Archive for the ‘Paul Thissen’ Category
It’s been years since the regular session of the Minnesota Legislature was this ‘colorful’. It didn’t take long for the fireworks to start, which leads into the regular session’s losers list:
- Mark Dayton — Dayton announced that he was unbound now that he’d run his last campaign. It didn’t take long before we learned that that meant he’d start lobbing grenades at whoever got him upset. Tom Bakk ambushed him on the commissioners pay raises. Sen. Bakk, here’s your grenade. Republicans proposed a new way to fund fixing Minnesota’s potholed roads. Here’s your grenade. Gov. Dayton also misread the Republicans and Kurt Daudt. He thought he could bully them into compliance. Though his bullying was ever-present, it didn’t move Republicans because their agenda was popular with Minnesotans. Gov. Dayton never figured that out. He’s still whining about it after the special session.
- Tom Bakk — Sen. Bakk ambushed Gov. Dayton on the commissioners pay raises but he didn’t do it until they became unpopular with Minnesotans. Sen. Bakk’s ambush smacked more of political opportunism than voicing displeasure with a bad policy. That was especially true when a reporter actually pointed out that Sen. Bakk voted for the pay raises. Sen. Bakk got stung hard when Gov. Dayton accused him of stabbing him in the back. Later, Gov. Dayton said that he trusted Speaker Daudt more than he trusted Sen. Bakk. FYI- That wound never healed. I don’t know that it ever will.
- Metrocrats — They came in with high expectations. Tina Flint-Smith was the new Lt. Governor. They had a bold progressive spending agenda. By the time the session was over, Rep. Thissen’s face was more likely to be seen on milk cartons than at negotiating sessions.
- Move MN — They fought for a gas tax increase. They lobbied both caucuses hard, sometimes sneakily. In the end, they got their lunch handed to them.
- Brian McDaniel — Brian McDaniel isn’t a household name to most Minnesotans but he’s known by political nerds like me. McDaniel is Republican lobbyist who lobbied for the aforementioned gas tax increase. What’s worst is that he didn’t disclose that he was lobbying for Move MN when he went on Almanac or At Issue. That’s definitely unethical.
- Keith Downey — His ‘Send it all back’ tax refund campaign was a disaster. He knew that a $2,000,000,000 tax cut didn’t have a chance of passing. Period. When he appeared in the ad himself, he made himself the face of opposition to the House Republicans’ agenda. The Twin Cities media had a field day playing up that dispute.
I’m sure there were other losers during the regular session but that’s my list. If you want to add to this list or if you want to disagree with me, knock yourself out.
Prior to the start of Friday’s special session, Speaker Daudt, Rep. Thissen, Sen. Hann and Sen. Bakk signed an agreement with Gov. Dayton to pass the bills that they agreed to. Part of that agreement was that neither body would amend the bills that were pre-written and posted on the legislative website.
When Sen. Bakk couldn’t deliver enough votes to pass the Ag/Environment bill, the environmental activists pushed him to amend the bill to strip out 2 important reforms from the bill. The biggest reform was eliminating the Citizens Board, which can overturn decisions that the MPCA has made. When Sen. Bakk caved to the environmental activists demands, the bill went to the Senate floor, where it passed without Republican votes.
What happened next was that the House amended the amended Ag/Environment bill, putting the agreed-upon language back into the bill. The MacNamara Amendment passed by a 73-52 vote:
McNamara amendment reversing changes made to Ag and Enviro budget bill in the Senate passes House on a 73-52 vote #mnleg
— Briana Bierschbach (@bbierschbach) June 13, 2015
After the amendment passed, the House passed the bill by a 78-47 margin. Shortly thereafter, Speaker Daudt issued this statement:
“This is a responsible bill that meets the needs of our state agencies such as the Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources,” said State Representative Denny McNamara (R-Hastings), who chairs the Minnesota House Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee. “The bill also includes a number of policy reforms and initiatives that have bipartisan support.”
After the Senate changed the agreed-upon language of the legislation, the House moved to restore the original language. “By passing this legislation, we are honoring the commitment we made to Minnesotans with the four legislative leaders and the governor. Now the Senate has the opportunity to do the right thing and send this bill to the governor,” said House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-Crown).
“When this bill becomes law, Minnesota will be able to continue to protect and preserve its food supply, make needed investments in research, and have the funds necessary to respond to the avian flu outbreak.” said State Representative Rod Hamilton (R-Mountain Lake), chair of the Minnesota House Agriculture Finance Committee.
The legislation funds state agencies such as the Department of Agriculture, the Agriculture Utilization Research Institute, the Board of Animal Health, Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), Minnesota Zoo, Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Metropolitan Council – Regional Parks, Minnesota Conservation Corps, Board of Soil and Water Resources (BWSR), and the Science Museum of Minnesota for the 2016-17 budget cycle.
Highlights of the omnibus agriculture, environment and natural resources finance bill include:
- Providing nearly $23 million to state agencies in order to better prevent and respond to the avian influenza outbreak that has devastated Minnesota turkey flocks
- Creating a new grant program for cities with a population of less than 45,000 in Greater Minnesota to incentivize single stream and other recycling programs.
- Increasing funding for Soil and Water Conservation districts to fund more “on the ground” projects.
- Providing much-needed reforms to the Wetland Conservation Act, which were developed over the past year and are a consensus of interested parties (such as groups representing farmers and environmentalists).
- Approving an initiative that builds on the successful example of counties and landowners that have used a voluntary and locally based process to install buffers to enhance water and soil protection.
- Repealing the current ‘Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Trailer Sticker/Decal’ law, and replacing it with a requirement that the boat owner sign an affirmation stating they will abide by AIS laws.
This has been a ‘session from hell’ for Sen. Bakk. In February, he ambushed Gov. Dayton over the commissioners pay raise bill that he voted for. That caused Gov. Dayton to accuse him of stabbing Gov. Dayton in the back, which is an accurate accusation. After that outburst (by Dayton), Kurt Daudt became the only man who Sen. Bakk and Gov. Dayton trusted.
Thanks to this Ag/Environment bill, the DFL special interest groups have put Sen. Bakk at the top of their hit list. They’re even calling for Sen. Bakk’s ouster as Senate Majority Leader. If this thing isn’t wrapped up soon, Bakk won’t have a friend left in St. Paul.
UPDATE: The Ag/Environment bill finally passed as originally drafted. After it passed the House 78-47, it went to the Senate. Sen. Marty made a motion not to concur with the House bill. That motion failed on a 39-28 vote. Sen. Tomassoni made a motion to concur with the House bill as amended. Sen. Tomassoni’s motion to concur passed 40-26. On final passage, the bill passed 38-29. The bill now heads to Gov. Dayton’s desk for his signature.
All of the bills that fund government have now passed. They await Gov. Dayton’s signature.
UPDATE II: This is what put it over the top:
#mnleg Jeez- Bakk is already dealing with GOP for next year. How long can we put up with this? Really, how long? https://t.co/AGYCjG2rwm
— mnpact (@newtbuster) June 13, 2015
Prof. David Schultz’s post criticizes the “dissing” of democracy. Saying that it rings hollow is understatement. Here’s an example of Dr. Schultz’s argument:
Consider first the most obvious and blatant assault on democracy–the behind the door negotiations to resolve the budget. It’s bad enough when legislative leaders and the governor did private talks and deals on the budget at the governor’s mansion. Bad enough when votes take place at the end of session at the wee hours of the morning. Bad enough when they take place in impromptu conference committee hearings that effectively exclude the public and most legislators. But now the talks to resolve the disputes over the three budget bills are being done in private between Governor Dayton and Speaker Daudt. No public, no media, no other legislators.
When have any final negotiations been open to the public? When the DFL controlled St. Paul in 2013, there was a dispute on how to raise taxes. Gov. Dayton, then-Speaker Thissen and Sen. Bakk met at the Governor’s Mansion to negotiate the final details. The public wasn’t invited, nor was the press. To this day, we don’t know what was said because it was held in private. We didn’t find out what they’d negotiated until the bills were passed.
I don’t recall any outcries from Prof. Schultz accusing the DFL of short-circuiting democracy then. I don’t recall Prof. Schultz complaining about the lack of transparency when Tim Pawlenty negotiated budgets with then-Speaker Kelliher and Sen. Pogemiller, either.
This is the first time Prof. Schultz has complained about the lack of transparency. If you’re going to make a principled argument, it has to be consistent to be credible.
Second, Democrats and Republicans joined together with the governor to eliminate the political contribution rebate (PCR) program. These program, one of the true hallmarks of political reform in Minnesota, allowed for Minnesotans to contribute up to $50 per year and have it rebated to them by the state. The PCR was nationally hailed as a powerful campaign finance reform tool that encouraged small contributors to give.
I’ve never heard of the PCR thought of as a “powerful campaign finance reform tool.” Further, it’s questionable to say that it “encouraged small contributors to give” because people aren’t really giving anything. They’re sending a check into the state but then they’re sent that money back in the form of a rebate check. The PCR is just a way to encourage public financing of campaigns, which is anything but reform.
So-called reformers talk about leveling the playing field during campaigns. When they talk about that, it almost automatically means everyone gets the same money from the government. How is that fair? I want to know which candidates can build a grassroots organization. I want to know which candidates can raise money because that tells me which candidates are appealing to the most voters.
Now that the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, aka PUC, has issued a certificate of need for the Sandpiper Pipeline project, it’s time to ask an important question. First, here’s what happened:
ST. PAUL – The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has approved a certificate of need for the proposed Sandpiper pipeline from North Dakota’s Bakken oil fields to Superior, Wisconsin. While the PUC agreed 5-0 Friday that the $2.6 billion, 610-mile pipeline is necessary, they didn’t foreclose the possibility of rerouting it away from environmentally sensitive lakes, streams and wetlands in northern Minnesota. Enbridge Energy will still have to go through a lengthy review of its proposed route and a proposed alternative.
It’s great that they approved the project but I’m just a little worried about why they’re involved. Their primary responsibility is monitoring public utilities. There’s no doubt that politicians create ‘innovative’ definitions for words but that doesn’t mean a pipeline is a public utility.
There’s no justification for adding the PUC into the regulatory process — except if the goal is to create another hoop for companies to jump through. Then it makes perfect sense. If creating multiple hoops is the goal, then having the PUC review pipeline projects is imperative.
There are multiple agencies that review these types of proposals. Why? Shouldn’t Minnesota create a one-stop shopping center for reviews? Shouldn’t there be a time limit placed on both parties to speed up the review process? That way, companies can’t run out the clock by withholding important information and regulators can’t string companies along with endless amounts of questions.
Streamlining the review process gets important projects approved quickly while still asking the important questions.
There’s a throng of anti-corporation organizations filled with environmental activists attempting to kill the Sandpiper Pipeline project. They thrive off of multiple bites at the apple during the regulatory process. They’re assisted by politicians like Sen. Klobuchar and Sen. Franken, not to mention Gov. Dayton, Lt. Gov. Smith and legislators like Rep. Thissen and Sen. Marty.
These environmentalists will stand in the way of this type of reform. They’ll insist that the process isn’t broken and that it doesn’t need fixing. That’s a fantasy. Any system that requires years to get a project approved isn’t just fractured. It’s broken. Companies should be held accountable but they shouldn’t be required to spend tens of millions of dollars on each step of the regulatory process.
A strong national economy relies on cheap energy. If that’s our goal, which it should be, then it’s time we stepped into the 21st Century.
Rep. Paul Thissen, one of the slipperiest DFL operators in the House of Representatives, is at it again. Thissen’s statement is typical DFL tax cuts for the rich boilerplate:
“Speaker Daudt said today that an additional $25 million for our kids was a “line in the sand” he would not cross. It is nearly beyond comprehension that Republicans would be willing to force a government shutdown over a refusal to invest an additional $25 million in Minnesota’s kids in order to save nearly $1 billion for their top priority: corporate tax giveaways.
Thank goodness Governor Dayton has been there to fight for Minnesota’s kids and their families all session long. He has dragged House Republicans kicking and screaming from their initial position of forcing teacher layoffs and larger class sizes in a time of surplus to a $525 million investment in our schools. Nonetheless, Republican intransigence means we are missing a historic opportunity to invest in our earliest learners and change the trajectory of the lives of so many Minnesotans.
We will await further details, but remain disappointed that Republicans have left so much work undone, and all to satisfy their desire for tax giveaways for corporate special interests and the wealthiest Minnesotans next year.”
President Reagan expressed my reaction to Rep. Thissen’s deceitful accusation that the Republicans’ top priority is “tax giveaways” to the wealthy:
It’s time that the DFL just stop dead in its tracks with this lie. Whether it’s said by Gov. Dayton, Rep. Thissen or a former nobody legislator, the accusation that Republicans’ highest priority is giving multinational corporations huge tax breaks is disgustingly deceitful.
Enough with that lie. Let’s talk about how it took Speaker Daudt and Art Rolnick and the Minnesota School Board Association and other education organizations to drag Gov. Dayton kicking and screaming away from
Education Minnesota’s Gov. Dayton’s universal pre-K plan. In fact, the House DFL stood with Education Minnesota on that disastrous legislation. The next time you see a House DFL legislator, ask them why they’re supporting a massive property tax increase.
Rep. Thissen, why do you still support a major property tax increase to suburban voters? Is all your talk about helping the middle class all talk? What do you have against private early learning centers? Is it because you want Education Minnesota to grow so they pay more dues which, in turn, leads to more money for DFL campaigns?
Finally, are you so cold that you put your political needs ahead of the children’s and parents’ needs?
If there’s anything I didn’t expect to hear this session, I wouldn’t have expected Tom Anzelc to criticize Gov. Dayton. That’s exactly what Rep. Anzelc did, though:
Several were skeptical an agreement could be reached in time to avoid a partial government shutdown.
“Historically, governors don’t call a special session unless there is rock-solid agreement among the leadership,” said Rep. Tom Anzelc, DFL-Balsam Township. “Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, and Speaker Daudt have a cordial relationship. But the governor doesn’t seem to be in that triangle. That’s going to make this very complicated.”
Gov. Dayton certainly doesn’t fit into that triangle, though it’s fair to say that he’s admitted that he trusts Speaker Daudt.
To be fair, though, it isn’t accurate to think that Sen. Bakk has suddenly turned over a new moderate leaf. The reason he’s getting along with Speaker Daudt is mostly due to the fact that he’s worried that there’s something to the Republicans’ advantage in outstate Minnesota. A politician’s greatest instinct is to get re-elected. After seeing Paul Thissen get fired as Speaker in 2014, Bakk is doing his best to play to outstate Minnesota as much as possible.
But I digress.
The reality is that Gov. Dayton remains the biggest impediment to these negotiations. That’s why Speaker Daudt and Sen. Bakk pushed Gov. Dayton aside after spending the last week of the session trying to hammer out a budget deal. After 4 days of intense negotiations, the trio had reached agreement on 2 bills. After they pushed. Gov. Dayton to the side, they finished the other bills in 2 hours.
Now, Gov. Dayton is whining after taking his ill-advised pre-K initiative off the table:
“I’ve given up on my version of pre-k and that’s a huge concession on my part to try to get this resolved, to try to get this wrapped up, to try to give 10,000 public employees that they’re going to have their jobs on July 1st,” Dayton said. “I’ve gone a long ways on this to accommodate their concerns.”
It isn’t a concession considering the fact that legislators of both parties and both bodies of the legislature rejected Gov. Dayton’s proposal. It isn’t a concession considering the fact that school boards across the state oppose it. It isn’t a concession considering it’s hiding more than $3,000,000,000 in property tax increases in it because of the unfunded mandates hidden throughout Gov. Dayton’s bill.
When the Senate, which has a DFL majority, rejects Gov. Dayton’s proposal by a 52-14 margin, that’s a pretty strong indicator that it’s a terrible idea.
Gov. Dayton is opposing the bill because Republicans are demanding a common sense reform in exchange for increased spending:
The House GOP released an offer sheet that put $125 million more in the mix but called for changes to the “last-in, first-out” teacher layoff law.
Simply put, this is a sensible reform. Education Minnesota hates the idea, which is enough to earn Gov. Dayton’s wrath. If you asked parents if they’d want the teachers with the most seniority teaching their children or whether they’d prefer that the best teachers teaching their children, it wouldn’t be a fair fight.
This scathing editorial doesn’t mince words. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what Bill Hanna’s opinion of Gov. Dayton is:
And now, unencumbered by running another election campaign, Dayton evidently feels free to wage a nasty bipartisan political battle with not only traditional GOP opposition but also with DFL leaders and lawmakers who worked compromises with a $1.9 billion budget surplus to reach adjournment on time without the need for a special session.
Dayton has turned to name-calling to try to get his way. He has said that Republicans who would back his early childhood funding request of another $170 million “hate public schools.” That prompted eight House GOP lawmakers, who also have experience in teaching in the public schools, to respond in a much more civil way than how the governor labeled them.
Gov. Dayton has also thrown verbal jabs at DFLers, including Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk of Cook, who supported the K-12 $400 million education bill. Dayton said he was “astounded” that anyone calling themselves a Democrat would support it.
In terms of the budget fight, Gov. Dayton still has everything he needs to shut the government down, which is his veto pen. It doesn’t matter that people are infuriated with him. It doesn’t matter that he’s acting like a spoiled brat throwing a hissy fit. In that context, it doesn’t matter whether he’s so unlikable that he’d need to tie a pork chop around his neck just to get dogs to play with him.
In that context, all that’s needed is his veto pen.
At some point, though, the DFL will turn on Gov. Dayton. They’ll deny it but they’ll turn on Gov. Dayton. Mr. Hanna is right in saying that Gov. Dayton was “never a darling of the DFL Party leadership apparatus”. In 2010, then-Candidate Dayton wasn’t even allowed to address the DFL convention in Duluth. That tension disappeared until Sen. Bakk ambushed him over the commissioners’ raises. That re-opened old wounds. This quote will be remembered:
“To have a majority leader of the Senate come in and stab me in the back and blindside me is absolutely unacceptable,” 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,” 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.”
Gov. Dayton is losing allies fast. Right now, his closest allies are Rep. Thissen and Lt. Gov. Tina Flint-Smith. Lt. Gov. Smith hasn’t shown herself to have the ability to build coalitions. Rep. Thissen thinks that what’s good for the Twin Cities is good for Minnesota. In that sense, they’re both useless in helping outstate candidates win elections.
When the DFL turns on Gov. Dayton, it will partially be because he’s become a liability to their own re-election. The Dayton-Smith-Thissen coalition might be popular in the suburbs but it isn’t popular in the exurbs and rural Minnesota.
TEA Party Alliance president Jack Rogers is upset with House Republicans for not delivering on his demands for tax cuts:
“My heart is heavy with grief from the actions taken by the MN House Majority and some of the MN GOP Senators,” wrote Minnesota Tea Party Alliance president Jack Rogers on his Facebook page.
“Unfortunately, every house rep let us down in the final 48 hours,” commented Jake Duesenberg, the Tea Party’s executive director. “No tax cuts at all. Huge spending increases in public education and socialized health care.”
That’s disappointing coming from a group that’s supposed to know the Constitution. To expect tax cuts with a DFL majority in the Senate and a DFL governor is like expecting to buy winning lottery tickets each month. The odds are the same. Republicans passed tax cuts in the House. They were DOA when they arrived in the Senate. That’s political reality.
It’s also political reality that Republicans weren’t going to win many battles when controlling one half of one of the two political branches. If Rogers and Duesenberg want some of these accomplishments, then they should work tirelessly to elect more Republican legislators and a Republican governor. Without that, Republicans can’t enact their reform agenda.
While I’m disappointed with Mssrs. Rogers and Duesenberg, I’m not surprised that Paul Thissen and Ken Martin still won’t tell the truth. Check out Ken Martin’s whopper:
Said DFL Party Chair Ken Martin: “Republicans refused to compromise and are more interested in providing tax giveaways to corporations than investing in education.”
What is it that causes DFL politicians to reflexively lie? Does Alida Messenger implant a chip in these politicians’ brains that forces them to lie profusely? Martin saying that “Republicans refused to compromise” is disgusting dishonesty. It’s quickly disproven. Speaker Daudt and Sen. Bakk reached a budget agreement a week ago today. Of course, they kicked Gov. Dayton out of the room to finish the deal but they got it done.
Then there’s Paul Thissen. Here’s what Thissen said:
“House Republicans failed to finish the job,” DFL Minority Leader Paul Thissen said Wednesday. “They refused to compromise with Gov. Dayton. They wanted to keep this money so they can give corporate tax cuts.”
There’s those non-existent corporate tax cuts again. It’s stunning how frequently the DFL lies about this. Last weekend, I contacted Greg Davids, the chair of the House Taxes Committee, about the House Tax Bill. Here’s what he told me:
Eighty percent goes to individuals. Tax relief is for the middle class…. My tax bill is tax relief for the poor and middle class.”
It’s disappointing when people I agree with don’t acknowledge political reality.
What’s worse is when an entire political party proves itself incapable of telling the truth.
At the end of each legislative session, each chamber’s leaders issue statements on what did or didn’t get accomplished. Predictably, there’s quite a difference of opinion. Check Rep. Thissen’s statement out:
House DFL Leader Paul Thissen released the following statement:
“I would grade this session an ‘F.’ House Republicans failed to pass a transportation bill when this was supposed to be the transportation session. They failed to freeze tuition for Minnesota’s students despite our $2 billion budget surplus. They failed Greater Minnesota, ignoring broadband, oil train safety, and local property tax relief. They failed to get their job done on time, chaotically passing a jobs bill with no public input or debate. And they refused to negotiate with Governor Dayton, forcing a special session over their insistence on underfunding Minnesota’s earliest learners.
What makes this session’s failures so disappointing is the golden opportunity that Republicans have wasted- all to protect corporate special interests. With a growing economy and $2 billion surplus, we had the opportunity this session to provide greater economic security to hardworking families, fix our state’s roads and bridges, make college more affordable for students, and take needed strides to ensure all of Minnesota’s earliest learners have the chance to get ahead.
We should have done much better for hardworking Minnesotans, but Republican failed to deliver results.”
Compare that with Sen. Bakk’s statement:
Saint Paul, Minn.—Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL-Cook) released the following statement regarding the end of the 2015 legislative session.
“Tonight the legislature passed the final components of a two-year budget to keep Minnesota moving forward. Protecting MinnesotaCare from elimination, $138 million for nursing homes, and important new investments in education were significant accomplishments for the DFL Senate.
The last five months, we have seen what divided government looks like. Many bills this session passed the Senate with strong bipartisan support. However, the challenge presented by divided government immobilized many promising, critical initiatives.
I, and many Minnesotans, am particularly disappointed we were unable pass a comprehensive transportation bill this session. I will work tirelessly to pass a comprehensive transportation bill with stable funding during the 2016 legislative session. I will also work to dedicate portions of the projected budget surplus to investment in education and property tax relief for all Minnesotans,” Bakk said.
Last Friday night on Almanac, Sen. Bakk’s positive tone spoke volumes about how he felt about the budget he’d just negotiated with Speaker Daudt. He said “We didn’t get everything we wanted but we got everything we need to keep Minnesota moving forward.”
Thissen’s statement sounds like the type of political statement that an out-of-touch Twin Cities Metrocrat would write, which is what it is.
Expanded broadband isn’t a high priority for Greater Minnesota. Fixing Greater Minnesota’s pothole-filed roads are their highest priority, followed by building the Sandpiper Pipeline project to free up railcar space. Greater Minnesota understands that oil train safety, as defined by the DFL, isn’t the solution. Building pipelines is the solution, plus it kills 2 birds with one stone. First, pipelines are the safest way to get oil from Point A to Point B. Second, pipelines free up rail space for agricultural products.
Metrocrats like Thissen, though, don’t approve of that because the environmental activist wing of the DFL don’t approve of fossil fuels. The DFL’s record proves that they do exactly what their special interest masters tell them to do.
If the universal pre-K bill that the Dayton-Tina Smith administration supports got votes based on what’s good policy, it wouldn’t have made it out of committee. It certainly wouldn’t still be alive with 20+ hrs. left in the session. This article just adds to the policy justifications for killing the Dayton-Smith bill:
Rolnick, now a policy fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, has made researching early childhood education a big part of his life’s work. He argues that the earlier kids start a good education, the better off they will be in life. But he doesn’t back the governor’s universal preschool plan for 4-year-olds.
“It’s not cost effective,” Rolnick said. “There’s a much better way of doing this.” Rolnick prefers an existing scholarship program that pays for needy children to attend Head Start, a child care facility or a public school program that meets quality standards. He said Dayton’s plan is misguided because it would subsidize early education for all kids rather than target low-income children who need early education the most and are the least likely to have access to it.
Unfortunately, people who like great public policy have one strike against them. This paragraph highlights what’s missing:
The governor’s plan is backed by the state teachers’ union, Education Minnesota. But some early education groups and experts are skeptical, which may not bode well for Dayton in the Legislature.
Dr. Rolnick has a way that’s more effective and less expensive. If the Dayton-Smith administration’s highest priority is to eliminate the achievement gap and help children, then they should be for plans that are effective and inexpensive. If their goal is to pay off another DFL special interest ally, then they should shut down the government again and admit to Minnesotans that their highest priority is to pay off Education Minnesota.
To find out more about who opposes the Dayton-Smith-EdMinn plan, check out this audio of Sen. Carla Nelson talking on the subject.
Here’s a partial transcript of Sen. Nelson’s statement:
It’s very frustrating for me as a legislator and I can only imagine for Minnesotans all across this state to know that, as of Thursday night, just 4 days out from adjournment, there was still no budget agreement on the individual targets for the individual conference areas. Quite frankly, there is no excuse for that. We should have had those targets early, in late April. So, first of all, it was frustrating getting those targets so late and then to add to add fat to the fire, so to speak, there was this agreement between Democrat Senate Majority Leader Bakk and the Republican-controlled House Speaker Daudt and them the Governor is suddenly threatening a veto of the Education Bill. I find that worrisome for a number of reasons. Minnesotans want bipartisanship. We got that here and then the Governor is concerned about one provision in the Education bill and, quite frankly, I understand his concern. He’s very concerned about high quality early learning, making sure kids are ready when they get to Kindergarten and are prepared to learn. I support that, too, but I believe the Governor’s initiative, which is universal pre-Kindergarten, is very premature at this time and is not what Minnesotans want or the school districts need. They just don’t want to build wings of Kindergarten wings onto their buildings for all-day Kindergarten. They are not wishing to now go out and build wings of pre-Kindergarten rooms. Those would be additional property taxes. Also, interestingly enough, early education advocates throughout the state, including myself, a person like Art Rolnick, a person who has pushed early childhood learning to the head of our state, is saying that the Governor’s plan to implement is wrong. We should be targeting resources to those kids most in need.
Let’s be clear about this. The Dayton-Smith-Thissen pre-K bill is a massive property tax increase waiting to happen. Schools throughout the state will have to build onto their existing schools to house all of the extra children. That’s inescapable.
Dayton, Smith and Thissen know this. They don’t care. Their allegiance isn’t with the students, as they’ve insisted. It isn’t with the school districts that’ve protested this throughout the state. The Minnesota School Board Association opposes the program, too. Check this out:
Some school districts indicated to the House Education Finance Committee that they don’t have space to add “basically an entire new grade in our public school system,” its chair, Rep. Jenifer Loon, an Eden Prairie Republican, told us.
There’s concern about facilities, equipment and transportation, she said. “There may be money the governor is proposing per pupil, but there’s no money there to help districts if they have to build classrooms,” for example. “That’s a huge cost that would largely fall on local property taxpayers.”
TRANSLATION: There’s money in this bill for Education Minnesota but there’s a major tax increase in the bill for parents and other taxpayers.