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I used to think that the Alliance for a Better Minnesota, aka ABM, was the most dishonest collection of progressives in Minnesota. I’m rethinking that, not because I think ABM suddenly became an integrity-filled organization but because Rep. Paul Thissen is a disgustingly dishonest person. I’m writing this because Rep. Thissen is dishonest and deceptive. When he issued this statement, Rep. Thissen put words in Speaker Daudt’s mouth, words that Speaker Daudt didn’t say.

The thing that Rep. Thissen twisted is the sentence that Speaker Daudt said. It reads “Number one, it would fund our roads and bridges, but number two, it would start to starve out the general fund, so it would remove money currently going in to the general fund, which is a really good thing.”

Rep. Thissen twisted that into this sentence, which says “Speaker Daudt’s admission that the purpose of the House Republican transportation plan is to “starve out” the money we use to fund our schools, police officers, and other basic services is the most damning argument against their so-called plan to date. He is openly admitting not only that they do not have a real plan to fund our roads and bridges but that the real purpose is to send us into deficit so they can cut our schools and other basic services in perpetuity.”

Rep. Thissen’s insistence that Speaker Daudt secretly wants to starve K-12 Education and police officer funding is insane. Last year, Speaker Daudt and Senate Majority Leader worked out a bipartisan budget plan a week before the end of session. If Rep. Thissen wants to argue that Speaker Daudt wants to starve education, transportation and public safety, then he’d better argue that about Sen. Bakk, too.

This statement is exceptionally dishonest:

Speaker Daudt and Republicans should bring forward a real transportation plan that will adequately fund our roads and bridges without depriving our general fund of resources that educate our kids from kindergarten to college and fund basic government services that are important to the lives of Minnesota families.

That’s rich. Tim Kelly criticized (exposed?) Rep. Thissen in this op-ed:

Do you recall Thissen’s “comprehensive transportation solution that truly fixes the problem long-term” from two years ago? Me either, because it didn’t exist.

Rep. Thissen is a natural-born obstructionist. His first action is to criticize, not solve problems.

It’s truly a sad day in Minnesota. The DFL leader in the House isn’t interested in solving problems. He isn’t even interested in telling the truth. Paul Thissen is a cookie-cutter DFL weasel whose only objectives are to maintain power and to pass the DFL’s ideological agenda.

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A little over a week ago, the St. Cloud Times published my LTE in which I talked about how Speaker Daudt challenged Rep. Thissen. Specifically, I wrote that Thissen accused Republicans of throwing “controversial provisions into big bills right at the end” of session. Unwilling to let Rep. Thissen’s spin go unchallenged, Speaker Daudt asked him to name some specific controversial provisions that Republicans threw into big budget bills at the end of the 2015 session.

Rather than respond substantively, Rep. Thissen repeated the accusation.

Later, I wrote that “Tim Kelly, the chairman of the House Transportation Committee, wrote an op-ed saying that the next transportation plan Thissen submits ‘will be his first.'” I also said that it’s “a disgrace that the DFL would pick a dishonest man to lead them in the House.” I finished by saying that the DFL agenda is “all criticism and no solutions.” I must’ve gotten under Rep. Thissen’s skin with that. Earlier this week, the Times published Rep. Thissen’s op-ed.

Rep. Thissen’s op-ed addresses some items from the DFL agenda. He started by saying that the “reality is we have been the party of ideas, bringing forth common-sense solutions to address Minnesota’s biggest problem — too many Minnesotans are being squeezed in an economy tilted in favor of the insiders, elites and special interests.” With all due respect, Rep. Thissen, the DFL is the party of special interests.

Nobody’s been squeezed more than the Iron Range. They’ve been squeezed by environmental absolutists who demand that mining projects can’t produce any pollution ever. They’ve been squeezed so tight that it’s difficult to find middle class families on the Range. Minnesota’s poverty rate is 11.5%; compare that with Hibbing’s poverty rate of 20.6% and Virginia’s poverty rate of 26.5%. Then, Rep. Thissen, tell me who’s getting squeezed and who’s getting ignored by the DFL.

Rep. Thissen also wrote that “House DFLers proposed just a solution comprised partly of the House GOP transportation plan and Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposal.” That isn’t a solution. The DFL’s ‘solution’ would’ve imposed a major tax increase on the very middle class taxpayers that Rep. Thissen insists are getting squeezed by the special interests. FYI- Gov. Dayton’s transportation plan is virtually identical to Move MN’s transportation plan. Move MN doesn’t exist anymore. The new DFL-aligned transportation lobbyist organization is called Transportation Forward.

Rep. Thissen, when the DFL approved spending on the Senate Office Building, which group of squeezed people did that help? When the DFL legislature passed its Tax Bill, it included sales taxes on farm equipment repairs, warehousing services and other B2B taxes. This table offers a good explanation of the middle class tax increases the DFL imposed on Minnesotans:

Rep. Thissen, why did the DFL legislature pass this mountain of middle class tax increases in 2013, then vote to repeal them in 2014?

It’s crazy that Rep. Thissen thinks that this is a solution:

We have introduced legislation that would demand powerful drug companies be more transparent about profits to reduce costs of prescription drugs.

That’s right, Rep. Thissen. Central Minnesota has been insisting that the state government get involved in telling businesses how they’ll be allowed to conduct business. Minnesotans are getting squeezed by busybody politicians like Rep. Thissen have heaped piles of compliance costs, reporting requirements and regulations on businesses. That, more than anything else, is what’s driving up costs.

Finally, what’s interesting is that Rep. Thissen didn’t argue that he wasn’t truthful about the controversial provisions thrown into bills.

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Before the start of session, Speaker Daudt and Rep. Thissen got into some verbal fisticuffs at a media gathering. The topic was supposed to talk about expectations for the legislative session that’s currently under way.

Suffice it to say that Rep. Thissen walked right into Speaker Daudt’s trap on the Senate Office Building. If you watch the video, starting 34:11 into the video, what you’ll see is Rep. Thissen nodding in agreement when Speaker Daudt said that the Senate Office Building was controversial.

What you’ll also notice is that Rep. Thissen’s accusations were challenged by Speaker Daudt. What you won’t see, though, is Rep. Thissen providing proof that his accusations had happened. Based on what’s in this video, it looks like the DFL’s strategy this session will be to make accusations that aren’t true. The other part of this strategy apparently is to hope nobody challenges the DFL’s accusations. The bad news for the DFL is that Speaker Daudt is setting the tone by challenging the DFL’s accusations.

Here’s a partial transcript of their jousting:

REP. THISSEN: Tons of controversial things were thrown into big bills that nobody knew what was in them.
SPEAKER DAUDT: Like what?
REP. THISSEN: The point is, what we’re hearing on the private prison
SPEAKER DAUDT: Like what? What was so controversial? The Senate Office Building?
REP. THISSEN: That wasn’t last year.
SPEAKER DAUDT: No, that was the year before. That’s controversial. We didn’t throw big, controversial things in at the end of session.
REP. THISSEN: You threw all kinds of controversial things in at the end of session.

That wasn’t the only time Speaker Daudt challenged DFL politicians. Here’s the partial transcript of Speaker Daudt vs. Gov. Dayton on universal Pre-K:

SPEAKER DAUDT: Governor, the reason to oppose it is because it doesn’t show that it closes the achievement gap.
GOV. DAYTON: Yes, it does.
SPEAKER DAUDT: No, it doesn’t.
GOV. DAYTON: Yes, it does.

Art Rolnick is a policy fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. He’s a longtime advocate for early childhood learning. On this issue, though, Rolnick sides with Speaker Daudt:

“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.

If given the choice between trusting Gov. Dayton or Dr. Rolnick on early childhood education, I’d pick Dr. Rolnick every time.

It’s clear that Speaker Daudt is taking a much more assertive role in crafting the GOP’s legislative agenda. He clearly isn’t intimidated by the DFL’s noise machine, aka ABM. He isn’t worried about matching wits with Gov. Dayton or Rep. Thissen, either.

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It isn’t surprising that the Alliance for a Better Minnesota is raising a stink about Kurt Daudt’s paying off debt that he incurred when he was unemployed a few years back. ABM and the DFL don’t have a positive agenda to run on so going negative is their natural default. When it comes to making things up, ABM is a pro’s pro. Their webpage dedicated to Speaker Daudt says “When politicians and lobbyists make deals, Minnesotans deserve to know the details.”

There’s no proof that Speaker Daudt made a special deal. ABM doesn’t care about that. They’re experts in whisper campaigns. They’d be well-advised to shut up. If they don’t, some of their dirty laundry will get exposed. In 2012, DFL Rep. Kerry Gauthier was arrested by the Duluth Police Department for having sex with a 17-year-old boy at the Thompson Hill Rest Stop at the south end of Duluth. That arrest was made on July 22, 2012. Rep. Thissen didn’t say anything about this disgusting incident until August 20, 2012. Even then, Thissen’s statement was mild, saying “I am deeply disappointed with Rep. Kerry Gauthier’s conduct. The conduct was wrong and … I believe he should withdraw from the race for re-election.”

Why did Rep. Thissen wait a month before addressing Rep. Gauthier’s disgusting behavior? For that matter, DFL Chairman Ken Martin sat silent, too. When he finally spoke up, here’s the timid statement he made:

His actions are inexcusable. The people of Duluth deserve a representative who will stand up for their interests, without the sort of distractions that Rep. Gauthier has caused through exceedingly poor judgment.

When a 60-year-old has sex with a 17-year-old at a public rest stop, that isn’t displaying “exceedingly poor judgment.” That’s disgusting behavior.

Mssrs. Martin and Thissen didn’t answer the big questions. For instance, why didn’t they speak out sooner about Gauthier’s disgusting behavior? Next, why were their statements so timid? Where’s their moral outrage over Gauthier’s disgusting behavior?

Finally, shouldn’t Martin and Thissen have spoken out immediately out of a sense of responsibility to Minnesotans? Some things go far beyond politics. Gauthier’s arrest is one of those things. That Martin and Thissen sat silent for a month indicates that they’re ok with Gauthier’s behavior, at least until the story was about to break.

Last night, Almanac did a segment previewing the Minnesota Legislature’s agenda. Included in that segment was video of a fight between Speaker Daudt and Rep. Thissen. It wasn’t a fair fight, which is why Rep. Thissen got his butt handed to him.

Rep. Thissen said that “tons of controversial stuff were thrown into big bills right before the end of session.” Speaker Daudt immediately pressed Rep. Thissen, asking “like what?” Undeterred, Rep. Thissen repeated his assertion. Immediately, Speaker Daudt asked again “like what? Like the Senate Office building because that was controversial?” Rep. Thissen replied “No, that wasn’t last year.” After that, Rep. Thissen just repeated his line about “tons of controversial stuff were thrown into big bills” without naming any specific things.

Without thinking, Rep. Thissen walked right into that one. (That’s what happens when you’re experienced at repeating focus group-approved lines but inexperienced at thinking for yourself. The DFL is definitely inexperienced at thinking for themselves. Without thinking about it, Rep. Thissen essentially admitted that he was lying about the controversial things accusation. Further, Rep. Thissen threw Sen. Bakk under the DFL’s bus.

I wrote this post to highlight the bipartisan budget agreement that Speaker Daudt and Sen. Bakk negotiated early in the last week of the legislature’s regular session. At the time, I highlighted the fact that Rep. Thissen and Gov. Dayton didn’t like the bipartisan bill. They immediately started trying to blow the deal up. Twin Cities Metrocrats didn’t like the budget agreement because it didn’t include Gov. Dayton’s universal pre-K plan.

This will be a tumultuous session. Gov. Dayton is insisting on passing his universal pre-K plan. Opposition for universal pre-K is bipartisan. Art Rolnick blistered Gov. Dayton on Gov. Dayton’s proposal:

Rolnick (and many other early-childhood education advocates) thinks Dayton has seized the wrong high ground. For the governor’s plan “is only for 4-year-olds,” Rolnick said on Minnesota Public Radio last week. “We really have to start much earlier.” Plus, “it’s a public-school-only approach,” which would rob parents of their ability to choose. “We don’t think one size fits all parents.

“And unfortunately, the governor’s new program—which we are strongly questioning—is very expensive,” because it calls for schools statewide to hire unionized pre-K teachers. Far better to use the money to finance scholarships for low-income children—scholarships that could pay for quality pre-schools long before the youngsters turn 4. “The governor’s plan is universal in the sense that it includes all 4-year-olds,” he said. “Our scholarships can be universal, too. But the first dollars—we should make sure we first fund all our at-risk kids.”

That’s a big issue but it isn’t the only issue that’s controversial. Check back to LFR next week for additional updates on what will make this session hotly contested.

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Rep. Paul Thissen specializes in hot partisan rhetoric. Unfortunately for Minnesotans, he’s a disaster when it comes to solving Minnesota’s biggest problems. Rep. Tim Kelly, the chairman of the House Transportation Committee, called Thissen out on Thissen’s failure in this op-ed when he wrote “Do you recall Thissen’s ‘comprehensive transportation solution that truly fixes the problem long-term’ from two years ago? Me either, because it didn’t exist.”

In 2013, Thissen was too busy bragging about the DFL’s historic investment in education to pay attention to transportation, saying “We kept the promises we made to the people of Minnesota to complete our work on time, balance the budget honestly, and invest in priorities Minnesotans broadly share like education, property tax relief and job creation.”

Rep. Thissen won’t like talking about how the DFL’s “historic investment” in education resulted in gigantic property tax increases in places like Princeton and St. Cloud.

This picture is a list of then-Speaker Thissen’s official statements:

Conspicuously missing from those archived statements is something expressing the DFL’s prioritizing transportation. In fact, it’s nowhere to be found. It’s interesting that then-Speaker Thissen had time to praise Gov. Dayton’s Unsession:

Governor Dayton has rightly put a focus on ways we can make our government work better for the people of Minnesota with his ‘unsession’ legislative agenda. We will work with the Governor and with legislators on both sides of aisle to move forward with common sense ideas to make our government more ‘user-friendly’ to the people and small businesses of Minnesota.

Again, the DFL had the time to hold an Unsession but they didn’t put a priority on fixing Minnesota’s roads and bridges. It’s appalling that the Twin Cities media hasn’t pressured Rep. Thissen into giving an answer as to why the DFL put a higher priority on holding an Unsession than they put on fixing Minnesota’s roads and bridges.

Perhaps it’s because Thissen, like the DFL, isn’t interested in fixing Minnesota’s problems.

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Anyone who’s read LFR the last 5 years knows I don’t have any respect for Paul Thissen. He’s one of the most partisan political hacks in Minnesota. His contact with the truth is tangential on his best days, nonexistent on most days. For years, Thissen has insisted that Republicans are interested in providing “special treatment to big Twin Cities and multinational corporations.” That’s an outright lie. It isn’t inaccurate. It isn’t a matter open for discussion.

It’s an outright lie. Rep. Thissen knows that it’s a lie. Worst, Rep. Thissen doesn’t mind telling that outright lie. Last May, I wrote this article about Gov. Dayton’s shutdown notice announcement. At the time, Speaker Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Bakk had worked out a compromise budget. Gov. Dayton and Rep. Thissen objected to the bill in an attempt to kill the bipartisan bill.

Gov. Dayton and Rep. Thissen both complained that the Tax Bill would “provide tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires.” I contacted Greg Davids, the Chairman of the House Taxes Committee, for a statement on those statements. Here’s what he said:

My bill does not do that. Eighty percent goes to individuals. Tax relief is for the middle class…My tax bill is tax relief for the poor and middle class.

I read Davids’ tax bill. His characterization of the bill is accurate. Rep. Thissen’s characterization isn’t. Unfortunately for Minnesotans thirsting for the truth, Rep. Thissen’s lies don’t stop there:

Thissen said the 2015 session was a “monumental flop for Greater Minnesota” after the House Republican majority failed to tackle important issues for greater Minnesota such as transportation, broadband infrastructure, and rural property tax relief. He said the “Greater Minnesota for All” agenda is focused on completing the unfinished business of the 2015 session.

First, the DFL played obstructionist with transportation. They said no to the Republicans’ transportation bill that would’ve directed sales tax revenues from rental cars, auto repairs and vehicle leases to a stability fund. That fund would’ve been used to fix Minnesota’s roads and bridges. The DFL didn’t want that because they wanted a gas tax increase and additional funding for transit in outstate Minnesota. The need for transit in outstate Minnesota is less than important. It’s virtually nonexistent.

Next, the DFL’s ‘investments’ in LGA and education from the 2013 budget when there was a DFL governor and DFL majorities in the House and Senate sent property taxes through the roof. Rep. Thissen bragged about the DFL’s “historic investment in education.” Despite that historic investment and the paying off of school shifts, school districts across the state enacted huge property tax increases. The most modest increase was St. Cloud’s increase of 14.75%. The biggest property tax increase that I heard about was Princeton’s 25.16% increase. That’s relatively modest considering the fact that Princeton initially wanted to raise property taxes 33.87%.

The truth is that Dayton, Thissen and the DFL love raising taxes. Dayton, Thissen and the DFL love spending those tax increases on education because they know that the vast majority of that money will go to Education Minnesota, then into DFL campaign coffers.

Rep. Thissen, keep your grubby little fingers off the taxpayers’ hard-earned money. Robbing the taxpayers to pay off Education Minnesota isn’t ok. It’s disgusting and it’s gotta stop ASAP.

The best news from today’s budget forecast, other than the fact that there’s a major surplus, is that Gov. Dayton admitted that a gas tax increase is dead for the upcoming session. That might’ve been the most painful statement he’s made as governor.

That all but officially ends Move Minnesota’s gas tax increase campaign. I wrote this post to highlight the features of House Transportation Committee Chairman Tim Kelly’s plan. Chairman Kelly’s plan invests heavily in roads and bridges without diverting funds to transit. The reason why Move Minnesota opposed Chairman Kelly’s bill is because he didn’t raise taxes and because he doesn’t put a high priority on ‘investing’ in transit.

Chairman Kelly wrote this op-ed to highlight his proposal. A big key to the plan is investing “$7 billion into needed road and bridge repair without raising taxes.” Chairman Kelly’s plan repurposes “revenue that is already being collected from existing sales taxes on auto parts, the Motor Vehicle Lease sales tax, the rental vehicle tax and the sales tax on rental vehicles.” Currently, that money goes into the general fund.

As I said last spring, why should taxes that are imposed on rental vehicles and leasing motor vehicles go into the general fund?

Chairman Kelly’s plan creates a “Transportation Stability Fund.” The TSF will “not only provide new money for roads and bridges statewide, but also for small city roads, bus services in Greater Minnesota, suburban county highways and metro area capital improvements.”

This is what Gov. Dayton and the DFL were upset about:

In addition to the dedicated funds provided by the Transportation Stability Fund, the proposal would also utilize $1.3 billion in Trunk Highway bonds, $1.2 billion from realigning Minnesota Department of Transportation resources, $1.05 billion in General Obligation bonds, and $228 million in General Funds.

According to Paul Thissen, Chairman Kelly’s plan stole money from schools and other DFL priorities. That’s interesting considering the fact that Thissen insisted that the DFL had made an historic investment in education and paid back the school shifts.

At what point does Rep. Thissen think Minnesota’s middle class is overtaxed? For that matter, does Rep. Thissen think that Minnesota’s middle class is overtaxed?

The good news is that the DFL’s dreams of raising the gas tax is over.

The DFL’s intentional deceptions are disgusting. Minutes ago, they posted this tweet:


It’s time that the DFL stopped lying about property taxes. The DFL’s budget didn’t prevent property tax increases. I wrote this post in 2014 to highlight that fact. In that post, I linked to this post, which talked about the Princeton School Board voted to raise “the school district tax levy by 25.16 percent for taxes payable 2015 to fund the 2015-16 school year.”

That happened before Kurt Daudt was elected as Speaker of the House. That didn’t happen until January, 2015.

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.

This happened during 2014, too. It’s difficult to blame the MNGOP for those property tax increases, especially considering the fact that Paul Thissen bragged about the DFL’s “Historic Investment in Minnesota’s Future.” After the DFL significantly raised K-12 spending, shouldn’t we have the right to expect a year or 2 of no property taxes from the school districts? Instead of getting stable property taxes, we get historic property tax increases.

The thought that the DFL is now lying about Republicans driving up property taxes is disgusting but predictable. The DFL isn’t in the business of telling the truth. They’re in the business of lying to people if they think that’s what will help them win elections.

Tonight, I was stunned and disgusted when Sen. Bakk told the Almanac Roundtable panel what he hoped would come from the possible special session. I was especially startled when Sen. Bakk said “I lived through the 1981 downturn on the Range when waves and waves and waves of Iron Rangers moved to the northern suburbs and had to settle there when most of the mines had to shut down. We’re on the cusp of this again this time and I think that the state coming to their aid and giving them extended unemployment benefits, to give those families some time to make some decisions and maybe get a little closer to see if our federal government will act as some of this unfairly traded steel is coming into this country just to build a bridge for those families because once they run out of unemployment, they’re in a situation of probably having to relocate their families.”

There wasn’t anything in his statement that talked about rebuilding the Iron Range economy. There wasn’t anything in his statement that talked about turning the Iron Range’s economic slide around. His sole focus was on giving families more time to relocate out of his district and Sen. Tomassoni’s district.

The Republican panelists tonight were Sen. David Hann and House Majority Leader Joyce Peppin. The DFL panelists were Sen. Bakk and Rep. Thissen. When Majority Leader Peppin talked about finding a long-term solution to the Iron Range’s economic problems, House Minority Leader Thissen said that that isn’t what special sessions should be about, that that’s what regular sessions should be about.

It’s beyond ironic that Rep. Thissen, Sen. Bakk, Gov. Dayton and the DFL legislature didn’t lift a finger to provide a long-term solution for the Iron Range when there were DFL majorities in the House and Senate and a DFL governor. It’s almost as if the Iron Range was an afterthought, something to worry about only during election years.

When Majority Leader Peppin talked about Gov. Dayton ordering another environmental review, this time involving the Minnesota Department of Health, and cutting through the red tape, Sen. Bakk criticized her, saying that taking a “shortcut” would hurt them when the inevitable lawsuits came. Sen. Bakk didn’t consider the possibility of transforming Minnesota’s environmental review process so that the review is thorough but that it doesn’t last 10-15 years to complete.

This is proof that the DFL’s top priorities are appeasing the environmental activist obstructionists, growing government and appeasing the Metro DFL. They haven’t proven that they care about Iron Range families. Sen. Bakk admitted as much.

I wrote here that the poverty rate is 18% in Hibbing and 24.1% in Virginia. To have Sen. Bakk essentially give up on a once-prosperous region is beyond sad. It’s disgusting.