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During Gov. Dayton’s State of the State Address, he insisted that the state of the State was good:

For right now, we have a rare moment of great opportunity. The state of our state is good. Not everywhere. Not for everyone. But overall, Minnesota is doing better than it has for some time, and Minnesota is doing better than most other states.

That’s spin. This is reality:

According to the Getting Prepared report by the Office of Higher Education, 28 percent of Minnesota’s 2011 high school graduates were required to take remedial courses when entering college. Together these students spent $9 million in tuition just on remedial classes – covering K-12 material that taxpayers already funded. The problem affects students from across the state, from affluent suburbs to rural communities to the Twin Cities’ largest districts, but students of color and low-income students are most deeply affected.

When 1-in-4 high school graduates take remedial classes upon entering community college, that says K-12 schools have failed these students. What’s worst is that, according to the Office of Higher Education’s report, these problems affect “students from across the state, from affluent suburbs to rural communities to the Twin Cities’ largest districts.”

That means this problem isn’t confined to students languishing in impoverished inner city schools. It’s happening across the state. Rep. Thissen said that the DFL had made “historic investments” in education. That’s proof that the DFL’s education motto is still intact. FYI- DFL’s education motto is ‘more money, bigger achievement gap, less accountability.’

When one-fourth of MnSCU’s community college students need to take remedial courses, the state of Minnesota’s K-12 program isn’t good. It’s bleak. It need to improve. That won’t happen without a change in policies and leadership.

The Duluth News Tribune’s Our View editorial highlights Gov. Dayton’s attempt at slick advertising:

The governor’s bonding bill — er, sorry, Dayton and his staff even came up with a far-more-fetching name: “jobs bill” — has little to no chance of going anywhere. And that makes all the effort to get it ready and proposed, as well as the ballyhooed rollout, all that more curious. Anyone with even a hint of cynicism may have smelled politics at play.

The proposal has little to no chance of passage because such a bill has to originate in the House, and the House this year is led by Republicans who not only aren’t DFLers like Dayton, they’ve made it quite clear they have no plans for such a proposal right now.

Among other reasons for pause, it’s just not the right year. Bonding bills, or jobs bills, if you wish, typically are the products of even-numbered years’ sessions. This session has to be all about passing a budget, which the law requires, and passing a transportation bill, which our crumbling, too-long-overlooked highways and bridges demand. Republicans and DFLers, including Dayton, are far apart on those priorities and others and can spend the remaining weeks of the session compromising and working together with the good of all Minnesotans and their pocketbooks first and foremost in their minds.

That’s insulting on multiple fronts. When Republicans unveiled their Transportation Bill, one of the first complaints that the DFL made was that the GOP plan borrowed money while running up the credit card bill to pay for future road and bridge projects. I said then that putting a multigenerational bridge repair project on Minnesota’s credit card was totally justified because multiple generations will be using the bridge that’s getting repaired.

The DFL, led by Rep. Paul Thissen, criticized that approach. That’s frightening considering the fact that Thissen’s voted for bonding bills that paid for ‘important’ infrastructure projects like repairing gorilla cages at Como Park Zoo or a sheet music museum in southern Minnesota.

Based on the DFL’s actions, it’s apparent that the DFL thinks it’s fiscally irresponsible to pay for transportation infrastructure projects with the state’s credit card but it’s prudent to pay for frivolous projects like museum and zoo repair projects with the state’s credit card.

Bonding bills aren’t “jobs bills.” That’s just Gov. Dayton’s and the DFL’s slick advertising name for them. A high percentage of the projects in the average bonding bill pay off special interest constituencies. If you want to give these types of bills an honest name, let’s call them “the special interests’ appeasement bill.” Either that or let’s call them the “special interests’ pay-off bills”.

This year, let’s give them this name: dead on arrival.

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Rep. Paul Thissen, currently the House Minority Leader, issued this totally dishonest statement after Republicans presented their comprehensive transportation plan:

“Minnesotans who are sitting every day in traffic, who are afraid their kids can’t get to school safely, who can’t get to that new job that promises a brighter future for their family, demand real transportation solutions. Unfortunately, the Republican plan is the same old shifts and gimmicks budgeting we’ve come to expect from them. Siphoning money from schools and hospitals and relying on the state’s credit card is no way to fund Minnesota’s transportation system. This is a ‘Give the Deficits Back’ Act.

House Democrats have said all along we will work to pass a comprehensive, statewide transportation solution that meets the needs of our entire state, roads, bridges, and transit, in a permanent way, without excessively siphoning money from our kids’ education or running up the credit card. It’s our hope Republicans will get serious about a plan that solves our transportation problem without creating new potholes in our budget.

The Republican plan irresponsibly raids the general fund, shifting hundreds of millions of tax dollars that should pay for better schools and uses it to pay for transportation projects. The next economic downturn could be around the corner, and if we use general fund tax dollars to fund transportation projects then we are hurting our schools, hospitals and other basic priorities in the future. Investments in Minnesota’s transportation systems shouldn’t compete with our kids’ education.

And the Republican plan excessively borrows money, running up the credit card bill to pay for future road and bridge projects. Minnesota is finally in a better financial position. We shouldn’t go right back to the borrowing and gimmicks that got us in trouble for the previous decade.”

Let’s go through Thissen’s diatribe paragraph-by-paragraph, starting with this:

Siphoning money from schools and hospitals and relying on the state’s credit card is no way to fund Minnesota’s transportation system.

First, Rep. Thissen can’t offer proof that the GOP transportation plan siphons “money from schools and hospitals” because that proof doesn’t exist. Period. Next, it’s entirely appropriate to put major bridge repairs on highway lane expansions on the state credit card because a) the rebuilding of a major bridge is expensive and b) it’s the type of thing that’ll benefit multiple generations. Why should 1 generation pay the entire bill for a bridge that multiple generations will benefit from? Why shouldn’t multiple generations pay for adding lanes for a state trunk highway? After all, multiple generations will benefit from it?

When the DFL raised taxes just 6 short years ago, we were promised that the DFL’s plan was the investment that would fix our transportation funding problems. Either the DFL lied to us then or they don’t know what they’re talking about. Why should we trust them at this point?

House Democrats have said all along we will work to pass a comprehensive, statewide transportation solution that meets the needs of our entire state, roads, bridges, and transit, in a permanent way, without excessively siphoning money from our kids’ education or running up the credit card.

It’s without question that the DFL has said that they’d work with Republicans on “a comprehensive, statewide transportation solution.” It’s just that their statements aren’t credible. The DFL always meant that they’d work with Republicans if the Republicans’ transportation plan included a major middle class tax increase. The DFL never meant that they’d work with Republicans if the Republicans’ transportation plan didn’t include a major middle class tax increase.

The Republican plan irresponsibly raids the general fund, shifting hundreds of millions of tax dollars that should pay for better schools and uses it to pay for transportation projects.

If there’s a political party that knows about irresponsibly raiding the general fund, it’s the DFL. That doesn’t mean they’re trustworthy. It just means that they know about irresponsibly raiding Minnesota’s general fund. Look at all the money they shipped to Community Action’s corrupt leaders. That includes the money CA shipped to Jeff Hayden while stiffing the people who needed the money to survive.

Minnesota is finally in a better financial position. We shouldn’t go right back to the borrowing and gimmicks that got us in trouble for the previous decade.

Rep. Thissen shouldn’t talk out of both sides of his mouth. Year after year, the DFL has called their bonding bill their jobs bill. The DFL has told us time after time that borrowing money to build civic centers and sheet music museums was essential to creating jobs. It’s astonishing that the DFL can tell us that borrowing money to pay for critical highway infrastructure is a negative.

It isn’t astonishing that Rep. Thissen could tell us this without hesitation. You can’t be a leader in the DFL if you can’t lie through your teeth with a straight face.

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House Speaker Kurt Daudt issued this statement after announcing the House GOP transportation proposal:

“Minnesota families rely on our road and bridge infrastructure to get their kids to school and themselves to work. To help them, our goal from the beginning was to refocus transportation dollars on roads and bridges and deliver a real, long-term solution without increasing their tax burden. I’m proud today to unveil our vision for the next decade that achieves our shared goal,” announced Speaker Daudt.

“Republicans have developed a thoughtful solution to adequately maintain and expand our road and bridge infrastructure without raising gas taxes, because Minnesotans can’t afford to pay more at the pump. Our proposal will benefit small cities, rural areas, suburban communities, and elderly and disabled Minnesotans while also making significant commitments to state roads,” said Senate Republican Leader Hann.

“Most Minnesotans count on safe roads and short commutes every day, and our plan focuses on those daily needs. It fills potholes and repairs streets in their neighborhoods and will alleviate congestion on Minnesota roads. Now, Minnesotans have a choice between smart budgeting that dedicates existing transportation taxes to roads and bridges without a tax increase and a plan that raises the gas tax by at least 16 cents per gallon,” added House Majority Leader Peppin.

Predictably, the DFL immediately criticized the plan:

DFLers, in contrast, attacked the Republican plan for shifting money from other sources. “What programs will (Republicans) cut to pay for (money) they are taking from (the) general fund?” Dayton’s deputy chief of staff Linden Zakula wrote on Twitter.

House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, responded that the GOP plan “irresponsibly raids” the general fund. “Unfortunately, the Republican plan is the same old shifts and gimmicks budgeting we’ve come to expect from them. Siphoning money from schools and hospitals and relying on the state’s credit card is no way to fund Minnesota’s transportation system,” he said in a prepared statement.

Here’s my response to Mssrs. Zakula and Thissen: What corrupt programs will the DFL fund with the money that the GOP proposes to fix roads and bridges with? Does the DFL plan to finance more trips for Sen. Hayden? Or would they rather direct money to Community Action? Would the DFL rather funnel more money to MnSCU to sign contracts with their friends to do ‘consulting’ work ?

Actually, Rep. Thissen, putting some things on the state’s credit card is the right thing to do. Why should this generation pay the entire cost for fixing bridges? Shouldn’t subsequent generations pay for their fair share of the cost since they’re going to get a substantial benefit from new bridges? Why shouldn’t younger generations pay for some of the cost of lane expansions?

There’s nothing wrong with paying for road repairs with current money. Maintenance is a short-term proposition. Fixing potholes is something that’s done annually. Widening State Trunk Highway 23 to 4 lanes from St. Cloud to Foley is a one-time thing. That’s something that should be paid for by multiple generations.

Finally, it’s interesting to watch the DFL immediately insinuate that Republicans want to “siphon money from schools and hospitals.” It didn’t matter to Rep. Thissen that there’s literally no proof that Republicans want to do that. In fact, there’s proof that Republicans don’t want to do that.

That’s irrelevant to Rep. Thissen. The truth isn’t relevant to him because it’s about frightening people with baseless allegations. It isn’t about having an honest debate based on reality. Simply put, the DFL is the Fearmongering Party.

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In 2012, the DFL campaigned on the promises of taxing “the rich” to pay for “middle class property tax relief” and to increase funding on education. By April of 2013, then-Speaker Thissen issued this statement. Here’s the heart of that statement:

The House DFL Education Budget invests in what works: fully funding all-day, every day kindergarten and investing $50 million in early learning childhood scholarships. All-day K and early childhood education are proven tools to improve test scores, close the achievement gap, and prepare students for future academic success. The House DFL Education Budget also increases the basic funding formula for K-12 schools by four percent over the biennium, an increase of over $315 million, or $209 per pupil. The school shift payback will be included in the House Taxes bill.

“The House DFL education plan will boost our economy for generations to come,” said Representative Paul Marquart (DFL–Dilworth), Chair of the House Education Finance Committee. “Building the world’s best workforce will bring jobs, new innovation and economic growth, but to get there we have to invest in efforts and strategies with a proven record of success, set benchmarks, and help our schools succeed while also holding them accountable.”

The House DFL Education Budget also contains a new strategy to close the revenue equity gap and reduce property taxes. The bill enhances the equity formula guaranteeing all districts at least $300 per student of equity and referendum revenue, and raises and indexes operating referendum levy equalization factors to reduce property taxes.

Notice how Rep. Thissen’s statement predicted that the DFL’s “education budget” would “reduce property taxes.” Thissen’s prediction was spin, a DFL specialty. I wrote this post to highlight how the St. Cloud School Board raised property taxes:

St. Cloud school district has imposed its largest tax levy increase in six years for 2015. The district’s property-tax levy will increase by $3.3 million, or 14.75 percent, to nearly $26 million. The school board voted unanimously Thursday night to approve the 2015 levy.

District officials say the increase is needed to pay for a spate of improvements to facilities.

I wrote this post to highlight the Princeton School Board raised property taxes:

The Princeton School Board, in a split vote on Dec. 16, increased the school district tax levy by 25.16 percent for taxes payable 2015 to fund the 2015-16 school year.

This was a departure from the board’s originally proposed 33.87 percent hike. The total levy will be a little more than $6.091 million, a $300,000 increase over this year’s levy. The original proposal would have increased the levy $724,000.

Taxing the rich didn’t provide middle class property tax relief. It just raised taxes on “the rich.”

Check back later today to learn more about how the DFL lies on other issues.

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Mark Sommerhauser’s article is additional proof that the DFL was full of BS when they said that taxing “the rich” would provide property tax relief to the middle class:

St. Cloud school district has imposed its largest tax levy increase in six years for 2015. The district’s property-tax levy will increase by $3.3 million, or 14.75 percent, to nearly $26 million. The school board voted unanimously Thursday night to approve the 2015 levy.

District officials say the increase is needed to pay for a spate of improvements to facilities.

I’ll give it to the DFL in the sense that they come up with appealing chanting points. I just wish they put a priority on telling the truth. Unfortunately, they don’t. The DFL’s highest priority is to say whatever they need to say to win elections, then spin their asses off when they brake their campaign promises.

The DFL knew that they couldn’t stop property tax increases. The DFL knew it because property taxes are set at the local level. The DFL just used that excuse to raise taxes elsewhere.

This shows, too, that the DFL’s boasting about making “historic investments in education” were campaign spin, too. I’m not disputing that K-12 spending increased. That’s indisputable fact. What I’m saying is that the money didn’t get spent on things that improved educational outcomes. Most of the increased spending was Education Minnesota’s wish list. It won’t do a thing to close the achievement gap. In fact, the DFL’s “investments” will short rural school districts.

What’s worst is that the taxpayers who get punished by these property tax increases don’t have a say in the matter. The school board can write itself additional funding whenever it wants. That’s just wrong.

Board chair Jerry Von Korff said he doesn’t expect a taxpayer backlash in response to the increase. One taxpayer attended Thursday’s board meeting to protest the tax hike. “We always do everything we can to keep taxes to a minimum,” Von Korff said. “We’ve got a ton more students and we’re adding on to buildings. The vast majority of this increase is to pay for those buildings.”

Von Korff emphasized at Thursday night’s meeting that the increase isn’t covering operating expenses. Instead, it will be used almost entirely for the building projects, he said.

This legislature must repeal the law that gives school board virtually unlimited spending and taxing authority because it’s stripped that authority from the taxpayers. The taxpayers must have the authority to stop out-of-control career politicians from taxing the taxpayers into submission.

Taxpayers literally had a say in these decisions for decades. Now they don’t. That must change ASAP.

Next, it’s disgusting that Von Korff thinks that the school board can do whatever they want. It’s exceptionally disgusting that the school board doesn’t think that their first responsibility is to serve the people. With that arrogant statement, Van Korff told St. Cloud that he isn’t a public servant. Van Korff declared that members of the school board aren’t public servants.

Finally, it’s time that a) school board elections happen on election night in even numbered years and b) we make school board elections partisan elections. The DFL’s stranglehold on school boards isn’t a secret. It’s time to make these elections partisan.

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In 2013, the DFL said that they were raising taxes on “the rich” to pay for property tax relief for the middle class. I wrote here about how that failed…miserably:

The Princeton School Board in a split vote on Dec. 16 increased the school district tax levy by 25.16 percent for taxes payable 2015 to fund the 2015-16 school year.

This was a departure from the board’s originally proposed 33.87 percent hike. The total levy will be a little more than $6.091 million, a $300,000 increase over this year’s levy. The original proposal would have increased the levy $724,000.

A 25% increase in property taxes isn’t property tax relief for the middle class. That’s a gigantic, crippling middle class tax increase. Thank God the Princeton School Board exercised some restraint. If they hadn’t, the property tax increase would’ve been almost 34%.

I wrote this post to question why this historic property tax increase was needed in light of the DFL’s constant reminder that they paid back the school shift and raised per pupil spending. If I had $5 for every time the DFL, ABM or the Dayton campaign ran an ad talking about making an “historic investment in education”, I’d be wealthy. Either the DFL’s “investment in education” isn’t as historic as they’ve repeatedly said or the Princeton School Board is spending money recklessly.

Actually, there is another possibility. It’s quite possible that the DFL’s historic investment in education shafted outstate schools to pay for increased education spending in urban and suburban school districts. It wouldn’t be the first time the DFL shafted outstate school districts. Just ask Rocori if they’ve gotten fair treatment. (Hint: they haven’t.)

This fall, the DFL insisted that it didn’t shortchange rural Minnesota. The DFL insisted that they’d paid off the school shifts while increasing education funding. The DFL insisted that they’d raised taxes on “the rich” so they could cut property taxes for the middle class. The article in the Princeton newspaper is proof that a) the DFL still shortchanged rural Minnesota, b) the DFL’s tax-the-rich policy didn’t lead to middle class property tax relief and c) the DFL’s supposedly historic investment in education is more campaign rhetoric than reality.

Finally and most importantly, the DFL’s spending spree didn’t shrink the achievement gap nor did the DFL increase accountability in education. The DFL eliminated the requirement that teachers pass a basic skills test that the GOP first passed.

Rep. Thissen said that the DFL legislature should be called the education legislature. I’ve got a better idea. Let’s call them the ‘they shafted us again legislature.’ After all, the DFL’s spending did nothing to improve educational outcomes.

When I wrote this post, I forgot something that needs highlighting. Last fall, the DFL constantly reminded us that they’d paid off the school shifts and that they’d increased funding for education.

Apparently, the Princeton School Board didn’t get the memo. That’s odd because the DFL budget went into effect July 1…of 2013. If the DFL increased K-12 funding and paid off the school shifts, Princeton shouldn’t need to raise their property taxes. The Princeton School District especially shouldn’t need to raise their levy by 25.16%.

Then-Speaker Thissen issued this statement about the DFL’s “historic investment” in education:

The House DFL Education Budget invests in what works: fully funding all-day, every day kindergarten and investing $50 million in early learning childhood scholarships. All-day K and early childhood education are proven tools to improve test scores, close the achievement gap, and prepare students for future academic success. The House DFL Education Budget also increases the basic funding formula for K-12 schools by four percent over the biennium, an increase of over $315 million, or $209 per pupil. The school shift payback will be included in the House Taxes bill.

After reading that statement, it’s amazing that the Pope didn’t declare Speaker Thissen a candidate for sainthood.

Seriously, let’s summarize. The DFL raised taxes by $2,100,000,000 initially with the intent of paying for property tax relief for the middle class and to make “historic investments in education.”

What Minnesotans got in return were some middle class tax increases, virtually nothing in terms of property tax relief and big property tax increases to pay for K-12 funding. Minnesotans didn’t see the achievement gap close. Minnesotans didn’t notice a change in school boards’ spending habits, either.

The harsh reality is that Minnesotans got ripped off by the DFL’s tax increases, the DFL’s paying off the K-12 school shifts or from the DFL’s “historic investments in education.”

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Mary Lahammer interviewed Ryan Winkler for last night’s Almanac. During that brief interview, Rep. Winkler gave us the DFL’s mantra for the next 2 years:

REP. WINKLER: Divided government and gridlock and the type of divisiveness that we’re already starting to see is not the way we move ahead and they’re going to send Democrats back in to get things done.

That’s stunning. The new legislature hasn’t even been sworn in and Rep. Winkler thinks he’s Carnac. Before the first bill is submitted, Rep. Winkler thinks that Republicans are being divisive and sowing the seeds of gridlock. That’s world class chutzpah.

A couple themes are developing already. First, Paul Thissen is questioning whether Republicans will stand up to their big corporate special interests:

Will Republicans be willing to stand up to their big Twin Cities corporate donors and make sure to continue DFL investments in education that are closing the funding gap between rural and suburban school districts rather than handing out corporate tax breaks?

As I wrote here, that’s what chutzpah looks like. First, Republicans didn’t propose any tax breaks for corporations. Thissen knows that. Thissen doesn’t care because the DFL’s communications aren’t based in honesty. The DFL specializes in repeating outright lies. Second, Thissen and the DFL didn’t fight for Main Street.

When it was time to fight for miners on the Iron Range, the DFL didn’t.
When it was time to fight for women operating in-home child care businesses, Thissen & the DFL sided with AFSCME instead.
When it was time to fight for small businesses in outstate Minnesota, Thissen and the DFL raised their taxes instead.

Rep. Winkler, I’ve had enough of your dishonesty and chutzpah. I’m especially disgusted with your reckless assumptions. It’s reckless and dishonest to accuse Republicans of being divisive a month before the 2015 legislative session has even started. Further, it’s dishonest to say that Republicans having honest policy disagreements with the DFL is automatically considered gridlock.

That’s a clever Alinskyite tactic but it’s deceitful. Before the DFL started employing Alinskyite tactics, expressing honest policy disagreements on the House floor or in committee were what’s known as debates.

Further, it’s dishonest and deceitful to think that all DFL ideas are great solutions to Minnesota’s problems or that Republicans’ ideas are automatically doomed to failure. If Rep. Winkler honestly thinks that, then he’s a narcissist who thinks of himself as intellectually superior.

Considering the fact that he once called a black man an “Uncle Thomas”, then insisted that he didn’t know that that was a pejorative term, there’s reason to think that he’s just a lefty bomb thrower who’s prone to shooting his mouth off.

During the 2013 session, the DFL voted to hurt some small businesses with major tax increases and hurt other small businesses with forced unionization. Repeatedly, the DFL showed their hostility with small businesses. Many of the businesses hurt with the DFL’s tax increases were in outstate Minnesota.

Despite those indisputable facts, the DFL is insisting that disagreeing with them leads to gridlock that hurts Minnesotans. The DFL’s policies are what hurt Minnesotans. No catchy, dishonest mantra will change that truth.

Paul Thissen’s op-ed, which was also published in the Rochester Post-Bulletin, had so spin that I couldn’t fit it into one post. Here’s more of Thissen’s spin:

They voted against the Homestead Credit Refund that provided $120 million in direct property tax relief to 450,000 homeowners, helping reduce statewide property taxes for the first time in 12 years.

Bill Salisbury’s article quickly discredits Thissen’s spin:

Overall, cities have proposed a 4.6 percent property-tax levy increase, counties’ levies would go up 3 percent, townships would levy an additional 2 percent and special taxing districts proposed a 3 percent boost.

Thissen and the DFL initially raised taxes and fees by $2,500,000,000. After getting blasted for raising taxes on B2B transactions, Thissen and the DFL returned to St. Paul a repentant bunch. They quickly repealed the tax increases they’d passed just months earlier. Thissen and the DFL frequently justified that gigantic tax increase by promising property tax relief to the middle class. Apparently, the DFL failed. Property taxes didn’t drop. They’re still going up.

They failed to support our farmers, voting against grants to help family farms start up and expand, against livestock disease research and against the new Farm-to-Foodshelf program.

Republicans voted against the DFL’s attempt to use taxpayers’ money to buy votes with massive spending increases directed at their special interest allies. The Dayton-Thissen-DFL budget wasn’t a budget as it was the DFL checking off as many of the items on the DFL special interests’ wish list as possible.

The DFL’s tax bill didn’t reform the tax code to make Minnesota competitive with its neighboring states. It’s amazing that the DFL’s hostility to businesses didn’t result in them losing more seats.

More importantly, I hope to hear the Republicans move on to governing and discuss how the entire state can prosper together as one.

That’s a clever trick on Thissen’s part. You’d almost think that there was a Republican governor setting the agenda. It’s the governor that proposes. The legislature’s role is to debate Gov. Dayton’s budget, then offer amendments to the things he got wrong. Unfortunately for Minnesota businesses, there’s be so much uncertainty caused by Gov. Dayton’s budgets that businesses didn’t create as many jobs as they could have.

Will Thissen and the DFL support opening PolyMet? Will they support building the Sandpiper Pipeline project? Will they insist on a silica sand-mining moratorium? Those projects alone would spread prosperity throughout more of Minnesota.

When Gov. Dayton, Sen. Bakk and Rep. Thissen attended the DFL State Convention, their devotion to Iron Range jobs was so tepid they wouldn’t even permit a debate on whether the DFL’s platform should include a simple statement saying that they support mining.

I’d love hearing Speaker Thissen explain how stifling debate on a major economic development issue helps “the entire state can prosper together as one.” That explanation would likely be more twisted than a pretzel.

Then again, I could say that about most DFL economic policies.