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Perhaps, it’s more fitting to title this article “The Swamp lives in Minnesota. After writing about the IRRRB’s corruption in this post a month ago, I can’t say that I’m surprised by this information:

This week, it was revealed that the [IRRRB] paid a long-time staffer $166,000 to retire early and then hired him back as a consultant just one month later for up to $43,000 per year. The retirement payoff consisted in $66,000 in unused vacation and sick days as well as nearly $100,000 in cash!

If I didn’t know better, I’d think that the DFL, starting with Tom Bakk and Tim Walz, have turned a blind eye to the IRRRB’s corruption. How can anyone watch what’s happening there think that the DFL is interested in good governance? Further, what type of law permits a government employee to retire early, cash a huge check ($166,000 is a big chunk of money), then allow the ‘retired’ employee to get rehired as a ‘consultant’? That’s stupidity and then some.

If an employee wants to retire early, they should be forced to sign an agreement that forbids them from being hired as a consultant anywhere. At minimum, if the ‘retired’ employee is rehired as a consultant, then their pension should be immediately stopped and they should be penalized.

That shouldn’t apply just to IRRRB employees, either. That should apply to all government employees, whether they’re school board employees, municipal employees or all the way up through state employees. In fact, the cleanest way to deal with this is to prohibit people from retiring early. If a person wants to retire at age 55, let them foot the bill for their retirement until they get to age 62.

The IRRRB needs a major overhaul. It’s been corrupt essentially since its creation.

From where I’m sitting, it’s pretty clear that the DFL got smoked in this year’s budget negotiations. First, the DFL didn’t get its 20-cent-a-gallon gas tax increase. Next, the DFL didn’t get its $12,000,000,000 overall tax increase. Third, the DFL had to settle for a cut in the HCAF, aka Sick Tax, rate. Included in this agreement is a drop from 2% to 1.8% on the Sick Tax rate. Further, the final budget will spend approximately $48,000,000,000 instead of the $51,000,000,000 that Gov. Walz and the DFL wanted.

Finally and perhaps most surprising of all, Gov. Walz and the DFL got talked into dropping the middle class tax rate from 7.05% to 6.8%. I’m betting that the DFL didn’t push that during negotiations. I’m betting that Sen. Gazelka pushed that tax cut.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and legislative leaders announced a state budget agreement at a Capitol news conference Sunday night. “This is a budget that invests in education, health care and community prosperity in a fiscally responsible manner,” Walz said just after 6:30 p.m. Sunday, joined by Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and Democratic House Speaker Melissa Hortman at a Capitol news conference. “Today we proved that divided government can work for the betterment of the people we serve.”

Significantly, the deal does not include an increase in the state’s gas tax. The total budget will be a little over $48 billion. Other provisions of the deal include:

  1. a 2 percent increase each year of the biennium for the E-12 education funding formula
  2. an income tax rate cut in the second bracket
  3. continuation of the medical provider tax at 1.8 percent instead of 2 percent
  4. $500 million in bonding, with a large portion of that going to housing projects

I found this part of MPR’s article interesting:

The Senate on Saturday approved a Republican plan for preventing a state government shutdown if a stalemate persists, throwing down a challenge to House Democrats and Walz to either agree or take the blame for a shutdown when the current budget expires June 30. But Democrats had little to gain by taking a vote on the “lights on” proposal, given that Republicans would then have few incentives to keep negotiating.

The bill would fund government for up to two years at current projected levels assuming autopilot growth in the budget of about $1.9 billion. It just happens to be close to the Senate GOP’s original budget proposal, with none of the tax increases sought by Walz and House Democrats to put more into education, health care, transportation and other programs.

Democratic House Minority Leader Tom Bakk dismissed the gambit as throwing in the towel and accused Republicans of bargaining in bad faith.

Isn’t it interesting that, hours after Sen. Bakk “accused Republicans of bargaining in bad faith”, a budget deal was reached? I’d say that Sen. Bakk’s statement looks rather foolish at this point. Perhaps, Sen. Bakk felt stung by the fact that he wasn’t an integral part of these negotiations. Notice who isn’t part of this picture:

Whichever way you slice it, Gov. Walz and the DFL got smoked in his first negotiations.

Every year, newspapers across Minnesota write articles with headlines decrying the lack of transparency in final budget negotiations. This year, the first article I’ve seen on the subject was published by the Pi-Press.

The Pi-Press’s article offers the headline “Secret budget talks at Capitol leave nearly everyone frustrated and in the dark, again” as though this is newsworthy. It isn’t. It’s as newsworthy as reporting that the sun is expected to set in the west — again. The article opens by saying “It wasn’t supposed to end this way — but they say that every year.”

Then it continues, saying “Gov. Tim Walz, Republican Senate Leader Paul Gazelka and Democratic House Speaker Melissa Hortman have offered no real details of their plans and didn’t have a budget deal Saturday afternoon. If they get one soon, politicians and staff will have to scramble to finish their work and will likely need a marathon special session to approve thousands of pages worth of budget bills.”

Part of negotiating is trying to get the upper hand on the guys you’re fighting with. That guarantees grandstanding in the early stages of the negotiations. Thanks to former Gov. Dayton, the end-of-session isn’t considered the true end-of-session. It’s usually thought of as the point when negotiations get serious. Thanks to Gov. Dayton, we can pretty much predict that the DFL will be utterly obstinate.

The DFL is still insisting on raising Minnesotans’ taxes by a total of $12,000,000,000 over the next 4 years. They’re frantically publishing tweets like this:


Here’s another frantic, dishonest tweet, too:


Then there’s this:


It’s stunning that the DFL insists that they aren’t listening to special interest organizations:


What else would you call a lengthy list of special interest organizations? The truth hurts. Deal with it. It isn’t the GOP’s fault that the DFL is the party of snow flakes.

Last night on Almanac, co-host Eric Eskola opened the show by explaining that Gov. Walz, Speaker Hortman and Sen. Gazelka wouldn’t appear on the show due to last-minute budget negotiations. In their stead, the panel consisted of Ryan Winkler and Tom Bakk attempting to make the case for the DFL and House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt and Senate Taxes Committee Chairman Roger Chamberlain representing Republicans.

At the outset, Winkler tried a little humor, saying “Well, when you have the junior varsity on the field like you do on this couch today, that means that the A-Team is out doing the work that they need to do.” Little did I know that Winkler was this prophetic. When Eskola asked whether Gov. Walz and the DFL overpromised, Winkler said “We know that there will be compromise with the GOP Senate but Gov. Walz and the DFL House also wanted to be clear about where we are headed.” Later, he stated that “We want to make sure and do no harm to people.” (It’s a little late for that, Rep. Winkler.)

Kurt Daudt replied “I think Democrats have overpromised. I think that’s pretty obvious at this point. We have a $1,000,000,000 surplus right now. We’ve got another half a billion dollars sitting there already collected over forecast that’s waiting to be recognized in the November forecast and Democrats are still holding onto this dream of raising taxes by $12,000,000,000 on Minnesotans.” Daudt then finished by saying “I just think that’s way out of touch with where Minnesotans are at.”

Here’s the entire segment:

Roger Chamberlain stated emphatically that if the DFL raised taxes by $12,000,000,000, “it will kill this state.” He didn’t mince words, which was the right thing to do. Winkler tried responding, saying that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. That’s when Kurt Daudt buried Winkler, saying “The DFL could increase spending by 7.3% without raising taxes.”

That’s what the DFL JV team looks like. How’d you like to be a DFL House member representing a swing district after voting for these massive tax increases? They’d better campaign wearing flack jackets after those votes. The DFL can kiss all those seats good-bye. Selling those legislators as moderates after those votes isn’t possible.

Let’s be clear. The DFL will get a significant portion of what they want because they control the governor’s chair. Still, the DFL misread their mandate, which they do virtually reflexively.

Finally, Bakk and Winkler tried peddling the BS that Gov. Walz should get most of what he wants because he campaigned on this and he won with a record amount of votes. It’s true that the DFL won with a record number of votes but it’s an outright lie to say that Gov. Walz campaigned by stating specifically that he’d raise the gas tax by 20 cents-per-gallon and raise taxes overall by $12,000,000,000. That didn’t happen so that argument is BS.

According to this article, the DFL thinks it’s got a messaging problem. While it’s true that they have a difficult time selling their agenda, their problem is substantive. It isn’t that they’ve got a failure to communicate.

Check this out. A caller into the Kerri Miller show, Rishab, thinks that “Republicans are incredible marketers. They have a very simple ideology and can get that out to the voters”, adding that “All these moves the Democrats are doing are very calculating and it’s very difficult for the American people to understand what their position really is.”

I’d argue that the DFL has a unity problem, which might turn into a shrinking party problem if the socialists persist in pushing their economic message. To reduce it to its simplest, socialism bets against human nature. That’s why they need tons of regulations, then tons of carve-outs for their friends when those regulations don’t work. People are in the process of rejecting that economic model. That, in turn, will lead to the party shrinking if this persists.

Why would people be confused about this DFL?

Shortly after the endorsements were announced, the Democratic field began shifting.

  • U.S. Rep. Tim Walz made it clear he’ll take his gubernatorial campaign to the primary against the endorsed candidate, state Rep. Erin Murphy.
  • After Lori Swanson, the incumbent attorney general, lost the endorsement to DFL activist, Matt Pelikan, she decided to shift her focus to the governor’s race.
  • Seeing an opportunity, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison filed to run for attorney general, leaving his seat in the 5th Congressional District open.
  • In response to Ellison vacating his seat, eight other Democrats entered the fray for his 5th District seat.

What could possibly be confusing about that? LOL The thing that’s straightforward is that all of these tickets/candidates are extreme lefties. How do you message for their agenda? Good luck with that.

In this convention speech, Mr. Ellison talked about selling people on climate change and other ‘progressive’ issues. BTW, never forget that progressive equals socialist. They’re inseparable.

Finally, the DFL has some real problems ahead if this is true:

Even so, Bakk sounded a pessimistic tone for the DFL should the primary send Murphy on to the general election. “There is zero chance she will win in November,” predicted Bakk. “I heard there are 13 rural DFL party chairs who have quit over it,” he said. “It’s a pretty metro-centric ticket.”

The prediction is fun reading but finding out that 13 DFL BPOU chairs have quit over the endorsement of the Erin-Squared ticket is important news. That indicates a major division within the DFL. Whether those chairs flip and vote Republican or not, it isn’t likely that they’ll vote DFL.

People leaving the DFL because the DFL isn’t interested in people living outside the Metro is how you shrink the party. That’s a substantive issue or a philosophical issue, not a communications issue.

While my constitutional position on Lt. Gov. Fischbach hasn’t changed, Don Davis’ article reminded me why I despise Sen. Bakk’s political tactics. It’s why Gov. Dayton didn’t trust Bakk. According to Davis’ article, Bakk said “he wants to time a lawsuit so the court can remove Fischbach as senator when Democrats can best elect a replacement for her in the central Minnesota district. If that happened, Democrats would take control. Fischbach said she is confident she can win her district again, if a court orders he removed from the Senate. But Bakk said Democrats have a candidate waiting who is ‘a good fit for the district.'”

That good fit must be Larry Hosch. He’s the only candidate who’d have a prayer in that district. If Hosch isn’t the candidate, then Sen. Bakk is just blowing smoke. The DFL’s bench in that district is virtually nonexistent. From what I’ve been told, Hosch’s wife is from Paynesville, which would be important to winning a special election.

That being said, Hosch announce his retirement from the House the minute that Rockville was added to his House district in 2012. Rockville consistently gives the GOP House candidate 80% of their votes. The minute the redistricting map was announced, Hosch essentially admitted that he’d get his butt kicked if he ran for re-election. What part of that sounds like Rep. Hosch is “a good fit for the district”? What part of this looks competitive?

FYI- HD-13A used to be Hosch’s district. He would’ve been lucky to lose by only 15 points if he’d chosen to run. Sen. Bakk can yap all he wants about good fits for the district but the numbers tell a different story. Whoever the DFL would run would get annihilated.

The point is that Sen. Bakk is either incredibly stupid or he’s playing a game. I don’t think he’s that stupid but I might be wrong.

Thanks to a little research help from some loyal readers of LFR and thanks to some clever thinking of my own, I’ve figured out a way to turn the tables on Gov. Dayton and Sen. Bakk. First, Sen. Fischbach needs to get sworn in as lieutenant governor the minute Tina Smith is sworn in as Minnesota’s U.S. senator. Next, Fischbach needs to resign as lieutenant governor by the end of this week.

Thanks to some research from a loyal reader of LFR, I’m able to publish as fact that state statute 204D.19 subd. 2 says “The special election shall be held as soon as possible, consistent with the notice requirements of section 204D.22, subdivision 3(The county auditor of a county in which a special election is to be held shall direct the clerk of each municipality in which the election is to be held to post a notice of the special primary and special election at least seven days before the special primary and at least 14 days before the special election in the manner provided in sections 204B.33 and 204B.34.), but in no event more than 35 days after the issuance of the writ. A special election must not be held during the four days before or the four days after a holiday as defined in section 645.44, subdivision 5 (Washington’s and Lincoln’s Birthday(2/19/18), the third Monday in February).”

Notice that the statute says the special election shall be held as soon as possible. It doesn’t say that it should be held as soon as possible. The instant that Fischbach resigns as senator, Gov. Dayton is obligated to call a special election “as soon as possible.”

At that point, the Senate will have 33 Republicans and 32 Democrats. It will stay that way until the special election is held to replace Sen. Schoen in the Senate. If Karla Bigham wins, the Senate is tied with 33 Republicans and 33 Democrats. It’s worth noting that this is the best the DFL can hope for. Things would get much worse for the DFL if Denny McNamara wins. That would give Republicans a 34-32 majority. When the special election is held to replace Sen. Fischbach, Republicans will win that seat handily. At that point, Republicans would either have a 35-32 majority or a 34-33 majority.

Either way, Republicans would have a majority going into the start of the 2018 session. At that point, Republicans could elect any DFL senator to be the President of the Senate. Presumably, Republicans could elect the most vulnerable DFL senator as the President of the Senate. At that point, the DFL wouldn’t have a say in the matter. There’s nothing to prevent Republicans from naming someone like Matt Little to be the President of the Senate. That means Little would assume the responsibility of being Gov. Dayton’s lieutenant governor. Remember that this used to be Dave Thompson’s seat. I’d think that’d give Republicans a fantastic opportunity of flipping that seat.

The DFL is intent on flipping the Senate from a Republican majority to a DFL majority. They’ve made that perfectly clear. Why shouldn’t Republicans use this opportunity to their political advantage? That was the DFL’s intent. If Republicans beat the DFL at their own game, that’s the DFL’s fault.

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Earlier this week, the DFL announced that Minnesota was running a $188,000,000 deficit for this biennium. The MMB should be ashamed of themselves for publishing such foolishness. The ‘deficit’ report assumes several things that don’t make sense.

First, it assumes that GDP will be 2.2% nationally. No credible economist is forecasting this. Further, we’ve had back-to-back quarters of 3.1% and 3.3% economic growth, with Q4 expected to be even better. The Q3 GDP of 3.3% is particularly noteworthy because that happened despite 5 major hurricanes in the quarter to the Gulf Coast. If not for those hurricanes, GDP likely would’ve topped 4%. The ‘deficit’ disappears with robust economic growth.

Another assumption made in arriving at this deficit projection is that the federal government won’t make its $178,000,000 CHIP program payment. If they make that payment, the ‘deficit’ left would be ~ $10,000,000 regardless of whether we have sustained economic expansion.

Finally, the projected deficit is based on Congress not passing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, something that’s virtually guaranteed at this point. The major parties in the House and Senate have said that they’re voting for the bill. The House-Senate conference committee is consolidating the different versions of the bill into a single bill that will be passed, possibly by the end of this week.

Despite these things, Myron Frans was on Almanac Friday night pitching the Dayton administration’s storyline that we might run a deficit:

Sen. Bakk is trying to take a victory lap by saying it doesn’t bring him joy that he was right that the tax cuts were unsustainable. At this point, I haven’t seen proof that tax cuts aren’t sustainable. Sen. Bakk’s policies aren’t based on growing Minnesota’s economy. They’re mostly dictated to him by Twin Cities parasites that hate mining and pipeline infrastructure. In Sen. Bakk’s world (and Gov. Dayton’s), infrastructure projects are viewed as selectively important.

I’d argue that the DFL policy of constantly growing the Rainy Day Fund each time that there’s a surplus hurts Minnesota’s economy. There’s no justification for a Rainy Day Fund balance of $1,600,000,000. I don’t have a problem with maintaining a Rainy Day Fund. I just think there should be a cap on that fund.

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After reading this article, you’d think something catastrophic had happened. House Minority Leader Melissa Hortman and Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk took turns criticizing Republicans after the budget forecast was released.

Hortman criticized Republicans, saying “Elections have consequences, and when Minnesotans switched control of the legislature to 100% Republican control, we went from a $1.6 billion surplus to a $188 million deficit in a little bit less than a year. Hopefully people will keep that in mind as we move into 2018.” Bakk chimed in, saying “I pretty strongly advised the governor the last night of the special session not to sign the tax bill because it wasn’t sustainable. I’m not happy I was right.”

Talk about a pair of DFL drama queens. Dave Orrick and Bill Salisbury co-wrote this article, which explains how little of a deal this is. First, they wrote “the federal government reauthorizes a health insurance program for children, which it very well might, the forecast shortfall would fall to about $10 million. There are other such variables that could make it rise or fall.” It’s virtually certain that they’ll reauthorize the CHIP program. That eliminates all but $10,000,000 of the deficit forecast. Next, the model used anticipated only 2.2% growth. That’s because this forecast model predicts that Congress won’t pass the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

It’s absurd to think that the economy will grow at only 2.2% since it’s grown at 3.1% and 3.3% thus far this year. The third quarter would’ve been better if not for 5 hurricanes hitting, virtually wiping out economic growth in Texas and Florida.

Even Myron Frans, the state budget commissioner, downplayed the deficit, saying that the “forecast deficit” was “more of a mist than a downpour.”

This video is part of the DFL’s press conference:

Sen. Cohen’s statements are partisanship at its worst. The term sore loser leaps to mind, too. The DFL talks about the 2013-14 biennium as though it was the glory days. They weren’t. Since the 2011 budget, spending increased by more than $15,000,000,000. That’s fifteen billion dollars with a B. That’s a spending increase of more than 33% in 2 biennium. Let’s also remember that the surpluses following the 2013 budget session were the size of the tax increase.

It isn’t that the economy grew by leaps and bounds. It’s that the tax increase accounted for roughly 90% of the surpluses. Any budget that doesn’t produce economic growth is worthless. That’s what the nation rejected when they said no to a third Obama term. Meager growth isn’t something to be praised. It’s something to be criticized.

The Republicans wanted to pass a pro-growth budget. Gov. Dayton resisted that. For the third time in 4 budget sessions, we had a special session. Yes, unemployment is low but that’s because we’re spending like drunken sailors. There’s a reason why people of all age groups are leaving Minnesota, especially for our neighboring states.

If Bakk, Cohen and Hortman don’t ditch their socialist and/or crony capitalist policies, that outmigration will accelerate. Finally, if the DFL constantly stands in the way of pipeline and mining projects, we’ll never see the good old days again.

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Something jumped out at me while reading this article. Specifically, I’m upset with Melissa Hortman after she said “I think that Senator Gazelka should work with Democrats like Governor Dayton and me and Senator Bakk to solve a problem rather than using people as pawns in a political dispute.” Actually, Gov. Dayton is the problem. If he hadn’t negotiated in bad faith, this wouldn’t have happened. In fact, he negotiated in bad faith twice, once when he said he’d sign the Republicans’ tax relief plan 2 years ago. He negotiated in bad faith this year when he signed the tax relief bill, then line-item vetoed the funding for the legislature.

Gov. Dayton’s holding the people of Minnesota hostage because he wants to renegotiate legislation he’s already signed. Giving a governor that type of authority is unforgiveable. With that authority, governors could hold the legislature hostage every budget session. Is the Supreme Court willing to give the executive branch that authority over the legislative branch? If they’re willing to do that, then the Supreme Court is corrupt. They’re willing to give one branch of government the upper hand in budget negotiations. It isn’t difficult to envision a governor holding the legislature hostage if the legislature doesn’t give him what he wants.

Here’s what I’d tell Rep. Hortman. Rather than defending people in the DFL, she should defend the people of Minnesota. Thus far, she’s defended the DFL. She hasn’t defended Minnesotans.

By vetoing the legislature’s funding, then filing the appeal after losing the first court case, Gov. Dayton has endangered the funding for the Office of Legislative Auditor, aka OLA, and the Revisor’s Office. I wrote in this post that those offices aren’t inconsequential offices:

The office of the Legislative Auditor is funded through the LCC. Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles has already expressed concerns about certain functions of his office being suspended – specifically the certification of state financial reports that support the state’s credit rating and the receipt of federal funds.

The Office of the Revisor of Statutes is also funded through the LCC and they work year-round with state agencies on rule making authority. The Revisor’s office would also be necessary to draft a bill to restore legislative functions once session begins in February.

Thanks to Gov. Dayton’s line-item veto, the office that certifies Minnesota’s financial reports that keep our credit rating healthy is getting its funding stripped. The Revisor of Statutes Office is essential to Minnesota’s rule-making and legislation writing processes. What is Gov. Dayton thinking when he’s stripping funding from these essential offices? Was Gov. Dayton thinking when he forced the stripping of these funds?

Anyone that’s willing to shortchange these offices just so he can renegotiate a bill that he’s already signed is disgusting. Gov. Dayton isn’t a man of integrity. He’s a man who thinks that the ends justify the means. How pathetic.

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