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When it comes to dishonest DFL politicians, Paul Thissen is in the conversation. Though he isn’t at the top of the list, he’s certainly part of the conversation. Yesterday, Rep. Thissen issued this statement. To be fair to Rep. Thissen, there were fragments of truth in his statement.

For instance, Rep. Thissen was sort of right in saying “Republicans have refused to provide any compromise offers to get needed tax, bonding and budget bills passed in a special session.” I say sort of right because they’re sticking with the House bill, which included lots of DFL priorities in it. I wrote this article to highlight the amount of compromise included in the House bonding/transportation bill. I included a lengthy quote from Sen. David Hann in the article. He was clearly and justifiably upset with Gov. Dayton’s refusal to drop any of his demands. Here’s what Sen. Hann said:

I would just reiterate that the bills that we had on the last day of session were compromise bills. Go back again. Look at the tape. Look at Sen. Stumpf talking about the bonding/transportation bill. He called it a “true compromise between Republicans and Democrats.” The Speaker has pointed out that half of that bill, more than half of it, had the Governor’s priorities in it. And now we’re supposedly at a point where all of those compromises are off the table and we’ve got another $243,000,000 of additional spending that we are being asked to do without any backing away from that number — an additional couple hundred million in bonding.

And all of this is kind of in complete denial of all of the compromise work that had gone on this entire last session. This is what I find so remarkable. I think it is a setback. Why, after a whole session and actually going back to the session before of talking about some of these issues, to now have a bill get killed at the last minute with a request for a light rail project that no one had ever seen a hearing on and now, that becomes a must have and they say we have to start over and renegotiate everything, I think it is a setback.

Rep. Thissen, why should Republicans offer additional compromises when Gov. Dayton refuses to move a square centimeter from his post-session positions? Rep. Thissen apparently thinks that Republicans should always compromise and that DFL politicians don’t ever have to compromise.

Later in his statement, Rep. Thissen said “If House Republicans were serious about doing the job they were elected to do, they wouldn’t be bringing controversial new policy into the discussion at this stage.” That’s rich. The only reason we’re in this position is because a handful of DFL senators amended the House bonding/transportation bill with less than 10 minutes left in the session to include a provision for funding for the Southwest Light Rail project. That provision was controversial. It wasn’t discussed in any House or Senate committee hearings. As Sen. Hann points out, “now it becomes a must have and we have to start over and renegotiate everything.”

It’s time Speaker Daudt and Sen. Hann turned up the heat on Gov. Dayton for killing the Tax Bill, then refusing the legislature to fix it. Gov. Dayton said he wouldn’t hold the Tax Bill hostage. I guess he meant he wouldn’t hold it hostage until he started using it as leverage in negotiations. Here’s why that’s important.

Gov. Dayton wants to increase the size of the bonding bill by more than 40% over the House bonding/transportation bill. Further, he wants $243,000,000 worth of additional spending for the Twin Cities added to a new supplemental appropriations bill after signing a major supplemental appropriations bill a month ago.

In other words, Gov. Dayton is insisting on getting everything he’s wanted from the start of the regular session. Republicans need to expose him for the autocrat that he is. Similarly, they need to expose the DFL as the party who hasn’t negotiated in good faith and that aren’t interested in doing what’s right for Minnesotans. Here’s Rep. Thissen’s statement:

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There’s an important question Minnesotans should ask themselves before they head to the polls this November. Should they vote for a political party that’s owned by the special interests? If they don’t want to vote for a political party that’s owned by the special interests, then they can’t vote for DFL candidates.

The child care unionization vote provides the perfect illustration of how much the DFL is owned by the special interests. On May 15, 2013, the Minnesota Senate debated the child care unionization bill for 17 hours. The bill passed 35-32, with 4 DFL senators joining all 28 Republicans in voting against the forced unionization legislation. Five days later, on May 20, 2013, the House passed the unionization bill 68-66.

The DFL passed the bill despite a strong self-organized marathon lobbying effort by the in-home child care providers. When the DFL took up the debate in the House of Representatives, in-home child care providers were legion in the halls outside the House chamber. Repeatedly, these child care providers told the few DFL legislators who would listen that they’d reject unionization.

That didn’t matter to the DFL. Mike Nelson, the DFL’s point person on all things unions, argued for passage of the bill. The DFL passed the bill by the narrowest of margins, 68-66.

Rather than listen to the people, the DFL listened to the special interests. The bill passed. The DFL bragged about another legislative victory to go along with raising taxes and making historic investments in schools.

The DFL’s victories were short-lived. Several of the taxes that they raised were repealed 9 months later. The “historic investments” in education were touted as a way to stop property tax increases. Less than a year later, school districts were raising property taxes to sustain their operating levies.

On March 1, 2016, in-home child care providers pounded the final nail in the DFL’s forced unionization plans, defeating the organizing effort with 1,014 child care providers voting against unionization and 392 child care providers voting for unionization. In-home child care providers rejected unionization by a 72%-28% margin. That didn’t surprise Jennifer Parrish:

We know that over the 10 years that we’ve been working on this that child-care providers are hands down overwhelmingly opposed to this. They were waiting by their mailboxes just so they could have an opportunity to vote no. Family child-care providers are small business owners. We set our own rates, we create our own working conditions, all the things that unions typically negotiate for, we determine for ourselves.

The DFL listened to the SEIU and AFSCME. Republicans listened to in-home child care providers. Remember that the next time you wonder which party to vote for.

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The DFL, especially Rep. Thissen, has been whining about how dysfunctional the House GOP is. The DFL’s criticism is based on a myth but that doesn’t mean they won’t keep lying to regain complete control of Minnesota state government. In fact, the only thing that the DFL cares about is raw political power. Another myth is that the DFL cares about ‘the little guy.’ That’s BS. I’ll let Harold Hamilton explain why it’s BS.

This morning, Hamilton wrote “Tell your friends, neighbors, family and co-workers the truth about the tax bill that was vetoed. That bill was a conference report, jointly authored and unanimously passed by a House-Senate conference committee.” Later, Hamilton noted that the conference committee was comprised of “Sen. Rod Skoe (DFL – Clearbrook) – Senate Tax Committee Chairman, Sen. Paul Gazelka (R – Nisswa),
Sen. Ann Rest (DFL – New Hope), Sen. Lyle Koenen (DFL – Clara City), Sen. Kari Dziedzic (DFL – Minneapolis), Rep. Greg Davids (R – Preston) – House Tax Committee Chairman, Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R – Mazeppa), Rep. Bob Barrett (R – Lindstrom), Rep. Chris Swedzinski (R – Ghent) and Rep. Gene Pelowski (DFL – Winona).”

Hamilton then noted that “the conferees assembled a bill that passed the full House by a vote of 123-10.”

House Minority Leader Paul Thissen has been leading the chorus against the bill, now that it has been vetoed.

Let the record reflect that the following DFL members of the House voted for the conference report: Allen, Anzelc, Applebaum, Atkins, Bernardy, Bly, Carlson, Clark, Considine, Davnie, Dehn, Ecklund, Erhardt, Fischer, Flanagan, Halverson, Hausman, Hilstrom, Hortman, Isaacson, Johnson C., Kahn, Laine, Lein, Lillie, Loeffler, Mahoney, Mariani, Marquart, Masin, Melin, Metsa, Moran, Mullery, Murphy M., Nelson, Newton, Norton, Pelowski, Persell, Poppe, Rosenthal, Schoen, Schultz, Wagenius, Ward, Yarusso, Yuakim.

In fact, only 9 House Democrats voted “no.”

Let’s dispel this myth that Republicans are hard-headed ideologues. The Tax Bill passed 123-10 in the House and 55-12 in the Senate. That’s 178 legislators voting for the supposedly deeply flawed bill vs. 22 legislators voting against the deeply flawed bill.

Gov. Dayton insists that the GOP must make more bipartisan gestures. With all due respect, Gov. Dayton, that’s BS. Any bill that was put together by a conference committee composed of equal numbers of DFL legislators and GOP legislators is necessarily bipartisan. Additionally, any bill that passes with 89% of legislators is necessarily bipartisan.

Next, let’s examine the Capital Improvement Bill that passed the House. It passed 91-39. It passed with 70% of the vote:

Democrats who voted in favor of the bill:

Anzelc, Bly, Carlson, Clark, Dehn, Ecklund, Erhardt, Fischer, Frieberg, Hausman, Isaacson, Johnson C., Johnson S., Kahn, Lien, Lillie, Mahoney, Mariani, Marquart, Masin, Melin, Metsa, Moran, Murphy M., Newton, Pelowski, Pinto, Poppe, Rosenthal, Sundin, Yarusso.

It’s too much to think that the DFL will relent. That isn’t happening. They’ll continue their lies through Election Day. The next best remedy to the DFL’s dishonesty is to continually call them out as dishonest power-mongers.

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I’ll be appearing on Ox in the Afternoon at 3:10 this afternoon. Sorry for the short notice. We’ll be talking all things Thissen. Read all my articles by clicking this link. Follow this link to listen to all of Ox’s podcasts. My interview will be posted there Thursday night after the show. PS- This is the article that got everything started.

On Monday, I wrote this post to highlight Paul Thissen’s hypocrisy on a tax bill that got strong overwhelming bipartisan support in the Minnesota legislature. Monday night, Matt Swenson confirmed that Gov. Dayton won’t sign this year’s tax relief bill, saying Dayton “will not sign a tax bill that includes a $101 million error.”

That’s BS. Gov. Dayton signed a tax bill in 2013 that contained far more than $101,000,000 in errors. Then, there was a DFL governor and DFL majorities in the Minnesota House and Minnesota Senate. That year’s tax bill included $90,000,000 for Sen. Bakk’s Senate Office Building. The DFL Tax Bill of 2013 applied, for the first time in Minnesota history, Minnesota’s sales tax to farm equipment repair, telecommunications equipment and warehousing operations. Those taxes were passed over the strenuous objections of the business community. According to this article, “Dayton’s plan would dramatically alter the state’s revenue streams. Over time, the state’s system has tilted toward the property tax, which supplies 40 percent of the state’s revenue. Income taxes provide 33 percent and 27 percent come from sales taxes. The overhaul would ensure that each of the three sources provided roughly a third of state revenue.”

If that’s accurate, then one-third of the Dayton-DFL tax increase came from the sales tax increase. That year’s tax increase was projected to be $2,250,000,000. When the DFL legislature went home after the 2013 session, they found out that the B2B sales tax increases were wildly unpopular. By August, the DFL had essentially admitted that those B2B sales tax increases were a mistake. The DFL didn’t issue a statement admitting it in those words. Rather, they admitted it by initially considering the repeal of the B2B sales taxes during that summer’s special session.

The repeal of those sales taxes didn’t happen during that summer’s special session. Instead, they were repealed in the regular 2014 session. Either way, the repeal of those sales taxes represented a mistake of over $350,000,000. Couple that with the $90,000,000 Senate Office Building and you’re talking well north of this year’s drafting error of $101,000,000.

It’s worth noting that the DFL’s tax mistake was a major policy mistake. They made a $400,000,000+ mistake by not understanding how counterproductive those tax increases were. In the case of the GOP Tax Bill’s mistake, it was simply a drafting mistake, something that happens multiple times each year. It’s an easy fix.

Gov. Dayton’s threat is now a reality.

Gov. Dayton isn’t being honest with Minnesotans. Here’s what Gov. Dayton demanded during negotiations for a special session:

The demands essentially call for about $423 million in additional spending, on top of the $183 million in additional spending this session, on top of the additional spending added last year when the state crafted its new two-year budget.

That means Gov. Dayton vetoed a bill that would’ve a) helped students pay off their student loan debt, b) helped parents save money for their kids’ college education and provided property tax relief to farmers and small businesses. Further, it’s been confirmed that Speaker Daudt suggested a meeting between the governor, Senator Bakk and himself and that Gov. Dayton refused to meet.

Gov. Dayton ignored Minnesotans’ needs. Gov. Dayton didn’t pay attention to the “farmers, parents and veterans” that Republicans brought to St. Paul to lobby Dayton. Instead, Gov. Dayton vetoed a tax bill that would’ve helped these Minnesotans because Republicans didn’t say yes to Gov. Dayton’s spending demands. Gov. Dayton said no to providing tax relief to thousands of Minnesotans because Republicans didn’t spend half of the surplus on Gov. Dayton’s and the DFL’s wish list.

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Rep. Thissen just posted this tweet in an attempt to criticize Republicans to distract attention away from Gov. Dayton vetoing a series of middle class tax cuts. In his tweet, he said “I bet those Republican House members wish they’d voted w/ us for 24 hrs. to review bills. That’s how you avoid $100 million mistakes.”

Rep. Thissen is a man living in a glass house who throws stones recklessly. In 2013, Rep. Thissen joined with Sen. Bakk and Gov. Dayton to pass a tax bill that raised taxes on farmers, warehouse operators and telecommunications equipment. In 2014, Rep. Thissen joined with Sen. Bakk and Gov. Dayton in admitting that Republicans were right in voting against those sales tax increases. They didn’t admit it in a press release. They admitted it by repealing those sales taxes.

Rep. Thissen, Sen. Bakk and Gov. Dayton reached agreement on these tax increases a week before the end of the 2013 session. They passed these sales tax increases the last day of the session, which meant the DFL had tons of time to read through the Tax Bill.

Those sales tax increases weren’t the only mistakes made by Rep. Thissen, Sen. Bakk and Gov. Dayton in that 2013 Tax Bill. That year, Rep. Thissen, Sen. Bakk and Gov. Dayton and the DFL included $90,000,000 to build Bakk’s Senate Palace. To be fair, though, Rep. Thissen, Sen. Bakk and Gov. Dayton haven’t admitted that was a mistake. Minnesotans admitted it, though, when they threw out Rep. Thissen as Speaker of the House. In 2014, it wasn’t coincidence that the DFL returned to being the minority party in the House.

Between the sales tax increases that were later repealed and $90,000,000 spent on Bakk’s Palace, it isn’t a stretch to think that Rep. Thissen’s mistakes added up to much more than $100,000,000. It’s more likely that the DFL’s mistakes made in 2013 and admitted in 2014 topped $300,000,000. Though I don’t have the spreadsheet in front of me, the article I linked to earlier talks about “a $443 million tax reduction bill.” Add $90,000,000 for the Senate Office Building to the $443,000,000 and you’re easily over $500,000,000.

Rep. Thissen shouldn’t shoot his mouth off about $100,000,000 mistakes after he joined Sen. Bakk and Gov. Dayton and the DFL majorities in the Minnesota House and Senate in making a series of far bigger mistakes in 2013 and 2014.

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Patrick Condon’s article reads like it was written by Paul Thissen. It opens by saying “Minnesota Republicans, who seized control of the House two years ago on promises to cut taxes and boost road and bridge spending across the state, now could go zero for two on those priorities because of bad blood with DFL Gov. Mark Dayton.”

Let’s correct that to tell what’s really happened. Gov. Dayton and Rep. Thissen have tried pushing a metrocentric agenda down Minnesota’s throats. Thanks to Speaker Daudt and House Republicans, we’ve actually had real solutions proposed that would’ve fixed Minnesota’s roads and bridges while providing tax relief to small businesses, college students and farmers.

The metrocentric DFL has fought against road and bridge repair by insisting that Minnesota’s gas tax be increased. When that failed, they insisted that the bonding bill include funding for the SWLRT project, something that’s been controversial for a decade. Speaker Daudt should tell Gov. Dayton that Republicans are prepared to take the message of DFL obstructionism to the voters and let them decide if they want DFL legislators interfering with the Republicans’ positive, solutions-oriented agenda.

It isn’t the Republicans’ fault that Rep. Thissen and Gov. Dayton hate outstate Minnesota. It isn’t the Republicans’ fault that Gov. Dayton is willing to veto a bill that would provide tax relief to tens of thousands of Minnesotans. If Gov. Dayton wants to veto a bill because it has a technical error that Republicans have agreed to fix in a special session, then it’s Gov. Dayton, not Republicans, who is standing in the way of helping Minnesotans.

Thus far, Gov. Dayton has publicly stated that he’s willing to stand in the way of fixing the most dangerous stretch of highway in Minnesota. He’s also threatened to veto a tax bill that would provide tax relief to tens of thousands of Minnesotans. If Gov. Dayton wants the DFL to get the reputation of being the obstructionist party in Minnesota, that’s his decision. If Gov. Dayton wants the DFL to get the reputation of insisting on raising Minnesotans’ taxes each year, that’s Gov. Dayton’s and the DFL’s decision.

If Gov. Dayton wants the Republicans to get the reputation of fixing problems like eliminating student loan debt and helping parents save for their kids’ college education, that’s Gov. Dayton’s choice. That isn’t to say that Republicans don’t wish that they could do a couple of things differently in terms of bringing bills to the House floor. It just means that their policies are superior to the DFL’s ideas.

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Rachel Stassen-Berger’s article provides a little levity at a critical time. Ms. Stassen-Berger’s article opens by saying “Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton will spend his holiday weekend reviewing the minute details of the spending and tax bills the Legislature delivered for his signature as he decides their fate.” If that’s true, it will mark the first time in his administration that Gov. Dayton will have paid any attention to the details of any legislation.

Right before FarmFest 2013, Gov. Dayton discovered the farm equipment repair sales tax in the Tax Bill he personally negotiated with Sen. Bakk and then-Speaker Thissen. After FarmFest, Gov. Dayton promised to repeal the farm equipment sales tax during a special session of the legislature. Then Gov. Dayton and the DFL legislature broke that promise.

In 2012, Gov. Dayton was outraged to find a provision in the Vikings’ stadium bill that gave the Wilfs the authority to charge extra for PSLs, aka Personal Seat Licenses. Like the farm equipment repair sales tax, the Vikings Stadium bill was a bill Gov. Dayton personally negotiated with the legislature.

In the interview, the governor said he had already pored over the lawmakers’ work.

“I spent six hours on Wednesday and about four hours yesterday going through them in detail with staff,” Dayton said. “We went through all the major bills with a fine-toothed comb and asked for some further analysis I’m going to get by the end of the day.”

If Gov. Dayton vetoes the GOP’s tax relief bill, Republicans will hang that veto around the necks of every DFL legislator or challenger in a swing district. Not even Gov. Dayton is that foolish. Here’s why:

The Legislature, on wide bipartisan votes, also approved tax cuts and credits that cost the state cash in its short- and long-term budgeting. Students with college debt, veterans, tobacco companies, families and cities are among the beneficiaries.

Throughout the session, the DFL’s top priorities were for broadband expansion, raising the gas tax and spending more to reduce racial disparities. They voted for tax relief because voting against it would’ve been political suicide but it wasn’t a priority with the DFL. Likewise, it isn’t a priority with Gov. Dayton.

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When I wrote this article, I expected to have lots of company covering Rep. Thissen’s abusive behavior. Since the 7 GOP legislators wrote the letter to Rep. Thissen, I’ve done searches to see if anyone had written about Thissen’s disgusting behavior. I wrote, too, about how the DFL sat silent while Rep. Thissen repeatedly taunted GOP staffers.

Thus far, the silence has been deafening. It’s been telling, too.

When 7 legislators say that they’d “witnessed a disturbing pattern of verbal abuse of Republican Staff by [Rep. Thissen] on the floor of the House of Representatives,” that’s a big deal. When Reps. Peppin, Franson, O’Neill, Mack, Albright, Fabian and Nash said that they’d witnessed Thissen’s abusive behavior “throughout this session”, that should’ve gotten reporters’ attention. Apparently, it didn’t get the media’s attention.

It’s disgusting that the DFL legislators that Rep. Thissen allegedly leads to sit silent. It’s in their partisan interest to look like they aren’t led by a man who can’t control his temper. It’s one thing to protect a politician in you own party. It’s another to protect a politician when you’re supposed to be a reporter at a major newspaper or TV station. I’m even willing to cut columnists a certain amount of slack.

It’s quite another thing when a chief political reporter for KSTP or the Pioneer Press mention the incident in a tweet, then go totally silent on the subject. I get it that the end of session is the biggest story of the week. It’s another thing to just be silent about another big story. And yes, the Thissen story is a big deal.

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I’ve criticized Rep. Thissen fairly frequently. While I didn’t know that Rep. Thissen was vulgar, I knew that he wasn’t a man of integrity. Today, 7 members of the House GOP sent a letter to Rep. Thissen criticizing him for Rep. Thissen’s “disturbing pattern of verbal abuse of Republican Staff.” The letter was signed by House Majority Leader Peppin, Mary Franson, Marion O’Neill, Tara Mack, Tony Albright, Dan Fabian and Jim Nash. According to Rachel Stassen-Berger’s tweet, Rep. Thissen has apologized because Rep. Thissen’s “behavior was over the line.”

That’s BS. The letter from Reps. Peppin, Franson, O’Neill, Mack, Albright, Fabian and Nash said “Throughout this session, we have witnessed a disturbing pattern of verbal abuse of Republican Staff by you on the floor of the House of Representatives.” Thissen’s behavior wasn’t “over the line.” They weren’t an aberration. They weren’t his reaction in the heat of the moment during the last pressure-packed night of the session.

They were the actions of a coward. Later in their letter, Reps. Peppin, Franson, O’Neill, Mack, Albright, Fabian and Nash said “Despite this near-universal recognition, you routinely made derogatory remarks about our staff by name on the House floor and in the Rules Committee. These comments were made knowing that our staff cannot respond in kind and that staff has no microphone to defend themselves.”

Another thing that stands out is the fact that the DFL watched Rep. Thissen’s abusive behavior and didn’t do a thing to correct Thissen’s behavior. It’s bad enough that Thissen acted like Harry Reid during one of his mindless temper tantrums. It’s worse that the DFL did nothing after witnessing their ‘leader’ abuse defenseless staffers.

It isn’t enough for Rep. Thissen to just apologize. That’s required but it isn’t enough. What’s required, too, is for Thissen to resign his post as House DFL Leader. Repeated abusive behavior is proof that he doesn’t respect the people who support legislators. It’s proof that he thinks they’re his servants, not valued support staff that makes the legislature work.

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