Archive for the ‘Dave Thompson’ Category

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?

8% Increase
60% Decrease
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.

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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:

One exchange:

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.”

A third:

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.

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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.

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Based on their arguments this past week, it’s apparent that the DFL doesn’t intend on getting serious about setting priorities, much less cutting spending in any meaningful way. This article’s quotes remove all doubt:

“There’s no doubt the governor is going to veto this bill,” said Sen. Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth. “But it’s still very frustrating to sit here every day, whether it’s local government aid (for cities) or education funding for schools, and watch the other party attack Duluth. I thought voters wanted us to work cooperatively and not make this about partisan politics.”

Sen. Reinert’s credibility isn’t growing. If he’d admitted that money had shifted from “integration aid” to “improving reading proficiency.”

Sen. Reinert didn’t note that Duluth is shrinking. The 1960 census put Duluth’s population at 107,312. The 2010 census puts Duluth’s population at 86,265. That’s a 20% drop in half a century. To be fair, Duluth’s population has stabilized in the 80,000+ range the last 30 years.

That means people are leaving Duluth, often called the “San Francisco of the Midwest”, because their liberal policies have led to stagnation. Question: If policies are triggering stagnation, whether it’s population or economic stagnation, why continue with these discredited policies?

What’s happened in Duluth is typical of the DFL. Status quo stupidity has settled in. New ideas are rejected because the Tom Doohers are refusing to join the 21st Century. Thankfully, Sen. Dave Thompson is challenging the status quo stupidity:

St. Paul— It was reported Thursday that the Anoka-Hennepin School District will likely lay off around 500 teachers this June. As cost drivers like salary increases, “steps and lanes,” health care and pensions continue to accelerate, school districts’ budgets can’t afford to keep teachers in the classrooms. Anoka-Hennepin is the largest school district in the state, serving nearly 40,000 students in the northern suburbs of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Senator Dave Thompson (R-Lakeville) gave the following statement regarding the Anoka-Hennepin announcement.

“The news from Anoka-Hennepin School District further illustrates the financial pressure placed upon school districts by out-of-control increases in salaries and benefits. Good teachers will be lost; class sizes will increase; students will be negatively impacted. That is why a pay freeze, like the one we passed today in the Senate, is necessary,” said Senator Thompson. “The choice is simple: hold the line on wages and save jobs, or raise wages and let students pay the price.”

“It is not too late to save some, if not many of the teaching jobs. If Anoka-Hennepin knows that a salary freeze has been enacted, the district could readjust its budget assumptions and recall those that get layoff notices,” added Senator Thompson.

When parents are faced with the choice of spending money on integration programs or freezing teachers’ salaries which will keep teachers employed, I’m confident that they’ll pick keeping teachers employed.

It’s easy being a liberal. All it takes is frequently saying yes to your political allies and raising taxes on one group or another. Being a conservative means having the ability to set priorities.

Perhaps the most controversial provisions freeze teacher pay, eliminate collective bargaining for teachers for salary issues, eliminate their right to strike and eliminate seniority and tenure as a basis for teacher pay in favor of five-year contracts where teachers get raises based mostly on student test scores.

This isn’t controversial. It might be controversial to teachers unions but it isn’t controversial to taxpayers. That’s especially true when freezing teachers’ salaries keeps 500 teachers in classrooms.

“Ending teacher tenure is not going to improve test scores. These aren’t steps to help students, they are vindictive steps to attack teachers and their unions,” Wanner said. “It’s part of the ongoing Republican attack on working people.”

Wanner apparently is part of the DFL wing that thinks only union employees are “working people.” That’s arrogant in the extreme.

As for Wanner’s claim that ending teacher tenure won’t improve test scores, he can’t prove that. Further, he can’t prove that keeping tenure intact will improve test scores. He can’t prove it because it hasn’t been tried before.

What is provable is that high quality teachers will improve test scores. It’s also important that we admit that the most experienced teachers aren’t automatically the best teachers.

Dayton had already warned Republican lawmakers earlier in the week that he would veto any major state spending bills if they included major policy changes. He asked lawmakers to put policy changes in separate legislation, advice Republicans so far have ignored.

Who made Gov. Dayton king of Minnesota? It’s his right to veto bills, even bills that set the right budget priorities and the right policies. If the policies make sense, why veto the bills?

If Gov. Dayton insists on acting like a king, the showdown will happen. When things crystalize, the DFL will be exposed as supporting unsupportable policies and spending amounts.

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Tuesday, Gov. Dayton wasted a good portion of his day showing his solidarity with Wisconsin’s public union workers. Gov. Dayton thinks that they need protecting. Actually, I think it’s because public unions are major contributors to his campaign.

Senate Assistant Majority Leader Dave Thompson issued this statement questioning Gov. Dayton’s prioritization and time management:

I’m disappointed that Gov. Mark Dayton decided to attend a rally focused on the budget battles in Wisconsin. Gov. Dayton said in his State of the State Address that Minnesota is in a ‘fiscal crisis,’ yet rather than spending his time working with legislative leaders on solutions to Minnesota’s ‘crisis,’ he’s involving himself in the budget battle in Wisconsin. He has chosen to support Wisconsin teachers who are feigning illness and deserting their students in order to attend partisan political rallies.

Governor Dayton’s budget proposal, which has yet to earn the public support of DFL leadership in the Minnesota House or Senate, calls for $3.35 billion in new taxes, an increase in General Fund spending of 22.3 percent and the highest income tax rate in the nation. Instead of focusing on budget battles over 200 miles away in another state, Governor Dayton should be re-working his budget plan to ensure Minnesota’s ‘fiscal crisis’ is solved.

After releasing his budget, Gov. Dayton admitted that his budget was a starting point rather than a serious, well-thought out plan. It’s such an awful budget that Rep. Thissen and Sen. Bakk, the minority leaders in the House and Senate respectively, refuse to say whether they’ll support Gov. Dayton’s budget.

Gov. Dayton’s unserious budget was his impersonation of then-State Sen. Obama casting a vote of present. He was obligated to submit a budget. Technically, he’s now passed that hurdle. As a leader, though, he’s falling far short of meeting his obligation.

Instead of actually putting a real budget together and working hard to create jobs that don’t need an annual infusion of debt cash, Gov. Dayton has spent his time playing up to his political base.

Nothing he’s done suggests that Gov. Dayton is a leader. Instead, his actions suggest that he’s more interested in being a pandering politician.

The other thing that’s obvious is that Dayton’s budget isn’t an economic document. There’s nothing in the document that says he understands that the 1980s paradigm he’s using doesn’t work anymore. There’s nothing in his budget that says he understands capitalism.

In that light, it’s easy to understand why he’d rather focus on things other than his official responsibilities. That’s why he’d rather express his support for unions.

Considering his history of abandoning his DC office in October, 2004, I wouldn’t be surprised if he feels a solidarity with the 14 Senate Democrats who fled to Illinois. It’s as if they’re kindred spirits.

It won’t take long before Minnesotans start experiencing buyers remorse. Gov. Dayton’s economic priorities are screwed up. His time management is almost as bad as his economic priorities. Dayton’s alliance with special interest groups is troubling, too.

That’s because Minnesotans can’t be certain he’ll have their best interests at heart.

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The message coming from the DFL is that cutting spending is impossible. Take this article/spin piece in the WCTrib. The entire things feels like a giant public ‘we can’t cut because those cuts will have impacts.’

Rep. Andrew Falk, DFL-Murdock, said in a written statement that the bill “hop-scotched through the committee process with little opportunity for public input” and was passed “even though legislators didn’t fully understand the impact it will have on our schools, communities and economy.”

Let’s remember the Misery Tour of 2009. Back then, we were told one endless tale of woe after another. We also know that alot of these tales of woe were manufactured at the request of DFL leadership:

We would ask you to focus your comments on the impact of the Governor’s budget including what is the harm to your area of government or program. Please be as precise as possible using facts such as number of lay offs, increases in property taxes, cuts in services, increases in tuition, elimination of programs.

Testimony isn’t worth much if it’s people repeating what their lobbyist told them to say. Anyone that thinks EdMinn isn’t coaching the testifiers at Sondra Erickson’s Education Reform committee is kidding themselves. Look what they did when Sen. Thompson tried contacting teachers in his district. Don Sinner sent each of the teachers scripted answers so they’d be singing from the approved EdMinn hymnal rather than letting the teachers speak for themselves.

This budget session will be painful. Some difficult decisions will have to be made. Thanks to the screwed up economy, which President Obama hasn’t fixed with his trillion dollar stimulus, some difficult decisions will have to be made.

Thankfully, my representative King Banaian is advocating for, and is finding substantial support for, intelligent budgeting in the form of priority-based budgeting. Thanks to King’s priority-based budgeting system, people will have to explain why the money they’re requesting is essential.

Legislators like Rep. Falk have operated under the premise of government is entitled to full funding. Legislators like Rep. Banaian approach funding from the standpoint that people must prove why the money shouldn’t stay with the taxpayers who earned it in the first place.

There will be a substantial fight this session over the competing philosophies. It’s a fight the DFL should expect to lose. They’ll lose the fight because, despite their massive media arsenal and their willingness to spin reality, their position isn’t the majority opinion.

That’s why the DFL’s veto-proof majority in the Senate turned into a GOP majority and why the DFL’s supermajority in the House turned into a GOP majority.

Let’s hope the DFL, led by Gov. Dayton, doesn’t unnecessarily plunge us into a special session or government shutdown. Let’s hope, instead, that they come to their senses and side with the majority of Minnesotans in cutting spending in a rational way.

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Recently, Sen. Dave Thompson introduced legislation to freeze teachers’ salaries for the next 2 years. Since then, a plethora of unions have criticized Sen. Thompson, portraying him as a villain.

What the Twin Cities media hasn’t reported about is Sen. Thompson’s letter to teachers to find out about their concerns. Here’s the text of Sen. Thompson’s letter to the teachers:

Dear Educator,

I recently sent you a survey requesting your opinions on various issues relating to education. I sent the questions for pre-approval to your union representative, Mr. Don Sinner, in an attempt to work cooperatively. I had also hoped to use his “blast” e-mail list in order to save work for my Legislative Assistant. He refused to allow me to use the list, but gave me no indication he intended to sabotage the survey. We did the work necessary to send the survey to each of your e-mail addresses individually.

It has come to my attention that Mr. Sinner sent you scripted responses, so that I will be unable to gain the information I seek. You do not need to send Mr. Sinner’s remarks, but I would very much like to hear from you.

As you may know, I am on the Senate Education Committee, and recently presented a significant piece of legislation to the Committee. I sent the survey to you because I have a sincere desire to understand the viewpoints of educators in my district. I value your judgment, and am frankly shocked that Mr. Sinner does not believe you should have the right to communicate directly with the people who represent you at the Capitol. He obviously does not have the confidence in your judgment and professionalism that I do.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me at or 651-296-5252.


Dave Thompson

Senator Dave Thompson
Assistant Majority Leader
Senate District 36

Sen. Thompson noted that “Mr. Sinner [had]sent…scripted responses” and that the teachers didn’t “need to send Mr. Sinner’s remarks”, he made clear that he wanted to talk with the teachers and get their opinions. Here’s the text of Mr. Sinner’s email to the teachers:

The EML Executive Council on Monday Evening respectfully declined to forward this survey from Sen. Thompson to our members. They did however direct me to provide Sen. Thompson with the appropriate information which addresses each of his questions.

If Senator Thompson now chooses to send this survey directly to you, we would ask that you use this information to reply.

Stay Positive, Stay Professional, Stay United.

Don Sinner
EM-Lakeville President

1) Do school teachers and administrators currently have the authority to effectively manage classroom behavior and expectations?

Yes, there are no statutory issues here. The real problem is adequate, equitable, sustainable, and predictable funding which can provide the conditions necessary for teachers to effectively provide a quality education for all students.

2) Do you believe the current incentive system focusing only on “step and lanes” is the best option for school districts and teachers?

Research shows, and most teachers agree, that as a teacher develops over time with effective professional development, they are more effective in the classroom and deserving of a commensurate pay increase. Research also shows that completion of relevant graduate degrees and/or National Board Certification also leads to higher student achievement.

3) Do you think that entry-level teachers in different subject areas should all earn the same salary?

Yes. There is best-practice research that shows the value of fine arts areas in improving not only the talents of the whole child, but also increasing achievement in the “core” subjects as well. This indicates that all teachers in all fields should be compensated on an equitable basis.

4) Do you believe that the current two-variable approach (education and years teaching) to teacher salaries is a fair measure of the teacher’s value?

The two-variable approach to compensating teachers is just one piece of a multifaceted approach to fairly compensating teachers. There should also be recognition for those who take on increased responsibilities in leadership roles, mentoring, and National Board Certification to name a few.

5) Have students in your school benefited from the implementation of the “No Child Left Behind” law with its statewide standards, testing, and reporting?

Yes and No. Yes in that we are now focused on individual student data in making instructional decisions to meet their educational needs. No, because it has caused an unnecessary narrowing of curriculum which ignores the needs of the whole child. It has also caused a higher focus to be placed on facts rather than critical thinking skills and creative thinking. It has also caused an unnecessary diversion of limited resources into simply administering the mountain of testing that is required.

6) Is the current “needs based” funding formula equitable?

Yes, there is a proper place for “needs based” funding. We must recognize the fact that not all students arrive at school ready to learn. We must provide the added resources to level the playing field for those students who come form a disadvantaged background such as poverty, no access to early childhood education, or english language learners.

7) Is there too much, too little, or the correct amount of federal government involvement in Minnesota’s education system?

Too little in the fact that there is not full-funding of IDEA mandates. Too much in the area of NCLB and its’ punitive actions towards schools attempting to improve or in its’ model of measuring student growth.

8) Do you support an increase in the compulsory school attendance age from 16 to 18?

Yes, as long as there are options for students who progress quickly through the system to access PSEO, early graduation and options in a post-secondary institution.

9) Should Early Childhood programs be given more attention, less attention, or be eliminated?

Early Childhood needs to be funded equitably across the entire state to ensure all students enter school ready to learn. A plethora of research shows that the groundwork of early childhood and primary education (K-2) is necessary if children are to achieve at high levels throughout their academic careers. This research also shows that most students are unlikely to overcome a poor start.

10) Should Early Childhood programs be given more attention, even if it means K-12 education funding grows at a decreased rate?

The question is not whether ECFE funding should have a higher priority than K-12, it should be how can the state adequately fund both of these areas as well as Higher Ed. in order to support a vibrant economy and allow Minn. to compete in a 21st century global economy.

11) Is teaching in Minnesota public schools a better or worse career than it was five years ago?

Working with children is as rewarding as it always has been. However, due to the financial conditions and the “blame game”, teachers are no longer provided the necessary resources to effectively accomplish their goals, nor are they rewarded for positive outcomes. Can schools do better, yes, are they a categorical failure, no. Without adequate support of public education, we will lose our best and brightest teachers to other fields and ultimately our students will suffer.

12) In an average Minnesota public school classroom, what should be an appropriate number of students?

Best-practice research shows:
15 in primary grades (K-2)
18 in intermediate grades (3-5)
20-25 at the secondary level (6-12)
with no more than 28 before student achievement begins to decline.

Several things jumped out at me while reading Sinner’s answers. Here’s one thing that I noticed:

Q: Should Early Childhood programs be given more attention, even if it means K-12 education funding grows at a decreased rate?

A: The question is not whether ECFE funding should have a higher priority than K-12, it should be how can the state adequately fund both of these areas as well as Higher Ed. in order to support a vibrant economy and allow Minn. to compete in a 21st century global economy.

In other words, Sinner is telling teachers to tell the legislature that education funding, from Kindergarten through post-graduate degrees, shouldn’t get cut.

It’s disgusting that Sinner felt the need to tell his automatons teachers what they should say. Aren’t they allowed to have their own opinions? Was Sinner afraid they might say things that Sen. Thompson agreed with?

It’s a sign of desperation or fear that Sinner instructed his troops on how they should answer. Why else would he issue these talking points? If they all agreed with his agenda, there wouldn’t be a need for that email. Methinks that it’s proof of Sinner’s failed leadership.

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Friday afternoon, the Minnesota Senate Republican Caucus made history for the second time in less than a week. Here’s the details on their history-making votes:

The newly elected Senate Republican Majority Caucus today chose Senator Amy Koch (R-Buffalo) as the new Senate Majority Leader. According to records kept by the Legislative Reference Library, Senate Majority Leader Koch will become both the first Republican (since the Senate began using party designations in 1972) and first female Senator to be elected to the Majority Leader post.

Later that day, they made history again:

Additionally, the new Senate Republican Majority chose to nominate Senator Michelle Fischbach (R-Paynesville) to become the new President of the Senate. After being confirmed by the Senate in January, Senate President Fischbach will become the first female Senator in Minnesota history to preside over the Senate according to records kept by the Legislative Reference Library.

Senate Majority Leader Koch issued this statement after her election as Senate Majority Leader:

“I’m honored that my peers have chosen me as Majority Leader,” said Senator Koch. “The excitement we collectively feel cannot be overstated. With this majority, we are committed to delivering on our message of smaller, more efficient government, lower taxes and reining in state spending.”

Following her election, Senate President Michelle Fischbach issued this statement after being elected Senate President:

“I’m honored to be nominated by my colleagues in the majority to become President of the Senate,” said Senator Fischbach.

In making these choices, Senate Republicans chose women of character and competence as well as making history.

In addition, the following people were named to Senate Republican leadership positions:

Senator Gen Olson (R-Minnetrista) as President Pro Tem, and Sen. Chris Gerlach (R-Apple Valley), Senator David Hann (R-Eden Prairie), Senator-elect Doug Magnus (R-Slayton) and Senator-elect Dave Thompson (R-Lakeville) as Assistant Senate Majority Leaders.

This is the most talented leadership team in recent state history.In addition to Sen. Koch and Sen. Fischbach, Sen. Hann was one of the most respected gubernatorial candidates this year. Though this is his first election victory, Dave Thompson is well-versed in policy debates, far more than your typical freshman. Doug Magnus isn’t a typical freshman, either, in that he’s still the representative of HD-22A.

The first thing this Republican legislature must do is get the economy started. That means rejecting a major bonding bill like the last legislature campaigned on. That just takes money from private industry, the key to sustained economic growth.

If they do that, this GOP majority could easily become an enduring majority.

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