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It isn’t a secret that I don’t like Paul Thissen. I find him to be a man of little character but 2 faces. He’s also a political hack. This post will highlight Rep. Thissen’s character flaws. This post will highlight what he’s done recently in private vs. what he’s said publicly.

This post will highlight some of the behind-the-scenes things that caused Gov. Dayton to announce that there won’t be a special session this fall. This article’s quotes of Speaker Daudt highlight Rep. Thissen’s lack of integrity. For instance, Speaker Daudt said “I’m particularly disappointed that Minority Leader Thissen refused to meet two days ago, and refused to even provide his availability to schedule a meeting with Governor Dayton and legislative leaders.” It’s impossible to negotiate with someone who won’t even schedule a negotiating session.

Rep. Thissen sang a different tune in this article, though:

Thissen, a DFLer from Minneapolis, said it was “House Republicans that didn’t really want to get a special session done. This Legislature proved it can’t function. I think they proved that back in May,” Thissen said. “I don’t think we gain anything (politically) by not getting a special session.”

What this past session proved is that the legislature doesn’t function properly if the Minority Leader is frequently attempting to sabotage good-faith attempts to accomplish things. Rep. Thissen fit that role perfectly.

Rep. Thissen has a history of not working well with others. This past May, 7 Republicans wrote a letter to Rep. Thissen. One of the things they said was “Throughout this session, we have witnessed a disturbing pattern of verbal abuse of Republican Staff by you on the floor of the House of Representatives.” A day later, Rep. Thissen apologized, which I wrote about in this post.

Shortly after becoming Speaker in 2015, Speaker Daudt negotiated an agreement between Sen. Bakk and Gov. Dayton. At the time, Gov. Dayton said “I’m confronted with two hostile bodies of the Legislature, one with a leader I believe I can trust (Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt) and one I know I can’t trust.” That’s something that the Twin Cities media praised Speaker Daudt for.

In May, 2015, Speaker Daudt and Sen. Bakk worked out a bipartisan budget agreement in an afternoon after spending the entire last full week of the session negotiating with Gov. Dayton. Despite all that proof that Speaker Daudt is a tough, fair negotiator, Rep. Thissen wants us to believe that Speaker Daudt isn’t interested in making a deal.

Still, we’re supposed to believe Rep. Thissen when he says that Speaker Daudt didn’t want to negotiate in good faith to get a bonding bill and a tax relief bill signed? Why should we trust Rep. Thissen considering all the scandalous things he’s done?

I’ll trust Speaker Daudt because he’s got a lengthy history of negotiating in good faith. I won’t trust Rep. Thissen because he’s got a lengthy history of undermining good faith negotiations for purely partisan reasons.

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DFL senators killed the House bonding bill in mid-May by insisting that the bill include funding for the Southwest Light Rail project. In June, Gov. Dayton killed middle class tax relief with a pocket veto. In July, Gov. Dayton refused to call a special session in House Republicans didn’t include funding for the Southwest Light Rail project. (Sounds like a broken record, doesn’t it?) In August, after the Met Council, CTIB and Hennepin County provided the local funding for the Southwest Light Rail project, Gov. Dayton hinted that he was open to a special session again.

Friday, Gov. Dayton sent a letter to Speaker Daudt saying that “he had ‘reluctantly concluded that the time for agreement on a Special Session has expired.'” It expired because Gov. Dayton didn’t get everything he wanted in the bill. Republicans insisted that specific highway projects be included in the bonding bill, including the Highway 14 project. Speaker Daudt addressed that, saying “House Republicans have initiated every meeting and discussion over the past two months to pass tax relief and funding for critical infrastructure projects like Highway 23, Highway 14, and countless others throughout the state.”

In the end, Gov. Dayton said that wasn’t enough:

But the infrastructure bill was more troublesome. Lawmakers solved the money issue — Dayton’s demands that Republicans add new funding for his priorities, including upgrades at the state’s psychiatric hospital in St. Peter. But a process issue proved intractable. Dayton objected on principle to the infrastructure bill’s earmarking of money for specific projects, and was backed up in this by a letter signed by a bipartisan range of current and former chairs of the Legislature’s transportation committees. Many lawmakers like earmarking because it lets them guarantee funding for key projects in their home districts. House leaders agreed to a compromise that would give the Department of Transportation more flexibility instead of dictating every project, but Dayton’s letter said that “remains unacceptable.”

Gov. Dayton is pretending like MnDOT ultimately decides what projects get done. That’s fiction. It’s indisputable that MnDOT has a say in which projects get done. The Met Council, CTIB and port authorities all have a say in it, too.

The first time that Gov. Dayton and the DFL rejected the special session, Gov. Dayton and the DFL said no because they put a higher priority on funding the SWLRT project than they put on providing middle class tax relief. The final time that Gov. Dayton and the DFL rejected the terms for a special session, they rejected it because they didn’t get to control who picked the highway improvement projects. The reality is that farmers, veterans, students and small businesses didn’t get tax relief because Gov. Dayton and the DFL didn’t put a high priority on it. Gov. Dayton and the DFL put a higher priority on a project that the vast majority of Minnesotans will never use. Then Gov. Dayton and the DFL said no to tax relief because they didn’t get to pick their transportation projects.

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In 2015, GOP Speaker Kurt Daudt and DFL Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk put together a bipartisan budget agreement. The problem that time was that Minnesota’s other political odd couple, Gov. Mark Dayton and DFL Rep. Paul Thissen, combined to sabotage that bipartisan budget agreement. It isn’t unlike the DFL’s sabotaging of the bonding bill this session.

According to this article, “legislative and executive branch staff members [will] gather to discuss bringing legislators back this fall” this morning.

Gov. Dayton, as usual, is acting like a petulant child. This time, he said that the transportation projects in the bonding bill “were selected based on this year’s GOP election needs instead of following a list of the most-needed work as determined by his Minnesota Department of Transportation.” Gov. Dayton knows that a number of the projects specifically put into the bill were picked because the highways were among the most dangerous highways in Minnesota.

While they’re campaigning, Republicans should remind voters that the DFL put a higher priority on funding the Southwest Light Rail project than they put on middle class tax relief. The DFL voted for the Republicans’ Tax Bill but they certainly didn’t fight for it. Let Gov. Dayton criticize Republicans about which transportation projects should’ve been included in the bonding bill. Republicans can counter that by saying that they fought for funding to fix the most dangerous stretches of highway in Minnesota. Then they can remind people that they’re the party that fought for middle class tax relief.

The DFL isn’t in great position going into this election. Many of their mailers talk about bringing people together and how they need a majority in the House and Senate to pass their ultra-liberal agenda. This is my first prediction of the season. Republicans will maintain their majority in the House this election.

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The longer that the DFL sits silent about pushing Gov. Dayton on the Republican tax relief bill, the easier it is to figure it out that they voted for it because it was politically poisonous not to vote for it. It’s getting easier to figure it out that rural DFL legislators side with their metro leadership rather than with their constituents. Thanks to this op-ed by Sen. Gazelka, it’s getting easy to detect the DFL’s intention of rallying to their metro base.

Sen. Gazelka highlighted what’s wrong with the DFL when he said “After Democrats walked away from the table on special session negotiations, Senate Democratic Leader Tom Bakk finally came clean about his real motivation for killing the tax cuts and transportation spending. He complained the bills were too focused on rural Minnesota and needed to be balanced with more money for the Twin Cities. This is where local legislators normally come in handy to bring some common sense to the discussion. Unfortunately, Sen. Matt Schmit, DFL-Red Wing, spent the summer standing loyally by his liberal metro leadership as they demanded the train at the expense of Winona County taxpayers. Does he agree with his leader that the bonding and transportation bills spent too much on Greater Minnesota? I say it’s about time! Judging by Sen. Schmit’s vote to add the train into the bonding bill in the last minutes of session, and his silence on the issue since then, we have to assume he sides with party leadership instead of his own constituents.”

The question that every conservative activist needs to ask their neighbors when the last time was that their DFL legislator stood up against their metro leadership. I suspect that these DFL legislators haven’t stood up against the metro in a very long time, if ever. I suspect that Sen. Schmitt is the rule, not the exception, within the DFL.

Sen. Schmitt didn’t lift a finger to bring about $550,000,000 worth of tax relief or $700,000,000 in transportation projects. Sen. Schmitt saluted Sen. Bakk and accepted his marching orders. I suspect that Sen. Bakk appreciates loyal foot soldiers that do what they’re told. That’s what Sen. Schmitt is. That’s what Dan Wolgamott would be. This paragraph says it all:

House Republican Speaker Kurt Daudt likened Democrats’ attitude to “throwing their suckers in the dirt” and walking out because they didn’t get what they wanted. Instead of working together to finish the things we all agree on, they are content to let it all go up in smoke. Meanwhile, $550 million in tax cuts and $700 million in transportation funding are stalled while our roads continue to fall apart.

I’d modify that paragraph just slightly. Instead of saying that the DFL walked out “because they didn’t get what they wanted”, I’d say that they walked out because they didn’t get everything they wanted. The DFL is the party of spoiled brats. They fight for the metro brats all the time.

The simple truth is that voting for the DFL is a vote for the metro DFL.

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Saying that the questions asked at the St. Cloud Area Joint Cities Forum had a leftward tilt to them is understatement. For instance, the first question was “While the legislature accomplished its most basic responsibility of passing a state budget, the last biennium, it does seem that the last 2 years are marked with significant disappointment, including the failure to pass a Tax Bill, no major bonding bill, and continued impasse over transportation. What do you think needs to happen at the legislature to make sure that these other important pieces of legislation get passed?”

If that question sounded like it was written by Rep. Thissen or Gov. Dayton, raise your hands. If you think that question was written by Rep. Thissen, you earned bonus points. He’s specialized in criticizing everything that Speaker Daudt did the past 2 years. That’s because he didn’t like getting cut out of the budget negotiations in 2015. He didn’t like it that Speaker Daudt and Sen. Bakk put the budget together in an afternoon.

The truth is that the past 2 years produced a bipartisan budget that should’ve gotten signed during the regular session. The only reason why the Tax Bill didn’t get signed into law was because our spoiled rich brat governor vetoed the bill in his attempt to get funding for a SWLRT project that has no chance of happening before the end of the first term of Minnesota’s next governor. The problem with the Tax Bill wasn’t with the legislature. That fault is exclusively with Gov. Dayton, aka Gov. Temper Tantrum.

Here’s another question:

Q3: Local government aid continues to be an important program for restraining property taxes and providing services to residents and businesses at a reasonable cost. For 2017, the LGA formula distributes approximately 66% of all LGA funds to greater Minnesota vs. 34% to the metro area. The LGA appropriations to cities across the state is still $45.5 million less than it was in 2002. Do you support the current LGA formula and would you support an increase in LGA to get back to the 2002 level?

I reject the premise that LGA is “an important program for restraining property taxes.” There’s no proof of that. Why should I accept that premise? The truth is that it’s more likely to increase spending on foolish projects in the Twin Cities than it is to stabilize property taxes.

The truth is that property taxes have increased significantly since the DFL legislature increased LGA and Gov. Dayton signed those increases into law. Here are all 8 questions from the forum:

Now that it’s settled that we won’t have a special session, it’s time to state clearly what happened. What happened is that Gov. Dayton, Sen. Bakk and Rep. Thissen negotiated in bad faith. It’s one thing to have a goal of funding SWLRT. As foolish as funding that is, it’s still a legitimate goal for the DFL, especially considering who their constituents are.

What Gov. Dayton did, though, was insist that funding for SWLRT be included in a special session agreement. We know this because Speaker Daudt told MPR that Gov. Dayton insisted on it. The direct quote reads “I did ask him in the meeting if he would consider doing a special session, set aside the things we can’t agree on and let’s be Minnesotan. Let’s be Minnesota nice and focus on the things we can agree on. Let’s get a session and just work on the things we can agree on. The governor flat out said ‘no, we’re not going to work on those things without Southwest Light Rail.'”

That’s where Gov. Dayton essentially told Minnesotans that he and the DFL only care about the Metro. Don Davis summarized things perfectly in his opening paragraph, saying “Farmers can forget about tax breaks to lighten their burden in funding new schools. Drivers on some of Minnesota’s most dangerous highways will not see immediate safety improvements. New state aid cities expected is not coming.”

That’s how Gov. Dayton and the DFL told outstate Minnesota that they weren’t important enough. That’s how Gov. Dayton and the DFL said that safe highways weren’t a priority for them, that SWLRT funding was their highest priority.

Rural Minnesota voters should send an unmistakable and clear message to Gov. Dayton and the DFL this November. They should defeat every DFL legislator who voted for tax relief but wouldn’t fight for that tax relief. That’s simple enough because the list of DFL legislators that voted for tax relief and the list of DFL legislators that wouldn’t fight for that tax relief are identical.

These DFL politicians showed their true colors. The best way to determine what’s important to them isn’t by looking at their votes. The best way to determine what’s important to them is in seeing what they vote for but won’t fight for. That’s how you determine their loyalties.

In this instance, the DFL showed their loyalty was with the Twin Cities and with Gov. Dayton, not with their constituents.

The upshot of this article is that the DFL has finally admitted what I’ve said from the start. The DFL is finally admitting that they don’t care about veterans, students with student loan debt, parents trying to save for their kids’ college education or farmers.

By insisting that Republicans agree to funding SWLRT, the DFL is insisting that the GOP fund a low-priority item. It ain’t happening. Light rail is a terrible investment. It doesn’t take hundreds of cars off the street, as the Met Council insists. It doesn’t increase flexibility for people. It’s extremely expensive. Bus lines are much more efficient and flexible.

Essentially, the DFL wants SWLRT funding because they want their pork.

Gov. Dayton admitted he doesn’t give a shit about the middle class when he said “I’ve concluded … I am not going to call a special session.” What a shock. The spoiled rich brat threw another hissy fit because he didn’t get everything he wanted. While he threw that hissy fit, he vetoed $800,000,000 worth of middle class tax relief. Gov. Dayton did that after promising that he wouldn’t use the tax cuts as leverage for getting everything he wanted in the bonding bill. Specifically, Gov. Dayton said no to $800,000,000 of tax relief for farmers and other blue collar workers because the GOP wouldn’t cave on hundreds of millions of dollars worth of spending on a light rail system that shouldn’t be a priority to anyone.

The DFL apparently doesn’t want these tax cuts either. If they did, they’d stand up to the spoiled rich brat in St. Paul, something that they haven’t done. Rep. Thissen and Sen. Bakk haven’t challenged Gov. Dayton on this. Locally, Dan Wolgamott and Zach Dorholt haven’t insisted that Gov. Dayton call a special session. Neither has fought for middle class tax relief. Wolgamott’s about Dan page says this:

Dan understand how to build relationships to pass tough legislation to support students, fix our roads and bridges, and reform state government.

That’s BS. Wolgamott hasn’t lifted a finger for any of these things. He’s sided with Gov. Dayton 100% of the time. This is BS, too:

Dan is innovative and forward-thinking and will create opportunities to grow an economy that works for everyone that works for everyone by supporting policies that help our local businesses, workers, students, and families.

Wolgamott has done nothing to show he’s anything except a cookie-cutter career politician. He’s done what he’s been told to do. He hasn’t been innovative. He hasn’t been forward-thinking. He’s done what the DFL told him to do.

That’s what puppets do.

Bakk’s puppet

The more things change, the more the DFL insists on staying the same. It’s been months since DFL senators undermined a bonding bill agreement that would have paid for lots of road repairs. They’re still insisting on funding for the SWLRT project. Predictably, Gov. Dayton is throwing a temper tantrum, saying “The Legislature won’t let us improve the economic and social vitality of the metropolitan area. I think that’s really irresponsible.”

Gov. Dayton is wrong. Republicans won’t sign off on a project that’s pure pork. A handful of business leaders want SWLRT. As for improving “the economic and social vitality of the metropolitan area,” that won’t change one iota if SWLRT is approved.

Kurt Daudt, fresh off impressively winning a primary battle, has the right idea, saying “We’re going to lose everything that’s on the table right now. I don’t think that’s very good legislating. I don’t think that’s very good leadership.”

This is what he’s talking about:

Daudt warned that the benefits of tax cuts and a package of public works construction projects could be lost if Democrats walk away from the table over light rail.

Gov. Dayton vetoed $800,000,000 worth of middle class tax cuts in his attempt to force Republicans into funding SWLRT. Gov. Dayton’s veto stopped the tax cuts but it hasn’t rallied support for SWLRT funding. Thanks to Gov. Dayton’s idiotic decision, DFL legislators have to defend his veto of tax cuts for veterans, students, farmers and small business owners.

This is a political winner for Republicans. They shouldn’t give an inch on this. If the DFL wants to fight this, let them be highlighted as the party that doesn’t like outstate Minnesota.

ABM Executive Director Joey Davis just sent me an email that’s essentially pure propaganda. The email starts with “Funding our schools so our children have a great start in life. Closing corporate loopholes so small businesses have a level playing field. Making the economy work for all of us, not just the wealthy. These are the priorities that Democrats in the Minnesota legislature have focused on, while conservative Republicans continue to try and divide us and keep the deck stacked against working families.”

Nothing tells voters that the DFL wants to level the playing field for small businesses and working families than Gov. Dayton’s veto of a tax bill that would’ve provided substantial property tax relief for small businesses and farmers.

ABM and the DFL (pardon the repetition) want Minnesotans to forget that Gov. Dayton, like he’s done each year, vetoed popular legislation that had strong bipartisan support. This year, he vetoed the Tax Bill that garnered 178 out of a possible 200 votes in the House and Senate. Last year, Gov. Dayton vetoed most of the budget bills that passed. Those bills were the product of bipartisan negotiations between Sen. Bakk and Speaker Daudt.

Later in the email, we find this gem:

Republicans want us divided and focused on who we should be scared of, but we know that to build a better Minnesota we need to go a different way.

In 2015, Speaker Daudt met with Sen. Bakk and hammered out a solid bipartisan budget. It’s difficult to say that Republicans want Minnesotans divided when the top-ranking Republican in the state negotiates a solid bipartisan budget. Considering the fact that Gov. Dayton said that he couldn’t trust Sen. Bakk in 2015, it’s impossible to believe that Republicans are the dividers. It’s important to remember this:

Gov. Mark Dayton erupted in anger Thursday in a dispute with the DFL Senate leader over a weeks-long controversy surrounding pay raises the governor gave to his cabinet. “To have a majority leader of the Senate come in and stab me in the back and blindside me is absolutely unacceptable,” Dayton said.

Dayton’s ire came after Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk led the Senate in voting to suspend the salary increases for state commissioners. All but two members of the DFL-controlled Senate voted with Bakk in favor of the proposal. The friction between the Capitol’s two most powerful DFLers threatens to cast a cloud over the rest of the 2015 legislative session. The two have tussled before, but Dayton indicated Thursday that their relations now were beyond repair.

Dayton said Bakk, a former ally, has proved himself untrustworthy because he brought forth the salary smackdown without any warning. “I’m confronted with two hostile bodies of the Legislature, one with a leader I believe I can trust (Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt) and one I know I can’t trust,” Dayton said. “I certainly learned a brutal lesson today that I can’t trust (Bakk.) I can’t believe what he says to me and connives behind my back.”

ABM wants to paint the picture that they’re unified and that their agenda is popular. Last year’s fight between Sen. Bakk and Gov. Dayton indicates that ABM isn’t tethered to reality.

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This weekend, I wrote that I was skeptical of reports that a special session would be called this August. After reading Don Davis’ article, I’m hoping that a special session only happens if Republicans stand steadfast against SWLRT.

In the article, Sen. Bakk thinks that, with regards to SWLRT, “there appear to be some alternatives available.” Here’s hoping that Speaker Daudt shoots that down immediately and harshly. Anything that gets SWLRT built is unacceptable. Any Bakk-favored alternative should be shown the door in as hostile a manner as possible.

LRT projects are a disaster. If communities want to build them, let them build them with their tax revenues. Then let them subsidize their operations with their property taxes or their sales taxes. Talk that the business community wants them isn’t justification for building SWLRT. If businesses think LRT is so fantastic, let them pay for building them.

The dirty little secret is that LRT isn’t worthwhile except if taxpayers build it and subsidize its operations. Even then, these projects benefit the few while hurting others. Ask the displaced businesses in St. Paul if they’re fans of LRT. Hint: when asking that question, wear a bullet-proof vest.

There is some good news in the negotiations:

Dayton said he is more optimistic than ever that there will be a special session. “Where there is a will, there is a way.” The governor said he gave up all spending he earlier wanted to come up in a special session other than work needed on sex offender facilities and at the state hospital in St. Peter.

That’s the benefit of steadfastly saying no to unreasonable spending demands. Give Speaker Daudt and Sen. Hann and their caucuses credit for that. It wouldn’t have been possible if members of their caucus had left their reservation.

That’s why Speaker Daudt needs to return to that position and why Sen. Hann needs to be given the title of majority leader. Conservatives would applaud them shutting down Gov. Dayton’s reckless spending demands. Minnesota’s economy would improve by not having the legislature and the governor pile tons of new regulation on small businesses, too.

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