Archive for the ‘Dave Thompson’ Category
For years, teachers have been double-dipping their pension accounts. Once again, the St. Paul Teachers’ Retirement Association is asking for another bailout of their pension plan while selling it as a reasonable fix to the situation. It isn’t reasonable to the taxpayers. It’s a rip-off.
A proposal is expected to be introduced in the Minnesota Legislature in the next two weeks.
The goal is to close a projected $16.7 million per year gap between what the fund needs each year and what it actually brings in.
“This is a problem that’s easier to remedy now than 10 years from now,” said Paul Doane, the association’s executive director. “I’m convinced this is a major step forward that will help both the long-term solvency and sustainability issue.”
It’s imperative that the remedy include 3 things. First, it’s imperative that the fix end the defined benefit plan. Next, it’s imperative that retire-and-rehire programs stop ASAP. Finally, it’s imperative that early retirement be eliminated. Here’s why it’s imperative the retire-then-rehire program is stopped:
The fund estimates it could get another $3.4 million by increasing employee and employer contributions by 1 percent for each and modifying early retirement and return-to-work policies.
Under the proposal, retirees would have to wait six months before they can return to a job with the district, up from 30 days now. And, if they make more than $46,000 after they return, they would lose some pension benefits, which are now set aside and paid out after returnees leave the district.
TRANSLATION: Retire-then-rehire programs are costing taxpayers millions of dollars in pensions.
What’s fair about telling private sector employees that they’re getting hit with a tax increase to pay for a teacher to retire when they’re 55, then start collecting a pension, then go on a month-long vacation before getting a cushy consultant’s job? That’s the system as it currently exists.
Why should taxpayers be funding a pension fund so public sector employees can retire when they’re fifty-something, especially when it’s a defined benefit pension plan?
There’s a fight brewing on this crisis. This provides a good glimpse into the bailout fight:
Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, who will sponsor the House version of the bill, said this proposal is “fair, appropriate and prudent.”
She noted that St. Paul Teachers received no state aid from 1987 to 1993. The state provided $22 million in annual aid to help the former Minneapolis teachers’ pension fund reduce its shortfall before it merged into the state’s larger Teachers Retirement Association pension fund.
But Thompson rejects the idea of using taxpayer dollars to shore up the fund while many private-sector workers are scaling back their own retirement plans because of the market downturn. He said the proposal is especially unpalatable because its proposed benefit increase negates the higher contributions from employees.
“In a nutshell, the St. Paul Teachers’ Retirement Fund is looking for a net increase in benefits, with the state acting as a guarantor of their investments,” he said. “In this economy, that’s really asking a lot.”
Rep. Kahn’s reply exposed the system’s flaw when she said that St. Paul teachers didn’t receive any state aid from 1987 through 1993. The first pertinent question is “why should Minnesota taxpayers bailout a St. Paul public employees pension plan”? The thinking should’ve been that a pension plan that’s underfunded at a time when the economy and stock market are going strong has a major structural flaw.
The response back then should’ve been to either insist on major structural reforms or let the teachers and trustees run the pension into bankruptcy. Overpromising isn’t a virtue. It’s a curse.
Sen. Thompson is right in saying that it’s wrong to ask taxpayers to fund a bailout that would improve benefits for people in the St. Paul Teachers’ Retirement Fund. With people living longer, increasing benefits isn’t sustainable. That means this pension fund will need another bailout a decade from now.
How’s that fair to private sector taxpayers?
Follow this link to read more on the subject.
Tags: Public Employee Unions, St. Paul Teachers’ Retirement Fund, Unfunded Liability, Pension Bailout, Phyllis Kahn, DFL, Dave Thompson, Pension Reform, Taxpayers, MNGOP
I wrote here that Rep. Ward’s bill went too far in eliminating the basic skills test for teacher licensure. In that post, I highlighted the difference between SF547 and HF171. Rep. Ward’s bill eliminates testing for reading, writing and math skills. Sen. Bonoff’s bill keeps that requirement.
This morning, this PiPress editorial has a simple message:
[M]inimum standards for all teachers are a common-sense expectation for our schools. Lawmakers should insist on them.
The PiPress editorial notes that the minimum standards test isn’t perfect. They note, however, that lawmakers are insisting on accountability:
Rep. Andrea Kieffer, a Woodbury Republican who sponsored the 2012 teacher-testing bill, said she has added her name to a House bill to address some of the issues, but as far as repeal is concerned, “I have to ask, ‘Why?’ ” she told us.
“Teacher effectiveness is the No. 1 factor in academic success,” Kieffer said. If a teacher has trouble with basic grammar, spelling or math, “should they be teaching our kids in the classroom?”
Based on Rep. Ward’s legislation, it’s apparent that Tom Dooher, the president of Education Minnesota, thinks passing the test isn’t important. Rep. Kieffer isn’t the only legislator who’s pushing for teacher accountability:
The public “expects accountability,” said Sen. Dave Thompson, a Republican from Lakeville, who said he would be very disturbed “if this ends up being repealed and all of a sudden the whole concept of a basic skills test goes away.”
Rep. Ward’s legislation would repeal the basic skills test. That isn’t the right direction. That’s taking Minnesota students, parents and other taxpayers in the wrong direction.
If Rep. Ward is going to be Tom Dooher’s puppet, then his constituents in Brainerd need to send him the message that he isn’t representing their views.
Recently, Rep. Drazkowski joined Sen. Thompson in introducing legislation that would put a right to work constitutional amendment on November’s ballot. The thought of giving workers the opportunity to say no to unionization is initially appealing. After additional thought, though, it’s apparent that first impressions aren’t right impressions.
First, adding a right to work constitutional amendment to the ballot will attract alot of special interest money to Minnesota. Why would we want to add another lightning rod to the ballot to drive DFL turnout?
Policywise, I get what’s appealing about right to work. It shrinks unions’ political power, something that’s badly needed considering the rash of nasty behavior by SEIU and AFSCME.
It’s plain wrong to force people into a union and to pay union dues. That’s why I opposed Gov. Dayton’s attempt to force child care small businesses into unions.
The marriage amendment is a lightning rod already. Millions of dollars of special interest money will be spent to defeat it. Millions more will be spent to justify it.
Do we really need this election decided by the left’s special interest money?
The best way to do this is to bide the time until 2014, when we’ll defeat or scare Gov. Dayton into not running again. Then the legislature can pass a right to work bill without flooding the election with millions of special interest influence.
It’s important that legislative consesrvatives make wise strategic and tactical decisions this election cycle. With their majorities hinging on turnout, GOP legislators need to pick their fights wisely.
In this instance, it’s important to choose not to fight this fight.
Gov. Dayton is chafing at the notion that GOP legislators will push reforms aimed at creating jobs and restoring election integrity:
The Republican rush to the ballot has drawn the ire of Dayton and legislative Democrats. Dayton can’t block lawmakers from putting proposed amendments on the ballot, and he’s been scathing as he considers the prospect of a November ballot packed with conservative aims.
“My concern about constitutional amendments except in very, very rare circumstances is that the design of our government is to have the legislative branch work in consultation and cooperation with the executive branch. There has to be a collaboration there, an agreement,” Dayton said.
That’s a joke. Rep. Thissen, Sen. Bakk and Rep. Winkler have been pictures of obstructionism. Let’s remember that Rep. Thissen and Sen. Bakk were the obstructionists that triggered the shutdown:
Gov. Dayton rejected the GOP’s counterproposal, saying “However, I can not agree to both a tobacco bond issuance and a school shift, neither of which are permanent revenues.”
There were no additional revenues in Gov. Dayton’s initial proposal. That means someone, possibly Sen. Bakk or Rep. Thissen, got to him. Or maybe it’s that Tina Smith, Ken Martin or Michele Kelm-Helgen got to him and forced him to break his promise and back away from his initial offer.
That isn’t all they sabotaged. They didn’t lift a finger in terms of drafting a set of redistricting maps:
Sen. Bakk once went as far as saying that he “wouldn’t know why” the DFL would make a budget proposal of their own. (Because it would show you aren’t being obstructionists, Sen. Bakk.) The DFL legislature, both in the House and Senate, refused to create redistricting maps. Instead, they offered to have hearings around the state this summer in the hopes of “putting together a bill that Gov. Dayton can sign.”
Gov. Dayton, does that sound like the type of leadership that’s interested in “consultation and cooperation”? I think not. Then again, Gov. Dayton’s veto of the legislature’s redistricting maps wasn’t a picture in bipartisanship.
The DFL, like their national brethren, call for bipartisanship and collaboration when they’re the minority party. When they’re the majority party, they’re about ignoring the GOP.
The DFL is horrified by the thought of real election integrity. Voter fraud cases are frequently reported by the alternative media, though that isn’t reported by the Agenda Media.
As for creating jobs, Sen. Dave Thompson has announced that he’ll introduce a right to work constitutional amendment. The reason why that’s a job creation amendment is because right to work states have greater job creation rates because companies like the idea of not hassling with unions.
Here’s what Sen. Thompson recently wrote:
I am excited to tell you that I intend to author the employee freedom, or right to work constitutional amendment. States that allow employees to work for anyone without being compelled to join a union or pay union dues are leading the nation economically. But even more importantly, no American should be forced to join a group or pay dues to a third party in order to have a job.
Adding to what Sen. Thompson said, here’s what the NILRR wrote about job creation rates:
Moreover, the Right to Work job-growth advantage has continued to be unusually wide even since the nationwide recovery began to gather steam in 2003. Between 2003 and 2005, aggregate private-sector job growth in forced-dues states was just 2.3%. Meanwhile, private-sector jobs in Right to Work states increased by 4.9%, or roughly 120% more.
Federally-sanctioned forced union dues have predictable economic consequences. Among them are Big Labor’s use of rigid work rules and cultivation of the “hate the boss” mentality to cement its power over employees.
Right to Work laws protect the freedom of both private- and public-sector employees to keep and hold a job without forking over dues or fees to a union that is recognized as their “exclusive” (actually, monopoly) bargaining agent.
There are places where unions aren’t just good, they’re essential. I’m thinking specifically about the coal miners union. That union is essential in guaranteeing miner safety.
When unions first formed, most of them were private sector unions. Most were used to negotiate wages from large corporations who had the upper hand. The vast majority of today’s jobs are in small- and mid-size businesses.
There’s more competition between these sized businesses, both for customers and for talented personnel. That competition, not unions, creates opportunities for employees.
The reality is that DFL legislators and Gov. Dayton will be obstructionists because they’d rather talk about “Gov. Dayton’s amazing jobs bill”, aka Gov. Dayton’s bonding bill. (The quote is from Carrie Lucking from the Jan. 13 Almanac roundtable discussion.)
In the past, I’ve called bonding bills debt bills as often as I’ve called them stimulus bills. They don’t improve Minnesota’s business climate but they’re a great way of bringing the pork into downtown St. Paul and Minneapolis through new transit projects or studies.
Apparently, the Strib’s Jim Ragsdale hasn’t figured it out that the child care unionization story is dead, killed by the child care business owners themselves. In this morning’s paper, Ragsdale essentially runs interference for AFSCME and the SEIU:
These providers are not covered by state labor law applying to public employees, a House researcher concluded, and might also be outside of federal labor law applying to private employers. But Sojourner said that while organizing them does not fit into the traditional union model, “it fits easily into the broader sense of what a union can be.” With declining union membership, he said, the traditional model “ain’t working too well.”
Unions like the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Service Employees International Union, which are leading this drive, are experimenting with new models. One unanswered question is whether this initiative would allow providers to independently decide whether to associate or whether they would be forced to do so by a majority of their peers.
Many people join together for mutual benefit, even people who battle unions. And everyone would agree that a good child care provider is a priceless family asset. This debate over an issue so close to home may cause Minnesotans to look again at what a union is, and what it could be.
Perhaps he didn’t know it but Ragsdale wrote why child care businesses should reject unionization when he said this:
With declining union membership, he said, the traditional model “ain’t working too well.”
The only people who benefit from unions are the less-than-outstanding members of their profession. What incentive do teachers have to excel? Fran Tarkenton points out the illogic of the unions in this WSJ op-ed:
Some reformers, including Bill Gates, are finally catching on that our federally centralized, union-created system provides no incentive for better performance. If anything, it penalizes those who work hard because they spend time, energy and their own money to help students, only to get the same check each month as the worst teacher in the district (or an even smaller one, if that teacher has been there longer). Is it any surprise, then, that so many good teachers burn out or become disenchanted.
What positives would AFSCME or the SEIU bring to the child care business owners? Wouldn’t the right lobbying organization help these business owners more than AFSCME or the SEIU? Might there be a better solution to whichever problems are afflicting child care businesses? This exchange suggests there is:
This was at the core of an exchange between Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, and St. Paul child care provider Lisa Thompson, a union supporter, at a recent committee hearing.
“You’re a self-employed person,” said Thompson. “You set your rates…you can compete on price, on hours…who’s the oppressor?”
Lisa Thompson cited “our frustrations at the regulatory level,” meaning state and county licensing agencies, and allowed that “in many cases,” government is the “oppressor” for providers.
“Well, on that I suspect we agree,” said Thompson, the assistant Senate majority leader.
Based on Sen. Thompson’s reply, wouldn’t Ms. Thompson be better off having Sen. Thompson write legislation that improves Minnesota’s regulatory environment? Yes, unions can theoretically negotiate those things into a contract. When that contract expires, those provisions expire with the contract.
Why wouldn’t Ms. Thompson talk with Sen. Thompson to put the force of law behind the regulatory issues she says need improvement? Reforming Minnesota’s regulatory system is long overdue. Republicans announced during the special session that a major part of their agenda would be to pass “Reform 2.0″.
With a simple piece of legislation, we could put this forced unionization issue to rest without child care businesses having unionization forced down their throats.
Other than unions with dwindling membership and political influence, who could be against that?
Minnesotans in general, Minnesota businesses, Steve Gottwalt, Amy Koch, Kurt Zellers, Dave Thompson, King Banaian, Keith Downey, GOP freshmen
Mark Dayton, AFSCME, MAPE, AFL-CIO, Paul Thissen, Tom Bakk, Ryan Winkler, State Parks, Contractors
Minnesotans escaped without a major tax increase, initially aimed at “the rich who weren’t paying their fair share”, then aimed at cigarette smokers of all income levels. They’re also getting some nice reforms that will help in future budget negotiations.
Minnesota businesses still pay too high an income tax but at least it isn’t getting worse. With this settled for at least another 2 years, businesses can breath a sigh of relief.
Steve Gottwalt and Dave Thompson emerged as the next generation of GOP leaders thanks to Sen. Thompson’s stout-hearted defense of conservative principles and Rep. Gottwalt’s seizing the moment to push Gov. Dayton into settling the shutdown. These gentlemen deserve high praise for being great spokesters/legislators for conservative principles.
King Banaian and Keith Downey are winners because they stood their ground on important reforms to state government’s makeup and King’s priority-based budgeting reform of the budgeting process. These gentlemen have proposed legislation that would change how government operates and how it spends money. These aren’t tiny considerations.
Speaker Zellers and Leader Koch deserve credit for keep the troops unified. It wasn’t difficult picturing scenarios where moderates could abandon the GOP on this or that vote. That they didn’t is a testimony to their whip operations and their leadership.
GOP freshmen were clear winners. Without their principled steadfastness, I’m certain that this outcome wouldn’t have happened. Despite Sen. Bakk’s criticism of GOP freshmen, they were certainly one of the driving forces behind holding things together at a time when things could’ve fallen apart.
The biggest loser was Gov. Dayton. He lost on his signature issue. Initially, Gov. Dayton wanted to raise taxes on the rich. After getting defeated on that, he tried settling for shaking down whoever he could shake down. Both attempts were defeated.
While I can’t say Republicans came out smelling like a rose, I won’t hesitate in saying that Gov. Dayton got alot less of what he wanted than the GOP got of what they wanted.
Rep. Thissen and Sen. Bakk, the House and Senate Minority leaders, definitely lost. It isn’t coincidence that the two offers where Gov. Dayton dropped his demands for tax increases happened when Rep. Thissen and Sen. Bakk weren’t in the room. They were the real villains behind the shutdown. Had this duo not been part of the negotiations, there wouldn’t have been a shutdown. This agreement says that their agenda was thoroughly rejected.
Rep. Ryan Winkler definitely lost, too. When he predicted that Republicans would cave, he stiffened Republicans’ resolve. From that point forward, there wasn’t even a slight possibility of the Republicans accepting a tax increase. From a GOP standpoint, we should thank him for his being a loose cannon and for uniting the GOP legislature.
Public employee unions took the biggest hit of this standoff. They were on the defensive much of the time. When they tried going on the offensive, their ideas were rejected. When they tried ambushing King Banaian and John Pederson on the SCSU campus, they couldn’t even fill the theater a fifth of the way full.
Unfortunately, the losers weren’t limited to politicians who tried ignoring the will of the people. Unfortunately, this unnecessary shutdown hurt state parks, tourists, bars and building contractors. Each suffered from the shutdown, with the construction industry and state parks being particularly hard hit through no fault of their own.
I can’t repeat this often enough or emphasize it vigorously enough. This shutdown wouldn’t have happened if Rep. Thissen and Sen. Bakk hadn’t put taxes back into Gov. Dayton’s final pre-shutdown proposal. If they hadn’t interfered, construction projects wouldn’t have lost a month of construction time, state parks would’ve stayed open and 22,000 state employees wouldn’t have gotten furloughed.
Gov. Dayton isn’t guiltless. Anything but. Gov. Dayton could’ve instantly rejected Sen. Bakk’s and Rep. Thissen’s tax increase demands. That would’ve stopped the shutdown before it started.
When the dust settles, both parties’ activists will be upset. Some might be downright dispirited. That’s understandable. Both had won a generational victory, the DFL by electing their first governor since 1986, the GOP by winning the Senate for the first time ever.
The difference going forward is which party has the more appealing policies. At this point, that’s the Minnesota GOP. I’ve only touched on a few of the reforms that Republicans passed and that Gov. Dayton vetoed. If they do a good job highlighting those reforms this summer and, if necessary, during next year’s campaign, I’m confident that people will keep the gavels in their hands.
Technorati: Government Shutdown, Mark Dayton, Paul Thissen, Tom Bakk, Tax Increases, Ryan Winkler, AFSCME, AFL-CIO, MAPE, DFL, Kurt Zellers, Amy Koch, Dave Thompson, Steve Gottwalt, King Banaian, Keith Downey, Freshmen, MNGOP
This morning, I had an interesting thought about Arne Carlson. The media is so eager to tout him as a senior statesman for the Republican Party, mostly because he’s supposedly a moderate. I don’t buy the fact that Arne Carlson is really a Republican, much less a moderate Republican.
I know he couldn’t identify with mainstream Republicans because he’s never identified himself with them. Let’s remember that spending increased by 56% during his 8 years in office. That’s 7% per year or 14% per biennium. That’s perfectly in line with what the DFL has historically done. Let’s remember that the initial budget passed by the DFL majority passed in 2007 would’ve increased spending by 17% for the 2008-09 biennium.
How is that significantly different than what Arne did each year for 8 years?
To settle this fight once and for all, I’m proposing that there be an hour-long debate during the state fair at the grandstands. Let’s have Ed Morrissey, Mitch Berg, Dan Ochsner and Tom Hauser as moderators. I’m also proposing that the debate be between so-called senior GOP statesman Arne Carlson and Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dave Thompson.
The debate would be a great service to Minnesota because these moderators are straight shooters who fit comfortably within the mainstream of Minnesota politics.
In addition to holding it at the State Fair, let’s have someone subsidize a live video feed for the internet for those who can’t make it to the fair. That person or company can recoup some or all of their money through advertising revenues.
I don’t want this to be Arne vs. a retired GOP legislator. I want Minnesota to see the difference between politicians that once were considered moderate Republicans vs. a current conservative that’s been recently mischaracterized as a far right conservative by Eliot Seide.
Let’s let Minnesota decide which person’s views are more in line with their policies, priorities and beliefs.
Let’s make it happen.
There was a mismatch this morning on Esme Murphy’s program this morning. First, let’s start with the most outrageous thing Rep. Hilstrom said:
REP. HILSTROM: Yes, in 2005, I did have some booing prior to the shutdown. This time, that was not the case. I believe that the people of Minnesota understand what’s at stake here in Minnesota and we’re talking about whether or not we will balance the budget in a short-term way or a long-term way.
Rep. Hilstrom obviously doesn’t remember what Cathie Hartnett told Tom Hauser and Phil Krinkie:
HAUSER: No matter how this budget is resolved this year, can you guarantee that in 2 years that there won’t be another request for another tax increase, maybe on these same wealthy taxpayers?
HARTNETT: It could happen and it depends on what services we need.
HAUSER: At what point does this spiral end?
So much for raising taxes being the longterm solution. Let’s remember that State Demographer Tom Gillaspy said that raising taxes this year still wouldn’t prevent an oversized deficit in 2013.
Try as Rep. Hillstrom might, there’s no arguing the fact that raising taxes doesn’t solve Minnesota’s chronic deficit problem.
Next, I’d like to highlight Eliot Seide’s sad verbatim recitation of the DFL’s talking points. Here’s Seide’s recitation:
SEIDE: Well, the Republicans have failed to compromise with Gov. Dayton, who’s compromised repeatedly since this process began. And now we have the biggest layoff in state history; 23,000 state employees have been shut down and laid off.
If only the rich would pay just a little bit more, we could end this shutdown and prevent risky cuts to vital public services but people like Sen. Thompson, who you had on here earlier, said that there can’t be any new revenue, putting their ideology ahead of a practical outcomes for all Minnesotans.
What’s practical about raising taxes knowing that AFSCME, Gov. Dayton and the DFL will return 2 years from now for another bite at the ‘Tax-the-Rich’ apple?
Later, Seide puts his foot in it:
SEIDE: We see people like Sen. Thompson, who are saying there has to be an all-cuts budget. An all-cuts budget that the Republicans have produced will lay off or eliminate 30,000 public and private sector jobs. It’ll kick 140,000 people off health care. It makes the deepest cuts in Higher Education in the history of the state. It raises property taxes by $1,000,000,000. This is not necessary. We have a revenue problem, not a spending problem.
I pray, pray, pray, pray pray that Eliot Seide makes his beliefs known far and wide. According to this KSTP-SUSA Poll, Minnesotans disagree with him by a gigantic margin:
Going forward, should Minnesota’s government increase spending? Decrease spending? Or continue to spend about the same amount as it has been?
27% About The Same
5% Not Sure
You read that right; 87% of those polled said that spending should either be cut or kept the same. That’s 7 of 8 voters. If the DFL wants to stick with that position, that’s their right. It’s also a surefire way to get your political heads handed to you in 2012.
While Seide was reciting one DFL talking point after another, Esme Murphy sat there like a potted plant. She didn’t question anything Seide said. That’s particularly disturbing considering the fact that Sen. Thompson refuted most of the things Seide said. Here’s a transcript of some exchanges between Murphy and Sen. Thompson:
MURPHY: People are waking up to headlines like this one in the Star Tribune that spells out the additional costs of the shutdown, millions and millions of dollars a day on top of the economic and budget crisis we already have. What is the reaction in your district in Dakota County? I mean, what kind of feedback are you getting?
SEN. THOMPSON: Well, first of all, yes, there are costs associated with being shut down but there are obviously savings attached to the shutdown as well. We don’t know how all the numbers will work out.
The response that I’m getting, Esme, is that…obviously, we all have different districts with different demographic groups within our district but the sense is that most people believe that spending the same amount going forward as we spent the last biennium that just ended last Thursday is a reasonable number. So the feedback I’m getting is ‘We’ve gotta stop this spiraling cost of government so hang tough’ is the feeling I got.
Here’s another exchange:
MURPHY: Alright, in terms of a possible compromise, what kinds of additional revenue streams would you personally support?
SEN. THOMPSON: I am not supportive of additional revenue.
MURPHY: At all?
SEN. THOMPSON: Here’s my perspective. There’s two sides to this. There’s the revenue side and there’s the spending side. The reason we are where we are is we have put in place a system that structurally is to spiral the costs in a way that virtually everybody thinks is unsustainable. You’re seeing that internationally in Greece. You’re seeing it nationally in Washington, DC with the debt ceiling. You’re seeing it in California, Massachusetts, Illinois. So that’s why, at some point, I’m an irresponsible legislator if I support a system that I know will end up bankrupting my kids and grandkids. And that’s where we’re headed so that’s why I can’t sign up for that.
What’s interesting viewing the video is that Murphy was leaning towards Sen. Thompson. Her hand gestures were highly expressive, with her hands, at one point, almost in ‘prayer formation’. The signal it sent was that she wanted very badly to win Sen. Thompson over.
Fortunately, Sen. Thompson didn’t respond to the emotion but instead focused on whether legislators should agree with the DFL on increasing spending irresponsibly or whether they should do what’s right and sustainable.
What’s telling, too, is that Seide accused Sen. Thompson of being a blind ideologue for not agreeing to raise taxes. Based on Sen. Thompson’s detailed reply about what’s happening in Greece, in Washington, DC and in California, Massachusetts and Illinois, I’d argue that Sen. Thompson’s opinion is anchored in the horrifying facts that out of control spending is destroying countries and crippling big states.
That isn’t ideology-driven policymaking. That’s responding to the root cause of our current fiscal crisis. With Sen. Thompson, it’s about the trends and the numbers and figuring out what not to do.
Seide is the blind ideologue. His pleas for additional revenue are shallow enough. Still, they pale in comparison with his statement that “we have a revenue problem, not a spending problem.” That’s a stunning statement. He even talked about “if the rich would only pay the same share of revenue as they did under Gov. Carlson,” we wouldn’t have this mess.
For the better part of 20 years, government got into the habit of increasing spending by 15% per biennium. It’s painfully obvious that that isn’t sustainable.
I wrote earlier that Cathie Hartnett admitted that raising taxes on “the rich” this year didn’t mean that the DFL wouldn’t return for another bite of that tax apple in 2013.
That means that the DFL’s budget is only sustainable with repeated tax increases.
That isn’t responsible budgeting. It’s like doing something reckless, then hoping for a positive outcome. That isn’t smart. It’s rather foolish.
What’s particularly insulting is Seide’s implicit claim that the money that’s currently being spent is money that’s being spent wisely. Frankly, that’s insulting in the extreme.
If Seide actually thinks that’s the case, he’s unfit for any leadership position in any organization. If he doesn’t think that, he doesn’t have the integrity to hold a leadership position in anything other than a corrupt organization.
The DFL’s arguments are being exposed. They aren’t playing well. 87% of poll respondents saying that spending should be frozen or cut isn’t what the DFL expected to hear.
Seide admitted that his stubbornness, along with Gov. Dayton’s, in holding out for a tax increase is hurting AFSCME workers badly. That isn’t doing what’s right for his workers. It’s doing what he and Gov. Dayton want.
Shame on Seide’s blind ideology. Shame on Rep. Hilstrom for mindlessly reciting the DFL’s talking points. Most importantly, shame on Esme Murphy for challenging Sen. Thompson, then acting like a potted plant while Eliot Seide recited other DFL talking points.
Thankfully, Sen. Thompson was a consummate professional. He was the only person who understood what the people of Minnesota wanted. He’s the only person who stood with Minnesotans in this fight.
He’s the one that said no to new spending rather than playing the ‘St. Paul game.’ His feet and his opinions stayed anchored in the real world.
One thing that’s becoming exceptionally apparent is that the Dayton administration isn’t tethered to the truth. The latest proof of that is this letter from DEEDS Commissioner Mark Phillips. Here’s what he said:
“…the Minnesota State Legislature adjourned May 23, 2011, without appropriating money to fund the operations of state government for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2011.”
Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dave Thompson quickly responded with this statement:
In the letter to contractors, vendors, and grantees, dated, June 10, 2011, Commissioner Philips stated “…the Minnesota State Legislature adjourned May 23, 2011, without appropriating money to fund the operations of state government for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2011.”
“DEED’s lie is shameful. The Minnesota State Legislature adjourned on May 23, 2011, having passed the largest general fund budget in state history, which appropriated money to fund the operations of state government for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2011. It is inconceivable that the Department of Employment and Economic Development, under Governor Dayton’s direction, did not know this fact. Therefore I must assume this is a deliberate attempt by DEED to spread misinformation about the work product of the Minnesota legislature. DEED Commissioner Mark Philips should issue a new, corrected letter to contractors, vendors and grantees reflecting that truth,” said Senate Assistant Majority Leader Thompson.
“Whitewashing by members of Governor Dayton’s administration won’t change the fact that the legislature passed a complete, balanced budget by the constitutionally required deadline. It won’t change the fact that we offered a compromise that would fund priorities like education and public safety at the Governor’s levels to prevent his decision to shutdown government. It won’t change the fact that, if signed, our budget would keep Minnesota government open and operating.
Governor Dayton is preparing to shut down government to raise taxes, something, as a candidate, he said he wouldn’t do. The decision to shut down government is on Governor Dayton and on him alone,” concluded Senate Assistant Majority Leader Thompson.
Phillips wouldn’t have lied had he said that Gov. Dayton didn’t sign the appropriations bills that the legislature passed. Phillips won’t say that, though, because the Dayton administration and their communications team are singing from the hymnal that ‘The only thing this legislature accomplished was putting a divisive social issue on the ballot in 2012.”
That lie aside, the truth is that the Republican legislature passed a number of reforms in addition to passing a balanced budget that didn’t require tax increases but that will strengthen Minnesota’s economy.
That’s something else the Dayton administration can’t say. In fact, they can’t even say that they’ve submitted a full budget, complete with specific policies and spending targets.
I pointed out in this post that Gov. Dayton’s budget is an orphan:
Question: “Do you support the tax increases in this bill?”
Thissen: “The governor is delivering on what he promised. We have always been in our DFL caucus in favor of a solution that is going to be fair…We need to look at the details of it. I think the most important thing now to look at is asking the Republicans, okay, what’s your answer.”
Question: “That didn’t answer the question…Do you support these tax increases?”
Bakk: “If you look at the tax incidence study, it will show you that more well to do Minnesotans, especially those over $500,000 in income pay a little bit over eight percent of their income in taxes and the rest of us, in the middle class and lower income Minnesotans, pay about 12.3 percent. And I think from a policy standpoint, the governor is right that everyone should be expect to pay about the same percentage of their income in state and local taxes.”
Question: “So yes or no. Do you two support the tax package in the governor’s proposal? Yes or no.”
Bakk: “Well, I certainly want to see the budget pages and I’m not going to tell you if they offer a vote on it I’m going to vote yes or no on it because we are actually having a hearing in the tax committee (to delve into the budget) either tomorrow or Thursday…After Thursday I can probably give you an answer.”
The reality is that Gov. Dayton’s budget isn’t a serious budget. It won’t strengthen Minnesota’s economy. It won’t improve Minnesota’s competitiveness regionally, nationally or internationally. It won’t bring prosperity back to Minnesota and it certainly won’t convince entrepreneurs to put their capital at risk.
Commissioner Phillips should immediately issue a statement that tells the truth. If he doesn’t, I’ll file it in the ‘Gov. Dayton doesn’t care about the truth’ file.
During Esme Murphy’s interview with State Sen. Dave Thompson, Murphy’s bias was exposed in this question:
In terms of revenue projections for the state, there are indications that we could be headed into a double-dip recession. Are you concerned looking forward at that that there’s gonna have to be additional revenues provided to the state as the governor has argued?
For a moment, I thought Sen. Thompson’s response was going to cause Murphy to have a nervous breakdown. Here’s Sen. Thompson’s reply:
Well, you know Esme, that cuts both ways. I would make the opposite argument, that if we’re worried about our revenues in the future, let’s certainly not be spending more. If we’re truly concerned by this, and yes I am because I’m a believer that the Obama economic policies are taking us right back into that ditch that he likes to talk about, I am concerned about that. If you think you’re gonna take a cut in your income at home, you look at ways to reduce your spending. So I’ll accept their premise. This economy is hanging by a thread so, if anything, let’s hold back spending further to not dig any deeper holes.
The thought that people, not government, should have first dibs on the money they earned apparently didn’t cross Murphy’s mind. Her first priority was that government be properly funded.
If a topnotch polling company, like the KSTP-SUSA, Rasmussen’s or Peter Hart’s, were to poll whether government or the people who earned the money should have first dibs on their money, I’m betting that 90+ percent of the people would say the people who earned the money should have first dibs, especially during a recession.
Sen. Thompson acquitted himself well in the interview. When Murphy asked about what types of responses he was getting in his district, he said that people “who haven’t been paying attention” to the budget battle hear that they’re actually spending about the same as this biennium, most of them are ok with that.
That said, it’s obvious that the “all-cuts budget” line is effective. I attribute that to the DFL’s willingness to lie and the media’s willingness to let them get away with it.
If people don’t remember anything else, I’d hope people would recognize the media’s bias is a major part of the DFL’s corruption. By not challenging the DFL’s lies, they’re allowing the DFL to engage in the most disgusting type of corruption imaginable.
It’s the media’s job to make sure politicians don’t get away with telling whoppers. During her interview with Rep. Thissen, Murphy didn’t question his characterization of the GOP’s budget as an all-cuts budget.
Someone like Chris Wallace would’ve made that one of his first questions. He would’ve caused his guest to explain how it’s possible to cut your way to the biggest budget in Minnesota history. Good luck with explaining that.