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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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I knew that the DFL and ABM would start spinning things after they created a mess but this is ridiculous. While the legislature was still in session, Susie Merthans started spinning things. She quoted Paul Thissen as saying “Modest victories are due to Gov Dayton & DFL Senate dragging GOP kicking and screaming across the finish line.” Then, as though that wasn’t enough, she added “Paul Thissen: GOP beholden to corporate special interests, it’s time for a change.”

First, it’s frightening that Ms. Merthans admits in her profile that she’s the “Communications Director for @ABetterMN by way of @mnhouseDFL.” Why should ABM’s communications director get paid by Minnesota taxpayers? That’s the definition of corruption. ABM doesn’t change when the session ends. It’s the same dishonest messaging as they used during the legislative session. The only difference is that ABM will spend more money on mailers and ads during the campaign. The dishonest themes remain pretty much intact.

That’s before talking about the dishonesty of Thissen’s statements. The DFL is the party that does whatever the environmentalists tell them to do. Actually, they don’t do what the environmental activists tell them not to do. Think about the DFL’s opposition to the Sandpiper Pipeline project. Think about the DFL’s opposition to a resolution at their State Convention in 2014 that said the DFL supported mining. At the DFL’s State Convention in Duluth in 2014, that timid resolution was pulled by Ken Martin said it was too controversial. Seriously.

Another example is how the DFL rammed through forced unionization on in-home child care providers at the end of the 2013 session. Despite a massive lobbying effort organized by in-home child care providers, the DFL ignored the in-home child care providers and sided with public employee unions. Again, the DFL didn’t care about the people. The DFL sided with their special interest allies. It isn’t surprising. That’s their habit.

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Predictably, the DFL, led by Rep. Paul Thissen, Gov. Dayton and Sen. Tom Bakk, is overreaching in a major way. Predictably, they’re pushing a bonding bill that’s the biggest in state history by orders of magnitude. It isn’t surprising to hear Rep. Thissen whining about the bill. In this article, Thissen is quoted as saying “This bill is an unfortunate, sad joke that House Republicans are playing on Minnesotans. We should vote no on this bill and get to work on a real bonding bill that will create jobs and strengthen communities in every part of this state. The clock is ticking. Let’s get to work.”

The DFL is constantly telling people that Minnesota’s economy is going great. They’re also telling people that the bonding bill is a jobs bill. What the DFL won’t say is that the bonding bill costs Minnesotans tons of money in higher taxes, money that could be used by businesses to create permanent jobs when they expand their companies. The DFL won’t say that the jobs that are getting created are temporary construction jobs.

The Senate’s bonding bill tops out at $1,470,742,000. That’s a ton of pork. Spending $28,055,000 on tearing down buildings on the Bemidji State campus and the Hibbing Community College campus, then rebuilding the buildings that are getting torn down. The Senate bill also includes $20,385,000 for Rochester Community and Technical College to “complete design, demolish Memorial and Plaza Halls, construct, equip, and furnish an academic building expansion, and renovate,
equip, and furnish replacement space for classrooms, labs, and office spaces.”

That’s before spending $17,780,000 to “complete the Heart of the Zoo II project, including renovation of the snow monkey exhibit and surrounding public spaces and construction of a meerkat exhibit.” That’s before appropriating $10,000,000 for the Metropolitan Regional Parks and Trails Capital Improvements. That money will pay for “the cost of improvements and betterments of a capital nature and acquisition by the council and local government units of regional recreational open-space lands in accordance with the council’s policy plan as provided in Minnesota Statutes, section 473.147.”

That’s $76,220,000 just on those 5 projects. There are other projects in the Senate bonding bill that are equally unworthy of a Republican’s vote. For all of Rep. Thissen’s whining, he’s frequently been short of solutions and positive suggestions. Sen. Bakk is better than Rep. Thissen but mostly because it’s difficult to do worse than Rep. Thissen.

Last year, Rep. Paul Thissen’s partisanship paved the way for the legislature’s special session. Without his throwing a daily hissy fit about Republicans, the legislature wouldn’t have needed a special session to finish the biennial budget. Thanks to Rep. Thissen’s whining, there was a special session. Though this AP article doesn’t mention Rep. Thissen, it’s definitely got his fingerprints all over it.

For instance, the final paragraph of the article starts with “DFLers called the House bill partisan and said it elevated projects in Republican districts above others that were ranked higher priorities. They cited was Eastman Hall, which was ranked lower on the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities wish list than projects in Hibbing, Rochester, Winona and Bemidji, which are in DFL district and were not included in the bill.”

The truth is that the Senate DFL, not the House GOP, is to blame for the bonding bill logjam. The Senate DFL’s bill called for $1,800,000,000 of bonding. That’s $750,000,000 more than the biggest bonding bill in Minnesota history. Because the Senate DFL’s bonding bill was that expensive, Republicans couldn’t take it seriously.

Republicans couldn’t take it seriously because the DFL’s bonding bill keeps running up debt which requires high taxes:

Moody’s 2015 State Debt Median Report ranks Minnesota debt burden as moderately elevated compared to other states: Minnesota’s net tax-supported debt (NTD) per capita is $1,538 compared to the national median of $1,012; NTD as a percentage of personal income is 3.2% for Minnesota versus a national median of 2.5%; and NTD as a percentage of gross state domestic product of 2.69% is above the national median of 2.21%. However, Moody’s estimates Minnesota’s fiscal 2014 debt service ratio (net tax-supported debt as a percentage of operating fund revenues and pledged revenues) to be 4.2% versus a fiscal 2014 median of 5.3%. This ranks in the top (or most favorable) quartile of state rankings.

Rather than letting the private sector grow the economy, the DFL’s preferred path is to have the government borrow money to pay for what essentially is a sugar high economic bump. The DFL is incapable of thinking that the private sector doesn’t need help in growing the economy because the DFL thinks that the government has to be involved in everything.

Until the DFL stops thinking that the economy won’t grow if the government isn’t spending tons of money, Minnesota won’t have a strong private sector economy.

Rep. Paul Thissen is the chief DFL spinmeister in Minnesota’s House of representatives. He’s also incredibly dishonest. Friday morning, he was joined by House Deputy Minority Leader Erin Murphy and Rep. Melissa Hortman to spin their attacks against the MnGOP.

I knew they weren’t interested in substantive discussions when Rep. Hortman said “The legislative agenda is geared toward attack literature. We have a $900 million surplus, $500 million ongoing. We certainly could reach a deal on a bonding bill that’s in the middle. We could do a responsible transportation bill. But then they lose the campaign issue of ‘Republicans stopped a gas tax.'”

Rep. Hortman, people can’t take the DFL seriously when they’re advocating a $1,800,000,000 bonding bill and the GOP is proposing a $600,000,000 bonding bill. If that $1,800,000,000 bonding bill passed, it would be the biggest bonding bill in Minnesota history by $750,000,000. It’s nearly double the size of the next biggest bonding bill.

Further, it’s impossible to do a “responsible transportation bill” when the DFL and Gov. Dayton are advocating major middle class tax increase. The DFL has made clear that they won’t consider Tim Kelly’s transportation. Chairman Kelly’s plan, which he wrote about here, would create a Transportation Stability Fund that would raise an additional “$3.078 billion over the next ten years” for fixing Minnesota’s roads and bridges.

Apparently, that isn’t sufficient for the DFL.

Under this proposal, the State of Minnesota would repurpose 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. By placing these revenue streams, estimated at $3.078 billion over the next ten years, in a newly created Transportation Stability Fund, Minnesota would 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.

Making this change would dedicate $1.44 billion for county roads, $583 million for municipal roads, and $282 million for roads in towns with fewer than 5,000 residents.

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.

Rep. Hortman spoke about the attack ads that she thinks have already been written on the transportation issue. I hope they have been written because it’s time to criticize the DFL for not accepting an offer that would fix Minnesota’s roads and bridges without raising taxes. If Rep. Hortman wants to whine about how the GOP is offering Minnesotans the type of transportation that they favor, that’s her right.

It’s also great advertising for Tim Kelly’s proposal.

House Deputy Minority Leader Erin Murphy joined in the chorus:

We’ve all done that together. And these last weeks can be very intense as you’re moving your agenda through using the rules and the procedures of course that are in place. I don’t feel that urgency at all in this House leadership in the Minnesota House of Representatives and I think that we’ve been hearing more from the Republican leadership about who’s to blame for the failure of this session than we’re hearing anything about what they’re going to do to actually accomplish what they said they would do for the people of Minnesota.

There shouldn’t be a rush to finalize a bad deal. The DFL’s transportation proposal and the DFL’s bonding bill are terrible deals.

Further, the DFL hasn’t said anything substantive about why they’re rejecting Chairman Kelly’s transportation proposal. They’ve said that it takes money out of the general fund but everyone knows that’s a scam. The DFL doesn’t want that money dedicated because they want it available so they can keep spending irresponsibly.

Watch the entire DFL dog and pony show here (if you can stomach it):

After publishing this post regarding MnSCU’s implicit approval of Inver Hills Community College President Tim Wynes and after seeing the level of financial mismanagement within MnSCU, I realize that I haven’t asked the most important question regarding the financial stewardship of MnSCU’s Central Office and its colleges and universities.

Specifically, since the MnSCU Board of Trustees has sat silent on MnSCU’s operational incompetence and its financial mismanagement, and since the legislature has essentially stuck its collective head in the sand in its attempt to ignore SCSU’s declining enrollment and multi-million dollar annual deficits, a basic question must be asked ASAP.

What’s the legislature’s, the Dayton administration’s and MnSCU’s definition of a financial crisis? Do these politicians and executives have a definition for a MnSCU crisis? If they have one, I definitely haven’t seen proof of it.

Rather than just highlight MnSCU’s and the legislature’s incompetence and indifference, I’ll take the time to connect the dots since MnSCU and the legislature aren’t interested in connecting them.

Over the last 6 years, St. Cloud State has lost $8,700,000 on Coborn’s Plaza. Since FY2014, SCSU’s annual financial deficits have been in excess of $5,000,000. In fact, it’s well in excess of that. Meanwhile, MnSCU submitted a supplemental budget request this session for an additional $21,000,000. It isn’t difficult to figure it out that a significant portion of that amount is heading to St. Cloud State as a bailout.

Here’s a video promotion of Coborn’s Plaza:

Taxpayers shouldn’t be viewed at ATMs to fund MnSCU’s financial mismanagement. Instead, politicians, whether they’re found in the executive branch or the legislative branch, need to start putting political pressure on these ineptocrats and corruptocrats. They’re taking the taxpayers’ money and, for all intents and purposes, they’re lighting their cigars with the taxpayers’ money.

That’s just the purely financial side of MnSCU’s dysfunctional operation. That’s before examining the operational side of MnSCU’s operation. What does it say about Inver Hills’ ethical standards when a professor is the subject of a witch hunt of an investigation and nobody criticizes the people conducting the ‘investigation’ for not disclosing any information?

In 2013, then-Speaker Paul Thissen bragged about the DFL legislature making historic investments in education, which I wrote about in this post. What Thissen didn’t say is that the DFL made historic investments in accountability. Apparently, accountability isn’t something that the DFL believes in when it comes to their political allies.

It’s time to throw the DFL so far out of power that they won’t mistreat taxpayers for a decade or longer. Further, it’s time for a wholesale housecleaning at MnSCU.

It’s time to ask the DFL and MnSCU what their definition of a crisis is. MnSCU’s history of financial and ethical mismanagement has been disgusting. The legislature has been as disinterested as MnSCU in terms of accountability.

Finally, it’s time that citizens get outraged about how they’re getting abused by unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats.

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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