Categories

Archive for the ‘Amy Koch’ Category

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.

Technorati: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Last night on Almanac’s Political Roundtable, the DFL was represented by Mindy Greiling and Ellen Anderson. That isn’t to say that they helped the DFL’s cause. The first topic of the political roundtable was transportation.

Greiling tossed the first bombshell when she said that a) finding efficiencies in MnDOT was “La-La Land” and b) Carol Molnau’s biggest achievement was having the I-35 bridge collapse because she tried cutting corners. It didn’t take long for Amy Koch and Brian McClung to swat that statement down.

McClung noted that “the NTSB found that it was a design flaw from the 1960s so let’s just set that one aside.”

Next up in the she-didn’t-say-that-sweepstakes was Ellen Anderson. Ms. Anderson said that Republicans have to keep their promise to rural Minnesota “and guess what? Rural Minnesota likes transit, too.” That’s one of the most dishonest statements I’ve ever heard on a political talk show. Considering the type of BS that I’ve heard on political talk shows, that’s quite the accomplishment.

Having lived my entire life in St. Cloud, which certainly qualifies as outstate Minnesota, though I don’t know that people think of it as rural Minnesota, I can state without hesitation that enthusiasm for transit projects in St. Cloud is probably limited to a handful of transportation activists.

That’s significant because nobody north or west of St. Cloud is even slightly interested in the type of transit projects that Ms. Anderson is talking about. Alexandria certainly isn’t clamoring for light rail. Ditto with Little Falls or Willmar or Dassel or Foley or Brainerd.

Ms. Anderson isn’t a ditzy blonde in real life. She just plays one on political talk shows. It’s impossible for me to think that the DFL thinks that transit is a priority north of Plymouth. In fact, Plymouth might be a stretch.

McClung made the right statement, too, in highlighting the fact that, though Gov. Dayton “is unbound”, Gov. Dayton shouldn’t throw one temper tantrum after another if he wants to get things done. Later, Mr. McClung said that Speaker Daudt was willing to work with people so this should get solved by the end of the session.

Clearly, transportation will be a major issue this session. Sen. Koch made a fantastic point of saying that the fight will be over the right balance between roads and bridges vs. transit. If that’s how this breaks down, then it’s entirely possible that this won’t have a happy ending for the metro DFL. It’s entirely possible that rural DFL legislators might join Republicans in fixing Minnesota’s roads and bridges while putting little into transit.

If that happens, lots of outstate DFL legislators might be more than happy to get their priorities fixed rather than giving Metro DFL legislators what they want while outstate DFL doesn’t get what they want.

Finally, don’t be surprised if a split develops between outstate DFL legislators and metro DFL legislators. Their priorities aren’t that similar.

Technorati: , , , , , , , , , ,

Former DFL legislators on Friday night’s Almanac Roundtable panel exemplified the best definition of DFL shovel-ready jobs. I’m betting they didn’t notice but Ember Reichgott-Junge and Mindy Greiling talked themselves into circles, thanks in large part to Amy Koch’s spot on analysis of the state of Minnesota’s economy.

Sen. Koch rightly highlighted the fact that, while Minnesota’s unemployment rate was low, Minnesota’s economy was still underperforming. Prior to her observation, Ms. Reichgott-Junge talked about how Minnesota’s economy was strong and that the unemployment rate was lower than the national average.

That’s when Sen. Koch said that, despite the low unemployment rate, people aren’t feeling good about the recovery because many Minnesotans are working 2 jobs and their wages don’t equal what they used to make. Sen. Koch then talked about the woman with an MBA working “as a barista at Starbucks” isn’t feeling the recovery. She said that, “while being a barista is a fine job”, the woman with the MBA would rather be working in her area of expertise.

At that moment, Rep. Greiling jumped in, saying that “that’s why I think Democrats will get credit for raising the minimum wage.” She explained that people will be grateful for getting a pay raise so they can pay their bills.

Summarizing this exchange up, Ms. Reichgott-Junge insisted that Minnesota’s economy is going gangbusters even though women with MBAs are working a part-time job at half the wages they made when they were working in their career path. Never fear, said Rep. Greiling. Those women should be greatful that these women with MBAs who used to make $25/hr. who had to accept a job paying $7.25/hr. are now making $8.00/hr.

Nothing says recovery like getting a 75-cent/hr. pay hike at a part-time job after making $25/hr. in a full-time job in your career field.

Sen. Reichgott-Junge insists that Minnesota’s economy is a source of pride for the DFL, then Rep. Greiling chips in by saying that people that got displaced from their high-paying, full-time jobs can now find part-time work that pays them the new minimum wage.

Give these DFLers credit. They brought their shovels to the set Friday night. They were prepared to spread the DFL’s bullshit of economic prosperity no matter how many circles they talked themselves into.

The reality is that the Dayton-DFL economy is flailing and failing. It’s ‘working’ in the Twin Cities because 21,523 new government jobs are mostly located there. It’s failing in outstate Minnesota, where job creation has been minimal, if not non-existent.

Why shouldn’t voters in Alexandria, Brainerd, Willmar, Redwood Falls, Park Rapids, Bemidji, Thief River Falls, Moorhead and the Iron Range vote against the DFL? They aren’t better off now than they were 4 years ago. In fact, Iron Rangers are significantly worse off now, thanks mostly to the environmental activist wing of the DFL.

It’s time for Republicans to start talking about the DFL’s economic failures. It’s time they started highlighting the fact that Minnesota’s economy is stagnating. The Dayton-DFL deficit is a matter of when, not if.

The Dayton-DFL policies are hurting private sector, outstate job creation. The Twin Cities are doing ok but the rest of the state is hurting. Apparently, that’s how Gov. Dayton and the DFL measure success.

Technorati: , , , , , , , , , ,

2011 was possibly best known as a year where both political parties lost the respect of voters. On the presidential election front, it was a year of great turbulance, with conervatives first courting Michele Bachmann, then Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich. After a brief dalliance with liberal Ron Paul, it looks like they’re finally giving Rick Santorum a look.

Clearly, people don’t trust the supposed prohibitive frontrunner, Mitt Romney. Despite his protestations, people have noticed that he’s still defending the indefensible, which is the individual mandate and Romneycare. People haven’t noticed that Mitt went further on climate control than this administration’s EPA has gone.

Though it wasn’t a great year for Republicans, it was a worse year for Democrats. While it’s true that polling doesn’t reflect that yet, they were rocked by scandals galore. They spent alot of political capital they didn’t have defending Operation Fast and Furious, MF Global, Solyndra and the NLRB’s attempted overreach.

When the ads start flying, people will find out that the U.S. Senate didn’t do anything, including passing a budget or passing any bills that helped the American people. In addition to not passing a budget, the Democrat Senate attempted to prevent the start of the Keystone XL Pipeline to appease their political allies in the militant environmentalist movement.

Minnesota politics mirrored some of the messes of the national stage, though we didn’t have any scandals that actually killed people like Operation Fast and Furious did.

Obviously, the last month have hurt the Republican Party of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Senate. Tony Sutton, Michael Brodkorb and David Sturrock resigned their positions as chair, vice-chair and secretary-treasurer of the party after allegedly piling up $2,000,000 in financial obligations.

The Amy Koch scandal rocked the Capitol like nothing else in recent political history.

With that said, the DFL had an ugly year, too, starting with Gov. Dayton needlessly laying 23,000 state employees off for most of July. It isn’t fair to heap all the blame on Gov. Dayton, though he’s certainly deserving of the title of being Minnesota’s unemployment governor.

Minority Leaders Paul Thissen and Tom Bakk sabotaged a budget deal on the last day of the 2010-2011 biennium that would’ve kept government open. Though I admit that sabotage is a provocative word, it’s entirely fitting in this instance, especially considering the fact that Gov. Dayton had agreed to a deal without tax increases before Mssrs. Bakk and Thissen sabotaged it.

The DFL legislature certainly could be described as a do-nothing bunch except when they were sabotaging budget deals or supporting the forced unionization of small businesses. They didn’t lift a finger to drawing a set of redistricting maps. That’s disgusting since almost $200,000 was allocated to the House DFL and Senate DFL for redistricting software, the specialized workstations, the plotters, the printers and the redistricting specialists.

Meanwhile, MMB Commissioner Jim Showalter, one of the political hatchetmen in Dayton’s cabinet, put together a document insructing Gov. Dayton’s commissioners that the House GOP budget included a 9% across-the-board spending cut. That same document said that the Senate GOP budget included an 8% across-the-board spending cut.

With hatchetmen like Jim Showalter and saboteurs like Rep. Thissen and Sen. Bakk, the DFL certainly didn’t do anything to earn the public’s trus.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Yesterday, I wrote this post citing the statements from Sen. Majority Leader Amy Koch, Sen. David Hann and Sen. Mike Parry. Here’s a quote I received from in-home child care provider Hollee Saville:

It sounds like the judge agrees that Governor Dayton overstepped his authority by signing this executive order and we’re hopeful that our freedoms will be affirmed by the judge at the January 17th hearing. This is about self-employed business owners being forced to unionize through a vote that they did not want and one in which more than 7,000 out of 11,300 were not allowed to express their opinions.

It’s been more than a full-time job working to educate providers about the facts; the providers pushing for unionization are paid union employees, but we’ve been SPENDING our own money to get the truth to providers and the public. We already have so many awesome organizations working for us; I hope that providers who think they don’t have a voice reach out to other providers and these associations so they can see how we can all work together to improve the lives of childcare providers and the children for whom we care, all without the costs and detriments of unionization.

The unions certainly have pounded the message that they’re the only people who can successfully negotiate with these independent businesses’ best interest at heart.

Think of how silly that sounds. When’s the last time that unions’ highest priority was a business’s best interest? Better yet, has there been a time when the unions’ highest priority was a business’s best interest?

Annette Meeks of the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota issued this statement:

Today’s developments are great news for the scores of childcare providers from across Minnesota who have worked tirelessly to preserve their independence and fight against a coercive and intrusive unionization scheme by the governor and labor unions.

For the past year, the Freedom Foundation has worked alongside providers who have asked for nothing more than to be left alone by the unions and by state government. Instead they’ve been targeted by an unwanted, unwarranted, and unfair campaign by union operatives. We’re pleased that, at least for now, that campaign is on hold.

Instead of looking for ways to reward his labor allies at the expense of small businesses and families, perhaps now the governor will focus instead on pro-growth policies and improving our state’s economic climate.

Gov. Dayton and the unions pursued this with the same disregard for what the people wanted as President Obama pursued Obamacare. In-home child care providers didn’t welcome this development. A handful of the state’s 11,300 in-home child care providers wanted it but it certainly wasn’t something that the majority of them wanted.

That’s why Gov. Dayton attempted to rig the vote:

About 2,300 of the providers are organizing with Council 5’s Child Care Providers Together. That includes providers in Hennepin, Ramsey and St. Louis Counties, and most other counties in the northern two-thirds of the state. SEIU is organizing providers in other parts of the state.

Getting people in Ramsey, Hennepin and St. Louis counties to sign a unionization card isn’t exactly difficult. It’s substantially more difficult to get signatures in stoic central Minnesota. That’s why Gov. Dayton limited the voting to 4,287 child care providers.

Here’s the statement issued by the Minnesota Free Market Institute:

Why are the childcare owners a legitimate target of public unions? They are not state employees or employers–and there is no common or single employer to collectively bargain against as they are employed by parents, not the state. This is crazy stuff but the unions have already succeeded in other states so we have to take this seriously.

I heard Gov. Dayton say that we and other opponents were against elections (apple pie, children, and his new puppy. You get the idea). Yes, we are against elections that are not lawful.

Let’s suppose that a majority of licensed chiropractors (or dentists or doctors) wanted to unionize so they could get higher subsidies for patient care and other benefits from the state. Would that be lawful? Of course not—and those professionals would fight to fend off any union campaign just like these daycare providers have done. But childcare providers do not have paid lobbyists working for them—they are busy taking care of children and running their own businesses. The last thing they need is a knock on the door from their local AFSCME or SEIU rep.

(We keep hearing stories about union organizers coming during lunch or other busy times—pretending that the union card is just for information, rather than signing “yes” to join. Really ethical behavior. Shows a lot of respect for these busy business owners. My advice? Call the cops and report them as trespassers.)

SEIU and AFSCME have been pictures of unethical behavior. And yes, it’s been documented multiple times. AFSCME and the SEIU don’t care about the child care providers. They want what they want when they want it.

Everything that needs to be said about how popular this is is shown by the fact that the DFL didn’t issue a statement on Judge Lindman’s ruling. As of 7:30 am Tuesday am, their last news post was about the budget forecast. Ditto with the Alliance for a Better Minnesota’s website.

Technorati: , , , , , , , , , , ,

One thing that’s become clear in the hours following the end of the state government shutdown is that DFL legislators didn’t offer many constructive ideas for fixing the budget problem. Their leadership, especially Rep. Thissen, the House Minority Leader, didn’t offer an alternative budget. They only offered criticism of anything the GOP offered. A great example of the DFL’s criticism is Rep. Thissen’s statement released after the session:

Today, the Republicans will impose their beg-borrow-and-steal budget on the people of Minnesota.

Republicans had not 1, not 2, but 7 opportunities to agree to a better budget, a budget that actually solves the state deficit now, has the support of a vast majority of Minnesotans, and defends middle class families. Republicans could have supported the Governor’s plan that cut $2 billion from state government and asked millionaires to pay their fair share.

However, the Republicans refused every single attempt at a fair budget, forcing this borrow-and-spend non-solution on the people of Minnesota in order to end a painful government shutdown.

The lengths to which this Republican majority will go to protect corporate special interests and the richest of the rich are astounding. Their budget forces the state to beg from seniors and the disabled with draconian budget cuts, borrow money to temporarily fill the deficit with one-time funds, and steal from our children’s future by expanding the K12 school shift.

Minnesota loses with this budget. In 2 years, we will face another massive deficit while in the meantime middle class families will pay more and get less. The only winners today are the defenders of the unworkable status quo. The winners are the millionaires and special interests who are given yet another Republican break.

At no point during the session, during the shutdown or the special session did Rep. Thissen or other members of the DFL leadership offer a positive alternative. Their only suggestion was more. More taxes, more spending, more borrowing. The dirty little secret is that the DFL school shift would’ve shorted school districts more than the Republican shift will do.

By contrast, Republicans passed a long list of reforms that will reduce the size of the state workforce, bend the health care cost curve down, review government agencies to determine whether they’re still serving a useful purpose, whether they should be restructured or eliminated altogether.

The list of GOP reforms is lengthy to the point that it’ll take time to read through it and sort it according to impact.

Comparing the positive impact that GOP reforms will have with the DFL’s nonexistent list of positive contributions is a night-and-day difference.

The only objective evaluation of the parties is that the difference in productivity is stark. It’s that simple.

Technorati: , , , , , , , ,

One thing that’s getting clearer by the day is that the shutdown should be blamed on Sen. Bakk and Rep. Thissen. In tonight’s conference call, Michael Brodkorb was asked whether Sen. Thissen and Rep. Bakk talked Gov. Dayton out of his initial June 30 offer where he took his tax increases off the table.
Brodkorb said he could confirm that Sen. Bakk and Rep. Thissen were in the room when Speaker Zellers and Leader Koch returned to say that they’d accept Gov. Dayton’s offer. At that time, Gov. Dayton said that he’d changed his mind and that tax increases had to be part of the final solution.

It’s important to remember that Speaker Zellers and Sen. Koch returned only 45 minutes after Gov. Dayton’s initial offer. The only thing that’d changed was that Sen. Bakk and Rep. Thissen weren’t in the room when Gov. Dayton made his initial offer but they were there when he’d reversed himself.

Brodkorb then said that “The only thing that Sen. Bakk and Rep. Thissen had done since the start of the session was cash paychecks. You can quote me on that.”

That squares with other reports from the Capitol.

Another thing that was confirmed tonight, though not through the conference call, is that DFL legislators weren’t playing constructive roles in the negotiations. It’s been confirmed that DFL legislative leaders have tried defending the status quo.

That isn’t playing well with the GOP leadership. They’ve been on a mission to get as many reforms accepted in the final budget package as possible. Thus far, the reports are that the GOP negotiators are succeeding.

Technorati: , , , , , , ,

This afternoon, I heard the disturbing word that a couple of Gov. Dayton’s commissioners didn’t get the memo that Gov. Dayton isn’t opposed to all reforms and policies. He’s just opposed to policies like banning cloning and Photo ID.

What I’m told is that a couple of Dayton’s commissioners are insisting on keeping in place the policies from the previous administration. Based on comments made by Gov. Dayton, Speaker Zellers and Leader Koch on Almanac last night, a number of reforms are very much up for consideration.

If Gov. Dayton’s commissioners reject reforms like King Banaian’s Sunset Commission and priority-based budgeting, then this deal should collapse. Furthermore, they should expect to be blamed for the deal collapsing.

Perhaps it’s that they simply didn’t get clear instructions. Perhaps it’s because they’re getting their instructions from Sen. Bakk and Rep. Thissen, the men who caused the shutdown. Perhaps they’re just being obstinant.

Whatever is causing Gov. Dayton’s commissioners to reject the GOP’s reforms, it must stop ASAP. PERIOD. Which reforms make it into the final bill is negotiable. Whether GOP reforms make it into the final bill is settled.

I’d further add that DFL legislators better vote for these reforms. In report after report, article after article, the word is that DFL votes will be hard to come by. They’ve got the authority to do that.

Should they opt to vote against King Banaian’s priority-based budgeting bill or his Sunset Commission bill, they’d better expect to run face-first into advertising telling voters that they voted against making agencies justify their spending once every 4 years. They’d better expect to run face-first into advertising saying that they voted for maintaining the status quo structure of government.

Like I said, that’s their right but they’d be foolish exercising that right that way right after the electorate rejected status quo government. I’ll just add that this isn’t a passing fancy with conservatives and TEA Party activists. This is a hill worth fighting on.

I would’ve said fighting and dying on but I’m confident that I’ve got more than enough support statewide to avoid fighting and dying on this important hill.

The American Experiment put this list of reforms together that should be considered:

Education Finance (HF934)

  • Early Graduation Achievement Scholarship Program (Art. 1, Sec. 6)
  • District and Charter School and School District Grading System and School Recognition Program (Art. 2, Sec. 5)
  • Teacher Evaluations (Art. 2, Sec. 20)
  • Enrollment Options for Students at Low-Performing Public Schools (Public school transfer option only as private tuition option is almost certainly controversial) (Art. 2, Sec. 33)
  • Literacy Incentive Aid (Art. 2, Sec. 51)
  • Implementing a Performance-Based Evaluation System for Principals (Art. 2, Sec. 56)
  • Report; Recommendations for Increasing Schools’ Financial Flexibility (Art. 2, Sec. 58)

Education Policy (HF1381) School Districts’ Joint Operation and Innovative Delivery of Education (Art. 2, Sec. 47)    

Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Finance (HF1010) Evaluation of State and Local Water-Related Programs, Policies, and Permits (Art. 4, Sec. 50) 

Higher Education (HF1101) Payments for Meeting Three of Five Performance Goals (Art. 1, Sec. 4, Subd. 3) 

HHS Finance (SF760)

  • Electronic Benefit Transfer Card (Art. 1, Sec. 10
  • Community Health Center Grants (Art. 2, Secs. 21 and 24)
  • Evaluation of HHS Regulatory Responsibilities (Art. 2, Sec. 29)
  • Long-Term Care Contribution from Community Spouse (Art. 3, Sec. 7)

Medicaid Payment Reform:

  • Payment for In-Reach Community-Based Service Coordination [ER User Care Coordination] (Art. 5, Sec. 37)
  • Health Care Home Coordination with Social Services for High Need Patients (Art. 5, Sec 46
  • Hospitalization rates and Subsequent Hospitalizations Included as Managed Care Performance Targets (Art. 5, Sec 47)
  • Automatic Enrollment in Managed Care for Persons with Disabilities w/ Opt Out (Art. 5, Sec 49)
  • Managed Care Provider Payment Withhold (Art. 5, Sec. 50)

Minnesota CHOICE Medicaid Waiver

  • Reimplementation of funding for Coordinated Care Delivery Systems, assuming adequate funding/federal match (Art. 5, Secs. 57,58, 59)
  • Healthy Minnesota Contribution Program (Art. 5, Sec. 66)
  • Plan to Coordinate Care for Children with High-Cost Mental Health Conditions (Art. 5, Sec. 77)

Studies on More Cost-Effective Treatment for Medicaid:

  • Specialized Maintenance Therapy (Art. 5, Sec. 79)
  • Benefit Set Options (Art. 5, Sec. 80)
  • Reducing Hospitalization Rates (Art. 5, Sec. 81)
  • Medicaid Fraud Prevention and Detection (Art. 5, Sec. 82)
  • Wound Care Treatment (Art. 5, Sec. 83)

My Life, My Choices (Art. 6, Secs. 1 and 43)  

Simplification of Eligibility and Enrollment Process (Art. 5, Sec. 18)    

Jobs and Economic Development Finance (SF887) Monitoring Pass-Through Grant Recipients (Art. 2, Sec. 2) State Government Operations (SF1047)

  • Sunset Advisory Commission to review state agencies and advisory committees (Art. 3 Sec. 2)
  • State employee competition for state business (Art. 3, Sec 26)
  • State Agency Value Initiative Program (Art. 3, Sec. 27)
  • Require performance measurement to be “outcome-based and objective” (Art 3, Sec 29)
  • Zero-based/outcome-based budgeting (Art. 3, Sec. 32)
  • Employee gainsharing system (Art. 3, Sec. 35)
  • MN Pay for Performance Act/Human Capital Performance Bonds Pilot Project (Art. 3, Sec. 36)
  • Public employee-based pay based on performance appraisal (Art. 3, Sec. 47)
  • State Building Efficiency (Art. 3, Sec. 61)
  • Fleet Management Improvements (Art. 3, Sec. 62)
  • State Employee Efficient Use of Health Care Incentive (Art. 3, Sec. 64)
  • Tax fraud Prevention and Detection (Art. 3, Sec 67)
  • Strategic Sourcing Request for Proposals (Art. 3, Sec. 68)
  • Consolidation of Information Technology Services (Art. 4)
  • Minnesota Accountable Government Innovation and Collaboration Act (HF1579)

I know that a number of these reforms are dead in the water while there’s a DFL governor in office. Still, alot of these reforms are so common sense that they shouldn’t be viewed as partisan issues. For instance, what justification can be made for not making state agencies justify every penny that they’re spending? If that issue got polled by KSTP-SurveyUSA, I’d bet it’d get supported by 75+ percent of the people. If they polled the Sunset Commission reform after explaining what it was, I’d bet that 75% of people would support it, too. It’s just too logical not to be included in the final bill. It’s time that Gov. Dayton’s commissioners and DFL legislators, especially Sen. Bakk and Rep. Thissen, got the memo that their attempts to sabotage the deal won’t be taken lightly. There’s a reason why Gov. Dayton cancelled the last part of his trip and agreed to the GOP’s budget. Gov. Dayton agreed to the GOP budget because it’s much more popular than is getting reported. If the DFL wants to head into an election year on the wrong side of alot of important reforms, that’s their choice. It just isn’t a bright choice.

Technorati: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Winners:
Minnesotans in general, Minnesota businesses, Steve Gottwalt, Amy Koch, Kurt Zellers, Dave Thompson, King Banaian, Keith Downey, GOP freshmen

The Losers:

Mark Dayton, AFSCME, MAPE, AFL-CIO, Paul Thissen, Tom Bakk, Ryan Winkler, State Parks, Contractors

Minnesotans escaped without a major tax increase, initially aimed at “the rich who weren’t paying their fair share”, then aimed at cigarette smokers of all income levels. They’re also getting some nice reforms that will help in future budget negotiations.

Minnesota businesses still pay too high an income tax but at least it isn’t getting worse. With this settled for at least another 2 years, businesses can breath a sigh of relief.

Steve Gottwalt and Dave Thompson emerged as the next generation of GOP leaders thanks to Sen. Thompson’s stout-hearted defense of conservative principles and Rep. Gottwalt’s seizing the moment to push Gov. Dayton into settling the shutdown. These gentlemen deserve high praise for being great spokesters/legislators for conservative principles.

King Banaian and Keith Downey are winners because they stood their ground on important reforms to state government’s makeup and King’s priority-based budgeting reform of the budgeting process. These gentlemen have proposed legislation that would change how government operates and how it spends money. These aren’t tiny considerations.

Speaker Zellers and Leader Koch deserve credit for keep the troops unified. It wasn’t difficult picturing scenarios where moderates could abandon the GOP on this or that vote. That they didn’t is a testimony to their whip operations and their leadership.

GOP freshmen were clear winners. Without their principled steadfastness, I’m certain that this outcome wouldn’t have happened. Despite Sen. Bakk’s criticism of GOP freshmen, they were certainly one of the driving forces behind holding things together at a time when things could’ve fallen apart.

The biggest loser was Gov. Dayton. He lost on his signature issue. Initially, Gov. Dayton wanted to raise taxes on the rich. After getting defeated on that, he tried settling for shaking down whoever he could shake down. Both attempts were defeated.

While I can’t say Republicans came out smelling like a rose, I won’t hesitate in saying that Gov. Dayton got alot less of what he wanted than the GOP got of what they wanted.

Rep. Thissen and Sen. Bakk, the House and Senate Minority leaders, definitely lost. It isn’t coincidence that the two offers where Gov. Dayton dropped his demands for tax increases happened when Rep. Thissen and Sen. Bakk weren’t in the room. They were the real villains behind the shutdown. Had this duo not been part of the negotiations, there wouldn’t have been a shutdown. This agreement says that their agenda was thoroughly rejected.

Rep. Ryan Winkler definitely lost, too. When he predicted that Republicans would cave, he stiffened Republicans’ resolve. From that point forward, there wasn’t even a slight possibility of the Republicans accepting a tax increase. From a GOP standpoint, we should thank him for his being a loose cannon and for uniting the GOP legislature.

Public employee unions took the biggest hit of this standoff. They were on the defensive much of the time. When they tried going on the offensive, their ideas were rejected. When they tried ambushing King Banaian and John Pederson on the SCSU campus, they couldn’t even fill the theater a fifth of the way full.

Unfortunately, the losers weren’t limited to politicians who tried ignoring the will of the people. Unfortunately, this unnecessary shutdown hurt state parks, tourists, bars and building contractors. Each suffered from the shutdown, with the construction industry and state parks being particularly hard hit through no fault of their own.

I can’t repeat this often enough or emphasize it vigorously enough. This shutdown wouldn’t have happened if Rep. Thissen and Sen. Bakk hadn’t put taxes back into Gov. Dayton’s final pre-shutdown proposal. If they hadn’t interfered, construction projects wouldn’t have lost a month of construction time, state parks would’ve stayed open and 22,000 state employees wouldn’t have gotten furloughed.
Gov. Dayton isn’t guiltless. Anything but. Gov. Dayton could’ve instantly rejected Sen. Bakk’s and Rep. Thissen’s tax increase demands. That would’ve stopped the shutdown before it started.

When the dust settles, both parties’ activists will be upset. Some might be downright dispirited. That’s understandable. Both had won a generational victory, the DFL by electing their first governor since 1986, the GOP by winning the Senate for the first time ever.

The difference going forward is which party has the more appealing policies. At this point, that’s the Minnesota GOP. I’ve only touched on a few of the reforms that Republicans passed and that Gov. Dayton vetoed. If they do a good job highlighting those reforms this summer and, if necessary, during next year’s campaign, I’m confident that people will keep the gavels in their hands.

Technorati: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A day after Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch outlined the GOP legislative accomplishments during the 2011 session, Senate Minority Leader Bakk wrote a factually-challenged temper tantrum. It didn’t take long for Sen. Bakk to start misleading readers:

How can we ever hope to end our state’s costly and painful government shutdown if only one side of the negotiating table is willing to compromise?

That was the question I was left asking myself after reading the recent commentary pieces from Republican Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch and House Majority Leader Matt Dean.

In those pieces, Sen. Koch and Rep. Dean repeated a familiar Republican mantra: the only way we can end this government shutdown is if Gov. Mark Dayton submits to the all-cuts budget approach favored by Republicans.

First, the fact that Sen. Bakk continues to mischaracterize the GOP budget as an “all-cuts budget” is shamefully dishonest. Sen. Bakk wants us to think that the biggest budget in state history was created by cutting spending, then cutting spending some more.

Next, it’s disgraceful and dishonest for Sen. Bakk to ignore the steady stream of reforms passed by the GOP legislature. From Dan Fabian’s permitting reform to alternative teacher licensure to King Banaian’s priority-based budgeting reform to the establishment of a Sunset Commission to Keith Downey’s long overdue government staffing reform, the GOP legislature dealt with key reforms that will make Minnesota more business friendly while making state government more responsive to their customers.

Just last week, he even offered to take any income tax increase of the table, offering instead a $1-a-pack tax, er, fee, increase on cigarettes to help spur negotiations and end the shutdown.

I thought Gov. Dayton’s goal was to make the rich pay their fare share. Wasn’t the state’s tax code unfair for middle class families and the working poor. This cigarette tax increase hits the working poor and the unemployed the hardest.

I’d argue with Sen. Bakk that Gov. Dayton’s cigarette tax increase proposal is a step in the wrong direction. I’d further argue that it’s quite revealing in that it says Gov. Dayton’s highest priority is to continue spending at unsustainable rates.

Agreeing to keep spending increases on autopilot is what Minnesotans throughout the state voted against last fall. If Republicans voted for increasing spending recklessly, they’d be betraying the will of Minnesota voters. No thanks with that.

This paragraph is based more on Sen. Bakk’s dishonesty than on anything else:

Among other items, Republicans are demanding cuts to public school funding to pay for private school vouchers, taking away collective bargaining rights from state workers, and even criminalizing life-saving stem cell research at the University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic.

Demanding? Seriously? If Sen. Bakk expects Minnesotans to believe that BS, then he apparently thinks that Minnesotans aren’t too bright. Mentioned might be the more accurate verb in that situation. For Sen. Bakk, though, characterizing Republican proposals in low-key, accurate terms isn’t what’s needed to scare people.

At this point, that’s all the DFL has. That and their incessant whining about the need to compromise. Compromise isn’t what’s needed. Getting it right is. Getting it right means that the budget agreed upon balances the budget while including enough pro-growth provisions to make Minnesota a more business-friendly state.

You can’t find those things in Gov. Dayton’s budget, partially because it’s difficult finding Gov. Dayton’s budget, at least one with details.

The two Senate leaders’ op-eds are radically different. Sen. Koch’s op-ed is filled with the GOP legislature’s achievements. Sen. Bakk’s op-ed is filled with mischarcterization after mischaracterization.

If Sen. Bakk insists on mischaracterizing Republicans’ proposals, then it’s time to eliminate him from the negotiations. He’s the problem, not the solution.

The governor and Democrats believe we need to cut spending and make major reforms as we cope with the largest budget deficit in state history. But we firmly believe the Republican’s all-cuts budget goes too far and does too much damage to our state.

That’s pure BS. The DFL voted against every major reform Republicans put on the table. En masse. The DFL voted against reducing the size of spending increases. Why should we think that they’ll vote for spending cuts?

Sen. Bakk might get DFL activists to believe that schtick but it isn’t something that most people will buy into. More importantly, more Minnesotans are on the Republicans’ side than are on the DFL’s side.

It’s time for the DFL to start siding with Main Street Minnesotans rather than siding with their GOTV/campaign contribution special interest allies. If the DFL stays wedded to their special interest allies’ wishes, this shutdown will be a long one.

Technorati: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,