Archive for the ‘Mandates’ Category

The sticker shock of the DFL’s 2014-15 biennial budget will be harsh and immediate. That’s because it will likely top $40,000,000,000 for the first time in state history. The DFL’s budget will include at least 2 tax increases. It will attempt to pay off all of the DFL’s special interest allies with taxpayers’ hard-earned money.

First, it’s inevitable that the DFL’s budget will raise taxes on “the rich” because, in their warped thinking, “the rich” aren’t “paying their fair share.” For at least a decade, the DFL has let that social policy masquerade as economic policy.

For at least as long, the DFL has said that Minnesota’s tax system needs to be more progressive. Despite that long-espoused policy, the DFL’s true believers will vote to change the sales tax to include clothing. The most charitable estimates for that change is that it will generate an additional $750,000,000 in revenue.

As for Gov. Dayton’s income tax increase, it’ll be fortunate to generate an additional $2,000,000,000 in revenue for the biennium. That’s assuming that Gov. Dayton keeps the top tax bracket at 10.95% on couples making $130,000. That isn’t a safe assumption. In 2011, the highest state tax rate was 11%, a figure Gov. Dayton didn’t want to exceed.

Now California has raised the top tax rate to 13%, giving Gov. Dayton additional latitude. Being the tax-raising advocate that he is, he’s certain to raise the top income tax bracket to more than 12%. He’ll do it because he’ll need the additional revenue.

While Gov. Dayton, Sen. Bakk and Rep. Thissen will pay down a bit of the K-12 school shift, the DFL won’t pay much of it back. The lobbyists with the biggest smiles will be the ones who lobbied for making LGA whole again. R.T. Rybak and Chris Coleman will have tons of additional money to spend on $50,000 a piece drinking fountains. R.T. Rybak might even have enough money to hire back the firefighters he terminated when he kept the bike trail coordinator.

Higher Education figures to be another big winner, followed by taxpayer-funded charities. Inner cities will get boatloads of additional money. The DFL will ‘justify’ the spending as a way to reduce crime but it’s actually money that will pay off the DFL’s precinct organizers.

Higher Education funding shouldn’t see a penny in additional spending until MnSCU stops hiring university presidents their cronies to high-paying administrative jobs. That’s a massive ripoff to the taxpayers. What’s worse is that it doesn’t add a thing to the quality of educational outcomes.

Until Central Lakes Community College drops worthless programs like Floral Design, the state’s taxpayers will be getting ripped off while students accumulate more student loan debt.

When it’s all settled, the DFL budget will be a masterpiece in wasting taxpayers’ money. Ultimately, spending will be cut because actual revenues will fall short of the DFL’s projections. When the DFL’s ‘experiment’ is implemented, it’ll be clear that the DFL’s ideas hurt businesses but they don’t create jobs.

They just give big city DFL mayors big smiles.
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The myths about the Affordable Care Act are multiplying on editorial pages. This SCTimes editorial is a good picture of those myths being amplified:

Too many partisan politicians are (again) being allowed to frame a key part of federal health care reform in a misleading, even irrelevant ideological perspective.

These folks proclaim the U.S. Supreme Court’s mandate to carry health insurance is an erosion of our personal freedoms. Then they couple it with a dead-end conversation about whether it’s a tax or fine on all people. It’s not all people; just those who don’t choose (but can afford) insurance.

President Obama has gotten into the habit of calling people freeloaders if they’ll be affected by the individual mandate. That’s a disgusting, dishonest characterization. Since when has the government had the authority to tell car owners that their car insurance had to have specific coverages?

Here’s a little dose of reality. The government doesn’t have the authority to tell people that they have to buy a policy that includes collision, theft, fire, liability and comprehensive coverages.

Yet that’s exactly what the individual mandate does. It says that people who don’t buy the health insurance policy that the government dictates will pay the individual mandate tax.

Imagine this: as a result of the Affordable Care Act, a couple that bought a high-deductible policy, then pays for routine checkups and doctor visits, is subject to the individual mandate tax because their policy didn’t meet the federal government’s minimum coverages.

In other words, people that did the right thing in buying their own health insurance are a) being called freeloaders by President Obama and b) subject to a hefty tax because they didn’t do exactly what President Obama dictated to them to do.

If that doesn’t sound like the actions of an autocratic government, then it’s time people read the definition of autocrat:

  1. an absolute ruler, especially a monarch who holds and exercises the powers of government as by inherent right, not subject to restrictions.
  2. a person invested with or claiming to exercise absolute authority.
  3. a person who behaves in an authoritarian manner; a domineering person.

This statement is particularly irritating:

These folks proclaim the U.S. Supreme Court’s mandate to carry health insurance is an erosion of our personal freedoms.

First, the Supreme Court’s ruling carries with it an erosion of each person’s liberty. If people want to argue that we’re burdened whether we purchase the health insurance the government tells us to purchase or pay a massive tax, that’s an intellectually honest argument. It’s disgusting but it’s intellectually honest.

Second, who appointed the Supreme Court to be the arbiters of personal liberties? They have the right to tell us if something’s constitutional. They don’t have the authority to ignore the Constitution even when an administration attempts to ignore it.

Regardless of Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion, the Tenth Amendment says that the things that the federal government isn’t responsible for are the responsibility of the states and the people. Here’s another BS section from the editorial:

If your core objection is all about choice vs. force, you really only have to answer two questions before you propose your alternative plan. First, if people are allowed to choose no insurance, how are they going to pay their medical bills, especially when those bills exceed their savings account? 

Will they turn over their cars, homes and even assets of other relatives to pay bills? And when that’s not enough (which it won’t be in many cases), how will they cover the remainder? Last I checked, indentured servitude wasn’t exactly legal, which brings us to paying the ultimate price, shall we say, human foreclosure?

The first question doesn’t think about liberty because it accepts a faulty premise. It’s bad enough when government tells people they have to buy health insurance. It’s worse when government tells people that that health insurance policy is subject to a massive tax if it doesn’t include the coverages that they insist people buy.

Minnesota state statutes include 68 mandates for health insurance, each one adding costs to the insurance policy. If government didn’t initially impose 68 mandates to be included in each health insurance policy, more people would buy health insurance because it wouldn’t be too expensive. If people were allowed to buy high-deductible policies that included coverage for catastrophic health events, the premise for the first question disintegrates. Ditto with the second, sarcastic argument.

The problem with this type of editorial is that it deals with what is rather than what should be. Saying that we have to comply with a fatally flawed law is technically true as a matter of law. It’s downright stupid to say that we shouldn’t try repealing a law that a) doesn’t contain health care costs, b) doesn’t control increases in health insurance premiums, c) doesn’t give people sensible health insurance options and d) limits people’s freedom.

Questions like that probably limit the number of invites I get to dinner parties. But they get to the cold-hearted realities about the “mandated coverage” debate, which many see as the center of this health reform act.

It’s disappointing that educated people wouldn’t think this issue through better than this. The Affordable Care Act is a solution at financial gunpoint. It isn’t a solution. It’s a way to bankrupt this nation.

It’s disgusting that a government thinks it can impose unconstitutional, stupid laws on people who’ve tried to do the right thing. It’s more disgusting to think that people start from the default positions that a) liberty is a frivolous thing and b) money is more important than liberty. People who are more worried about money than liberty soon won’t have either.

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It’s been clear for quite awhile that Jennifer Rubin was the Romney campaign’s plant at the Washington Post. This post confirms it:

There a few things more distasteful about Newt Gingrich than his grotesque hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is a quality not uncommon among pols, but Gingrich takes it to new levels. The man who was for the Libya war before he was against it, was for the individual mandate before he was against it, savaged Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan before he admired it, and snuggled up to Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on global warming before he renounced her global warming fetish has no problem casting himself as the heroic, consistent conservative while criticizing his opponent Mitt Romney for his changes of mind.

And when it comes to excoriating lobbyists and special interests, no one tops the candidate from Big Pharm, Freddie Mac and the ethanol industry.

Let’s address these issues one-by-one. Ms. Rubin is deploying the myth that Gingrich was ever for attacking Libya. He wasn’t and she knows it. What happened is that the interviewer talked about President Obama’s statement that Kadhaffi “had to go.” Then the interviewer asked how a Gingrich would make that happen. Newt wasn’t asked if he’d make the same decision. He was given a hypothetical situation and asked to deal with it. He did.

As for being for the individual mandate, that was in 1994. By 1996, the Heritage Foundation and Speaker Gingrich abandoned it because it wouldn’t do the things they thought it might. Newt has since admitted that he was wrong about the individual mandate.

Why hasn’t Mitt admitted that his supporting the individual mandate is a mistake?

What’s worse: Newt shooting a commercial with Ms. Pelosi or Mitt taking John Holdren’s advice to implement stringent job-killing CO2 emission standards?

Ms. Rubin whines about the water Newt supposedly carried for Fannie and Freddie. She’s a well-connected DC journalist. Why hasn’t she told the world what water Newt allegedly carried? It’s one thing to offer policy advice. It’s quite another to help protect Fannie and Freddie.

Thus far, Ms. Rubin hasn’t shown how Newt lobbied Congress in an attempt to protect Fannie and Freddie. Perhaps that’s because he only offered policy advice to the mortgage giants?

But nothing quite tops his lecturing Herman Cain about adultery. Politico reports: “Newt Gingrich, who has been friendly with Herman Cain but who has suggested his opponent needs to deal with the drip-drip of allegations about his past, suggested the businessman needs to address the claims made by Ginger White.

I watched John King’s interview. He asked Newt if Herman Cain’s campaign was finished. Newt replied that that’s Cain’s decision, along with his family. At no point did Newt lecture Cain. If Ms. Rubin watched the interview, she’d know that. What happened was that Newt said that, from a campaign matter, Cain would have to address the situation or face daily questioning about the allegations.

The very fact that Gingrich would so blithely direct Cain to bear his soul undermines Gingrich’s canard that he’s truly repentant. If he were truly remorseful and shamed by his own conduct, would he be going into his holier-than-thou routine? I think not.

Did Ms. Rubin watch the interview? If she did, she’d know that Newt didn’t revert to “his holier-than-thou routine.” If she said that after watching the interview, then wrote this trash, I’d ask her what led her to believe that Newt went into “his holier-than-thou routine”? If she couldn’t give an explanation, I’d then ask if she’s just attacking Newt because she hates him.

If Ms. Rubin wants to frequently write hate-filled anti-Newt diatribes, which she’s doing, she shouldn’t get paid by the Washington Post. Mitt’s campaign should be paying her.

Ms. Rubin should resign because she’s writing hate-filled posts rather than writing informative articles. Her hatred for Newt is clouding her judgment.

Ms. Rubin undoubtedly complained about the media’s slobbering over President Obama. Now she’s taking things to the next level. Not only is she ignoring Mitt’s shortcomings, she’s attacking candidates that expose Mitt’s shortcomings.

Ms. Rubin, it’s time for you to resign.

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Tonight was Newt’s turn to sit in Special Report’s Center Seat as part of their series of interviewing and questioning the GOP presidential candidates.

The broadcast portion of Special Report was illuminating in several ways. The most newsworthy portion of the broadcast came after Steve Hayes played Newt’s commercial with Nancy Pelosi. Steve Hayes then essentially asked Newt to explain or justify his actions. Newt didn’t take the bait, instead saying that he’d made a major mistake.

Another newsworthy moment came when Newt was asked about Mitt Romney throwing it in his face that, at one time, he and the Heritage Foundation supported the individual mandate. He said that, at the time, Hillarycare was being debated. Newt then said that he, along with the Heritage Foundation, agreed that the individual mandate was “less destructive” than Hillarycare.

Newt then said that they came to understand that the individual mandate wasn’t workable. Newt then showed his sharp political elbows, saying “If I can admit that I’m wrong, why can’t Mitt admit that he’s wrong.”

The other thing that jumped out during the broadcast was Juan Williams’ question about Drill Here, Drill Now. Juan asked “considering the bad environmental track record” of fossil fuel pipelines, did Newt regret his support for Drill Here, Drill Now?

Newt immediate attacked the premise that there’s “a bad environmental track record” with fossil fuel pipelines. Juan immediately countered with the spill in the Gulf and the Alaskan pipeline.

First, Juan didn’t have his facts straight. There’s never been a spill connected with the Alaskan pipeline. Second, the spill in the Gulf wasn’t pipeline-related. Third, as Newt correctly highlighted, “it’s amazing how much oil and natural gas gets sent through pipelines” without incident.

He then addressed the environmentalists’ trumped up allegations that the Keystone XL Pipeline could potentially harm a major aquifer, saying that the allegations are phony.

On the issue of Iran, Newt said that it’s time for America to quit pretending that there’s common ground between the mullahs and our nation. He said that people have operating from that premise “since 1979” and it hasn’t worked. He also said that his administration would take the stance that President Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II took in destroying the Soviet empire.

That means taking out Iran’s refinery, supporting “every dissident group” with communications capabilities so they could lead the overthrow of the mullahs. Newt said that covert operations would be an important part of his administration’s policies, too.

Apart from policy matters, Newt told the panel that he’d “raised $2,000,000 in the last 5 weeks” and that the “fundraising pace was accelerating.” He then said that he’s opening new offices in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Newt then said that he already “has a number of offices open in Georgia and Florida.”

He noted that most of his fundraising is coming from online contributions, a sign that he’s generating enthusiasm as well as contributions.

During the online show, Newt fielded more questions about health care. Right before wrapping up, Newt asked if he could “get a consensus from the panel that I’m still alive.” Charles’ witty reply was that, since he’s a doctor, “Get me a stethoscope.” Both men’s one-liners drew hearty laughter from the rest of the panel.

It was a strong performance by Newt, partially because he didn’t hesitate in admitting that he’d made a mistake on the individual mandate and with making the global warming ad with Nancy Pelosi. His were the answers of a confident man, carrying with them the attitude that everyone makes mistakes so it’s foolish denying making a mistake.

At the end of the day, Newt’s understanding of the most important issues of the day is reassuring to voters. His willingness to admit that he’s made mistakes, along with his penchant for praising other GOP presidential candidates, is endearing himself to the people.

This race isn’t finished. This race is just getting started. Things will get more interesting from here on out. It’s what political junkies like me live for.

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When he was Massachusetts’ governor, Mitt Romney grew government. When Mitt submitted his 59-point, 160-page economic plan, he devoted much of it to complaining about President Obama. He didn’t, however, talk much about changing the influence or reach of the federal government.

Now that Newt’s plan to transform Washington is gaining traction and people approve of Gov. Perry’s plan of bringing a wrecking ball to Washington, Mitt’s shapeshifting again to join the fray. This time, he really means it. Nevermind that allegedly comprehensive budget blueprint offered the day after Labor Day. That didn’t catch on. That’s why Mitt’s adding a chapter to his sales pitch.

It isn’t because he’s committed to cutting government. It’s because his initial sales pitch didn’t work so he’s switching to Plan B. If this plan doesn’t work, then he’ll likely introduce Plan C.

Mitt’s biggest problem isn’t his plan, though his plan is vague and timid. The biggest problem that Mitt’s having is convincing others that he is’t a flip-flopping politician who’ll say anything to get elected.

In other words, it isn’t the product. It’s the corporation that’s failing.

Like his initial plan, today’s op-ed is generalized and timid. Here’s a sampling from today’s op-ed:

First, eliminate every government program that is not absolutely essential. There are many things government does that we may like but that we do not need. The test should be this: “Is this program so critical that it is worth borrowing money to pay for it?” The federal government should stop doing things we don’t need or can’t afford. For example:

  • Repeal ObamaCare, which would save $95 billion in 2016.
  • Eliminate subsidies for the unprofitable Amtrak, saving $1.6 billion a year.
  • Enact deep reductions in the subsidies for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Legal Services Corporation.
  • Eliminate Title X family planning programs benefiting abortion groups like Planned Parenthood.
  • End foreign aid to countries that oppose America’s interests.

Second, return federal programs to the states where innovation, cost management and reduction of fraud and abuse can far exceed what Washington achieves. I will block grant Medicaid and workforce training, saving well over $100 billion in 2016. Third, sharply improve the productivity and efficiency of the federal government itself. Where we do want the federal government to act, it must do a better job. For instance:

  • Reduce the federal workforce through attrition and align compensation with the private sector, saving over $40 billion by 2016.
  • Repeal the Davis-Bacon Act, a union giveaway that artificially raises costs for government projects, and save taxpayers more than $10 billion a year in the process.
  • Attack rampant fraud in government programs by enacting far stiffer penalties for those who steal from taxpayers. Cutting improper payments in half could save more than $60 billion a year.
  • Consolidate, eliminate and streamline federal departments, agencies and offices following a stem-to-stern review.

Mitt’s plan is timid by Newt’s standards, the GAO’s standards and Tom Coburn’s standards. Most importantly, Mitt’s op-ed doesn’t say a thing about regulatory reform. Mitt’s post-Labor Day plan mentions regulatory reform only in passing. Reducing a small business’s compliance costs would be huge. Reducing coal-mining and oil exploration regulations would be huge. They’d have almost as big an economic impact as repealing Obamacare.

After Mitt’s enacting liberals’ wish list items as governor, then defending his actions during this year’s debates, conservatives don’t trust Mitt. I don’t think he can correct that situation. If he can’t correct that situation, rolling out new plans won’t help him. That’s because Mitt’s biggest difficulty is the guy in the mirror.

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Charles Krauthammer’s column concludes with this epitaph:

The Vegas fight mildly unsettled the Republican race. But its central dynamic remains. It awaits the coalescence of anti-Romney sentiment around one challenger. Until and unless that happens, it’s Romney’s race to lose.

I’ve heard that line before. I heard it in 2004, when Bob Beckel told FNC’s Neil Cavuto that the race was John Kerry’s to lose. I commented after President Bush’s win that it was wonderful that he had faced someone so overqualified in that department.

Actually, I think Mr. Krauthammer has it backwards. Until Mitt proves that he can persuade conservatives to join his group, we’re faced with the very real proposition that Mitt’s hit his ceiling. At the moment, that ceiling is approximately 25-27%.

Looking through history’s lens, it’s now apparent that John Kerry, who served in Vietnam, was more than qualified to lose that race.

With most of the inside-the-Beltway punditry, including Mr. Krauthammer, suggesting that Gov. Romney will eventually win the GOP presidential nomination, a starkly different picture is developing far from the East Coast.

The ‘looks presidential’ meme has been shattered. It’s been replaced with a Mitt’s got a climate change problem meme. Don’t confuse that with the Mitt isn’t a conservative meme. Those memes shouldn’t be considered without considering Mitt’s difficulty in putting the ‘Romneycare is the father of O’Care’ meme behind him.

The reality is that Mitt’s ego and stubbornness will lead to his demise. On the one hand, he insists that he’ll repeal O’Care. The next minute, he’s defending Romneycare, the blueprint for O’Care. Those contradicting statements are reenforcing his reputation of being a flip-flopper who shouldn’t be trusted.

Mitt’s 59-point, 160-page economic blueprint says precious little about reforming the EPA. That makes sense. After all, he put in place the strongest anti-CO2 regulations in the northeast:

As reported in the conservative blogs Moonbattery and HOTAIR; “the Romney administration in 2005 essentially did what Barack Obama’s EPA wants to do now. He imposed CO2 emission caps, the “toughest in the nation”, in an effort to curtail traditional energy production.

“Not only did Romney impose these costly new regulations, he then imposed price caps to keep power companies from passing the cost along to the consumer. As we have seen in Romney-Care, regulation and price controls eventually drive businesses into bankruptcy or relocation.”

More chilling than that bit of socialist nanny-state big government interference is who Romney looked to for advice regarding the plan. As reported by these two conservative sites, it was none other than Obama’s Chief “science” adviser, John Holdren.

That this type of information keeps piling up on Mitt’s campaign doorstep is a testimony to the fact that Mitt’s core convictions aren’t conservative. In fact, it’s increasingly difficult to consider them moderate.

The immigration dust-up isn’t significant from a policy standpoint. It’s gigantic, though, in that it thoroughly threw Mitt into a hissy fit. It’s understatement to say Mitt didn’t handle that situation well. In fact, his calling for Anderson Cooper’s help made him look positively weak.

I disagree with this statement from Charles:

On substance, Romney remained as solid as ever, showing by far the most mastery of policy, with the possible exception of Gingrich, but without the lecturing tone and world-weary condescension.

It’s impossible to be “solid as ever” when you’re giving questionable answers on tax policy:

If anything he owes a debt to Newt Gingrich, who in a recent debate gave him a taste of how politically and intellectually vulnerable he is on this argument, asking Mr. Romney to justify the $200,000 threshold.

Mr. Romney’s non-responsive response included five references to the “middle” class and another admonition that the “rich” are “doing just fine.” Mr. Obama can’t wait to agree, even as he shames Mr. Romney over his bank account.

Incoherence, coupled with class warfare rhetoric, isn’t the way to convince people that you’re conservative.

Ultimately, this nomination will be determined by activists, not the DC pundit class. It’ll be determined by the man with the vision for restoring America’s greatness. That vision isn’t found in Mitt’s 59-point blueprint. For all his virtues, and he has some, Mitt’s a chameleon living when people are looking for something solid and consistent.

Ultimately, history might well conclude that Mitt, like Sen. Kerry, was overqualified for the task of losing.

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Tuesday night’s townhall meeting at St. Cloud’s Whitney Senior Center brought out alot of different questions on a wide array of topics, with health care being one of the hot topics.
Charlotte Fischer said that she was troubled with the lack of accountability of HMO’s contracted by state government to provide insurance to the working poor. Rep. Steve Gottwalt dealt with that by noting his reform legislation had a provision in it that provides greater accountability from HMO’s.

Rockville City Councilman Duane Willenbring said that unfunded mandates from the state were putting undue burden on local units of government, citing a program mandated by the state that sports coaches learn how to detect warning signs of concussions. Councilman Willenbring said he thinks the training is worthwhile. He just thinks that the state should fund it if it’s imposing the training on local units of government.

SCSU Aviation student Logan Vold told Sen. Pederson, Rep. Gottwalt and Rep. Banaian that MnSCU has a 9-point procedure to follow for shutting degree programs down. Vold then said that SCSU didn’t follow that procedure prior to shutting down the Aviation program.

Vold pointed to a provision that mandated “consultation with appropriate constituent groups including students, faculty and community.” Vold said that students weren’t consulted before President Potter announced the Aviation program was being shut down.

That information brought a response from Rep. Banaian. Rep. Banaian said that he is an economics professor at SCSU before saying that he’s bothered if MnSCU procedures aren’t being followed. Rep. Banaian then said he’d look further into this with the MnSCU Board of Trustees.

Rep. Banaian noted that the procedure was put in place by the MnSCU Board, meaning that the MnSCU board must enforce the procedures it puts in place.

Between 30 and 50 people gathered for the meeting in the main hall of the Whitney Senior Center. The event was moderated by St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis.
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With it being likely that LGA won’t return to its previous funding levels, legislators are trying to identify other ways of helping cities, counties and townships without actually writing them checks. Sen. John Carlson appears to have found a way:

Since Election Day, counties, cities, townships and school boards have reached out to me and asked that I take a look at over 100 unfunded state mandates on local government. They felt that a significant proportion of the cost of local government is derived from these unnecessary mandates. With Local Government Aid shrinking, local government has been forced to think about new ways to do business. I have proposed legislation to remove many of these mandates with the goal of having a rigorous and transparent debate in committee about old, and in many cases, unnecessary laws.

This seems like a reasonable, logical reform. Good for Sen. Carlson for working with cities, counties and townships on this issue. The problem is that nonsensical government apparently is getting in the way:

As we dig into budget talks, what many are finding is that downsizing through attrition is enough to push a county, school district or city into non-compliance with the “Local Government Equal Pay Act.” Voters are asking government to shrink and streamline and here in Beltrami County we have been doing exactly that. Unfortunately, the retirement of about 50 employees through attrition has pushed Beltrami County into “noncompliance” with the mandate.

Once deemed “noncompliant,” a county must undergo a costly and expensive process of studies and reshuffling to meet a subjective bureaucratic formula. With less tax revenue on the way for the foreseeable future, many are asking if such a mandate is necessary or prudent given the protections for equal pay already provided by federal and state government.

This is proof that no good deed goes unpunished and that government can screw up the most common sensical ideas imaginable. This makes no sense whatsoever.

It’s time to prune the illogical laws from the books. If they don’t make sense or run contradictory to other laws, then it’s time to eliminate them.

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If Rachel Stassen-Berger’s article is accurate, the first logical question is whether Gov. Dayton was frightened into this budget. Here’s the portion of the Strib article I’m referring to:

The two-year, $35 billion state budget plan Dayton will release Tuesday is far from becoming reality.

Gov. Dayton said repeatedly that we were staring at “a $6.2B deficit.” I continually disputed that, with robust help from Mitch Berg. The St. Cloud Times even published my LTE saying that:

This biennium, Minnesota’s general fund budget is scheduled to spend $30.7 billion. The Department of Revenue said in its November forecast that Minnesota’s revenue will increase by between $1.5 billion and $2 billion To have a $6.2 billion deficit, Minnesota would have to spend almost $39 billion, an increase of 26.5 percent from the current biennium’s spending.

Based on Ms. Stassen-Berger’s reporting, Gov. Dayton won’t be proposing nearly as big a budget as he led us to believe during his SOS speech.

This is vindication for me. I said that we didn’t have a “$6.2B deficit”, that it’d require a general fund budget approaching $39,000,000,000 to reach that big of a deficit. We’re still waiting on the February forecast, too. Rumor has it that February’s forecast will be even more favorable than November’s forecast. If that’s the case, the forecast deficit might be less than $2,000,000,000.

If that’s the deficit, enacting reforms from Dan Fabian, King Banaian and Steve Gottwalt might be enough to balance the budget without a tax increase. That’s before tackling unfunded mandate reform and other GOP reforms in the hopper.

That’s before asking the question of whether we should increase spending that much. I wouldn’t support that big a spending increase, especially with the economy this fragile. Before increasing spending, we’d better talk about refilling the state’s reserve funds. Before increasing spending, we’d better have a serious discussion about reforming how government delivers constitutionally mandated services.

As Mitch points out in this post, there’s still a possibility that Gov. Dayton’s proposed budget won’t balance:

Mark Dayton is scheduled to present his budget tomorrow.

The question, as I see it, isn’t so much “how will he balance the budget” as it is “how far off from balanced will his proposal actually be?”

There’s another question worth asking, Mitch, namely whether his special interest allies will scold him after promising them tons of new spending during his SOS speech.

If Gov. Dayton doesn’t insist on his job-killing tax increases, the legislature could wrap up this budget relatively early, leaving time for cost-saving policy reviews and redistricting.

If, however, Gov. Dayton insists on killing Minnesota’s economy with his tax increases, this will be a tough slog.

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This morning, newly annointed DFL Chairman Ken Martin made his public debut during an interview with Esme Murphy. It wasn’t a great performance based on what I saw.

At one point, Esme Murphy asked about how cutting spending would cause property taxes to spike. In response, Martin said that decisions in St. Paul might cause local government officials to “have to make difficult decisions.”

I was astonished at his response to the point that I rewound my the DVR to hear his response again. I’d heard right. Apparently, Chairman Martin thinks that Minnesota’s families and job creators shouldn’t be protected from making difficult decisions if that means local officials are protected from making difficult decisions.

This isn’t totally surprising. When haven’t the DFL not worshiped at the altar of expanding government? This is just their latest worship service to bloated government.

Time after time, we’ve seen the DFL’s policies and legislation reflect their government-first priorities. That’s the biggest reason why we’re in the mess we’re in. But I digress.

I’d submit that it’s essential that local government officials to set intelligent spending priorities, then live within the income they’ve received rather than raising property taxes or cutting essential services like firefighters or police officers.

Local citizens can send local officials that they don’t expect just their representatives in St. Paul to set intelligent priorities. They expect their mayors and city councilmembers to set intelligent spending priorities, too.

Earlier in the program, Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch set the right tone by saying the legislature looked forward to working with local units of government in eliminating underfunded/unfunded mandates that tie local officials’ hands.

The difference is striking. Martin’s interview was centered on complaining that elected officials would have to make difficult decisions. Sen. Koch’s interview focused on finding solutions so government lived within its means rather than automatically raising taxes.

The more the public sees the difference between the policies offered by the MNGOP’s leaders and the DFL’s leaders, the worse off the DFL will be. This isn’t a small thing. There’s a sizeable difference between the MNGOP’s solutions and the DFL’s complaining.

It doesn’t lead to a flattering image for the DFL.

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