in a new radio ad slamming Dayton.
“Let’s not forget that he spent $90 million for a brand new office building for state Senators…and new offices for himself too,” an announcer says in the ad. “So, Mark Dayton is building places for politicians while we struggle to make ends meet.”
Here’s House Majority Leader Erin Murphy’s spin on the DFL’s disaster:
“It’s not coming up for Minnesotans. It’s not coming up as I’m talking to our members, and they’re out door knocking already,” said Murphy, DFL-St. Paul. “So, I understand that the Republicans think it’s an issue that they can use to drive division, and they will spend their time talking about that. “We’re going to spend our time talking about the future of Minnesota.”
That’s what’s known as whistling past the graveyard. Rep. Murphy wishes this wasn’t an issue. Unfortunately for her and the DFL, wishing won’t make it so. It’s an issue because it’s another instance where the legislature ignored the will of the people.
The DFL can spin this all it wants. The numbers tell the tale. People understand that it’s wrong to spend $90,000,000 on a building that’ll be used 3-5 months a year.
This issue ties into another issue that’ll hurt the DFL, which is that they increased spending by $6,000,000,000 this biennium over the 2012-13 biennium. It’s right for Minnesotans to ask what they got for that spending. The answer is simple.
They didn’t get much. There’s still a mega-sized achievement gap in K-12 education. Incompetence is the rule, not the exception, in the MnSCU system. Iconic companies are leaving Minnesota. MNsure is still a mess. MNsure didn’t work when it launched. What’s worse is that it won’t be fixed this fall, either.
In short, the DFL spent money foolishly and in record amounts. What’s worse is that the DFL specialized in growing incompetence, not prosperity. As a result, Minnesotans paid higher taxes without getting a benefit.
As such, the Senate Office Building is the perfect symbol of what happens when the DFL controls the levers of the state government.
Contrary to what this SC Times editorial says, St. Cloud legislators should vote against the DFL’s pork-filled bonding bill. When you factor this information into the equation, it’s the right thing to do:
Not quite so clear-cut are a mix of additional projects statewide proposed to be paid for with cash lawmakers want to pull from the state’s projected budget surplus.
Unlike the bonding bill, any negotiated bonding deal using this money requires majority votes only, meaning the DFL controls the outcome.
Dayton’s surplus-funded list totals about $126 million. The Senate plan pushes $200 million. And the House plan sits at $125 million, although House DFL leaders have talked of increasing that amount.
If the DFL insists on spending $200,000,000 of one-time surplus money in addition to the $850,000,000 bonding bill, then Republicans should vote no without hesitating. If the DFL wants to be that fiscally reckless, let them explain their actions. Republicans shouldn’t provide political cover for DFL legislators.
The Senate plan provides $11 million for a parking ramp near the center. Plans released earlier from the House and Gov. Mark Dayton both provided $11.56 million, which equates to full funding for the ramp. Obviously, full funding is preferred. Regardless, inclusion in all three plans is the best sign yet that the state will finally contribute to this vital regional project.
There’s no question that the St. Cloud business community and St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis want this project. Similarly, there’s no question whether the DFL’s additional nonbonding spending is a deal breaker, especially in light of the fact that none of the bonding bills includes much money for filling Minnesota’s potholes or fixing Minnesota’s bridges.
A bonding bill that prioritized fixing Minnesota’s potholes and bridges would be a worthwhile investment. It’s impossible to sell Minnesotans that a bill that’s mostly about funding convention centers and renovating the Ordway isn’t a Minnesota priority.
That’s why voting no on the current proposal is imperative.
Technorati: Bonding Bill, Roads and Bridges, Infrastructure, John Pederson, Tama Theis, Jeff Howe, Dave Kleis, Fiscal Restraint, Mark Dayton, Tom Bakk, Paul Thissen, Zach Dorholt, Rivers Edge Convention Center, Pork, 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.
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.