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Greg Davids, the chairman of the House Taxes Committee, issued this statement in announcing an agreement on an innovative tax cut bill. He should be proud of the accomplishment. Unfortunately, Gov. Dayton is acting like a sourpuss holding the signing of the bill hostage if he doesn’t get his way on more reckless spending.

According to Briana Bierschbach’s reporting, “On Friday evening, DFL Gov. Mark Dayton called the tax proposal ‘within the ballpark of fiscal responsibility,’ but added that he would not sign any tax bill without a budget bill he finds acceptable.” In other words, Gov. Dayton thinks that the tax bill is good legislation but he won’t sign it if he doesn’t get his way. Whatever happened to doing the right thing for Minnesotans? Clearly, Gov. Dayton’s highest priority isn’t to Minnesotans. It’s to the DFL’s special interests.

Some of the components of the tax bill would dramatically help Minnesotans. For instance, Rep. Davids’ bill includes “$90.6 million in agriculture property tax relief for Minnesota farmers, $110 million in tax relief for college graduates paying off student loans through a refundable tax credit up to $1,000, $49 million in tax relief for families who contribute to 529 Plans to save for their children’s college costs, $146 million in property tax relief for every small business in the state by exempting the first $100,000 of commercial-industrial property, $13 million in tax relief for veterans by raising the income eligibility threshold, and increasing the total credit from $750 to $1,000, $150 million in tax relief for working families by expanding the working family tax credit and $32 million to reduce the cost of childcare; by expanding the childcare tax credit, families could earn a tax credit up to $960.”

Whether the spending bill comes through or not, Gov. Dayton should sign Chairman Davids’ tax bill. The thought that Gov. Dayton is holding this tax relief hostage on some questionable policies is disgusting. This exposes Gov. Dayton as the partisan I’ve always known him to be.

The DFL is whining about nothing getting done. Sadly, they’re the architects of that obstruction. It wasn’t the GOP that proposed a $1,800,000,000 bonding bill. It wasn’t the GOP that proposed wasting money on statewide pre-K. It was the GOP, however, that put together a tax bill that helps students with loan debt, parents saving for their children’s college education and provides property tax relief for farmers and small businesses.

If Gov. Dayton doesn’t sign this tax bill into law, then he’s entirely to blame.

UPDATE: Dayton is threatening to veto the Tax Bill:

A $257 tax cut package did pass and is on its way to Dayton’s desk. Dayton says there are many good provisions in the bill, however he is not sure if he will sign it. That’s because of a provision giving approximately $35 million in tax breaks to tobacco manufacturers. On Monday morning Dayton said he would make a decision on signing it and the other session bills in the next 48 hours.

That’s pathetic. Gov. Dayton is willing to sabotage a tax bill that provides property tax relief to farmers and small businesses, that establishes tax credits for paying off student loan debt and that incentivize parents to save for their children’s college education because it might help a tobacco company?

If that happens, then Gov. Dayton should be known as the most incompetent person to ever serve as Minnesota’s governor. That’s pretty astonishing considering the fact that Jesse Ventura was once our governor.

I knew that the DFL and ABM would start spinning things after they created a mess but this is ridiculous. While the legislature was still in session, Susie Merthans started spinning things. She quoted Paul Thissen as saying “Modest victories are due to Gov Dayton & DFL Senate dragging GOP kicking and screaming across the finish line.” Then, as though that wasn’t enough, she added “Paul Thissen: GOP beholden to corporate special interests, it’s time for a change.”

First, it’s frightening that Ms. Merthans admits in her profile that she’s the “Communications Director for @ABetterMN by way of @mnhouseDFL.” Why should ABM’s communications director get paid by Minnesota taxpayers? That’s the definition of corruption. ABM doesn’t change when the session ends. It’s the same dishonest messaging as they used during the legislative session. The only difference is that ABM will spend more money on mailers and ads during the campaign. The dishonest themes remain pretty much intact.

That’s before talking about the dishonesty of Thissen’s statements. The DFL is the party that does whatever the environmentalists tell them to do. Actually, they don’t do what the environmental activists tell them not to do. Think about the DFL’s opposition to the Sandpiper Pipeline project. Think about the DFL’s opposition to a resolution at their State Convention in 2014 that said the DFL supported mining. At the DFL’s State Convention in Duluth in 2014, that timid resolution was pulled by Ken Martin said it was too controversial. Seriously.

Another example is how the DFL rammed through forced unionization on in-home child care providers at the end of the 2013 session. Despite a massive lobbying effort organized by in-home child care providers, the DFL ignored the in-home child care providers and sided with public employee unions. Again, the DFL didn’t care about the people. The DFL sided with their special interest allies. It isn’t surprising. That’s their habit.

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Predictably, the DFL, led by Rep. Paul Thissen, Gov. Dayton and Sen. Tom Bakk, is overreaching in a major way. Predictably, they’re pushing a bonding bill that’s the biggest in state history by orders of magnitude. It isn’t surprising to hear Rep. Thissen whining about the bill. In this article, Thissen is quoted as saying “This bill is an unfortunate, sad joke that House Republicans are playing on Minnesotans. We should vote no on this bill and get to work on a real bonding bill that will create jobs and strengthen communities in every part of this state. The clock is ticking. Let’s get to work.”

The DFL is constantly telling people that Minnesota’s economy is going great. They’re also telling people that the bonding bill is a jobs bill. What the DFL won’t say is that the bonding bill costs Minnesotans tons of money in higher taxes, money that could be used by businesses to create permanent jobs when they expand their companies. The DFL won’t say that the jobs that are getting created are temporary construction jobs.

The Senate’s bonding bill tops out at $1,470,742,000. That’s a ton of pork. Spending $28,055,000 on tearing down buildings on the Bemidji State campus and the Hibbing Community College campus, then rebuilding the buildings that are getting torn down. The Senate bill also includes $20,385,000 for Rochester Community and Technical College to “complete design, demolish Memorial and Plaza Halls, construct, equip, and furnish an academic building expansion, and renovate,
equip, and furnish replacement space for classrooms, labs, and office spaces.”

That’s before spending $17,780,000 to “complete the Heart of the Zoo II project, including renovation of the snow monkey exhibit and surrounding public spaces and construction of a meerkat exhibit.” That’s before appropriating $10,000,000 for the Metropolitan Regional Parks and Trails Capital Improvements. That money will pay for “the cost of improvements and betterments of a capital nature and acquisition by the council and local government units of regional recreational open-space lands in accordance with the council’s policy plan as provided in Minnesota Statutes, section 473.147.”

That’s $76,220,000 just on those 5 projects. There are other projects in the Senate bonding bill that are equally unworthy of a Republican’s vote. For all of Rep. Thissen’s whining, he’s frequently been short of solutions and positive suggestions. Sen. Bakk is better than Rep. Thissen but mostly because it’s difficult to do worse than Rep. Thissen.

Last year, Rep. Paul Thissen’s partisanship paved the way for the legislature’s special session. Without his throwing a daily hissy fit about Republicans, the legislature wouldn’t have needed a special session to finish the biennial budget. Thanks to Rep. Thissen’s whining, there was a special session. Though this AP article doesn’t mention Rep. Thissen, it’s definitely got his fingerprints all over it.

For instance, the final paragraph of the article starts with “DFLers called the House bill partisan and said it elevated projects in Republican districts above others that were ranked higher priorities. They cited was Eastman Hall, which was ranked lower on the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities wish list than projects in Hibbing, Rochester, Winona and Bemidji, which are in DFL district and were not included in the bill.”

The truth is that the Senate DFL, not the House GOP, is to blame for the bonding bill logjam. The Senate DFL’s bill called for $1,800,000,000 of bonding. That’s $750,000,000 more than the biggest bonding bill in Minnesota history. Because the Senate DFL’s bonding bill was that expensive, Republicans couldn’t take it seriously.

Republicans couldn’t take it seriously because the DFL’s bonding bill keeps running up debt which requires high taxes:

Moody’s 2015 State Debt Median Report ranks Minnesota debt burden as moderately elevated compared to other states: Minnesota’s net tax-supported debt (NTD) per capita is $1,538 compared to the national median of $1,012; NTD as a percentage of personal income is 3.2% for Minnesota versus a national median of 2.5%; and NTD as a percentage of gross state domestic product of 2.69% is above the national median of 2.21%. However, Moody’s estimates Minnesota’s fiscal 2014 debt service ratio (net tax-supported debt as a percentage of operating fund revenues and pledged revenues) to be 4.2% versus a fiscal 2014 median of 5.3%. This ranks in the top (or most favorable) quartile of state rankings.

Rather than letting the private sector grow the economy, the DFL’s preferred path is to have the government borrow money to pay for what essentially is a sugar high economic bump. The DFL is incapable of thinking that the private sector doesn’t need help in growing the economy because the DFL thinks that the government has to be involved in everything.

Until the DFL stops thinking that the economy won’t grow if the government isn’t spending tons of money, Minnesota won’t have a strong private sector economy.

There’s no question that people are resistant to change. They appreciate the familiar, which is why it’s difficult, if not impossible, to change things that are broken. Sometimes, though, a dramatic shake-up is exactly what’s needed. The colonists knew that in the 1770s. There are lots of angry activists in the 21st Century who wonder if it isn’t time for another revolution.

This op-ed, which I linked to in this post, highlights the fact that the “council has broad authority, including the ability to levy taxes” but that the governor is their primary constituent. In the colonists’ times, they started a revolution. One of their chief rallying cries was “No taxation without representation.”

According to Dictionary.com, the definition for No taxation without representation “became an anti-British slogan before the American Revolution; in full, “Taxation without representation is tyranny.” I can’t disagree with that last sentence. Taxation without representation is tyranny.

This paragraph especially stands out:

The mayors in their commentary suggested that elected city and county officials could not handle the workload or think “regionally” while representing both their municipality and a Met Council district.

There’s a simple explanation for these mayors’ preference. They want their initiatives to get rubberstamped and put into place ASAP. What politician enjoys the mess that’s created when making sausage? The Met Council is a mayor’s dream. They get their wish list enacted without having to cut deals with uppity peasants.

This nation’s Founding Fathers understood the appeal of mob rule. That’s why they designed a system filled with checks and balances. They wanted to thwart entities like the Met Council. They wanted the system to be messy because efficient governments are usually out-of-control governments that don’t pay attention to the citizenry, aka the uppity peasants.

Here’s the lengthy list of elected officials that signed onto this op-ed:

Scott Schulte is an Anoka County commissioner. Chris Gerlach is a Dakota County commissioner. Jeff Lunde is mayor of Brooklyn Park. This commentary was also submitted on behalf of the following local government officials. County commissioners: Rhonda Sivarajah, Matt Look, Julie Braastad and Robyn West, Anoka County; Tom Workman and Randy Maluchnik, Carver County; Liz Workman and Nancy Shouweiler, Dakota County; Jon Ulrich, Scott County, and Jeff Johnson, Hennepin County. Mayors: Mark Korin, Oak Grove; Kelli Slavik, Plymouth; Jim Adams, Crystal; Jeff Reinert, Lino Lakes, and Dave Povolny, Columbus. City Council members: Jim Goodrich, Andover; John Jordan, Brooklyn Park; Jeff Kolb, Olga Parsons and Elizabeth Dahl, Crystal; Dave Clark and Jason King, Blaine; Brian Kirkham, Bethel, and Bill Krebs, Columbus.

The time for a dramatic reform of the Met Council is at least a decade overdue. Further, there’s never a good time to give government the authority to raise taxes without giving people the authority to boot the bums out of office.

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This op-ed, written by an Anoka County commissioner, a Dakota County commissioner and the mayor of Brooklyn Park, highlights what’s wrong with the Met Council.

Their op-ed opens by saying “four suburban counties and 41 cities across the Twin Cities area have passed resolutions contradicting the group of mayors who wrote ‘Tweaks’ are, in fact, the best model for Met Council” (May 9), defending the current model of gubernatorial control of the Metropolitan Council.”

The next paragraph says “Those mayors argue that the current model is working well, needing only a few changes to the appointment process, and that any move away from gubernatorial control is ill-advised and impractical. They give the impression that counties and cities are working in a ‘highly responsive’ partnership with the council.”

I don’t know who those mayors are but if they think that the Met Council is “highly responsive” to the people living in the 7-county metro, then they aren’t fit for duty because they’re either incredibly dishonest or they’re stupid. This paragraph encapsulates things perfectly:

The council has broad authority, including the ability to levy taxes, charge fees and set regional policy. Cities and counties are the entities most directly affected by decisions of the council, making them the council’s primary constituents. Yet appointment of council members resides solely with the governor, effectively making the governor the primary constituent.

What part of that sounds like the Met Council is responsive to the citizens living within their authority? The Met Council will always be more responsive to the governor than to the citizenry because he’s the person who can hire or fire them. That’s a system that could be called ‘whatever the governor wants, the governor gets’. The last I looked, our system of government was built on the consent of the governed.

The Met Council is built on the principle of governing without the consent of the governed and the principle that there be the power to tax without representation. Here’s a revolutionary concept:

Many cities and counties believe that the council lacks accountability and responsiveness to them as direct constituents and that the authority to impose taxes and set regional policy should be the responsibility of local government elected officials.

This is what the reformers want:

We support reform that adheres to the following principles:

  1. ?A majority of council members shall be elected officials, appointed from cities and counties within the region;
  2. ?Metropolitan cities shall directly control the appointment process for city representatives to the council;
  3. ?Metropolitan counties shall directly appoint their own representatives to the council;
  4. ?The terms of office for any members appointed by the governor shall be staggered and not coterminous with the governor’s;
  5. ?Membership shall include representation from every metropolitan county government, and
  6. ?The council shall represent the entire region; voting shall be structured based on population and incorporate a system of checks and balances.

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After publishing this post regarding MnSCU’s implicit approval of Inver Hills Community College President Tim Wynes and after seeing the level of financial mismanagement within MnSCU, I realize that I haven’t asked the most important question regarding the financial stewardship of MnSCU’s Central Office and its colleges and universities.

Specifically, since the MnSCU Board of Trustees has sat silent on MnSCU’s operational incompetence and its financial mismanagement, and since the legislature has essentially stuck its collective head in the sand in its attempt to ignore SCSU’s declining enrollment and multi-million dollar annual deficits, a basic question must be asked ASAP.

What’s the legislature’s, the Dayton administration’s and MnSCU’s definition of a financial crisis? Do these politicians and executives have a definition for a MnSCU crisis? If they have one, I definitely haven’t seen proof of it.

Rather than just highlight MnSCU’s and the legislature’s incompetence and indifference, I’ll take the time to connect the dots since MnSCU and the legislature aren’t interested in connecting them.

Over the last 6 years, St. Cloud State has lost $8,700,000 on Coborn’s Plaza. Since FY2014, SCSU’s annual financial deficits have been in excess of $5,000,000. In fact, it’s well in excess of that. Meanwhile, MnSCU submitted a supplemental budget request this session for an additional $21,000,000. It isn’t difficult to figure it out that a significant portion of that amount is heading to St. Cloud State as a bailout.

Here’s a video promotion of Coborn’s Plaza:

Taxpayers shouldn’t be viewed at ATMs to fund MnSCU’s financial mismanagement. Instead, politicians, whether they’re found in the executive branch or the legislative branch, need to start putting political pressure on these ineptocrats and corruptocrats. They’re taking the taxpayers’ money and, for all intents and purposes, they’re lighting their cigars with the taxpayers’ money.

That’s just the purely financial side of MnSCU’s dysfunctional operation. That’s before examining the operational side of MnSCU’s operation. What does it say about Inver Hills’ ethical standards when a professor is the subject of a witch hunt of an investigation and nobody criticizes the people conducting the ‘investigation’ for not disclosing any information?

In 2013, then-Speaker Paul Thissen bragged about the DFL legislature making historic investments in education, which I wrote about in this post. What Thissen didn’t say is that the DFL made historic investments in accountability. Apparently, accountability isn’t something that the DFL believes in when it comes to their political allies.

It’s time to throw the DFL so far out of power that they won’t mistreat taxpayers for a decade or longer. Further, it’s time for a wholesale housecleaning at MnSCU.

It’s time to ask the DFL and MnSCU what their definition of a crisis is. MnSCU’s history of financial and ethical mismanagement has been disgusting. The legislature has been as disinterested as MnSCU in terms of accountability.

Finally, it’s time that citizens get outraged about how they’re getting abused by unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats.

After reading this DFL puff piece, it would difficult to prove that it wasn’t written by ABM’s spinmeisters and given to these Strib stenographers. (They aren’t reporters because they didn’t question any of the DFL’s statements.)

For instance, the title is intellectually dishonest. The Strib’s title is “There’s no evidence that ultra-rich are fleeing Minnesota.” Nobody said the ultra-rich would leave Minnesota. That’s because the ultra-rich have much of their wealth hidden from taxation. The Strib is wrong, too, when they said that “Critics predicted that the ultra-affluent would flee after Gov. Mark Dayton secured 2013 passage of a new income tax tier of 9.85 percent on individuals who make more than $156,000 a year.”

It’s insulting that the Strib reporters got this information that badly wrong. Republicans said that small businesses and entrepreneurs would leave the state. I wrote this article to highlight the brain drain that Minnesota is experiencing. While the article’s focus was on the number of Minnesotans leaving for Wisconsin and the Dakotas vs. the number of students moving into Minnesota from Wisconsin and the Dakotas, I also highlighted the amount of capital flight that’s happening and that accelerated following the Dayton/DFL tax increase of 2013.

That capital flight isn’t just a statistic. It’s something John Christianson has witnessed firsthand:

John Christianson, an accountant in Willmar, said he’s aware of 12 wealthy people in his community who moved away, and six who expanded their businesses in other states. “People are at least considering it,” he says. “Ten or fifteen years ago, it wasn’t as prevalent.”

It isn’t a secret that Minnesota is losing out on tons of income. According to Peter Nelson’s study, most of the people leaving Minnesota aren’t snowbirds heading to Florida or Arizona:

One might think that most high-earning families who leave Minnesota are retirees moving to Florida or Arizona but this is not the case. Working-age people between 35 and 54 account for nearly 40 percent of Minnesota’s net loss of tax filers for the 2013-2014 period.

Shouldn’t Minnesota insist on pro-growth economic policies that attract the best and the brightest rather than chase them away? At some point, the capital flight from Minnesota and the brain drain Minnesota is experiencing will catch up with us. This isn’t a bold prediction. It’s just simple math.

With the end of session approaching quickly, the DFL’s spin operations are definitely ramping up. Spearheading their effort this year is DFL Chairman Ken Martin, starting with this op-ed. Predictably, it’s his responsibility to spin things in the DFL’s favor whether they’re rooted in truth or not.

For instance, Chairman Martin isn’t telling the whole truth when he said “Gov. Mark Dayton and DFL legislators have thrown out some good pitches on education funding, compromising on a transportation fix and addressing racial and economic disparities.” The only pitch that Gov. Dayton and the DFL have thrown out on transportation has been to shrink the size of the DFL’s middle class tax increase. Further, it’s dishonest for Chairman Martin to say that “Republicans refuse to play ball.”

This article reports that negotiations have essentially started. David Montgomery’s reporting says that the DFL “proposed increasing the normal per-gallon gas tax by 12 cents, phased in over three years” while allowing “metro-area counties redirect some tax money currently going to transit to roads and bridges.”

Montgomery also reported this:

Republicans officially offered to consider a sales tax increase to pay for metro-area mass transit, though they want some concessions in return. In particular, they want to change the Metropolitan Council, which would spend that tax increase on mass transit, to require all its members be composed of local elected officials.

Changing the Met Council from an unaccountable entity into an accountable board, if it happens, is a big deal. The fact that the Met Council is still unaccountable is one of the great tragedies in Minnesota political history. The fact that the Met Council is still unaccountable and has taxing authority is possibly the biggest tragedy in recent Minnesota political history.

This LTE from Carolyn Nieters contains the obligatory DFL lie. Ms> Nieters fulfilled her obligation to the DFL by saying “I saw in the news that House Republicans like Rep. Jim Knoblach proposed investing exactly zero dollars of our $900 million surplus toward education for our community. Zero! Yet their plan includes doling out tax giveaways to the richest Minnesotans.”

If I got paid $20 each time a DFL politician or activist made that accusation, I’d be Donald Trump wealthy. Last May, I spoke with Rep. Greg Davids, the chairman of the House Taxes Committee, about his tax bill, which I wrote about here. When I contacted Chairman Davids to respond to Gov. Dayton’s statement about tax breaks for “millionaires and billionaires”, he said “My bill does not do that. Eighty percent goes to individuals. Tax relief is for the middle class…. My tax bill is tax relief for the poor and middle class.”

First, Ms. Nieters should be criticized for thinking that increasing spending on anything should be paid for with one-time money. That shouldn’t happen. Period. That money should either be rebated back to the people or used to fix Minnesota’s roads. Next, Ms. Nieters either doesn’t know that this is a supplemental budget or she knows and hides that fact from readers.

Last spring, Kurt Daudt and Tom Bakk negotiated a bipartisan budget agreement. That agreement included a significant increase in education spending. Is Ms. Nieters suggesting that we ignore Minnesota’s roads and bridges to pay for additional education funding? If that’s her plan, about the only people who’d agree with her are members of Education Minnesota.

Then there’s this BS:

After a decade of shifts and gimmicks, with students facing crushing college debt and the need for things like pre-K for our youngest learners, we are going to give away our surplus to those who already have the most wealth and power?

Ms. Nieters, did you even bother reading Chairman Davids’ tax bill? If you insist that you did, then you’re either lying or you need lots of help in remedial math and remedial reading. Nowhere in Chairman Davids’ bill does it offer a windfall for “those who already have the most wealth and power.” That’s either a figment of your imagination or you’re just lying.

It’s worth noting that the surplus has shrunk by $1,000,000,000 since last session. The February, 2015 forecast had a projected surplus of $1,900,000,000. In December, 2015, that had shrunk to $1,200,000,000. Now it’s shrunk to $900,000,000. (Apparently, the booming Dayton economy is a myth, too.)

After the DFL legislature passed the biggest tax increase in Minnesota history and Gov. Dayton signed it into law, capital flight from Minnesota accelerated. This study verifies that with IRS statistics.

It’s time to reject the DFL’s failed policies. It’s time to criticize the DFL for their web of lies, too.

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