Archive for the ‘Mark Dayton’ Category

If this LTE, written by Joe Begich, the former mayor of Eveleth and former state representative, doesn’t give Ken Martin, the DFL State Party Chairman some heartburn, it should. One of the things Rep. Begich said was “Governor, as I travel in our area, I can’t believe the solid Democrats who are saying they are voting Republican. Will this be your legacy?”

The reason I mention this is to highlight the fact that today’s DFL isn’t the DFL of 50-75 years ago. During the Humphrey era, then the Perpich era, the DFL cared about blue collar workers of the Range. Today’s DFL is run by environmentalists from the Twin Cities who despise the blue collar workers of the Range. Today’s DFL likes Iron Rangers one day every two years — Election Day. After that, the DFL has told the Iron Range to shut up and accept a few table scraps while the Metrocrats make double what blue collar workers make on the Range.

Dayton is too gutless to do this:

I also wonder if you have the authority to bypass the Executive Council. If you do have that authority, at least have a vote of the council so we can see who supports us or the Twin Cities people that seem to hate the Iron Range. We want to get ready for the next election.

During eight years of Obama and six years of Dayton, they’ve sided with the environmentalists every time a major project is proposed. Check out President Obama’s decision on the Keystone XL Pipeline and Gov. Dayton’s decisions on the Sandpiper Pipeline project and the Twin Metals mining project. In each instance, they’ve sided with the environmental activists that are ruining the economy and standing in the way of important infrastructure projects.

This paragraph highlights what’s really happening:

I also am told you are opposed to PolyMet and are using the smoke screen of financial assurance to be put in escrow. Why don’t you do the same for everyone who is polluting the water in southern Minnesota and the metro area?

If the DFL was consistent, they’d use the same rules throughout the state. The DFL is consistent in one sense. It consistently treats the Iron Range like trash. The DFL consistently treats the Metrocrats like royalty.

Governor, I care deeply about the Iron Range. I was born here and lived here for my entire 86 years, except for the years I spent in the U.S. Army. Let me die as a proud Iron Range DFLer. Reverse your decision on Twin Metals.

Rep. Begich, there’s lots of room for you in the Republican Party. We love seeing blue collar workers making a good living for their families. We love seeing parents breathe a sigh of relief when they make enough money to put a roof over their heads, food in their families’ stomachs and save for retirement and for their kids’ education. There’s an honor to living life that way.

I won’t promise that we’ll agree with you 100% of the time. I will promise, though, that we’ll understand the importance of finding the raw materials that are used in making so many things that we take for granted. That’s a promise you can depend on.

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Before the start of session, Speaker Daudt and Rep. Thissen got into some verbal fisticuffs at a media gathering. The topic was supposed to talk about expectations for the legislative session that’s currently under way.

Suffice it to say that Rep. Thissen walked right into Speaker Daudt’s trap on the Senate Office Building. If you watch the video, starting 34:11 into the video, what you’ll see is Rep. Thissen nodding in agreement when Speaker Daudt said that the Senate Office Building was controversial.

What you’ll also notice is that Rep. Thissen’s accusations were challenged by Speaker Daudt. What you won’t see, though, is Rep. Thissen providing proof that his accusations had happened. Based on what’s in this video, it looks like the DFL’s strategy this session will be to make accusations that aren’t true. The other part of this strategy apparently is to hope nobody challenges the DFL’s accusations. The bad news for the DFL is that Speaker Daudt is setting the tone by challenging the DFL’s accusations.

Here’s a partial transcript of their jousting:

REP. THISSEN: Tons of controversial things were thrown into big bills that nobody knew what was in them.
REP. THISSEN: The point is, what we’re hearing on the private prison
SPEAKER DAUDT: Like what? What was so controversial? The Senate Office Building?
REP. THISSEN: That wasn’t last year.
SPEAKER DAUDT: No, that was the year before. That’s controversial. We didn’t throw big, controversial things in at the end of session.
REP. THISSEN: You threw all kinds of controversial things in at the end of session.

That wasn’t the only time Speaker Daudt challenged DFL politicians. Here’s the partial transcript of Speaker Daudt vs. Gov. Dayton on universal Pre-K:

SPEAKER DAUDT: Governor, the reason to oppose it is because it doesn’t show that it closes the achievement gap.
GOV. DAYTON: Yes, it does.
SPEAKER DAUDT: No, it doesn’t.
GOV. DAYTON: Yes, it does.

Art Rolnick is a policy fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. He’s a longtime advocate for early childhood learning. On this issue, though, Rolnick sides with Speaker Daudt:

“It’s not cost effective,” Rolnick said. “There’s a much better way of doing this.” Rolnick prefers an existing scholarship program that pays for needy children to attend Head Start, a child care facility or a public school program that meets quality standards. He said Dayton’s plan is misguided because it would subsidize early education for all kids rather than target low-income children who need early education the most and are the least likely to have access to it.

If given the choice between trusting Gov. Dayton or Dr. Rolnick on early childhood education, I’d pick Dr. Rolnick every time.

It’s clear that Speaker Daudt is taking a much more assertive role in crafting the GOP’s legislative agenda. He clearly isn’t intimidated by the DFL’s noise machine, aka ABM. He isn’t worried about matching wits with Gov. Dayton or Rep. Thissen, either.

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Last night, Almanac did a segment previewing the Minnesota Legislature’s agenda. Included in that segment was video of a fight between Speaker Daudt and Rep. Thissen. It wasn’t a fair fight, which is why Rep. Thissen got his butt handed to him.

Rep. Thissen said that “tons of controversial stuff were thrown into big bills right before the end of session.” Speaker Daudt immediately pressed Rep. Thissen, asking “like what?” Undeterred, Rep. Thissen repeated his assertion. Immediately, Speaker Daudt asked again “like what? Like the Senate Office building because that was controversial?” Rep. Thissen replied “No, that wasn’t last year.” After that, Rep. Thissen just repeated his line about “tons of controversial stuff were thrown into big bills” without naming any specific things.

Without thinking, Rep. Thissen walked right into that one. (That’s what happens when you’re experienced at repeating focus group-approved lines but inexperienced at thinking for yourself. The DFL is definitely inexperienced at thinking for themselves. Without thinking about it, Rep. Thissen essentially admitted that he was lying about the controversial things accusation. Further, Rep. Thissen threw Sen. Bakk under the DFL’s bus.

I wrote this post to highlight the bipartisan budget agreement that Speaker Daudt and Sen. Bakk negotiated early in the last week of the legislature’s regular session. At the time, I highlighted the fact that Rep. Thissen and Gov. Dayton didn’t like the bipartisan bill. They immediately started trying to blow the deal up. Twin Cities Metrocrats didn’t like the budget agreement because it didn’t include Gov. Dayton’s universal pre-K plan.

This will be a tumultuous session. Gov. Dayton is insisting on passing his universal pre-K plan. Opposition for universal pre-K is bipartisan. Art Rolnick blistered Gov. Dayton on Gov. Dayton’s proposal:

Rolnick (and many other early-childhood education advocates) thinks Dayton has seized the wrong high ground. For the governor’s plan “is only for 4-year-olds,” Rolnick said on Minnesota Public Radio last week. “We really have to start much earlier.” Plus, “it’s a public-school-only approach,” which would rob parents of their ability to choose. “We don’t think one size fits all parents.

“And unfortunately, the governor’s new program—which we are strongly questioning—is very expensive,” because it calls for schools statewide to hire unionized pre-K teachers. Far better to use the money to finance scholarships for low-income children—scholarships that could pay for quality pre-schools long before the youngsters turn 4. “The governor’s plan is universal in the sense that it includes all 4-year-olds,” he said. “Our scholarships can be universal, too. But the first dollars—we should make sure we first fund all our at-risk kids.”

That’s a big issue but it isn’t the only issue that’s controversial. Check back to LFR next week for additional updates on what will make this session hotly contested.

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Last year, Gov. Dayton signed a bill into law that expands “the options counties have for their audits to save local governments and taxpayers money, as well as expedite the audit process.” This afternoon, the AP is reporting that Gov. Dayton “supports his state auditor’s lawsuit” challenging the law he just signed, saying that “the measure passed last year was an unwise breach into Otto’s constitutional duties.”

I can’t wait to hear Gov. Dayton explain which part of the state Constitution the new law violates. There are 14 articles in Minnesota’s Constitution. The articles relating to the different branches of government are Article IV, which deals with the Legislative department, Article V, which deals with the Executive department and Article VI, which deals with the Judiciary. Article V is the article that deals with the Office of State Auditor. There are 7 sections in Article V. Section 1 deals with “Executive officers.” Article V, Sec. 1 states “The executive department consists of a governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, auditor, and attorney general, who shall be chosen by the electors of the state. The governor and lieutenant governor shall be chosen jointly by a single vote applying to both offices in a manner prescribed by law. [Amended, November 3, 1998]”

Section 2 deals with “term of governor and lieutenant governor; qualifications”. Section 3 deals with the “powers and duties of governor”. Section 4 deals with the “terms and salaries of executive officers”. Nowhere in Article V, Section 1 does it say how often audits have to be done, who is authorized to audit local units of government or whether the state auditor must be a CPA. Each of those specifics is defined by Minnesota state statutes.

As I said earlier, Otto’s audit doesn’t rise to the level of frivolous. Otto’s lawsuit is likely based on the fact that she’s fighting to preserve public employee union (PEU) jobs. The minute that counties and other local units of government can get their audits done faster and cheaper, the PEUs will be tossed aside like scrap metal. I don’t have documentation that AFSCME or MAPE or whichever union represents the people working in the Office of State Auditor, aka OSA, is pressuring Gov. Dayton and Ms. Otto but it’s the only explanation that makes sense.

Why else would Otto care whether she’s doing the audit or whether a private CPA is auditing a city or school district?

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Rebecca Otto has been threatening to file a lawsuit against a bill signed into law by Gov. Dayton. Apparently, Ms. Otto isn’t too bright in terms of the law and Minnesota’s Constitution. Article V of Minnesota’s Constitution talks about the executive branch of state government. Specifically, it says “The executive department consists of a governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, auditor, and attorney general, who shall be chosen by the electors of the state. The governor and lieutenant governor shall be chosen jointly by a single vote applying to both offices in a manner prescribed by law.”

Nowhere in Article V, Section 1 does it outline the duties of the State Auditor. That’s properly left up to the legislature and governor to determine through state statutes. If the court sides with Ms. Otto, it will be clear proof that the DFL has turned them into a super-legislative body.

Rep. Sarah Anderson, the chair of the House State Government Finance Committee, issued a statement, saying “Just one day after the nonpartisan Office of the Legislative Auditor’s report was released on county audits which definitively stated that it is within the legislature’s power to define the duties and authority of the Office of the State Auditor, State Auditor Rebecca Otto has decided to waste taxpayer dollars to file a frivolous lawsuit against the State of Minnesota and a select group of counties,” said Rep. Anderson. “The legislature acted in a bipartisan manner last session to expand the options counties have for their audits to save local governments and taxpayers money, as well as expedite the audit process. This lawsuit has no merit, and I am disappointed it will come at the expense of hardworking Minnesota taxpayers.”

This is important:

On February 3, 2016, the nonpartisan Office of the Legislative Auditor released their report on county audits done by the OSA. Here are several key highlights from that report:

The Minnesota State Legislature has always defined the duties and authority of the State Auditor

Jim Nobles is a serious man. When he says that the legislature “has always defined the duties of the State Auditor”, it’s because he’s thoroughly researched the Constitution and state statutes. From a legal standpoint, Nobles’ research is probably air tight. Then there’s this:

  1. 34 percent of counties stated they were not satisfied with the cost of OSA audits
  2. The 2015 law change allows for price competition while still giving the OSA significant authority to continue to ensure that all audits meet certain standards and to hold counties accountable in how they spend public dollars
  3. 32 percent of counties said that audits done by OSA were not timely, and many expressed frustrations that the reports came too late to be useful in saving taxpayer dollars for their annual budget process

That’s poison from a political standpoint. It just isn’t surprising.

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It isn’t shocking to find out that Gov. Dayton supports another middle class tax increase. When Gov. Dayton first ran for governor, he campaigned on making Minnesota’s’ tax system more progressive. It’s a promise he kept for the first half of his first term, thanks mostly to Republican majorities in the House and Senate.

In December, the budget forecast showed Minnesota with a $1,200,000,000 surplus. When that surplus was announced, Gov. Dayton said that the DFL’s proposed gas tax increase was dead. This article reports that Gov. Dayton hasn’t given up on a gas tax increase. Gov. Dayton insists that this isn’t a flip-flop. Instead, Gov. Dayton said that his gas tax statement was “his political assessment, not his preference.”

That’s actually believable. While it’s true that Gov. Dayton wanted to make Minnesota’s tax system more progressive, that didn’t mean he wouldn’t support regressive tax increases. It just meant that the progressive tax increases needed to be big to offset the regressive tax increases.

Once Gov. Dayton got DFL majorities to work with in 2013 and 2014, he instituted major income tax increases, instituted, temporarily, major sales tax increases and major property tax increases. Though the DFL will insist that their increased LGA payments brought property tax relief, it’s a sham. The truth is that it just slowed the speed that property taxes increased in most cities. That’s before talking about the huge property tax increases inflicted on taxpayers through property tax increases for education levies.

The truth is that Gov. Dayton and the DFL love regressive tax increases as long as they’re mixed in with lots of progressive tax increases. When Gov. Dayton said the DFL’s proposed gas tax increase was dead, I never thought he meant it. I thought that he recognized the toxic nature of a gas tax increase heading into an election. I still think that a gas tax increase is toxic to DFL legislators in swing districts.

While Democrats living in safe districts remain willing to vote for a gas tax increase, it’s highly doubtful that swing district DFL legislators will be willing to cut their own throats by voting for a gas tax increase.

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Anyone who’s read LFR the last 5 years knows I don’t have any respect for Paul Thissen. He’s one of the most partisan political hacks in Minnesota. His contact with the truth is tangential on his best days, nonexistent on most days. For years, Thissen has insisted that Republicans are interested in providing “special treatment to big Twin Cities and multinational corporations.” That’s an outright lie. It isn’t inaccurate. It isn’t a matter open for discussion.

It’s an outright lie. Rep. Thissen knows that it’s a lie. Worst, Rep. Thissen doesn’t mind telling that outright lie. Last May, I wrote this article about Gov. Dayton’s shutdown notice announcement. At the time, Speaker Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Bakk had worked out a compromise budget. Gov. Dayton and Rep. Thissen objected to the bill in an attempt to kill the bipartisan bill.

Gov. Dayton and Rep. Thissen both complained that the Tax Bill would “provide tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires.” I contacted Greg Davids, the Chairman of the House Taxes Committee, for a statement on those statements. Here’s what 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.

I read Davids’ tax bill. His characterization of the bill is accurate. Rep. Thissen’s characterization isn’t. Unfortunately for Minnesotans thirsting for the truth, Rep. Thissen’s lies don’t stop there:

Thissen said the 2015 session was a “monumental flop for Greater Minnesota” after the House Republican majority failed to tackle important issues for greater Minnesota such as transportation, broadband infrastructure, and rural property tax relief. He said the “Greater Minnesota for All” agenda is focused on completing the unfinished business of the 2015 session.

First, the DFL played obstructionist with transportation. They said no to the Republicans’ transportation bill that would’ve directed sales tax revenues from rental cars, auto repairs and vehicle leases to a stability fund. That fund would’ve been used to fix Minnesota’s roads and bridges. The DFL didn’t want that because they wanted a gas tax increase and additional funding for transit in outstate Minnesota. The need for transit in outstate Minnesota is less than important. It’s virtually nonexistent.

Next, the DFL’s ‘investments’ in LGA and education from the 2013 budget when there was a DFL governor and DFL majorities in the House and Senate sent property taxes through the roof. Rep. Thissen bragged about the DFL’s “historic investment in education.” Despite that historic investment and the paying off of school shifts, school districts across the state enacted huge property tax increases. The most modest increase was St. Cloud’s increase of 14.75%. The biggest property tax increase that I heard about was Princeton’s 25.16% increase. That’s relatively modest considering the fact that Princeton initially wanted to raise property taxes 33.87%.

The truth is that Dayton, Thissen and the DFL love raising taxes. Dayton, Thissen and the DFL love spending those tax increases on education because they know that the vast majority of that money will go to Education Minnesota, then into DFL campaign coffers.

Rep. Thissen, keep your grubby little fingers off the taxpayers’ hard-earned money. Robbing the taxpayers to pay off Education Minnesota isn’t ok. It’s disgusting and it’s gotta stop ASAP.

Apparently, Gov. Dayton thinks that legislatures can pass laws that override the U.S. Constitution. This AP article says that Gov. Dayton “is urging legislators to ban gun sales to people on terrorism watch lists.” Notice that there’s been a subtle shift from Hillary’s speech about the nexus between terrorism and the national no-fly list.

The article continues, saying that Gov. Dayton “concluded he doesn’t have the authority to restrict those sales on his own.” He’s right. He doesn’t have that authority. Instead, he wants “the Legislature to pass such a law”, adding that “people who aren’t allowed to board airplanes shouldn’t be able to purchase guns.”

That law would never be enforced because the judiciary would halt enforcement in a New York minute. One of the people on the no-fly list was the late Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy. In a speech on the Senate floor, Sen. Dan Cotton, (R-AR), said that Sen. Kennedy “was on the list and couldn’t get off for weeks, having his flights disrupted time after time.”

If Minnesota passed a law that prevented people on the no-fly list from buying guns, they’d pass legislation that violates a person’s civil rights. That’s unacceptable because it’s unconstitutional.

Gov. Dayton swore an oath to uphold the Constitution. Stripping a person of their constitutional rights without due process is a direct violation of that oath.

The best news from today’s budget forecast, other than the fact that there’s a major surplus, is that Gov. Dayton admitted that a gas tax increase is dead for the upcoming session. That might’ve been the most painful statement he’s made as governor.

That all but officially ends Move Minnesota’s gas tax increase campaign. I wrote this post to highlight the features of House Transportation Committee Chairman Tim Kelly’s plan. Chairman Kelly’s plan invests heavily in roads and bridges without diverting funds to transit. The reason why Move Minnesota opposed Chairman Kelly’s bill is because he didn’t raise taxes and because he doesn’t put a high priority on ‘investing’ in transit.

Chairman Kelly wrote this op-ed to highlight his proposal. A big key to the plan is investing “$7 billion into needed road and bridge repair without raising taxes.” Chairman Kelly’s plan repurposes “revenue that is already being collected from existing sales taxes on auto parts, the Motor Vehicle Lease sales tax, the rental vehicle tax and the sales tax on rental vehicles.” Currently, that money goes into the general fund.

As I said last spring, why should taxes that are imposed on rental vehicles and leasing motor vehicles go into the general fund?

Chairman Kelly’s plan creates a “Transportation Stability Fund.” The TSF will “not only provide new money for roads and bridges statewide, but also for small city roads, bus services in Greater Minnesota, suburban county highways and metro area capital improvements.”

This is what Gov. Dayton and the DFL were upset about:

In addition to the dedicated funds provided by the Transportation Stability Fund, the proposal would also utilize $1.3 billion in Trunk Highway bonds, $1.2 billion from realigning Minnesota Department of Transportation resources, $1.05 billion in General Obligation bonds, and $228 million in General Funds.

According to Paul Thissen, Chairman Kelly’s plan stole money from schools and other DFL priorities. That’s interesting considering the fact that Thissen insisted that the DFL had made an historic investment in education and paid back the school shifts.

At what point does Rep. Thissen think Minnesota’s middle class is overtaxed? For that matter, does Rep. Thissen think that Minnesota’s middle class is overtaxed?

The good news is that the DFL’s dreams of raising the gas tax is over.

Gov. Dayton, Sen. Bakk and the DFL in general are upset that Republicans want to include long-term relief for the Iron Range in a special session. The DFL insists that the time to deal with that is during a regular session. Their problem is that Sen. Bakk wants to use the special session to address challenges facing the black community in Minnesota.

Gov. Dayton agrees with Sen. Bakk on that, saying “Sen. Bakk rightly expressed the urgency of the challenges facing communities of color in Minnesota. I thank Sen. Bakk and his caucus for their leadership. I agree that any special session concerning the economic hardships of steelworkers on the Iron Range should also begin to address the serious economic disparities facing black Minnesotans.”

The article says that “Jeffrey Hayden, who is one of three black state lawmakers, says the Legislature could provide job training grants for minority workers or start-up money for black entrepreneurs. The AP says it could also provide incentives to encourage businesses to hire minority employees.”

By definition, that means the DFL’s plans for addressing “challenges facing communities of color” is old-fashioned throwing money at a valued special interest group without fixing the underlying problem. It’s the DFL’s version of saying ‘here’s some money. Vote for us, then go away.’

Gov. Dayton and the DFL say that special sessions shouldn’t be about working out long-term solutions for economically-depressed parts of the state. Republicans should say that special sessions shouldn’t include spending money on the DFL’s special interest allies.