Archive for the ‘Kurt Zellers’ Category

Earlier this week, I wrote about Paul Gazelka’s Strib op-ed in this post but I missed Speaker Daudt’s op-ed. I’m upset with myself that I did. That’s because Speaker Daudt’s op-ed opened my eyes to something that I hadn’t considered previously.

The first paragraph that caught my attention was when Speaker Daudt wrote “That’s why at the end of the last legislative session, I was so proud of the historically productive results we achieved. A Republican-led House and Senate worked with our Democratic governor and balanced the budget while investing a historic amount into roads and bridges; boosted funding to our schools; passed Real ID enabling Minnesotans to travel; lowered health insurance premiums; and reduced taxes for millions of Minnesotans. Most important, we did it together.”

Lots of people have written about the fact that this was a productive session. There’s no disputing that fact. The paragraph that got my undivided attention was where Speaker Daudt wrote “The Legislature didn’t get everything it wanted, and the governor didn’t get everything he wanted. But in working alongside one another, we brought the session to a productive conclusion. Then, perhaps after hearing complaints from members of his own party, Gov. Mark Dayton expressed second thoughts about the compromises he had negotiated. Despite personally having agreed to each and every one of the bills, including the amount and provisions within the tax relief bill, the governor tried to go back on his word. He line-item-vetoed funding for the Legislature in an attempt to force us back to the negotiating table.”

Think about that a split-second. Neither the governor nor the legislature got everything they wanted but they negotiated a deal that both supposedly could live with. After Gov. Dayton agreed to the size of the tax relief bill and the provisions in it, the legislature passed the bill and sent it to Gov. Dayton. Despite the agreement and the fact that Gov. Dayton got lots of the things he’d prioritized, Gov. Dayton line-item vetoed the funding for the legislature.

Gov. Dayton said he vetoed their funding to coerce the legislature into renegotiating the Tax Bill. I’m betting that isn’t why he vetoed it. I’m betting that his special interest allies told him that they were vehemently opposed to the tax bill for ideological reasons. In 2011, Gov. Dayton reneged on a budget agreement he’d negotiated with then-Speaker Zellers and then-Senate Majority Leader Koch. They reached an agreement. They returned to their caucuses to tell them they had a deal. When they returned to Gov. Dayton’s office, they learned that Rep. Thissen and Sen. Bakk talked Gov. Dayton into reneging on the deal that he’d agreed to and initialed.

There’s a significant part of Gov. Dayton that simply can’t sign a bill unless he’s certain he’s getting the better end of the agreement. He’s simply too rigid. That’s why 3 of the 4 budget sessions during Gov. Dayton’s time in office required a special session. What’s particularly upsetting is that Gov. Dayton won’t admit that he’s attempting to preserve his bargaining leverage when the legislature returns in February. Both sides know that the legislature has some reserve funds that they can use but they both know that it isn’t enough to fund the legislature for the rest of the biennium.

It’s also upsetting to hear Gov. Dayton accuse the legislature of lying to him and to the Supreme Court:

Gov. Dayton needs to quit with his my-way-or-the-highway shtick. It’s getting old.

The Bible says that a house divided cannot stand. I’ve never known that to be wrong, which means the DFL is heading for a collapse. The DFL, or more specifically Tina Smith, has declared war on Tom Bakk and the state of Minnesota. Whenever there’s a press conference, Tina’s right there, acting as Dayton’s keeper. Here’s proof of the Metro DFL’s turning on Sen. Bakk:

Tina Smith clearly controls the Metro DFL. It isn’t surprising, then, that the Metro DFL has put its stake in the ground over half-day universal pre-K even though studies show it isn’t great policy. Customized pre-K plans are cheaper and they produce better results. Look at all of the requirements the Smith-Dayton-DFL plan imposes on program operators:

  1. the elimination of the school readiness program;
  2. requiring that 4-year-olds be in school longer than other students;
  3. limited facility resources;
  4. mandatory class size and staff-to-student ratios;
  5. parent participation requirements;
  6. requiring that early childhood teachers be paid comparable to K-12 teachers;
  7. coordinated professional development with community-based early learning providers;
  8. requiring school districts to recruit, contract and monitor early childhood programs for fiscal and program quality.

That reads like a union contract, not education legislation. How much money would be saved if “early childhood teachers” weren’t “paid comparable to K-12 teachers”? Why does the Smith-Dayton-Metro DFL legislation mandate “class size and staff-to-student ratios”?

What’s happening here is that Education Minnesota is pushing for a mandatory program that a) all parents have to use, b) requires teachers to be paid union scale wages and c) requires new schools to be built. That isn’t a program built for “the kids.” It’s a program that’s “for Education Minnesota.”

If I had $10 for each tweet I’ve seen this weekend that talks about this program being for the children, I’d be wealthy. Tina Smith, Paul Thissen and most Metro DFLers are machine politicians. Their agenda is focused on satisfying their special interest allies. They aren’t focused on solutions. They’re about doing whatever they need to do to gain and maintain power.

When Sen. Bakk pulled his stunt about Gov. Dayton’s pay raise for department commissioners, he started a civil war within the DFL. Tina Smith and the Metro DFL haven’t forgiven him for that. Gov. Dayton certainly hasn’t. He’d rather bury the hatchet and leave the handle sticking out than forgive Bakk.

During his first term, speculation spread throughout the Capitol that Dayton’s chief of staff ran things, not Gov. Dayton. Tina Smith was Gov. Dayton’s chief of staff.

Smith worked in marketing for General Mills, ran her own marketing firm, and served as a Vice President of Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota.[3] She served as Chief of Staff for Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, and as senior advisor and Transition co-chair for Dayton’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign. Dayton appointed Smith as chief of staff when he took office in 2011.

When Dayton’s running mate from 2010, Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon, announced she would not seek re-election, Dayton passed over better-known political officeholders, citing Smith’s work on shepherding the new Minnesota Vikings Stadium through the legislature, as well as her work on supporting the Destination Medical Center Project with the Mayo Clinic and the City of Rochester, MN.

Smith and Thissen were the people who talked Gov. Dayton out of accepting a deal that would’ve prevented the state government shutdown. Sixteen days later, Gov. Dayton signed the budget that Tina Smith and Rep. Thissen told him not to sign in June.

If there’s another shutdown, it’ll be because Smith and Thissen will have gotten to Gov. Dayton and given him terrible advice…again. In 2011, the Republican negotiators were different (Amy Koch and Kurt Zellers) but the DFL negotiators were the same (Gov. Dayton, Tina Smith, Sen. Bakk and Rep. Thissen). This time, Sen. Bakk negotiated a bipartisan deal with Speaker Kurt Daudt. Gov. Dayton, Lt. Gov. Smith and Rep. Thissen are still pushing policies that appear to be driving us into another shutdown.

That isn’t surprising. It’s just disappointing.

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8:23 — With 1.1% of the precincts counted, Jeff Johnson has 1127 votes, followed by Scott Honour with 806, Kurt Zellers with 769 and Marty Seifert with 390.
In the DFL primary for State Auditor, Rebecca Otto leads with 2,339 to Matt Entenza’s 408 votes.
8:30 — 3% of precincts reporting — Johnson 1,758, Zellers 1,214, Honour 1,146, Seifert 740
DFL State Auditor Otto 6,308, Entenza 1,223
8:36 — CD-6 GOP Primary — 4 of 279 precincts reporting — Tom Emmer 311, Rhonda Sivarajah 92
8:40 — 4.5% of precincts reporting — Johnson 4,566, Honour 3,400, Zellers 3,357, Seifert 1,801
8:45 — DFL Auditor primary — Otto 9,964, Entenza 1,774

Observations: Thus far, Randy Gilbert has earned 10,523 votes in an uncontested primary. Rebecca Otto and Matt Entenza have earned 11,738 votes in a contested primary.

Matt Entenza really must’ve gotten under the DFL’s skin. He’s spent $675,000 on TV ad and he’s still getting crushed.

8:57 — GOP gubernatorial primary — 5% of precincts reporting — Johnson 4,637, Honour 3,454, Zellers 3,418, Seifert 1,902
9:00 — DFL State Auditor — Otto 10,213, Entenza 1,841
9:03 — GOP primary CD-6 — 3.23% of precincts reporting — Tom Emmer 525, Rhonda Sivarajah 141
9:06 — DFL Primary — 15% of precincts reporting Otto 42,957, Entenza 8,504. Get out the butter, folks. Matt Entenza is toast.
9:10 — GOP gubernatorial primary — Johnson 12,187, Zellers 9,219, Honour 8,696, Seifert 5,355
9:15 — 8% of precincts reporting — CD-6 GOP primary — Tom Emmer 1,117, Rhonda Sivarajah 304
9:17 — GOP Gubernatorial Primary — 23% of precincts reporting — Jeff Johnson 19,162, Kurt Zellers 13,806, Scott Honour 13,438, Marty Seifert 8,581
9:20 — DFL Primary State Auditor — Rebecca Otto 57,365, Matt Entenza 11,305
9:22 — GOP CD-6 primary — 17.5% of precincts reporting — Tom Emmer 2,721 votes, Rhonda Sivarajah 1,017
9:25 — GOP gubernatorial primary — 26.6% of precincts reporting — Jeff Johnson 20,966, Scott Honour 15,413, Kurt Zellers 15,322, Marty Seifert 9,999
9:30 — Entenza concedes
9:30 — GOP Primary CD-6 — 22.6% of precincts reporting — Tom Emmer 3,560, Rhonda Sivarajah 1,183
9:35 — GOP Gubernatorial Primary — 33.3% of precincts reporting — Jeff Johnson 24,588, Kurt Zellers 18,478, Scott Honour 18,030, Marty Seifert 12,800
9:40 — GOP CD-6 Primary — 31% of precincts reporting — Tom Emmer 5,083, Rhonda Sivarajah 1,564
9:45 — GOP Gubernatorial Primary — 39.5% of precincts reporting — Jeff Johnson 26,936, Kurt Zellers 20,285, Scott Honour 19,379, Marty Seifert 15,929
9:55 — GOP Gubernatorial Primary — 49% of precincts reporting — Jeff Johnson 31,045, Kurt Zellers 24,178, Scott Honour 22,098, Marty Seifert 19,897
10:02 — GOP CD-6 Primary — 35% of precincts reporting — Tom Emmer 6,347, Rhonda Sivarajah 1,937
10:10 — CD-6 GOP Primary — 44.44% of precincts reporting — Tom Emmer 7,844, Rhonda Sivarajah 3,097
The plot thickens. With 57.65% of the precincts reporting, Jeff Johnson still leads with 34,827 votes, followed by Kurt Zellers with 27,430, Scott Honour with 24,427 and Marty Seifert with 23,334.
10:25 — GOP Gubernatorial Primary — 63% of precincts reporting — Jeff Johnson 38,041, Kurt Zellers 30,273, Scott Honour 26,869, Marty Seifert 25,546

RealClearPolitics declared Jeff Johnson the winner of the GOP Gubernatorial primary. With 76% of precincts reporting, Johnson has a lead of almost 10,000 votes over Kurt Zellers, his nearest competitor.

KSTP has called the race for Johnson, too.

Mark Sommerhauser’s interview with Jeff Johnson focuses on two things. First, it focuses on Johnson’s message that he’ll unite the party, which I think is largely true. The other thing worth gleaning from the article is Scott Honour’s scorched earth campaign. First, here’s Johnson’s pitch:

“I’m the only one that can come out of this primary with an energized and united base,” Johnson said. “If someone else wins the primary somehow, they’re going to have to spend some time putting the party back together. “We don’t have time for that.”

Johnson and Kurt Zellers are the only candidates with a chance to unite the party. Marty Seifert can’t because he essentially turned his back on the grass roots activists in the party at this year’s state convention. That’s significantly more than 1,000 activists, many of whom supported him going into the convention.

Scott Honour can’t unite the party, either, because he’s burned bridges with his “Career politicians have had their chance message.”

Honour says Johnson hasn’t been bold enough in outlining his vision to slash state spending and bureaucracy. Honour says he’d go bigger if we were governor. For instance, he says he’d propose cutting state administrative staff across the board by 10 percent.

I’ve never cared for politicians proposing across the board cuts. That tells me they haven’t taken a close look to see where the inefficiencies are. For instance, I’d applaud if he wanted to eliminate every legislative liaison position in state government because a legislative liaison’s chief responsibility is to lobby the legislature for more money for their agency.

We don’t need dozens (hundreds?) of taxpayer-funded lobbyists.

Getting rid of 90% of the PR people in the various state agencies would be a good thing, too, but Honour isn’t proposing that. Again, Honour’s attention to detail is troubling. By comparison, Johnson’s got the right approach:

Johnson notes that, if he’s elected, state law requires he propose a budget about six weeks after taking office. Regardless of what happens in the November elections, he also would have to work with a DFL-controlled state Senate.

“To suggest that we can remake government in six weeks is just silly,” Johnson said. “In politics, you should just be honest with people and not make promises that you can’t keep.”

Jeff Johnson understands when to push and when he’s gotten everything he’s going to get. Further, he’s shown that he isn’t afraid to give Democrats a sharp elbow to the ribs:

GOLDEN VALLEY—Jeff Johnson, the Republican endorsed candidate for Governor, released the following statement on the sale of bonds and beginning of construction for the new Senate Legislative Office Building (SLOB):

“Minnesotans will be paying for this palace for the next 20 years, and Mark Dayton doesn’t even have the courage to show up for a groundbreaking.”

“This building is symbolic of everything that is wrong with government under Dayton: initially he opposed it, then he signed on as a political payoff to fellow politicians, and finally he runs for cover when taxpayers revolt. In the end, we are stuck with a boondoggle nobody but Dayton’s political cronies want, and a big fat bill. Our kids are stuck paying for this.”

This isn’t the type of red meat that some activists love but it’s the type of shot that’ll get people’s attention. It’s the type of attack Minnesota’s passive-aggressives would appreciate.

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This news article could’ve been written by Denise Cardinal or Carrie Lucking:

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed a $616 million tax cut plan for the state on Friday, and this is one measure that can truly be described as “bi-partisan.”

Lawmakers tell us that the bill was in the works for a short while as everyone knew this was something the state desperately needed.

Minnesota State Rep. Kim Norton, (D) Rochester, says she’s thrilled to have this bill passed and signed by the governor and having it pass quickly as some of the cuts apply to tax returns being filed right now.

“The Senate took the bill on the House floor this last week,” she said, “it was sent over to the house, we concurred with their bill very quickly, there was a little bit of discussion but there were no amendments on the house side. We were able to vote it into law and send it to the governor for his signature very quickly.”

It might have been a speedy process, but it was thorough.

That’s the definition of spin. First, the bill that Gov. Dayton just signed isn’t a tax cut. It’s mostly the repeal of a tiny portion of last year’s tax increase, which was the biggest tax increase in Minnesota history. Next, the amount of taxes repealed didn’t come close to $616,000,000. It’s been reported that the repeal saved Minnesota taxpayers $440,000,000. Repealing taxes that haven’t gone into effect isn’t a tax cut.

Third, this bill wasn’t in the works just “a short while.” The repeal of the warehouse services sales tax, the farm equipment repair sales tax and the telecommunications sales tax were initially proposed prior to last summer’s special session. That’s 7 months ago. That’s longer than a legislative session by a couple months.

Fourth, the tax repair bill that Gov. Dayton signed wasn’t signed because he and the DFL legislature love cutting taxes. Gov. Dayton didn’t sign this bill because he hates raising taxes. Gov. Dayton signed this bill because not repealing these taxes would’ve been political suicide.

Fifth, the process wasn’t thorough. I wrote here about how little the DFL thought their tax increases through. Here’s the transcript between Rep. Kurt Zellers and Commissioner Myron Frans:

REP. ZELLERS: But if I pay him every month $20 or $100, is that going to be or is he going to have to start collecting sales tax and remitting it to the State of Minnesota?
COMMISSIONER FRANS: …He probably would. If it was a monthly charge, then there likely would be a sales tax charge.
REP. ZELLERS: So then someone mowing my lawn, someone shovelling snow for me during the winter time or a babysitter?
COMMISSIONER FRANS: Those services would generally all be covered by the sales tax.

The DFL’s leadership didn’t even think basic things through. Commissioner Frans couldn’t even answer basic questions about what would and wouldn’t be taxed.

Republicans shouldn’t kid themselves. The DFL’s praetorian guard, aka the Agenda Media, is already running interference for the DFL. Think of what it’ll be like when the campaign gets into full swing. Republicans should get out ahead of this issue now and return to it repeatedly. This isn’t the time to take things for granted. It’s time to demolish the Agenda Media’s premise before it’s considered the truth.

Repealing a tiny portion of the biggest tax increase in Minnesota history is just that: the repealing of a tiny portion of the biggest tax increase in Minnesota history.

A thief who steals some jewelry, a hi-definition big screen TV and some kitchen appliances is still a thief if the thief returns the kitchen appliances.

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According to the Minnesota Morning Watchdog, Tom Emmer got a shot of good news from last night’s precinct caucuses:

6th District Congress (97% Reporting):

Tom Emmer with 67.7%, Rhonda Sivarajah with 17.7%, Phil Krinkie with 10.1%

Only 4.3% of caucus voters were undecided. While this straw poll isn’t binding, it can’t be ignored. Rhonda Sivarajah can’t be happy finishing 50 points behind Emmer. Phil Krinkie can’t be happy that he finished almost 60 points behind Emmer.

I’d be surprised if CD-6 delegates will be impressed with Commissioner Sivarajah’s or Rep. Krinkie’s showing. At this point, I’d argue that both face steep uphill fights to win the endorsement. I’d also argue that the odds of Tom Emmer winning a first ballot endorsement victory seem more likely this morning than they were a week ago.

In other straw poll news, Marty Seifert, Jeff Johnson and Dave Thompson appear to be heading for top 3 finishes in the gubernatorial straw poll. With 96% of precincts reporting, Seifert had 28% of the vote, followed by Dave Thompson with 26% and Jeff Johnson with 17%.

That’s got to put a smile on Sen. Thompson’s face. With a strong finish like that, Sen. Thompson can credibly tell potential contributors that his message is popular.

Marty Seifert has to be pleased, too. He can credibly tell potential contributors that he’s got the experience, organization and name recognition it’ll take to defeat Gov. Dayton.

While this wasn’t the strong showing the Johnson campaign was hoping for, Jeff Johnson must still be considered a top tier candidate. He’s got a solid fundraising team. He’s managing his resources well (he’s got the most cash-on-hand of the candidates) and he’s got a terrific record of being a fiscal conservative.

This couldn’t have been the night that Kurt Zellers was hoping for. Finishing a next-to-last 6th place with 8% can’t instill confidence in potential campaign contributors or in potential delegates.

Based on the results of last night’s U.S. Senate Straw Poll, it’s looking like it’s down to a 2-person race. With 96% of precincts reporting, Julianne Ortman led Mike McFadden by a 31%-22% margin. Finishing in third place was Undecided with 16%, followed by Jim Abeler with 15%.

With that many undecideds and soon-to-be undecided delegates, this is another race to watch.

Last night, I received an email from Jim Kroger, an assistant professor in the Accounting & Business Law department at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Dr. Kroger had studied the campaign finance reports of the GOP gubernatorial candidates.

This post shouldn’t be interpreted as me expressing my preference for who runs against Gov. Dayton. This post is simply about Dr. Kroger’s studies.

Dr. Kroger’s spreadsheet, which doesn’t translate well into WordPress formatting, gives us some basic information. Specifically, it highlights the fundraising per week and the burn rate per week for each of the candidates. At this point, Marty Seifert has raised an average of $26,029 per week while spending $1,842 per week since entering the race in late November. By contrast, Scott Honour has raised an average of $14,142 per week while spending $14,132 per average week.

Kurt Zellers is raising $13,392 per week while spending $9,894 per week. He’s followed by Jeff Johnson, who is raising an average of $7,041 per week while spending an average of $2,091 per week, followed by Dave Thompson, who has raised an average of $4,559 per week while spending $2,673 per week.

Here are some of Dr. Kroger’s observations:

  1. Seifert’s average weekly individual cash contributions of $26,029 exceed Dayton’s average weekly individual cash contributions of $15,327 by $10,702. Presently, in Republican circles, one of the issues that is discussed is which candidate can raise enough money to be competitive against Dayton. Based on this analysis, which seeks to measure each candidate equally based on when they announced for governor, Seifert is by far the strongest fundraiser outperforming Honour by a margin of nearly 2 to 1.
  2. The average amount of cash burned per week by Zellers exceeds the average amount of cash burned per week by Dayton by 143%. The average amount of cash burned per week by Honour exceeds the average amount of cash burned per week by Dayton by 204% (more than double). In Republican circles it is often said that no candidate will be able to fundraise and spend more than Dayton. Based on how fast Zellers and Honour are blowing their cash and what they are burning it on, I would argue that both of their campaigns are wasteful and simply unsustainable on a long-term basis.
  3. Thompson ended the year with $50,283 cash on hand, but he also has unpaid bills of $28,235. This means that he essentially ended the year with approximately $20,000 cash on hand, which is the lowest next to Farnsworth. Given his monthly expenses, I would argue that Thompson’s campaign is either dead in the water or running on fumes. I suspect that his announcement of a running mate was the last gasp as he attempts to gain momentum and save what appears to be a sinking ship.
  4. Zellers has $44,300 or 11% of his total receipts coming from out-of-state; however, I discovered what may be a red flag issue. Zellers received $21,000 from 38 individuals in 8 states (Missouri, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Illinois, Washington, DC, New Jersey, and Florida) and ALL 38 contributors listed Express Scripts, a mail-order pharmacy, as their employer. This raised a red flag in my mind. Is Express Scripts funneling money to Zellers through these individuals? What ties does Zellers have to Express Scripts? What will Express Scripts expect if he is elected? Is Express Scripts trying to skirt lobbyist regulations? I don’t know the answers to these questions, but it presents an interesting puzzle.
  5. Honour has $295,847 or 48-58% of his total receipts coming from out-of-state. It is 48% if you include his $101,000 loan to himself in total receipts and 58% if you exclude it. 189 of 368 total contributions to Honour’s campaign are from people outside of Minnesota and, in some cases, outside the United States (Singapore and London). 51% of all individuals contributing to Honour’s campaign are not Minnesotans. I counted 13 contributions from Beverly Hills, CA, 29 from Los Angeles, CA, and 16 from New York City. It appears that bankers, lawyers, and even an actress are the ones who think Honour would make a good governor. If you disregard the $295,847 that came from outside of Minnesota and the $101,000 loan that he gave himself then he only raised $217,919 from Minnesotans, which is less than both Johnson and Zellers. Further, the deep pockets that he tapped from outside of Minnesota often gave $4,000 so they cannot contribute again. I would argue both that Honour is not supported by the people of Minnesota and that his campaign is likely not sustainable due to fundraising concerns and wasteful spending. Having exhausted his out-of-state deep pockets and squandered the money, he must now look to the people of Minnesota or himself to fund his campaign. He ended the year with $14,251 on hand. I would argue that Honour’s campaign is more akin to the campaign of Farnsworth or Thompson and that Honour is nearly dead in the water or running on fumes.

Whether Dr. Kroger’s opinions hold up is subject to the test of time. Another thing that’ll require additional scrutiny is whether Marty Seifert can continue at his current fundraising pace. If he can, then he’ll be a formidable opponent for Gov. Dayton. Jeff Johnson’s figures aren’t gaudy but his burn rate is under control. That will matter over the course of a long campaign.

Each of these candidates would be a significant improvement over Gov. Dayton. It’s difficult to have faith in a politician who doesn’t know what’s in the bills he’s signed and negotiated.

Finally, tonight is precinct caucus night in Minnesota. If you want to shape this election, there’s no better place to be tonight than at your local precinct caucus. If you’ve never attended a precinct caucus, you’ll want to attend. It’s the best place to let your voice be heard. If you don’t know where your precinct caucus is being held, follow this link, then enter your zip code. It’s just that simple.

I never thought I’d see the day when a political party would attempt to collect sales taxes from kids shovelling snow, mowing lawns or babysitting. That day just arrived:

Here’s the key exchange between Rep. Kurt Zellers and Minnesota Department of Revenue Commissioner Frans:

REP. ZELLERS: But if I pay him every month $20 or $100, is that going to be or is he going to have to start collecting sales tax and remitting it to the State of Minnesota?
COMMISSIONER FRANS: …He probably would. If it was a monthly charge, then there likely would be a sales tax charge.
REP. ZELLERS: So then someone mowing my lawn, someone shovelling snow for me during the winter time or a babysitter?
COMMISSIONER FRANS: Those services would generally all be covered by the sales tax.

Wasn’t it just 6 months ago that Gov. Dayton and the DFL were insisting that kids mowing lawns and shovelling snow weren’t paying their fair share? Didn’t they insist that babysitters weren’t paying their fair share?

Wait a second. That’s right. The DFL didn’t. The DFL insisted that “the rich” weren’t “paying their fair share.” The DFL insisted that they were the champions of “working families.”

There’s nothing centrist about forcing kids to collect sales tax, then send it into the Minnesota Department of Revenue, because they mow their neighbor’s lawn or shovel their sidewalks or babysit their kids. Only the DFL would think that’s appropriate.

That isn’t disgusting. That’s beyond disgusting. That’s something only the DFL would think of.

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How many LFR readers have gotten a 2% pay raise from their boss recently? Put your responses in the comments.

Speaker Kurt Zellers is certain to get criticized for his opinion on the newly negotiated contracts:

House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, is criticizing the proposed state employee contracts. Gov. Dayton and the state’s two largest public employee unions have agreed on new contracts that provide an across the board pay increase of 2 percent. The contracts also require employees to pay higher health insurance co-pays. Zellers appeared on conservative radio host Scott Hennen’s program, where he criticized the proposal.

“When you look at how many folks out there haven’t had a raise or haven’t had an increase in their paycheck or maybe took a cut in their paycheck, asking for a pay increase at this point in the economy, at this point where our nation is rebuilding, I think is overstepping the bounds,” Zellers said.

There’s no doubt that AFSCME and MAPE will complain that this is just another chapter in the Republicans’ war on working people. I’d recommend that Speaker Zellers ignore those complaints.

If AFSCME, MAPE and the SEIU start complaining about this administration’s war on minorities (unemployment is sky high) and people who aren’t unionized (wages have shrunk, unemployment is higher), then I’ll start listening.

Thus far, AFSCME, MAPE and the SEIU have sat silently about those subjects. I’m anything but surprised.

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Steve Smith has apparently worn out his welcome in the House GOP Caucus:

Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers announced today that he’s backing Cindy Pugh over Rep. Steve Smith, R-Mound, in the August 14 primary. On his Facebook page, Zellers said he was backing Pugh because she “will represent the conservative values of the district.”

“On important issues like education, government reform and protecting child care providers from forced unionization, I know where Cindy stands. She stands with students, with taxpayers and with families. She isn’t someone who is going to let a special interest push her around.”

“Cindy is a true conservative, and she’s proven it through her years working on behalf of conservatives as a party and local volunteer. She is endorsed by the Republican Party, and is going to stand up for what is right, limited government, lower taxes and economic freedom. A vote for Cindy is a vote for the principles that make us conservative.”

Smith’s biggest sin is that he hasn’t listened to his constituents. In a deep red district, Smith has voted like Ron Earhardt or Arne Carlson. Meanwhile, Cindy Pugh is a solid conservative, a reliable vote for economic liberty and limited government.

Ms. Pugh’s website provides a glimpse into her agenda:

I have been an entrepreneur, a successful small business owner, and was the general manager of the downtown St. Paul Dayton’s store for many years. I became politically active a few years ago because I didn’t feel our elected officials were defending the values of fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government, free markets and individual liberty and responsibility.

My top priorities as a legislator will be to foster job creation by reducing taxes and burdensome regulations on businesses, to keep spending in check with existing revenue, and to return meaningful control of public schools to parents and local school boards.

It’s time for the people to have a champion for their causes. It’s time to defeat a career politician who isn’t representing his district.

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