Archive for the ‘Tom Bakk’ Category
The highlight of Bill Hanna’s article about his interview with DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin is this quote:
“I think we’re in a good position to close out the election. But we can’t be too cocky. That’s how we lose.”
Here’s a hint for Martin. The DFL doesn’t lose when it’s too cocky. It’s always too cocky. The DFL loses when it pays too much attention to its special interest allies and ignores the people. It loses when it goes hard ideological. That’s what happened in 2009-2010. That’s when the DFL legislature insisted on passing a budget filled with tax increases that paid for its payoffs to its special interests.
Tom Bakk, the Senate Majority Leader, has said that Minnesotans “don’t mind paying a little more in taxes” because they get their money’s worth from those taxes. That’s the DFL’s Achille’s Heal this year.
- Minnesotans aren’t getting their money’s worth from those increased taxes when DFL plutocrats take $90,000,000 to pay for an office building for part-time politicians instead of paying to fix Minnesota’s pothole-riddled streets.
- Minnesotans definitely aren’t getting their money’s worth from those increased taxes to pay for the utter incompetence at MNsure.
- The DFL can’t claim that Minnesota’s entrepreneurs were helped by raising their taxes. Job creation has virtually stopped since the Dayton-DFL tax increases hit these small businesses.
The only thing that’s helping the DFL right now is that the Twin Cities media’s coverage has changed since early summer. Back then, they actually talked about the negative effects the DFL’s policies were having, especially on the Iron Range. Now they’ve returned to talking only about the race to the finish.
DFL pundits, from Larry Jacobs to Ember Reichgott-Junge to Mindy Greiling, praise the strength of the Dayton-DFL economy because Minnesota’s unemployment rate is artificially low. They don’t talk about things like how many people have quit looking for work or how many “Starbucks MBAs” are employed in jobs that they’re vastly overqualified for.
The DFL promised jobs during their campaigns. They didn’t promise careers, with the exception of a career as a government bureaucrat. During the past 12 months, the Dayton-DFL economy has created 21,523 public sector jobs. That’s compared with the Dayton-DFL economy creating 2,900 total jobs in the last 7 months.
Chairman Martin’s job is to elect as many Democrats as possible, regardless of how much that’d hurt Minnesota. With outstate Minnesota’s unemployment rate high, it’s safe to say that the Dayton-DFL economic policies are hurting Minnesotans.
That’s especially true for the Range, where the region-wide unemployment rate is 8.02% compared with a statewide unemployment rate of 4.88%. Doing nothing while a major region of the state stagnates isn’t doing what’s best for the state. That’s the result of the DFL telling the Range that they’ll pay attention to the environmental activist-elitist wing of the DFL while ignoring the blue collar wing of the DFL represented by the Range.
It’s time for the Range to wake up and realize that the DFL is playing them for fools. It’s time they realized that Ken Martin’s DFL isn’t the Iron Range’s friend. It’s its enemy.
If the Iron Range realizes that, it’ll result in a happy ending for the Range because it’ll mean an end to DFL reign in St. Paul.
Technorati: Ken Martin, Iron Range, Blue Collar Workers, Twin Cities Elitists, Environmental Activists, Media Bias, Twin Cities Media, Larry Jacobs, Mindy Greiling, Ember Reichgott-Junge, DFL, Election 2014
Tomorrow morning, I’ll enthusiastically cast my primary vote for Jeff Johnson. The reasons I’ll cast my vote for Jeff are similar to why I’ll vote for Tom Emmer.
Though he hasn’t published a post to the Hennepin County Taxpayers Watchdog blog in over a year, it’s clear that Jeff Johnson isn’t afraid to highlight wasteful government spending. The fact that he’s willing to do that in the Twin Cities shows that, if he’s elected governor this November, he won’t hesitate in calling out Tom Bakk’s pork. He certainly won’t hesitate in line-item vetoing things that, had they happened while he was commissioner, would’ve earned the Golden Hydrant award.
Things like spending $500,000 on 10 artistic drinking fountains would’ve won the Golden Hydrant Award.
Simply put, Jeff’s a proven watchdog of the taxpayers’ money. The DFL legislature and Gov. Dayton trampled taxpayers the last 2 years. They spent money on things drunken sailors would’ve been ashamed of.
On that note, Jeff Johnson held a special event last week at the site of Gov. Dayton’s and the DFL legislature’s biggest pork project. Last week, Jeff held a mock groundbreaking ceremony for Sen. Bakk’s Senate Legislative Office Building, aka the SLOB.
That’s a $90,000,000 monument to the DFL’s disdain for the taxpayers. After the event, the Dayton administration and the DFL legislators who voted for that ‘monument’ issued a statement saying that they didn’t hold a groundbreaking ceremony because there’s a tight schedule to get the thing built. That’s BS.
Gov. Dayton didn’t hold a ground-breaking ceremony because he didn’t want that to be turned into an ad against him this election cycle. (You know something’s terrible when even Gov. Dayton thinks it’s excessive.)
I’m voting for Jeff Johnson because Jeff will be a reform-minded governor. That’s what’s required of Minnesota’s government at this critical point in our history.
I’ll also be voting against Marty Seifert. I’m voting against him because of the stunt he tried pulling at the GOP State Convention in Rochester.
Dave Thompson spoke at the podium and withdrew from the race, telling his delegates to support Jeff Johnson. When Mr. Seifert asked to address the delegates, it was understood that it would be to withdraw his name from the endorsement fight. Instead, he instructed his delegates that they could leave.
With that decision, Seifert alienated 2,000 delegates and alternates in a single action. Now he’s saying that he’s the right candidate to unite the party. What a joke. I suppose he’d unite people in opposing him. I’m fairly certain that isn’t the type of unification he’s talking about, though.
The bottom line is this: I have lots of reasons to enthusiastically pull the trigger for Jeff Johnson. He’ll be a great governor.
Towards the end of the 2014 legislative session, the DFL quietly passed a $400,000,000 bailout of MNsure. Technically, the bailout was for MinnCare but MNsure caused MinnCare’s insolvency. Based on the information in this Pi-Press article, that bailout was just the tip of an iceberg. Here’s what I’m talking about:
Most of those enrolled through the exchange are on public subsidies. As of last week, nearly a quarter-million Minnesotans had enrolled. Of those, 88 percent, 218,615 out of a total of 249,369, are receiving a public subsidy.
That leaves 30,754 Minnesotans who purchased a plan on their own via MNsure.
The ratio of subsidized to “commercial” enrollees “needs a long hard look going forward,” said Julie Brunner, executive director of the Minnesota Council of Health Plans. Unless they “ramp up significantly,” she wonders if the low numbers on the commercial side will provide “the financial support that MNsure needs to have a balanced budget.”
That’s stunning information. Based on that information, MNsure isn’t sustainable financially. If MNsure needs a bailout, that means tax increases can’t be far behind. This is more bad news:
The system is preparing to absorb still more public enrollees. MNsure has delayed until August a major transition of public insurance beneficiaries to the system. About 800,000 Minnesotans will be renewing their current coverage.
MNsure CEO Scott Leitz told the editorial board earlier this month that the agency “wanted the system to be stable” to handle the influx.
That’s disturbing because MNsure isn’t stable:
During the assessment, 47 of the 73 sub-functions addressed were found either to be absent or not functioning as expected. Six of the 73 sub-functions could be considered for implementation post-open enrollment. The remaining 41 sub-functions need to be provided for the 2015 Open Enrollment either through changes/enhancements to the systems or through contingent means.
That’s what instability sounds like. Last fall, MNsure’s rollout was a disaster. This year’s open enrollment will be a bigger disaster than last year’s open enrollment. Thanks in part to that, the revenue shortfall will be greater this year than last year.
With MNsure stability being at least a year away, it’s likely that the shortfall for the next biennium will be huge. It’s difficult to see this turning out well for Minnesota taxpayers. In the end, though, these shortfalls will put pressure on the DFL Senate to resist changing MNsure.
It’s time for the DFL to accept the reality that it’s time to start over on health care reform. When a system is this disfunctional, this expensive and this unpopular, it’s time to start from scratch. Minnesota was a leader in health care. We should’ve learned from that. Instead, Gov. Dayton and the DFL legislature created this financial nightmare.
Sen. Michelle Benson might’ve put it best:
A key point, however, noted by the Pioneer Press’ Christopher Snowbeck: The report couldn’t say exactly where the uninsured found coverage, that is, whether insurance was obtained through public programs, private insurers available through MNsure or commercial plans sold outside the health exchange.
He noted pushback from legislative Republicans, including the contention of Sen. Michelle Benson of Ham Lake that, to the extent the reduction came from people enrolling in the state’s Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare insurance programs, the state “didn’t need MNsure at all.”
That’s spot on. Rather than weighing the options, Gov. Dayton, Sen. Bakk and Rep. Thissen let their ideology drive their votes. As a result, all Minnesotans will be hurt financially.
Let’s be clear about this. There aren’t enough rich people in Minnesota to raise taxes on…again. The DFL will have to raise taxes on the middle class if these MNsure deficits continue as expected.
According to this article, medical device manufacturer Medtronic is leaving Minnesota’s high state taxes. In fact, it’s leaving the federal government’s high corporate rates, too:
Medtronic Inc. (MDT), the globe-spanning medical device maker founded in a Minneapolis garage in 1949, is poised to become the biggest company yet to escape the U.S. tax system by shifting its incorporation abroad.
Medtronic said yesterday it plans to take a legal address in tax-friendly Ireland as part of a $42.9 billion takeover of Covidien Plc. (COV) Although Covidien is run from Mansfield, Massachusetts, it’s been incorporated in Ireland since 2009.
That’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Here’s more:
Minneapolis-based Medtronic joins some 44 American companies that have reincorporated abroad or struck plans to do so, including 14 in a recent wave of moves that began in 2012. Earlier this year, Pfizer Inc., the largest U.S. drugmaker, briefly proposed taking a U.K. address, a move that might have cut its tax bills by as much as $1 billion a year.
The truth is that Medtronic is running from Minnesota’s high taxes just like it’s running from high federal tax rates on corporations. While it’s true that Medtronic isn’t shipping its manufacturing operations overseas yet, that’s just an eventuality.
More companies are looking at this option:
Shareholders are pressing drugstore chain Walgreen Co. to get a Swiss address. Without a change in law, a congressional panel estimated last month, future deals will cost the U.S. $19.5 billion in tax revenue over the next 10 years.
President Obama and Gov. Dayton apparently haven’t learned that capital and labor are mobile. At this point, it isn’t likely that they’ll ever learn. Apparently, they haven’t figured out that companies are in business to make profits for their shareholders. They aren’t in business to support out-of-government spending, which is what President Obama and Gov. Dayton think.
If Gov. Dayton is re-elected and he keeps Minnesota’s corporate tax rate high, more companies will leave. That’s before businesses worry about whether Sen. Bakk will bring back the B2B sales taxes that were just repealed.
It’s time Democrats, both in Minnesota and on the federal level, understood that high marginal tax rates matter. It’s time they noticed that companies are leaving and, with them, good paying jobs for Americans.
Technorati: Mark Dayton, Tax Increases, Tom Bakk, B2B Sales Tax, President Obama, Corporate Income Tax Rates, Medtronic, Walgreen, Phizer, Covidien, Ireland, Switzerland, Jobs, Democrats, Election 2014
One way to verify the hostility level between Rebecca Otto and the Iron Range DFL is to read this article. Suffice it to say that minced words were kept to a minimum. Check out Dave Dill’s statement:
“I don’t support candidates who don’t support economic development in northeastern Minnesota. And I especially don’t support them when they placate people to raise money. That’s an unholy alliance,” Dill said of Otto’s vote on the leases and following effort to raise campaign funds off of it. Then he really took off the gloves. “Much of fundraising today is done electronically. To do that candidates need the minerals that will be produced in copper/nickel mining. Perhaps they should communicate by using a string with two cans like we did in grade schools.”
“We are doing nothing wrong. We’re following the rules. She voted against something that has been going on in the state for more than 100 years. She voted against the birth of mining. You don’t mine until you drill.”
Dill’s statement is definitely harsh, most likely because he’s in a tough re-election fight. It serves him right because he’s been silent for years on PolyMet/mining/economic development.
Here’s another way to verify the hostility level between Metrocrat environmental activists and the Range DFL:
And it also draws a clear line in the political sand on mining and economic development in the region.
“WHEREAS, Iron Range cities will no longer stand for politicians who don’t clearly and unequivocally stand for us on issues such as mining and economic development in our area,” it reads in part.
That’s part of a proposed resolution that the Virginia City Council will vote on this Tuesday night. It clearly puts Otto in their cross hairs. It puts other politicians, like Gov. Dayton and Sen. Franken, on notice, too.
Otto didn’t need to hear this:
The elected leader of the state Senate said Otto called her shortly after strong reaction against her mineral leases vote erupted on the Range. “‘There’s ‘Dump Otto’ signs showing up on the Range,’ she said. I said, ‘What did you think was going to happen?’” Bakk said in a telephone interview on Wednesday.
Bakk told her she would “probably be fine” unless she received a primary challenge. She now has that. “I’m just going to sit down and think on this. I won’t immediately get on board, either way,” said Bakk, referring to both Otto and Entenza.
I wrote this post to highlight the fact that Matt Entenza might be as anti-mining as Otto is:
Matt graduated from Worthington Senior High School and won a scholarship to Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D., with an eye toward eventually going to law school. After his sophomore year, he transferred to Macalester College in St. Paul and was elected student body president. He received a degree in environmental studies with honors.
The environment isn’t a passing fancy with Rep. Entenza. One of the organizations who has honored him is the League of Conservation Voters. Here’s what LCV’s mission is in their own words:
LCV runs tough and effective campaigns to defeat anti-environment candidates, and support those leaders who stand up for a clean, healthy future for America.
Simply put, LCV supports candidates that are anti-mining. LCV doesn’t support candidates that are pro-mining. There’s no question but that both DFL candidates for State Auditor are anti-mining.
Most importantly, there’s no question but that Ms. Otto gave the GOP a gift of immense proportions when she sent out that fundraising email where she bragged about voting against mining. Reaction on the Range to that fundraising email was instant and hostile. Sen. Bakk is right in telling Ms. Otto that she should’ve expected that hostile reaction.
Nolan is rightly getting criticized:
A “Dump Otto” supporter tweeted out the following message Wednesday afternoon in response to a report that Nolan’s campaign manager said the congressman is backing Otto in the campaign: “Interesting that [the congressman from the Eighth District] is supporting an anti-mining candidate.”
Nolan responded in a telephone interview with the Mesabi Daily News late Wednesday afternoon.
“I endorsed the endorsement team and that includes Rebecca Otto, but with reservations because of her mining vote on mineral leases. She assured me she’s not anti-mining, but she’s going to have to prove that to me. I’m going to hold her feet to the fire,” Nolan said.
TRANSLATION: Nolan is a typical politician. He’s playing political games, having it both ways on this issue. That isn’t what leaders do. That’s what cheap career politicians do.
Simply put, trusting Nolan is a major mistake. His political career has been marked by his being as slippery as a greased pig. It isn’t that he’s pure evil. It’s just that I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him if I had a pair of broken arms and a bad back.
The same is true of Ms. Otto and Matt Entenza.
Technorati: Rebecca Otto, Matt Entenza, Mark Dayton, Tom Bakk, Environmental Impact Statement, Virginia City Council, Council Resolution, Al Franken, Rick Nolan, Dave Dill, Career Politicians, DFL, Election 2014, League of Conservation Voters, Environmental Activists
If Patrick Condon’s article highlights anything, it’s that the courts really aren’t accessible to average citizens. With their ruling, the Minnesota Supreme Court essentially said that the judiciary is only for deep-pocketed people:
The state’s high court ruled that former Republican Rep. Jim Knoblach would have to post an $11 million surety bond if he wanted his challenge to the project to continue. He said he can’t afford to post a bond of that size.
“Requiring a member of the public to come up with $11 million in a case like this is a chilling precedent to a citizen raising a constitutional challenge,” he said.
This is stunning on multiple fronts. First, the constitutional case is clear. If the Supreme Court read the merits of the lawsuit, they’d know that the lower court’s ruling was a joke and an insult to Minnesota’s constitution. Second, saying that a lawsuit can’t proceed without the litigant putting up an $11,000,000 surety bond is the fastest way to stop a lawsuit.
First things first. Judge Marek ruled that Sen. Bakk’s bill didn’t violate the Single Subject Clause of Minnesota’s Constitution because “the office building provision is linked to the rest by a common thread of “financing and raising revenue to fund state and local government operations.” In other words, the legislature can put anything it wants to pass into the tax bill if it’s something that’s linked to “state or local government operations.”
In other words, Judge Marek’s ruling essentially gutted Minnesota’s Constitution. That’s either proof that she’s corrupt or proof that she’s ignorant of Minnesota’s Constitution.
Next, it’s exceptionally elitist of Minnesota’s Supreme Court to require this surety bond. They’ve essentially said that deep pockets are required if a person wants to appeal legislative decisions. That’s stunning in its elitism.
If ever there was justification for citizens voting out judges and replacing them with judges who’ll obey Minnesota’s Constitution.
What just happened is that Judge Marek ignored Minnesota’s Constitution. Later, government lawyers convinced a judge that a pesky citizen shouldn’t really have access to the courts. Finally, the Minnesota Supreme Court completed the whitewash by agreeing with the government’s attorneys, putting the final brick in place stopping citizens from accessing judicial remedies to legislative overreach.
It’s a sad day for Minnesota’s citizens. The elitists on Minnesota’s Supreme Court just ruled that the court won’t hear lawsuits pertaining to legislative overreach unless the litigant has exceptionally deep pockets.
I wrote this post to highlight part of Sen. Bakk’s end-of-session spin. I wouldn’t be telling the entire story if I didn’t write about something Sen. Bakk said at the end of his interview. Here’s what he said on the subject of medical marijuana:
SEN. BAKK: I think when this session started, there were probably few lawmakers that thought medical marijuana would likely be the marquee issue of this session. Not many of us, myself included, were thinking about it rising to such a level of that intensity and emotion in the legislature. And it happened because a group of families with their largely disabled children came to the Capitol and they visited legislators and they put the breath under that issue and made legislators ‘look at the plight of my kids and want them to have a better quality of life’.
It was a remarkable example of how a small group of people can come to their state capitol and advocate for a change and, even though nobody was thinking about it, it ends up happening.
It’s true that these parents succeeded in getting this legislation passed but it comes with an asterisk.
The asterisk is that these parents got this legislation passed because the DFL’s special interests didn’t oppose it. We needn’t look any further than last year, when hundreds of parents and in-home child care providers visited their state capitol to tell legislators that they opposed the unionization of in-home child care providers.
They told DFL legislators how unionization would drive up the cost of child care. They told DFL legislators how that legislation would force in-home child care providers to reject children from families getting government assistance because these child care providers didn’t want to be part of a union.
How did the DFL react in that situation? They repeatedly recited AFSCME’s and SEIU’s talking points, ignoring the parents and the children’s care providers.
In that instance, the DFL didn’t care about the children’s quality of life. The DFL didn’t care that their legislation made life miserable for parents receiving government assistance. For all the DFL’s talk about standing with ‘the little guy’, last year, the DFL ignored the little guy while siding with their well-funded special interest allies.
Sen. Bakk might fool some people with his spin but the reality is that the DFL routinely ignores parents and families when the DFL’s special interest allies oppose the parents’ initiatives. In the DFL’s world, special interest activists outrank parents and the average Joe.
This November, people of all political stripes have the opportunity to reject the DFL’s politics of, by and for their special interest organizations.
Another thing that just popped into my head is how people lobbied against the B2B sales taxes. Initially, they were removed from the DFL’s tax bill, only to be put back in by Sen. Bakk during the conference committee.
Then things hit the fan politically.
Gov. Dayton told FarmFest he didn’t know that Sen. Bakk had included the Farm Equipment Repair Sales tax in the tax bill. Then talk started about repealing them during last summer’s special session. When that fell through, pressure built until the B2B taxes were repealed this session.
Now, Sen. Bakk, Gov. Dayton and the DFL are bragging about cutting taxes this session. That’s Clinton-worthy spin on steroids. Raising taxes by $2.4 billion, then reducing the size of the tax increase by $400,000,000 still equals a tax increase, albeit a smaller tax increase.
Here’s the question the DFL won’t want to answer: If cutting taxes was a priority to them, why weren’t they in the 2013 tax bill? Let’s remember, too, that Sen. Bakk insisted prior to the special session that he didn’t think the B2B taxes should be repealed. That’s why they weren’t part of the special session agenda.
In 2013, the DFL showed its true colors by raising taxes. That isn’t surprising. What’s stunning, though, is the fact that they didn’t even know how their tax increases would impact people.
Finally, any party that presides over a 33% spending increase over 4 years isn’t fiscally responsible. The DFL can spin all they want but raising taxes and fees by $2 billion and increasing spending by $5 billion are the net results of total DFL control.
That’s a ton of money to take out of the private sector, which, unlike the DFL, actually uses the money efficiently on the things people need most.
If Minnesota voters need proof that the DFL is either delusional or exceptionally skilled liars, this video provides that proof:
Starting at the 2:30 mark, Sen. Bakk made this incredible statement:
BAKK: It’s been a remarkable 2 year run in this biennium and I think what we showed, as Democrats in control of the governor’s office and both branches of the legislature, first time since 1990, that we could be responsible, not overreach, invest in the things that Minnesotans support and get it done, not only on time but ahead of schedule.
That’s breathtakingly dishonest. First, increasing spending by $5,000,000,000 isn’t and act of responsibility, especially in light of the fact that the budget from the previous biennium was the biggest in Minnesota history.
During Gov. Dayton’s time in office, the budget soared from $30,171,000,000 to $39,500,000,000. That’s a spending increase of almost 33%. That isn’t acting responsibly. That’s the picture of irresponsibility.
During Gov. Dayton’s time in office, the DFL legislature raised taxes and fees by $2,400,000,000 initially before repealing $400,000,000 of those tax increases because the political heat was too hot.
Raising spending by 33% over 4 years while raising taxes by $2,000,000,000 is the definition of overreach. That’s before talking about the DFL’s broken promises of property tax relief and only raising taxes on the richest 2%. That’s before taking into consideration the fact that the DFL’s priorities were misplaced. Time was spent talking about medical marijuana instead of appropriating the money needed to fix Minnesota’s roads and bridges.
This was billed as the unsession. Unfortunately, what happened was that legislation was passed that took away the ability to test teachers’ capabilities. That’s the ultimate in irresponsibility.
This is the best the DFL can offer. They can’t talk about Minnesota’s booming economy because Minnesota’s economy isn’t booming. We know that because Minnesota’s economy doesn’t look anything like North Dakota’s, which is booming. North Dakota has explosive economic growth and a microscopic unemployment rate. Minnesota’s unemployment rate is better than many states but it isn’t great. Economic growth isn’t strong, evidenced by 3 straight months of lower than expected tax revenues.
Booming economies don’t have 3 straight months of lower than expected revenue growth.
Parts of Minnesota’s economy are doing so-so, though no part of Minnesota’s economy is doing well. Nobody’s tax situation is better than it was 4 years ago, whether we’re talking about property taxes, sales taxes, cigarette taxes or income taxes.
Businesses are already making plans to leave the state if Gov. Dayton is re-elected. That isn’t a state heading in the right direction. That’s a state that took a wrong turn in giving Democrats total control of government.
I just published this post to highlight the DFL’s failure to put the highest priorities on the most important things. In that post, it was mostly about what I’m calling the Pothole Crisis. According to the Minnesota Transportation Alliance, the DFL legislature only appropriated $15,000,000 for pothole repairs on Minnesota’s trunk highways and county roads.
As frightening as it is to think that the DFL didn’t put a high priority on this crisis, that isn’t the only thing where the DFL didn’t put a high priority on an important matter. Rep. Matt Dean explains in this post:
Dean said there are some major differences between what the House and Senate bonding committees propose. The biggest one, he said, is a southwest Minnesota water project.
“Lewis and Clark is a big deal,” Dean said. “We think that should be the first project in and not the last project in.”
The project should receive the nearly $70 million it needs to move water to residents in the Luverne and Worthington areas, Dean said. Dean, like other Republicans, said that museums, theaters and other arts projects should get less money so Lewis and Clark can be fully funded.
The DFL wrote the bonding bills. They put in a few projects that the Republican legislators want in their attempt to pick off a few votes to pass the bill. What they didn’t do is prioritize their spending.
The fact that the DFL’s bill shortchanges an important infrastructure project but puts in tons of money for frivolous projects highlights the Democrats’ inability to say no to silliness and their inability to say yes to important infrastructure projects.
Minnesota’s taxpayers can’t afford more of the DFL’s foolish priorities. They shouldn’t have to deal with a political party that isn’t putting the highest priorities on the most important projects. Spending $90,000,000 on the ‘Part-Time Politicians’ Palace’, aka the Senate Office building but only spending $15,000,000 on Minnesota’s Pothole Crisis isn’t just foolishness. It’s outright stupidity.
The DFL’s decision to spend money on theater renovations and other entertainment projects instead of fully funding an important infrastructure project is proof positive that their priorities aren’t Minnesota’s priorities.
Brian Bakst’s article highlights some of the difficulties the DFL faces this election season:
Republicans want voters to hear about last year’s tax hikes to feed spending that they warn will push the state onto the rocks, as well as Minnesota’s complications in launching a health insurance exchange. Rep. Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, said he also thinks voters will punish Democrats for authorizing a new Senate office building.
“It just emphasizes that there is such a disconnect between the folks running the place and where the state is at,” Dean said.
Spending $90,000,000 on a building politicians will use 3 months out of the year won’t help with the DFL’s attempt to portray themselves as fighting for “the little guy”. It’ll send the message that they’re interested in themselves first.
That’ll be a tough topic of conversation for DFL politicians but it isn’t the only obstacle they’re facing. Here’s another:
Democrats will tout a reinvigorated economy, an increased minimum wage and a new commitment to bedrock state investments like schools and the social service safety net.
If the economy is reinvigorated, why did revenues fall short?
Net general fund revenues totaled $1.738 billion in April, $12 million (0.7 percent) less than forecast. Individual income tax withholding in April was $19 million (3.2 percent) less than forecast. April sales tax receipts were $17 million (4.3 percent) more than forecast. For fiscal year 2014, year to date receipts are now $15.371 billion, $78 million (0.5 percent) less than forecast.
If an economy is truly reinvigorated, shouldn’t revenues be more than forecast?
The biggest obstacle facing the DFL, though, is last year’s tax increases, followed by this year’s partial repeal of the DFL’s tax increases. How will the DFL justify their actions? The DFL can’t say that they raised those taxes, then repealed them after revenues came in better than expected. They can’t say that they repealed those taxes because they have a big surplus, either. That’s because they’ve spent most of the projected surplus this session. It’s to the point that there’s a strong probability of the next legislature facing a significant deficit next February.
In 2007, when the DFL took over control of the House, there was a $2.2 billion surplus according to the December, 2006 forecast. When the February forecast was published, the surplus was $2.163 billion. Immediately, the DFL spent every penny of the projected surplus. That fall, the DFL negotiated with then-Gov. Pawlenty to unallot money from the budget to avoid a significant deficit.
When the new legislature came in in 2009, the DFL faced a $4 billion deficit, which was cut in half by money from President Obama’s stimulus payouts.
The reality is that Minnesota’s economy could be significantly stronger if the DFL’s policies didn’t stifle economic growth.
At the end of the day, people get it that Minnesota’s economy is underperforming, especially compared with North Dakota’s, thanks in large part to the DFL’s anti-business policies that are out of touch with Minnesota’s main street.
UPDATE: Chris Cillizza’s article doesn’t tie directly to the DFL’s challenges this election cycle but it’s still an eye-opener. This chart is especially troubling to Democrats: