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In an exclusive interview with LFR, Matt Dean has confirmed that he’s thinking about running for the seat left open by Michele Bachmann’s retirement.

While Jim Graves, the DFL and the DCCC are undoubtedly happy that Minnesota’s Sixth District is now an open seat, they shouldn’t think that this will be an easy seat to win. Matt Dean is a formidable candidate. First, he’s got a good understanding of the Sixth District. He’s participated in townhall meetings throughout the District, including in St. Cloud. Second, his message is a great fit for the Sixth District. Third, Matt’s got the ability to work across the aisle without sacrificing his principles:

A commendable thing happened last week after the Minnesota House failed to override Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s veto of the bill preserving General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC) for the very poor: The two House members leading their respective parties’ efforts on the matter, DFL Rep. Erin Murphy and GOP Rep. Matt Dean, just kept working.

Constructively, too. On Friday, a deal was struck that has the blessing of the Legislature’s top leaders in both parties. It’s expected to go to the full House and Senate this week.

That praise was written by Lori Sturdevant, one of the most openly liberal writers at the Strib. It’s important to note that the compromise was built on conservative principles.

Third, he’s got a great understanding of two issues that are important to the Sixth District: health care and education. Fourth, he’s got a track record of being the taxpayers’ watchdog:

House Majority Leader Matt Dean (R-Dellwood) is doing his own inquiry into how the Minneapolis Public Schools spends it money after reading this Star Tribune report. The story revealed Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson’s decision to award $270,000 in retroactive raises to central office administrators at the same time the district cut more than 100 jobs including 52 teaching positions.

Rep. Dean started this investigation right after a long, tough legislative session. He saw money being spent foolishly so he started an investigation into the mismanagement.

The Sixth District needs a congressman a) whose principles are solidly conservative and b) who pays attention to the details on whether government is doing its job or if it’s failing the people.

If Rep. Dean decides to jump in, I suspect that announcement will come sooner rather than later.

UPDATE: Welcome Powerline readers. Follow this link for more information on the early shape of the race.

Rep. King Banaian’s Friday night townhall meeting started with opening statements from Rep. Banaian and House Majority Leader Matt Dean. It was followed by a pair of questions about whether the bonding bill would include money for affordable housing.

During his presentation, Majority Leader Dean talked about his conversation with a businessman who wants to invest $300,000,000 in Minnesota in the context of the importance of reforming Minnesota’s permitting system. He said that the businessman was thankful for the 2 permitting reform bills passed.

Then the businessman said that Gov. Mitch Daniels, (R-IN), just signed a permitting reform bill. The bottom line is that he’d be up and running in six months in Indiana. It would take five months to get the permits in Minnesota.

That’s before talking about the costs involved in waiting in Minnesota. Then there’s the higher taxes Minnesota businesses pay.

The last 40 minutes of the meeting focused on photo ID-related issues. One woman asked why a person would commit voter fraud knowing that they could get caught and put in jail.

That’s been popping up in the DFL’s arguments quite a bit lately. It’s a flimsy question. There’s a huge prison sentence in most states if a person commits second degree murder. Despite the fact that there’s a huge penalty, people still commit murders.

One gentleman identified himself as an election worker. He said he’s been working elections a long time. He said he hasn’t seen voter fraud yet. St. Cloud City Councilman Jeff Johnson highlighted the fact that there was something in the newspaper about someone getting convicted of voter fraud in St. Cloud recently.

I got to ask the final question. I said that I recently wrote an article in which a worker at the Scott County Gov’t Center admitted that voter fraud happens. She then admitted that people who get prosecuted for voter fraud still have their votes counted:

INVESTIGATOR: So that’s it? It’s just kind of the honor system?

WORKER: Yes, I guess, it’s, I mean, it’s been that way for many, many years, that, you know, Minnesota’s been an after-the-fact type of state. And, now, we do catch people, that do things, and they’re investigated and charged. But it is, you know, after-the-fact.

By the time voter fraud is detected, the ballot will have been counted. What’s worse than that admission is her dismissive attitude:

My election judges have a difficult time with that. It’s like “Change the law. Change the law.”

King quickly summarized, saying that there were 11,000 votes cast in his race, which he won by 13 votes. He told the attendees that 13 votes is statistically insignificant compared with 11,000 votes.

The other major topic of discussion brought up during the meeting was the need for higher education reform. Councilman Johnson approached the subject by saying that he’s been pleased with how elected officials stay in touch with their constituents through townhall meetings.

He then asked Majority Leader Dean and Rep. Banaian if they could name the MnSCU trustee representing the Sixth District. Finally, he said that he knew of no instances where any of the trustees had held a townhall meeting or met with a business roundtable to see what their needs or concerns were.

The point, he said, was that the Board of Trustees wasn’t staying in touch with the people they’re supposed to represent.

During yesterday’s Rules Committee hearing on HF2738, DFL Rep. Norton asked some questions that HF2738 Chief Auther Rep. Kiffmeyer answered. Here’s a partial transcript of their exchange:

REP. NORTON: As I looked at the bill, it seems to me that, if you show up same day voting, you’re going to have to be verified if you don’t have photo ID. How will that happen?
REP. KIFFMEYER: In regards to same day voting, first of all, there will be a very strong voter education effort, mailings, hotlines, working with Catholic Charities, Lutheran Social Services. I’m confident that if this passes the voters, that we will enact it in a bipartisan fashion to make sure that we are inclusive to get every single voter to get them the ID. I’m confident, Rep. Norton, that we will work together to do that, that there will be no disenfranchisement.
REP. NORTON: Mr. Chairman, the question still hasn’t been…If a person comes and wants to vote on the same day and they do not have ID, how will you make certain that we will continue with that strong voter turnout? What will the process be for that voter?
REP. KIFFMEYER: In regards to that, starting first of all with the voter education campaign, making it very clear concerted effort. If, after all of that, if on election day, they still do not have their voter ID, they will be able to cast a provisional ballot.
REP. NORTON: That is a concern to me and a concern to many voters who want their vote counted on the day of the election.

Rep. Norton’s last statement is troubling. Provisional balloting has been federal law since 2002. HAVA, aka the Help America Vote Act, received overwhelming bipartisan support:

A bill to require States and localities to meet uniform and nondiscriminatory election technology and administration requirements applicable to Federal elections, to establish grant programs to provide assistance to States and localities to met those requirements and to improve election technology and the administration of Federal elections, to establish the Election Administration Commission, and for other purposes.
Vote Counts:
YEAs: 92
NAYs: 2
Not Voting: 6

A substantive U.S. Senate bill that gets 92 votes has strong bipartisan support. The only senators voting against HAVA were Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton. Even Mark Dayton voted for provisional ballots. The system has been in place since the 2004 election. It’s been praised by Republicans and Democrats alike. Why would Rep. Norton have a problem with provisional ballots?

In going through the audio for the Rules Committee hearing, Rep. John Benson’s statement jumped off the page. Here’s what he said:

REP. JOHN BENSON: Just a comment first. Constitutional amendments should be bipartisan and so I think that’s one of the biggest problems I have. We have a proposal here which is very partisan and usually, constitutional amendments have more broad support.

That statement is infuriating. Photo ID has overwhelming bipartisan support. It just doesn’t have broad bipartisan legislative support. That’s a major distinction that can’ be ignored.

It’s a major distinction because rank-and-file Democrats support the bill by a 59%-41% margin. In fact, as I wrote here, Photo ID has overwhelming support across the political spectrum:

Party affiliation – Yes, 92% of Republicans support voter ID. So do 76% of independents…and 59% of those wingnutty Democrats in Minnesota, too.

I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat it again. If the DFL wants to ignore their constituents while obeying their special interest masters, that’s their right, at least until the next election.

The most contentious moment in the hearing came when Rep. Thissen threw a hissy fit. Here’s that exchange:

REP. THISSEN: I did want to follow up on one answer you gave previously. Ccan you just tell me — I don’t need alot of sentences, just kind of short answers that answers the question — what on an ID — what’s going to be on an ID that’s going to be on the poll book that Rep. Norton is talking about? … So I’m wondering what you’re expecting to see that isn’t going to be in this electronic poll book with pictures because you’ve kinda said “Well, it’s different.” I’d just like you to explain it to me, and you don’t have to use alot of words. I just want to know what you’re looking for in addition to what’s in this poll book that’s going to be on an ID.
REP. KIFFMEYER: First of all, a photo alone is an unreliable…
REP. THISSEN: It’s not photo alone…
REP. DEAN: Rep. Thissen, Rep. Kiffmeyer is trying to answer your question. If you would simply allow her to answer your question with the respect she deserves, Rep. Thissen…

Rep. Thissen’s spoiled brat routine is getting tiresome. Most importantly, it’s mostly a contrived act. It’s time Rep. Thissen started acting like a leader, not a high school punk.

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DFL politicians consistently say Photo ID doesn’t have bipartisan support. It’s true that Photo ID doesn’t have bipartisan legislative support. That doesn’t mean rank-and-file Democrats don’t support Photo ID. It just means DFL politicians aren’t listening to their constituents.

Rep. John Benson is the latest DFL politician making the claim:

Democrats argued against inserting political policy in the constitution. “Constitutional amendments ought to be bipartisan. This one is very partisan,” said Rep. John Benson, DFL-Minnetonka.

I wrote here that Photo ID has bipartisan support:

Party affiliation – Yes, 92% of Republicans support voter ID. So do 76% of independents…and 59% of those wingnutty Democrats in Minnesota, too.

With near-unanimous support amongst Republicans and three-fourths of independents, it’s impossible to claim this constitutional amendment doesn’t have bipartisan support. Even 60% of DFL voters support Photo ID.

If politicians recite the DFL’s Photo ID chanting points, they’ll lose credibility with independents, the people who decide elections.

Paul Thissen’s behavior won’t play well with independents, either:

The mood of the hearing grew unusually tense, particularly when House Majority Leader Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, ended the debate and called for a vote. House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, urged Dean not to cut off the discussion.

“Representative Thissen, we’ve been discussing this amendment for 45 minutes,” Dean said.

Thissen later told Dean that he thought it was interesting that he was suppressing debate on a measure to suppress voting.

Rep. Thissen isn’t a man of integrity. He’s a punk, a partisan obstructionist and a saboteur. He isn’t honest.

Rep. Thissen knows that Photo Id doesn’t suppress voting. That’s another DFL myth about Photo ID. It doesn’t have a basis in fact. If they had proof, they wouldn’t rely on allegations.

It’s time to call Rep. Thissen out. Where’s the proof that Photo ID suppresses voter turnout? Where’s the proof that shows state and county governments can’t get drivers licenses or state ID cards to seniors, minorities and young people?

Don’t forget that allegations, whether they’re made by the Secretary of State’s office, by DFL activists or somebody else, aren’t proof.

In 2009, the DFL leadership pushed for limiting debate on bills, both in committee and on the floor. I watched that debate. Rep. Thissen didn’t lift a finger to speak out against those limitations. In 2009, Rep. Thissen fully supported silencing the minority.

If the DFL continues to ignore the vast majority of Minnesotans, that’s their option. Republican legislative candidates won’t hesitate in highlighting the DFL’s willingness to put their special interests first, their constituents last.

This paragraph is troubling:

But the effort to forge a bipartisan voter ID compromise hasn’t gained much traction. After Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed a voter ID bill last session, Republicans have made it a priority to take the issue to voters this fall. Dayton cannot veto a constitutional amendment.

The important thing to remember in this fight is that DFL politicians don’t want to do the right thing. In this instance, doing the right thing is doing what the vast majority of Minnesotans want.

Compromise isn’t a virtue if there’s overwhelming support for legislation. In this instance, an overwhelming portion of Minnesotans want Photo ID. If anyone should move, it’s the DFL. Why should the GOP move when they’re on the 76% side of a 76-18% issue?

If the DFL wants to be stubborn about Photo ID, they should prepare to pay the price for their obstructionism.

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There’s spin, then there’s professional spin and then there’s championship level spin that Katie Tinucci practices. Check this spin out:

Dayton spokeswoman Katharine Tinucci in a statement responded to the filing of the lawsuit. “The debate around unionization of family childcare providers started years before Governor Dayton was elected to office,” she said.

“By refusing to call for an election, his predecessors denied licensed, registered family child care providers the chance to decide for themselves whether or not they want to form a union. Governor Dayton believes they should have the right to make that decision.”

It’s worth noting that Gov. Pawlenty knew the legal definition of a public employee. More importantly, he didn’t disregard Minnesota state statutes on the matter. It’s apparent that Ms. Tinucci is doing everything except admitting that Gov. Dayton cares more about paying off his political allies than obeying the law.

Everyone who’s followed this law knows that this isn’t anything except Gov. Dayton’s paying off the people that got him elected.

Minnesota state statutes say that child care providers can’t be considered government employees. Eventually, we’ll find out whether Minnesota’s courts read the laws as written or whether they favor defining the law as they see fit.

The list of professions that qualify as public employees is exhaustive and straightforward. The law is tightly written. There isn’t any wiggle room in the definition. Still, AFSCME and SEIU thugs continue to argue otherwise:

Eric Lehto, organizing director for AFSCME Minnesota Council 5, called the lawsuit “frivolous.”

“Governor Dayton has legal authority to direct the Bureau of Mediation Services to conduct a union election and to determine appropriate bargaining units of child care providers. Voters in this election include only licensed, subsidized providers who have a direct financial relationship with the state of Minnesota,” Lehto said in a statement.

“If a majority of providers come together in a democratic process, Gov. Dayton will recognize their professional voice. Union membership will be voluntary and all providers will retain their constitutional right to participate in the policy making process.”

Mr. Lehto isn’t telling the whole truth. If telling the whole truth was important to Mr. Lehto, he would’ve mentioned that the child care providers that don’t get to vote on unionization will have to pay Fair Share fees to either AFSCME or the SEIU.

If Mr. Lehto put a priority on telling the truth, he would’ve mentioned that AFSCME and SEIU intend to negotiate regulations for child safety, educational materials and other things. He didn’t mention that these issues financially affect the child care providers’s that don’t get to vote on unionization but who will pay union dues.

If Gov. Dayton wants to blame anyone for the unionization vote, he needn’t look further than the mirror. If Gov. Dayton wasn’t the unions’ puppet, this vote wouldn’t be happening. If Gov. Dayton respected settled Minnesota law, this vote wouldn’t be happening.

Gov. Dayton’s letter to Speaker Zellers and Majority Leader Dean is the rant of an unhinged person. Check it out yourself:
Dayton Letter
Yes, Gov. Dayton, we think that the SEIU and AFSCME won’t hesitate to do anything if they think it’ll help them accumulate more political power. In fact, we have proof that they will.

When the Fleebagger 14 left Wisconsin rather than do what they were elected to do, AFSCME threatened businesses. They had the choice of either displaying the union sign in their window or have the unions boycott their store.

I’ve read about SEIU stormtroopers attempted to threaten a bank official:

Last Sunday, on a peaceful, sun-crisp afternoon, our toddler finally napping upstairs, my front yard exploded with 500 screaming, placard-waving strangers on a mission to intimidate my neighbor, Greg Baer. Baer is deputy general counsel for corporate law at Bank of America, a senior executive based in Washington, D.C. And that, in the minds of the organizers at the politically influential Service Employees International Union and a Chicago outfit called National Political Action, makes his family fair game.

Gov. Dayton, there’s substantial proof that PEUs do nefarious things in their quest to accumulate political power.

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I attended last night’s Reform 2.0 meeting. It’s understatement, based on what was said, to say that government is too imposing on private citizens.

For instance, Steve Rohlf, the former Zoning Administrator & Building Official for Elk River for 21 years, said that he’s been “working in the private sector doing commercial building and land development for a person who owns several car dealerships” as well as “other commercial interests.”

Mr. Rohlf typed out on a word processing document all the hoops he had to jump through while trying to turn a used car lot into a new car dealership. When Rep. Sondra Erickson asked where they’re at in the process of converting the used car lot into a new car franchise, Mr. Rohlf said “We started in March & we still don’t have everything done.”

Mr. Rohlf said that he’s familiar with the process after having served Elk River in that capacity. He admitted that there were times when he was even confused. Then Mr. Rohlf said “even city staff often seemed confused by their own processes.”

When I looked at Mr. Rohlf’s recommendations, one recommendation stood out from all the rest: “Require those who draft rules have expertise in what’s being regulated or at least get input from people who have expertise.”

That seems so obvious that it shouldn’t require a private citizen to make that recommendation. That should be the expectation.

Mr. Rohlf said that the regulations on lighting cost him an additional $50,000. The original plans called for 700-watt light bulb but that had to be scrapped because of regulations limiting bulbs to be 400-watts or less. That increased the price of lighting from $175,000 to $230,500.

The amount of light on the showroom lot is exactly the same but the regulations cost him an additional $54,500.

House Majority Leader Matt Dean attended and took notes. Leader Dean said that they’ve “held 21 Reform 2.0 meetings around the state” prior to last night’s meeting. Dean noted that they’ve “gotten over 350 great ideas” from those meetings.

Dean noted that people at all levels of government “know that government has to change” and that “[the executive branch] wants to partner with [the legislature]” on those changes.

Local businessman Bob Feuling talked about his audit by state auditors. The chief auditor told him he still owed $400,000 in backtaxes, penalties and interest before the audit began. Months later, he wrote them a check “for $1,400.” Bob Feuling then stunned the gathering by saying that it cost the state almost $150,000 to conduct the audit and that it cost him $70,000 to contest the audit’s conclusions.

Rep. King Banaian said that the biggest disgrace in the matter was that they’d gone after an honest person like Bob Feuling. He then said that they’re scrapping this auditing system in favor of implementing a system of tax analytics.

Rep. Steve Gottwalt said “I met an hour today with a county commissioner. I got a lot of great ideas on how to get government off their backs.” Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer said that they’re working on a way to make sure businesses get the opportunity to testify on rules being made by executive branch agencies.

Rep. Kiffmeyer said that rulemaking was almost like another legislative process without the deliberations. Leader Dean said that regulations have exploded during his time in the legislature.

Leader Dean said that we have to be more competitive with business climate issues. He talked about a California-based company that decided to abandon California because California is an economic mess. They hired a company to do research into possible relocation sites.

At the presentation, the site location report listed 100 cities that met the company’s criteria. Sadly, Dean said, “there wasn’t a Minnesota city on the list.”

Dean then said that “Increasingly, we’re losing companies to Texas & Florida.” He said that “when Gov. Dayton talks about raising taxes” on “the rich”, companies like DigiKey, “which employs 2,300 people in a city of 7,000 people”, know that they wouldn’t hire people if their taxes got raised because DigiKey pays their taxes as an individual.

One gentleman in the audience said that the state needs to raise revenue without raising taxes. Rep. Gottwalt noted that the November forecast last year “called for a $6,200,000,000 deficit. After DC extended the Bush tax cuts, an additional $1,000,000,000 in revenue flowed into the state’s coffers.”

This was a serious audience. They still had more ideas for reform that they wanted to express but they couldn’t last night because the library was shutting down for the night.

There’s no doubt but that businesses are thirsty for changes in how government does business.

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Yesterday, the SC Times editorial board wrote this Our View editorial on the upcoming school levy elections. To say that it’s biased is understatement. Here’s the title of the editorial:

Our View: Local levies cover state’s epic failure

I’m thankful that the Times editorial board didn’t take a partisan approach to the issue. Here’s the editorial’s opening paragraphs:

Residents in nine area school districts have about a week left to decide how they will vote on requests to raise local property taxes to help their districts, Sauk Rapids-Rice, Sartell-St. Stephen, Rocori, Foley, Royalton, Melrose, Milaca, Upsala and Princeton.

All essentially need the funds to maintain operating budgets. One, Sartell-St. Stephen, also needs help for repairs. This board urges approval of all questions, largely because of the state’s epic failure to meet its constitutional obligation to adequately fund education.

Yes, epic. Look no further than how legislators and the governor the past four years have chosen to withhold about 40 percent of the education funds the state promised. Add in that these elected officials continue to use a baseline funding formula developed 35 years ago while routinely letting partisan politics trump serious reform efforts and “epic” is a deserved descriptor.

What’s worse is this section of the editorial:

These districts’ residents should recognize levy requests are made because districts have little choice. Without more local help, most districts’ consequences will include some or all of these: reducing student services and programming, increasing class sizes, and not updating technology and curriculum.

Admittedly, some extra funds will compensate staff. However, it’s naïve, even misleading, to claim staff will get rich off it when an average raise is about 2 percent.

That’s a strawman argument if ever I saw one. Whether “staff will get rich” isn’t the question. The real question is whether the “staff”, a euphemism for high paid administrators, are adding anything to the quality of the students’ education.

Over the weekend, a loyal reader of this blog told me that staff at his old high school had jumped sevenfold over the past 25 years. That despite the fact that graduating classes had dropped by 20%.

Apparently the Times editorial board hasn’t asked the superintendents how many administrators are needed to run a school district. considering the fact that House Majority Leader Matt Dean is investigating what’s happening in Minneapolis:

House Majority Leader Matt Dean (R-Dellwood) is doing his own inquiry into how the Minneapolis Public Schools spends it money after reading this Star Tribune report. The story revealed Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson’s decision to award $270,000 in retroactive raises to central office administrators at the same time the district cut more than 100 jobs including 52 teaching positions.

The Times’ editorial assumes that there isn’t mismanagement of the taxpayers’ money within the school districts. Clearly, Majority Leader Dean thinks there’s, at minimum, the possibility of mismanagement within the Minneapolis public schools.

Reflexively thinking that everything’s the legislature’s fault might make for snappy headlines but it might not be an accurate depiction of what’s wrong with the school district.

The Times is right about this:

Rocori: The district basically seeks to combine two existing operating levies into one that will last for 10 years. Passage means district taxes will remain the same. Similarly, district programming will be continued. Worth noting: Even with existing levies, the district has cut its budget for 12 straight years.

Rocori has been underfunded for years. Voting to combine operating levies while putting them in place for a decade is what’s needed. Stability is essential anywhere. Stability is especially essential at Rocori.

Full disclosure: I have a friend who teaches at Rocori. My opinion, however, is based on the fact that the school has been underfunded for years. That’s the worst kept secret in central Minnesota.

I’m not reflexively saying that all levies should be voted down. I’m saying that the school districts should detail how the taxpayers’ money is spent. This information should be shared at an open meeting where the public is able to ask questions or make comments with the full board and the superintendent there taking questions.

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This article provides a glimpse into the Minneapolis school system’s crony-laden system:

House Majority Leader Matt Dean (R-Dellwood) is doing his own inquiry into how the Minneapolis Public Schools spends it money after reading this Star Tribune report. The story revealed Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson’s decision to award $270,000 in retroactive raises to central office administrators at the same time the district cut more than 100 jobs including 52 teaching positions.

“A lot of people were concerned about this,” said Jodi Boyne, director of public affairs for the GOP Caucus. “We want to make sure this money is being spent on education.”

The next time EdMinn whines about how badly underfunded schools are, they’d better be prepared to get this story thrown in their face. Giving raises to admininstrators when money is tight is bad enough. Giving $270,000 worth of retroactive raises to central office admininstrators isn’t justifiable.

Here’s the salutation and first paragraph from House Majority Leader Matt Dean’s letter:

Dear Superintendent Johnson:

This is a formal request under the Minnesota Data Practices Act, Minnesota Statutes Chapter 13, for access to inspect all memos, documents, files and e-mails in your and/or the department’s posession related to the recent pay increase for the central office administrators in the Minneapolis School District.

Majority Leader Dean wrote that letter on July 26th. It’s 55 days later and he still hasn’t gotten the information he’s requested:

Six weeks later, he has not received all the information.

Apparently, Ms. Johnson’s administration hasn’t put a high priority on locating these documents, much less getting them into Majority Leader Dean’s hands. That raises another question.

If these administrators got $270,000 worth of raises, shouldn’t they be able to pull together the documentation where their raises were justified? If they can’t pull this documentation together, doesn’t that indicate that these raises weren’t justified? If they’re refusing to pull this documentation together, doesn’t that indicate that their raises weren’t justified because they’re too corrupt?

At minimum, this kerfuffle suggests that there’s too much cronyism in the Minneapolis school system. Whether the central office is corrupt, filled with political cronies or is inept, these raises aren’t justified. They should be rescinded by the Legislature ASAP.

Let’s hope that Majority Leader Dean’s actions trigger a reaction from the parents whose children are getting ripped off.

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Yesterday, I attended the GOP flyaround at St. Cloud Regional Airport. First, it was a well-attended event, with approximately 35 people attending.

One thing that stunned me was Mary Kiffmeyer’s statement that, in testimony before the House Taxes Committee, two people from the Dayton administration said that they couldn’t guarantee that property taxes wouldn’t go up if LGA is increased. Other legislators said that they’ve had small town mayors approach them, telling them that big city mayors don’t speak for them.

Another thing that’s apparent is that the DFL message of an all-cuts budget is having some effect, especially with the media. In a post-press conference interview, House Majority Leader Matt Dean told St. Cloud Times reporter that Alina had told them that they could “save the state $1.6 billion” under their plan.

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During this 2+ minute diatribe, Sen. Bakk gives the MNGOP gifts that they couldn’t possibly expected:

Here’s the transcript:

BAKK: You know, the Republicans are just not being honest with Minnesotans with this budget. You know, they promised that they aren’t going to raise taxes but you saw the letter from the Department of Revenue saying that property taxes will go up $644,000,000 over the next 3 years.

They promised they were going to grow jobs and rebuild the economy and the results of their budget will be tens of thousands of Minnesotans laid off, the nurses, the school teachers, the snow plow drivers, police officers, the firefighters.

They’re dismantling our higher education system. How is that going to rebuild our economy? Minnesota’s higher education system is critical to economic development in this state.

Republicans have promised to protect the most vulnerable Minnesotans. How are they going to do that? They’re going to take health care away from 200,000 Minnesotans, take rental assistance away from students and families, veterans and people with disabilities.

They will tell you and lead you to believe that they have put together a balanced budget. It’s based on accounting gimmicks, phoney money and cuts that are going to have devastating effects all over this state.

From vulnerable people to people with disabilities to our higher education institutions to our cities to our local governments.

Now why are they being so dishonest? Because the real heart of the debate here at the Capitol is Minnesota has a very unfair tax system where the wealthier you are, the smaller the percentage of your income you pay in state and local taxes.

And they are so committed to protecting that unfair system that they are willing to sacrifice our schools, our economy, our higher education systems and the pocketbooks of middle class families.

Not one time have they been able to offer up even in the tiniest way that the wealthiest Minnesotans are going to ask to participate in solving the state’s deficit crisis. Not one cent have they been able to identify. Not one cent.

That’s such a target-rich environment that it’s impossible to pick a bad starting spot. That’s why I’ll start with the jobs issue. This is a combination of the DFL’s all-cuts budget chanting points and their ‘if we don’t tax the rich, then firefighters, police officers and teachers will be laid off’ chanting points.

Prior Lake is proof that if local units of government reform how they deliver services, they can stabilize property taxes without cutting firefighters and police officers while running a surplus.

If Chris Coleman or R.T. Rybak insist that there isn’t a penny of spending that won’t utterly cripple Minnesota’s economy, much like Sen. Bakk did in this video, then they’re spinning things, just like Sen. Bakk.

As for Sen. Bakk’s claim that Republicans are “dismantling the higher education system,” I’m not convinced that that couldn’t turn into a possibility. MnSCU is an inefficient organization, with little coordination from th MnSCU board. Their decisionmaking practices are questionable. Anoka-Ramsey Community College operates two campuses offering identical degree programs.

At minimum, isn’t it time to give extra scrutiny to the existing system? Couldn’t a respectable case be made that a massive overhaul might be worth looking into?

Sen. Bakk is right in that an efficiently run higher education system is important to Minnesota’s economic development. That alone should be reason enough for the DFL to lead the charge in scrutinizing the existing system while admitting that overhauling the system might be something whose time has come.

That they aren’t proposing any significant changes in the higher education system is telling. It’s telling in that they aren’t serious about looking for inefficiencies, that they’re prone to proposing tax increases first before thinking that systems might need to be dragged into the 21st Century.

That’s the way political parties get complacent and settle for the status quo. We’re living at a time when we can’t justify a status quo mentality. We’re living at a time when bold, thoroughly though through plans like Paul Ryan’s are getting praised by serious economists from across the political spectrum.

The DFL locally and the Democratic Party nationally morphed into the gatekeepers of status quo thinking. That’s why Speaker Boehner drove the proverbial train in the budget negotiations in DC this past week. That’s why it’s likely that Sen. Koch, Speaker Zellers and House Majority Leader Dean will drive the budget debate here in Minnesota.

It’s important noting that conservatives nationwide have the appealing agenda at this point. That isn’t to say that the difficult decisions are behind us. It’s saying that people, if given the option between the Republicans’ reform agenda and the DFL’s attempted defense of the failed status quo, people pick the Republicans’ reform agenda more often than not.

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