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If I were writing the title for my LTE on Gov. Dayton’s pay increases to his commissioners, I’d title it ‘The immoral Bakk-Dayton pay increase’ because that’s the perspective they should be viewed through. Here’s my conclusion to the LTE:

Meanwhile, nobody is talking about how the DFL commissioners are overpaid. Myron Frans got a $35,347 raise after telling the Legislature electronic pull tabs would bring in $35 million of tax revenue per year for the Vikings’ stadium. Last year, it generated $1.7 million. Frans was just off by 95 percent. In the private sector, Frans would’ve gotten fired. In the Dayton administration, he got a 40 percent pay increase.

Last week on Almanac, Mary Lahammer interviewed a gentleman who studies salaries. This gentleman, whose name I’ve forgotten, insisted that people with that many employees and that many responsibilities in the private sector would be “presidents, vice presidents or CEOs” and that they’d “get paid twice as much as they’re making” in the public sector.

Let’s examine that statement. The first assumption is that public sector commissioners get scrutinized like private sector CEOs, presidents and vice presidents. They don’t. Once commissioners are confirmed, they’re there until they leave for a consulting job or they screw up like April Todd-Malmlov.

That leads to the first unanswered question: where’s the expectation that upper level management in the public sector are really good at their jobs?

That leads to a second assumption, which is that the incentive for doing a job right in the private sector exists to the same extent that it exists in the public sector. That’s the wrong assumption. It’s wrongheaded thinking. If a CEO makes a big enough mistake, the company he works for loses money, perhaps lots of money. There are consequences to making bad decision in the private sector.

Those consequences don’t exist in the public sector. When Myron Frans totally botched it with the e-pulltab revenue estimate, the money didn’t come from his pocket. It came from taxpayers’ pockets. Not only didn’t he get terminated, he got a $35,000 raise and a new job title.

Incompetence and corruption are tied to each other. In Frans’ case, one led to the other. It’s immoral for a commissioner that incompetent to not get fired. It’s despicable that a commissioner that incompetent got a raise. If Frans were a moral man, he’d tell Gov. Dayton that he didn’t earn the money.

Frans won’t do that. He’ll just keep collecting paychecks he didn’t earn. Shame on Frans, Dayton and Bakk for being that disinterested in protecting the taxpayers’ hard-earned money.

This morning, the St. Cloud Times published my LTE about the Bakk-Dayton fiasco. Post your opinions in the comments below.

There’s little doubt that the feud between Tom Bakk and Mark Dayton is personal. When Gov. Dayton picked Tina Smith as his running mate, he essentially told Sen. Bakk that he was picking her to be the next governor. That’s a job Tom Bakk has coveted for years. He’d checked all the boxes. He’s been loyal to Gov. Dayton. That loyalty and water-carrying apparently didn’t mean much to Gov. Dayton of the Metrocrat Party. When pushing turned into shoving, Gov. Dayton shoved the Iron Range aside and picked Smith.

This editorial is right that it’s personal. It’s wrong in stating that Sen. Bakk took a courageous stand:

And that’s why the Iron Range and all of Greater Minnesota are extremely fortunate at this time to have Sen. Tom Bakk of Cook as Senate Majority Leader. He took a politically courageous stand to get an amendment tacked on to a stopgap spending bill to delay a bad political blunder by the governor — extremely high commissioner raises in one chunk, not even phased in.

Sen. Bakk didn’t make a courageous decision. It was a political decision that did nothing. It sounds courageous to delay the commissioners’ pay increases. It’s the option Sen. Bakk chose instead of taking a principled stand against overpaying these commissioners.

Friday night on Almanac, they aired a segment with an HR type talking about how justifiable it is to pay these commissioners their new salaries. When this HR type said that commissioners were “like presidents, vice presidents and CEOs”, I got irate. When I wrote this post, I highlighted Myron Frans’ incompetence:

For those that don’t remember, Commissioner Frans was the person who accepted as Gospel fact that e-tabs would produce enough revenue to pay off the state share of the Vikings stadium. He was off by a paltry 95%.

In the private sector, Commissioner Frans would’ve gotten fired within minutes. In the Dayton administration, Frans received a $35,000 raise. Yesterday on At Issue, Tom Hauser highlighted the fact that those $35,000 a year raises were more than some Iron Range families make in a year. That’s on top of the fact that these commissioners were already making six-figure salaries.

On that same program, former DFL Chairman Brian Melendez said that these commissioners have lots of responsibilities and, therefore, deserve their salaries. What he didn’t say, though, was that these commissioner did a good job.

If Sen. Bakk wanted to do something truly courageous, he should’ve submitted an amendment that repealed those pay raises. This was Sen. Bakk’s attempt to look like he was doing something without doing anything.

That doesn’t take courage. That just requires fawning media attention.

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Michael Brodkorb’s article is insightful in that it highlights this week’s vote to delay Gov. Dayton’s decision to raise Gov. Dayton’s commissioners’ pay was a sham:

Let’s set the stage for Bakk’s tour de force performance. In 2013, the Minnesota Senate passed legislation – supported by Bakk – which would allow the Governor of Minnesota to set the salaries of commissioners. Dayton supported the legislation and said in a statement, “I have lost outstanding employees because someone else could offer them salaries 50 percent or even 100 percent higher than state government.”

After the legislation was passed, the commissioners received salary increases in 2013 and 2014. I could not find any public comments of concern about the salary increases from anyone, including Bakk. In January, Dayton again exercised the authority granted to him by Bakk and the Minnesota Legislature and he set salary increases to commissioners in 2015. But this time, Bakk cried foul.

As Michael said, this is political posturing. Last night on Almanac, the DFL’s panelists (Ellen Anderson and Ember Reichgott-Junge) attempted to downplay the Bakk-Dayton fight. The Senate vote is phony but the Bakk-Dayton fight is serious.

Here’s hoping that the House passes the Senate bill without amending it. That way, the bill goes immediately to Gov. Dayton’s desk, where he’s promised to veto the bill. After the legislature gets Gov. Dayton’s veto letter, they should immediately bring it up for a vote to override Gov. Dayton’s veto. Article IV, sec. 23 of Minnesota’s Constitution lays out the procedure for overriding a governor’s veto:

Sec. 23. Approval of bills by governor; action on veto. Every bill passed in conformity to the rules of each house and the joint rules of the two houses shall be presented to the governor. If he approves a bill, he shall sign it, deposit it in the office of the secretary of state and notify the house in which it originated of that fact. If he vetoes a bill, he shall return it with his objections to the house in which it originated.

According to this webpage, the bill originated in the Senate:

Senator Bakk moved to amend the Cohen amendment to S.F. No. 174 as
1.2follows:
1.3Page 1, after line 6, insert:
1.4″Page 2, after line 30, insert:

When Gov. Dayton vetoes the bill, Sen. Bakk will have a real decision to make. He can either drop the subject and be exposed as proposing the amendment to provide political cover on an unpopular subject or he can schedule a vote to override Gov. Dayton’s veto. Most importantly, the DFL majority in the Senate will be in jeopardy because the DFL will be exposed as not being particularly bothered by Gov. Dayton’s pay increases to his commissioners.

This was a show-and-tell vote. It was a freebie. It helped DFL senators look like they were doing something without actually doing something. Sen. Bakk’s amendment didn’t repeal Gov. Dayton’s authority to raise his commissioners’ pay. It just delayed part of the pay increase Sen. Bakk and the DFL legislature gave to Gov. Dayton. After all, Gov. Dayton’s commissioners had already received part of their raises long before last fall’s election.

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Sen. Bakk’s controversial amendment to an emergency spending bill has put him in a precarious political position. This article includes some Bakk quotes that indicate he knows he’s put himself in a delicate position:

“If the governor signs the bill he can do whatever he wants to do. All we did was suspend it for a five-month period. I believe the data we’ll see will support what he did,” said Bakk. “In a vote of 63 to 2, it’s obvious people want to see the information. We have some questions to ask. But I don’t doubt for a minute that every single penny is supported by the data he has.”

There’s no doubt that Sen. Bakk knows the commissioner pay raises aren’t popular. With the Senate up for election in 2016, he can’t afford to look too supportive of Minnesota’s public employees. At the same time, he can’t distance himself too much from Minnesota’s public employees because they’re a significant part of the DFL’s base.

It’s impossible to know if Sen. Bakk’s amendment has permanently damaged his already-contentious relationship with Gov. Dayton. It isn’t impossible to know if it’s done significant damage to their ability to work together in the short-term:

“I am confronted with two hostile bodies of the Legislature, one with a leader I believe I can trust,” he said, referring to GOP House Speaker Kurt Daudt, “and one I know I can’t trust” he said of Bakk.

It’s only fitting that the relationship between Gov. Dayton and Sen. Bakk are frosty considering the fact that International Falls is part of Sen. Bakk’s Senate district. Carly Melin didn’t miss the opportunity to walk the tightrope:

Rep. Carly Melin, DFL-Hibbing, said although she supports more competitive pay raises, the increases Gov. Dayton is proposing are somewhat concerning. “I’m not necessarily opposed to any governor making pay raises for their commissioners, but I think we were caught off-guard by the height of these pay raises,” said Rep. Melin. “Most people in private and public sectors don’t get a thirty-percent pay raise overnight.

That’s a fine job of walking the tightrope between taxpayers and the people who support the DFL with their checks and their GOTV work.

Gov. Dayton and the DFL insists that their tax increases aren’t hurting Minnesota’s business climate. Polaris disagrees:

Polaris Industries Inc. will receive about $80 million in combined state and city subsidies when it builds its new and massive $142 million ATV plant next year in Huntsville, Ala. Kelly Schrimsher, communications director for the city of Huntsville, said Monday that the Alabama perks and tax breaks include $15 million in land and temporary office space given to Polaris by Huntsville.

It also includes about $31 million in cash and job-training assistance from the state of Alabama, as well as about $34 million in state subsidies tied to Polaris’ agreement to provide 1,700 to 2,000 jobs in the state.

According to Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, taxes didn’t play a role in Polaris’ decision:

Sen. Bakk stated on MPR that the reasons Polaris is building a new plant in Alabama and employing 2,000 new workers instead of choosing Minnesota was the lack of housing and shortage of skilled workers here.

In the DFL’s world, businesses never leave Minnesota because Minnesota’s business climate stinks. It’s always the case that another iconic Minnesota company left Minnesota. Cargill left. Ditto with 3M, Marvin Windows, Northwest Airlines and Nash Finch.

That isn’t a coincidence. It’s predictable.

It isn’t a coincidence that Polaris is expanding outside Minnesota and outside the US:

The company will not disclose the exact cost for the new Huntsville facility, Polaris spokeswoman Marlys Knutson said in an e-mail on Monday. However, it is expected to be similar to Polaris’ investment in its Monterrey, Mexico, factory, which opened in 2011 at a cost of about $150 million.

At the time the Mexico factory opened, the company was criticized for downsizing its Osceola, Wis., plant. The company, however, rehired some workers in 2012 and spent $1.75 million last year expanding the Osceola factory. The state of Wisconsin contributed $234,000 in tax credits. Polaris added 60 new jobs to the 200 existing jobs there.

Wisconsin, Mexico and now Alabama are the latest in a long line of growth moves for the company. In recent years, Polaris also added manufacturing space to its motorcycle plant in Spirit Lake, Iowa. In September, it opened its first factory outside North America, a new ATV factory in Opole, Poland, that has 345,000 square feet and 300 workers.

The DFL has to face reality. It’s long past time that they admit that their Santa Claus act has a negative side to it.

This MPR article highlights the distinct differences between the DFL’s and the MNGOP’s priorities. Check this out:

Minnesota Senate Democrats want free education at the state’s two-year colleges, loan forgiveness for rural doctors and dentists and a program to link up career-minded students with employers in need of skilled workers. Their initial batch of bills would also fund early childhood education, child protection measures and disaster relief for counties hit by storms last summer.

Republicans contend that tax reductions for businesses are the best way to boost the economy and grow jobs. Toward that end, the first bill introduced by House Republicans calls for a series of business tax cuts.

Our ‘friends’ at the Alliance for a Better Minnesota are predictably criticizing Republicans’ approach in this e-letter:

Gary,

The Republicans in the Minnesota House just released their priorities for the year. And I’ll give you one guess what is included. Tax cuts for businesses. Sounds pretty familiar, right?

Republicans regained the majority this fall, giving them the chance to implement their priorities after being in the minority for two years. And this is what they chose.

Once again, Republicans chose big corporations over real commitments to working families, schools, roads, bridges, and colleges. This has been their main priority for years, and it looks like nothing has changed.

Actually, ABM is lying through their teeth on the tax cuts. It’s indisputable that they’re directed at businesses. It’s totally disputable, though, that they’re directed at “big corporations.” Many of the Dayton/DFL tax increases were characterized as taxing the rich. The truth is, though, that most of the DFL’s tax increases were on small businesses.

The reality is that lots of sole proprietorships and LLCs are the DFL’s targets. The wealthy have their wealth protected and don’t pay much in taxes. They’re essentially protected from the DFL’s tax increases.

This statement is pathetic:

Bakk also criticized the quickness of Republicans to pursue tax cuts. He said that approach has been tried, and failed. “I just do not believe that you can drive economic development by reducing a business’s taxes,” he said. “Because, one, you have no assurance that it’s going to get passed on to build the business.”

That’s BS. When Gov. Dayton tried recruiting companies to relocate to Minnesota, he put together a package of tax cuts for them. Further, it’s important that Sen. Bakk answer whether businesses expansion is possible without capital formation. The answer to that is it isn’t.

ABM and the DFL have shown that they’re anti-jobs. You can’t be pro-employee and anti-employer. It’s that simple.

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In 2012, the Republican Party of Minnesota (RPM) accused the DFL of ignoring Minnesota state campaign finance laws when it filed a complaint with the Campaign Finance Disclosure Board. Here’s part of the Board’s Findings of Fact:

Lit Happens is a political media consulting company based in Minneapolis, MN operating as a sole proprietorship of Vic Thorstenson. Lit Happens was retained by the Senate Caucus Party Unit to design, produce, and distribute communications advocating the elections of Vicki Jensen, Alan Oberloh, and Tom Saxhaug.

The Pivot Group, Inc. (Pivot) is a political media consulting company based in Arlington, VA. Pivot was retained by the Senate Caucus Party Unit to design, produce, and distribute communications advocating for the elections of Jim Carlson, Kevin Dahle, Kent Eken, Melisa Franzen, Laurie McKendry, and Matt Schmit.

Compass Media Group, Inc. (Compass) is a political media consulting company based in Chicago, IL. Compass was retained by the Senate Caucus Party Unit to design, produce, and distribute communications advocating for the election of Greg Clausen, Alice Johnson, Susan Kent, and Lyle Koenen or the defeat of their opponents.

The reason why this is important is because these expenditures weren’t attributed to the “Senate Caucus Party Unit.” The disclaimer on the mailers said that they were paid for by “the DFL Central Committee Party Unit.” Here’s what happened:

Lit Happens either took photos during the candidate’s door knocking event with the Senate Caucus Party Unit or when the candidate was in St. Paul on other business. In each case, someone acting on behalf of the Senate Caucus Party Unit contacted the candidate or a representative of the candidate to arrange for the candidate to be at a location where Vic Thorstenson would take the photographs. The candidates followed all direction, if any, provided by the photographer.

In other words, DFL Senate candidates worked with the Senate Caucus Party Unit on mailers sent out by the “DFL Central Committee Party Unit” and paid for by the “Senate Caucus Party Unit.” This information is important, too:

In the cases of those candidates about whom literature pieces were prepared by Compass and Pivot, Senate Caucus Party Unit campaign staff contacted the candidates or the candidates’ campaign managers or other representatives to arrange schedules for the photo shoots with the photographers. Each candidate agreed to a schedule involving multiple locations for the photo shoots and arrived at the specified starting location at the scheduled time.

In connection with the photo shoots taken by Compass and Pivot, the candidates were asked to bring wardrobe changes so that different looks could be obtained in different settings. Each candidate who was asked to bring wardrobe changes did so. All candidates followed the photographers’ directions regarding wardrobe changes and other matters relating to the photo shoots and fully participated in the photo shoots.

That’s what’s known as coordination and it’s illegal under state and federal election laws. Coordination between candidates and state party units or independent expenditure groups is prohibited. Of the 13 candidates that coordinated their activities with the DFL Central Committee Party Unit and/or the Senate Caucus Party Unit, 11 were elected. That gave the DFL a majority in the Senate.

In short, the DFL paid a $100,000 fine in exchange for their Senate majority. I’m betting that Alida Messinger, Mark Dayton and Tom Bakk think that that was a wise investment. Thanks to the DFL’s lawlessness, they passed a horrific budget that benefitted the DFL’s special interest allies in the Twin Cities but did little or nothing to help the regular folks in outstate Minnesota.

I’m betting that the DFL’s ends-justify-the-means attitude towards elections won’t play well in 2016. The DFL’s willingness to do whatever it takes to acquire and maintain power isn’t an attractive attribute.

This LTE isn’t rooted in historical fact or reality. Here’s proof:

After the 2012 election, District 14B Rep. Zachary Dorholt and the Legislature had the tough task of cleaning up our state’s finances, which had been left in shambles. Previous Legislatures had passed along a $600 million budget deficit and nearly $1 billion in debt to our schools.

That isn’t accurate. The DFL legislatures of 2007-2010 left behind multi-billion dollar deficits and about $2,000,000,000 in school shifts. Republicans inherited a $5,000,000,000 deficit when they became the majority party in 2011.

They passed tons of reforms, including permitting reform, budget reform while insisting that high school teachers pass a Basic Skills Test. All of these things became law thanks to Republicans sticking to their principles of accountability and efficient government that works for people.

It’s worth noting that Republicans passed a bill that would’ve paid off the school shifts, too. The disappointing part is that the DFL legislature voted against repaying the school shift. Then Gov. Dayton vetoed the bill that would’ve paid off the school shift.

That’s verifiable historical fact. It’s indisputable.

When the DFL took total control of state government, the deficit had dropped to $600,000,000. That’s one-eighth the size of the deficit Republicans inherited in 2011.

By the time the 2014 session finished, the all-DFL government had repealed the Basic Skills Test reform and the budget reforms the GOP had passed. That’s inexcusable. Education Minnesota opposed the Basic Skills Test so Zach Dorholt and his DFL colleagues voted to repeal it. Nobody in the DFL, starting with Gov. Dayton, Senate Majority Leader Bakk and Speaker Thissen, liked the budget reforms so they repealed those reforms.

These paragraphs are total propaganda:

But Dorholt did not back down. He helped pay back every penny owed to schools and used new revenue (largely from closing corporate tax loopholes and asking the wealthiest 2 percent to chip in a fair share) to eliminate the deficit and make long-overdue investments in priorities Minnesotans broadly share.

Those priorities included all-day kindergarten; a two-year college tuition freeze; bigger property tax refunds; more funding for nursing homes; and resources to help small businesses. As a result, our economy is growing, Minnesotans are going back to work and more children have an opportunity to reach their full potential.

Dorholt the ideologue fit right in, voting against his constituents in raising a) income taxes on “the rich”, b) sales taxes that hit the middle class and c) the cigarette tax that hits low income Minnesotans.

All-day kindergarten wasn’t a priority for most middle class families but it was a priority for Education because they saw it as a way to increase funding to their members. It doesn’t have anything to do with providing a better education to students. Property tax relief is mostly a mirage. Yes, there will be refund checks on the back side but there’s also property tax increases on the front side. As for helping small businesses, that’s a myth. Many small businesses are either expanding in other states, starting in other states or moving to other states.

Rep. Dorholt and his all-DFL legislature have made a total mess of things. They should be fired this November.

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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.

  1. 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.
  2. Minnesotans definitely aren’t getting their money’s worth from those increased taxes to pay for the utter incompetence at MNsure.
  3. 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.

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