Archive for the ‘Keith Downey’ Category

True to their waste-aholic history, the DFL legislature voted against government accountability:

A commission designed to judge whether state agencies, councils or boards have outlived their usefulness may itself cease to exist.

The Democratic-controlled House and Senate have voted to abolish the Sunset Advisory Commission, a 12-member commission championed by Republicans as offering greater accountability and efficiency in state government.

“I think they’re (Democrats) scared,” Rep. Joyce Peppin, R-Rogers, said of taking tough votes on the commission.

A product of 2011 legislation, the Sunset Advisory Commission is patterned after a 30-year-old commission in Texas, one billed as having saved the Lone Star State almost $1 billion at a cost of about $33 million.

Minnesota’s Sunset Commission reviews state agencies and recommends whether a given agency should continue to exist.

Rep. Peppin is right. DFL legislators don’t want to vote on wasteful spending. DFL legislators don’t want to admit that their pet agencies, councils and panels are actually patronage positions.

The DFL is spinning their vote:

The idea of duplication was voiced by another commission member, Rep. Michael Nelson, DFL-Brooklyn Park. “One of the tasks of the sunset commission is to get rid of duplicative government functions,” he said. There’s already the Office of the Legislative Auditor.

Why have both? Nelson asks.

Rep. Nelson, we need both because it’s apparent that there’s a ton of bloat in state government, things that the OLA hasn’t discussed.

As for Rep. Nelson’s assertion of duplication, I’d love hearing his explanation on what it’s duplicating. I’d love hearing him cite the times when the OLA has recommended the sunsetting of a commission, panel or council.

Sen. Bonoff’s statement needs ridiculing:

Bonoff, like other Democrats, argues the commission is itself duplicative. “If committee chairs are doing their jobs, they should be doing this kind of detailed oversight,” she said.

There’s a simple explanation for Sen. Bonoff: the chairs have never gotten into this type of detailed oversight. The Sunset Advisory Commission would’ve been a great tool that forced the legislature to deal with commissions, councils and panels that outlived their usefulness.

Furthermore, does any thinking person think that the DFL would investigate the importance or relevance of these hideouts for their political cronies? Let’s get serious. When Keith Downey proposed reducing the state workforce by 15% by not replacing retiring workers, Eliot Seide accused him of waging war “against working families.” What DFL legislator will vote for sunsetting these commissions, councils or panels knowing that they’ll get primaried by an AFSCME-endorsed candidate?

That’s why the Commission is essential.

Finally, this DFL legislature has repeatedly proven that they oppose accountability. The GOP legislature passed a bill that required teachers to pass a basic skills test, which Gov. Dayton signed. The DFL wants to repeal that law. The GOP legislature passed the Sunset Advisory Commission, which Gov. Dayton signed. The DFL legislature just voted to repeal that essential accountability legislation. Will Gov. Dayton reverse himself & say no to government accountability? If he does, he should prepare for getting labeled as a) a hypocrite, b) a cheap politician who does what’s popular, not what’s right and c) the unions’ puppet, not the public’s servant leader.

This week, the DFL legislature voted for higher pay for themselves, higher taxes on the middle class and less accountability within government. I don’t think that’s the bumper sticker they’ll want to deal with in 2014.

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Each week, different proof appears that the DFL is intent on eliminating the GOP’s reforms. Months ago, I wrote about the DFL’s attack on teacher accountability, aka HF0171. HF0171 would repeal the basic skills test for teachers that Gov. Dayton signed last year. This week, I wrote about the DFL’s attempt to eliminate the Sunset Advisory Commission.

If the DFL would put forward a good faith effort on reforming government, the Commission would be a great tool for increasing government accountability. In some instances, the Commission would force agencies to justify their existence. In other cases, it would force the agency to justify their staffing and funding levels.

First, why won’t the DFL explain who wrote the bill that would eliminate the basic skills test for teachers? Requiring teachers and applicants to pass such a test isn’t revolutionary. It’s sensible. Why, then, did the DFL write legislation that would eliminate that requirement? They aren’t doing it “for the children” because they’re the first people it’d shortchange. Their parents and other taxpayers are the next people this legislation would shortchange.

It isn’t a stretch to think that EdMinn wrote this legislation because it’s their job to protect union members. If EdMinn wrote that legislation, why isn’t Rep. Ward representing his constituents, not EdMinn? Perhaps Rep. Ward thinks that EdMinn is his constituent and that he doesn’t have to represent the people living in his district.

Second, why is the DFL insisting on eliminating a great tool for increasing government accountability and transparency? Without the Sunset Commission, government oversight doesn’t exist. As recently as last year, the DFL threw a hissy fit when Republicans sought to make government more efficient. They accused the GOP of “waging war against working families.” Eliot Seide held a press availability in which he got exceptionally agitated.

He talked about how Republicans hated “working families” because they questioned whether state agencies, commissions, councils and panels had outlived their usefulness or had expanded themselves beyond their original charter. The Commission’s purpose was to examine these entities, then tell the legislature whether they were still doing what they were created to do and whether that mission was still important.

We know that the DFL doesn’t believe in oversight because they rejected that notion in 2007. That’s when they insisted that spending should be adjusted for inflation. In the DFL’s thinking, once an appropriation is made, it should increase by the rate of inflation in the future.

Another GOP reform required the Minnesota Department of Revenue to factor federal taxes into their annual tax incidence report. Minnesota is one of a tiny handful of states that didn’t do that. Gov. Dayton signed that legislation into law. Now he’s signed it out of existence after the DFL legislature voted to repeal that requirement.

This year’s report had been prepared but it hadn’t been released. That report included federal taxes. The DFL moved quickly, eliminating the federal taxes requirement. The new tax incidence report doesn’t include federal taxes. First, the new report doesn’t give an accurate picture of Minnesota’s taxes. Second, it means that all the time that went into preparing the first report was for nothing.

Is that the type of government efficiency Minnesotans deserve? I’d argue it isn’t. I’d argue that that’s the type of waste that must be eliminated.

While we’re on the subject of taxes, let’s talk about the fact that the DFL isn’t committed to a progressive tax system. I’ll stipulate that they’re great advocates of progressive taxation during campaigns. That’s as far as it goes, though. Then-Candidate Dayton argued passionately for a more progressive taxation system during his campaign. In 2010, he criticized Tom Horner for supporting increases to the alcohol and cigarette taxes:

you’re in favor of raising taxes on alcohol and cigarettes, another regressive tax. So the difference between us is I want to raise taxes on the rich, and you want to raise taxes on sportsmen and women and and middle income working families.

This year, Gov. Dayton’s objections to increasing taxes on alcohol and cigarettes disappeared, most likely because he needs the revenues to increase the size and intrusiveness of state government.

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It isn’t shocking to think that DFL politicians love overbloated government. Annually, they reflexively propose raising taxes. They love spending the taxpayers’ money on their political allies, too. Protecting union employees is one of their specialties. Two years ago, Gov. Dayton and the DFL threw a collective hissy fit when Keith Downey introduced his 15 by 2015 legislation. From that point forward, every union official seemingly started their sentences with “the Republicans’ war on working families.”

The first bill King Banaian submitted as a legislator was a bill that created the Sunset Advisory Commission. A miracle happened when Phyllis Kahn announced her support for King’s bill. After ending the government shutdown he created, Gov. Dayton signed King’s bill into law.

With the DFL back controlling the legislature and with Gov. Dayton still in office, they’re thinking about eliminating the Sunset Advisory Commission:

A budget bill in the Democratic-led House would get rid of the Minnesota Sunset Advisory Commission. The panel was created two years ago when Republicans were in charge. They touted it as a way to weed out government offices some people deem ineffective.

The commission met about a dozen times over the last couple of years and didn’t recommend cutting any government entities altogether. It did press for further reviews of some boards, including one that regulates combative sports like boxing and mixed martial arts.

The push to eliminate the Sunset Advisory Commission is in a broad budget bill that funds core government agencies.

It isn’t irony. It’s predictable. The DFL legislature, both Sen. Bakk and then-Minority Leader Thissen, used their picks to load up the panel with politicians like Matt Entenza. In short, their picks were people who wanted to undermine the law rather than work in good faith on protecting Minnesota’s taxpayers.

Here’s language from King’s bill:

Sunset Commission. Provides that the Sunset Commission consists of 12 members appointed as follows:
(1) four senators appointed according to the rules of the senate, with no more than three senators from the majority caucus;
(2) four members of the house of representatives, appointed by the speaker, with no more than three of the house members from the majority caucus;
(3) four members appointed by the governor.
All members serve at the pleasure of the appointing authority. With respect to governor appointees, provides two-year terms expiring in January of each odd-numbered year. Provides term limits for service on the commission.

Staff. Requires the Legislative Coordinating Commission to provide staff and administrative services for the commission.

Rules. Authorizes the commission to adopt rules to carry out this chapter.

Agency report to commission. Provides that before September 1 of the odd-numbered year in which a state agency is subject to sunset review, the agency commissioner shall report specified information to the commission. The September 1 deadline does not apply in 2011.

Commission duties. Requires that before January 1 of the year in which a state agency is subject to sunset review, the commission must review the agency based on criteria specified in section 3D.10.

Public hearings. Requires that before February 1 of the year an agency is subject to sunset review, the commission must conduct public hearings regarding the agency, including the criteria specified in section 3D.10.

Commission report. Requires that by February 1 of each even-numbered year, the commission shall report on agencies subject to review, including findings on criteria specified in section 3D.10.

Criteria for review. Specifies criteria for the commission to consider in determining whether a public need exists for the continuation of a state agency or for performance of the agency’s functions.

Recommendations. Requires the commission’s report to make recommendations on the abolition, continuation, or reorganization of agencies, on the need for performance of the functions of the agency; on consolidation, transfer, or reorganization of programs within agencies not under review when programs duplicate functions of agencies under review; and for improvement of operations.

Requires the commission to submit draft legislation to carry out its recommendations, including legislation necessary to continue the existence of agencies that would otherwise sunset, if the commission recommends continuation of an agency.

Simply put, the bill requires the Commission to review whether the agency is performing an essential function, whether it’s doing what it was originally created to do or whether it’s ‘evolved’ into just another bloated part of state government.

The DFL’s disgust with governmental accountability is showing its ugly face. Taxpayers should be outraged that the DFL is thinking about eliminating a tool that’s designed to increase governmental accountability. If the DFL eliminates this commission, Republicans should make this one of their campaign themes in 2014. Hold every DFL legislator’s feet to the fire for voting against governmental accountability and thriftiness.

If they’re eliminating sensible laws like this, then they’re undoubtedly voting for creating more unaccountable agencies, boards, commissions and panels.

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Yesterday, former Rep. Keith Downey announced that he is a candidate to replace Pat Shortridge as chairman of the Republican Party of Minnesota:

A former state representative says he wants to be the next head of the Minnesota Republican Party.

Edina’s Keith Downey told fellow Republicans on Wednesday that he’ll vie for the party chairmanship in early April. Current chairman Pat Shortridge is stepping down.

Downey was a two-term House member before he tried to move up to the state Senate. He lost that race in November. Downey says the Republican Party is due for a turnaround with a critical 2014 election cycle looming. The governor’s office, a U.S. Senate seat and many more key offices are on the line.

First, this isn’t an endorsement, mostly because I won’t have a vote on RPM Chair. This post is merely this activist’s opinion on what Rep. Downey brings to the table.

It’s bound to sound corny that Rep. Downey is one of the great thinkers of the GOP and the conservative movement. If Rep. Downey is elected to be the next chairman of the Minnesota GOP, the GOP’s message discipline would significantly improve. Keith Downey is a great conservative who knows why he believes what he believes.

In his letter to state convention delegates, Rep. Downey said something that’s sure to resonate with the activists:

As a businessman and recent State Representative, I hope to earn your confidence with the right combination of principle, skill and experience, and a concrete plan for the gains we need to make.

As a legislator, Rep. Downey earned a reputation as a reformer and strong fiscal conservative. I suspect he’ll have a plan to transform state GOP operations. That’s been his history as a legislator.

Good luck to all the candidates. This is a crucial time in Minnesota’s history. If the GOP doesn’t turn this state around soon, the DFL will significantly damage Minnesota for a decade or more.

Minnesotans face a clear choice when they vote for state legislative candidates 5 weeks from now. They can vote for a DFL candidate whose loyalties lie with the public employee unions or they can support conservatives whose first loyalty is with their constituents and whose next loyalty is to policies that promote economic growth and sustained prosperity.

This PIM article illustrates where the DFL’s loyalties lie:

The DFL-aligned independent expenditure landscape will once again be dominated by three financially linked organizations: Alliance for a Better Minnesota, Win Minnesota and the 2012 Fund. Those organizations played a vital role in helping DFL Gov. Mark Dayton win the gubernatorial contest in 2010 and are poised to play a similar role in this year’s 201 legislative contests.

Win Minnesota and the 2012 Fund have taken in nearly $2 million so far this year. That money came primarily from wealthy individual donors, most notably $500,000 from Dayton’s former wife, Alida Messinger, and labor unions. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Minnesota State Council kicked in $225,000, for instance, while the Minnesota AFL-CIO contributed $100,000.

So far roughly half of that money has been funneled to Alliance for a Better Minnesota (ABM) for campaign efforts. The group, headed by executive director Carrie Lucking, has spent roughly $640,000 on television ad buys targeting legislative Republicans, split between cable and the broadcast networks. In addition, ABM spent roughly $13,000 each on lit pieces attacking four GOP incumbents: Reps. Keith Downey of Edina, David Hancock of Bemidji, and Doug Wardlow of Eagan, and Sen. Ted Lillie of Woodbury. (Downey is running for an open Senate seat.)

Downey, Hancock, Wardlow and Lillie are fiscal conservatives so it isn’t surprising that ABM would target them. The DFL/ABM (they’re both owned by Alida Messinger) hate principled fiscal conservatives like Downey, Hancock, Wardlow and Lillie because the DFL’s racket would dry up if fiscal conservatives wrung the replications and inefficiencies out of state government.

Anyone thinking that the prospective legislators that ABM’s/Alida Messinger’s money would buy would first be loyal to their constituents, then to the special interests is either naive or dishonest.

But public sector unions, most notably AFSCME Council 5, Education Minnesota and the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees (MAPE), are almost exclusively backing DFL candidates. “AFSCME’s top priority is to elect a better Legislature that can work with Gov. Dayton to create a better Minnesota for working families,” said Jennifer Munt, AFSCME Council 5’s public affairs director. “Our message is quite simple: Dump team extreme.”

What political party cared so little about Minnesotans that they didn’t bother proposing their own budget? What party didn’t care about their once-a-decade responsibilities that they didn’t even bother putting a set of redistricting maps together? What political party shut down the state government, then tried blaming it on the other party?

The DFL.

Whether it’s called extremist or whether it’s called laziness is for voters to decide. Personally, I’d argue that it’s proof they don’t want their fingerprints on a budget that reflects their priorities.

The DFL’s proposals that were part of the negotiations included the biggest tax increases in state history.

The GOP should run against the PEUs. They aren’t popular with the folks and they’re relatively tiny. Framing it as a vote for selfish, self-centered PEUs and their agenda of tax increases, government-centered health insurance ‘reform’ and unfunded pensions will win votes in most districts.

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I attended a Vote Yes on Photo ID get together Monday night. The guest speaker was Rep. Keith Downey. I’ve written a bunch of articles and posts about Photo ID and voter fraud but Rep. Downey stunned me a couple of times.

First, I learned that Rep. Downey worked on implementing HAVA requirements when he was in the private sector. One of the states that he worked in was Indiana, the home of the Crawford v. Marion County Election Board lawsuit that eventually made its way to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court’s ruling on Crawford made Photo ID laws possible throughout the nation.

Rep. Downey made clear that implementing Photo ID isn’t the complicated procedure opponents of the bill say it is. He said he wasn’t saying that as a GOP legislator. He said that as a result of his private sector experience.

Rep. Downey said that many of the claims now being touted by the DFL as Gospel fact on costs to cities and counties come from the various Photo ID bills that have since been dropped.

Rep. Downey said that many of the DFL statements and allegations “are based on the assumption that the legislature would pass” ridiculous enabling language to the Photo ID amendment if it passes and that “Gov. Dayton would sign that.”

The fact that Gov. Dayton vetoed Photo ID when it was a bill guarantees he won’t sign a bill with ridiculous enabling language.

Rep. Downey said that many lawsuits have been brought trying to reverse the Supreme Court’s Crawford ruling. He said that none of the testimony taken has proven Photo ID disenfranchises voters.

Court after court has ruled that the people who’ve supposedly been harmed by their state’s Photo ID laws weren’t actually disenfranchised.

The ACLU-MN, the League of Women Voters-MN and Common Cause MN aren’t trying to prevent Photo ID from becoming law because Photo ID makes voting difficult.

The Constitution isn’t on their side. The ‘evidence’ isn’t on their side, either. The polls have never been on their side.

That information makes me wonder why they’re fighting this as hard as they’re fighting it.

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10. Alternative teacher licensure.
9. Keeping no new taxes promise to constituents.
8. Downsizing government, Part I Keith Downey’s 15 X 15 legislation.
7. Downsizing government, Part II King Banaian’s Sunset Advisory Commission.
6. Balancing budget without increasing taxes.
5. Creating surplus without raising taxes.
4. Passing real health care reform.
3. Passing budget reform.
2. Passing permitting reforms.
1. Creating jobs with the right policies and right priorities.

Based on AFSCME’s and MAPE’s negotiating demands and the statement announcing a tentative agreement, it’s apparent that Gov. Dayton finally caved to his union allies’ demands. Here’s what AFSCME and MAPE demanded:

The union seeks a two-year deal that looks something like this:

  • No changes in health insurance plan design for levels 1 and 2
  • Increase the maximum dental benefit from $1,000 to $1,500
  • Maintain steps both years
  • 2 percent wage increase effective July 1, 2012
  • $500 contribution to HRA on January 1, 2013
    $500 lump sum

Here’s the tentative agreement:

Today AFSCME and MAPE reached a tentative deal on a two-year collective bargaining agreement with the State of Minnesota. Highlights include a 2 percent pay raise beginning January 2013, plus step increases both years, with modest cost increases to employees for health insurance effective January 2013.

Apparently, the Dayton administration is hiding the details from the joint committee that has oversight on negotiated contracts:

Dear Commissioner Schowalter, Pursuant to statute 3.855, I am requesting copies of all recently negotiated labor agreements, including the settlements referenced in the media between the MAPE and AFSCME unions and the State of Minnesota. Please include any details and documents regarding wage increases, step increases, and any benefit term changes for the proposed contracts that have been approved by union negotiators. Sincerely, Mike Parry Chairman

If Commissioner Showalter won’t provide copies of the negotiated agreements, then it’s imperative to put pressure on him by calling his office demanding that he provide the pertinent documents ASAP. Commissioner Showalter doesn’t list his office phone number but he has a contact page. Here are the names of the legislators serving on this oversight panel:

Senate Members: Michelle Benson Ted Daley Chris Eaton James Metzen House Members: Steve Drazkowski (Vice Chair) Mike Benson Keith Downey Leon Lillie Ryan Winkler

It wouldn’t hurt to send a friendly reminder to Michelle Benson, Mike Benson, Ted Daley, Keith Downey and Steve Drazkowski that a) we demand transparency in union negotiations and b) a no vote rejecting the tentative contract is in order if Commissioner Showalter doesn’t promptly produce the relevant documents. Furthermore, let the legislators know that it’s appropriate to reject the tentative agreement if it isn’t fiscally responsible.

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It’s been months since I’d heard anything from Paul Thissen. Thanks to this op-ed, I’m reminded that Thissen is loved by progressives but disliked by thoughtful people. Thissen went from zero to annoying in less than 2 paragraphs:

Most Minnesotans would agree that we still have a long way to go on the road to economic recovery. The same is true when it comes to addressing our state’s budget issues. But if you listen to Republican legislators lately, you are hearing a different story.

Across the state Republicans are trying to take credit for a short-term projected budget “surplus,” claiming that it resulted from the budget they passed after taking our state to a 20-day state shutdown. Speaker Kurt Zellers praised their “fiscal restraint.” Rep. Steve Drazkowski called it “smarter spending.” Rep. Carolyn McElfatrick said it was “prudent reform.” Rep. Mark Murdock said it was due to “fiscal responsibility.”

When you look at the facts, their self-congratulating rhetoric does not hold up. The temporary surplus, which actually turns into billions of dollars in red ink a year from now, is not the result of the GOP budget passed last summer. In fact, the majority of the temporary surplus is the result of events that occurred in 2010, before the Republicans took over the legislature and a new budget was even passed.

The reality is the Republican budget didn’t solve problems; it only created problems for middle class families while racking up irresponsible debt.

Thanks to Dan Fabian and House Republicans, militant environmentalists like Paul Aasen will find it more difficult to use the courts to limit economic growth. That’s a fact and Thissen can’t spin it. In fact, Thissen voted against Rep. Fabian’s bill.

As for the line that the “temporary surplus” will “turn into billions of dollars in red ink a year from now:, that’s typical Thissen drama queen stuff. It’s important to remember that Rep. Thissen, along with Sen. Bakk, sabotaged the agreement between GOP leadership and Gov. Dayton:

Pg. 2 of this document tells quite a story. What it represents is an offer by Gov. Dayton, aka MBD, that doesn’t include a tax increase.

It includes a shift in K-12 school payments, a $50 per pupil increase in overall spending and a restoration of funding to the Department of Human Rights, Trade Office.

According to Gov. Dayton’s own document, this would’ve saved the state “$1.34 Billion.”

Also, Gov. Dayton’s proposal included a “signed agreement that tonight’s special session of the legislature would be confined to passing a “Lights On” extension of funding for all current operations and obligations of state government until 11:59 of July 11, 2011.”

Gov. Dayton rejected the GOP’s counterproposal, saying “However, I can not agree to both a tobacco bond issuance and a school shift, neither of which are permanent revenues.”

There were no additional revenues in Gov. Dayton’s initial proposal. That means someone, possibly Sen. Bakk or Rep. Thissen, got to him.

What type of person sabotages an agreement that would’ve prevented the needless layoff of 22,000 state employees? That isn’t a portrait of a man of integrity. It’s the portrait of a man who’s owned lock, stock and barrel by Alida Messinger and her special interest allies.

First, the Republican budget borrowed a record amount, more than $2 billion, from Minnesota schools, effectively reducing school funding this budget cycle alone by just over $1,000 per pupil. This excessive borrowing has forced schools to take out loans to cover their own costs, which hurts students by taking valuable resources out of the classroom.

Rep. Thissen is spinning his way past reality. The reality is that school districts are spending lots of money on things they don’t need. Matt Dean is still trying to get the documents that explain this scandal:

House Majority Leader Matt Dean (R-Dellwood) is doing his own inquiry into how the Minneapolis Public Schools spends it money after reading this Star Tribune report. The story revealed Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson’s decision to award $270,000 in retroactive raises to central office administrators at the same time the district cut more than 100 jobs including 52 teaching positions.

I’d love hearing Rep. Thissen explain how schools are underfunded when school boards are giving $270,000 in retroactive pay raises to “central office administrators.” Rep. Thissen, might schools not be underfunded if school boards didn’t waste so much money on administrators?

This is just another example of the DFL’s assinine priorities. In Minneapolis, R.T. Rybak cut police officers while keeping the bike trail coordinator on the city’s payroll.

Second, Republicans engaged in Washington-style deficit spending, borrowing from the future by selling the projected dollars from the state tobacco lawsuit for one-time cash. As a result, the state will get $650 million worth of spending today at the price of $1 billion in lost future revenue. Paying $1.67 tomorrow in order to get $1 today isn’t just fiscally irresponsible; it’s a bad deal with real costs to Minnesota’s future.

The thing that Thissen isn’t talking about is that this money was used to implement Steve Gottwalt’s health care reform, which will have a profound impact on future budgets by reining in health care spending.

I’d love hearing Rep. Thissen explain why passing long-term reforms that’ll save Minnesota taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade is a bad thing. The truth is that he can’t explain it. The best he can do is spin it.

The Republicans’ stubborn insistence on protecting the very wealthiest does nothing to move our economy forward. The recipe for Minnesota’s success and prosperity is to build a broad and prosperous middle class, where everyone plays by the same rules and has a fair opportunity to succeed. The Republican budget did the opposite, holding a select few harmless while raising taxes on the vast majority of Minnesotans.

The DFL’s steadfast insistence on looking out for the unions (think DFL opposition to Keith Downey’s 15 by 15 legislation) will add tens of millions of dollars of obligations for Minnesota’s taxpayers to pay. The DFL’s steadfast insistence on protecting their big government parasite special interest allies (think MnSCU university presidents and their bonuses) will add more tens of millions of dollars worth of obligations for Minnesota’s taxpayers to pay.

Rep. Thissen can’t explain why the DFL keeps supporting their entrenched political allies at the taxpayers’ expense. Thissen sabotaged the budget agreement that GOP leadership had hammered out with Gov. Dayton.

There’s nothing about Rep. Thissen that’s honorable or hints at integrity.

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Before I get started, I’d like to offer my condolences to the people who are, at least theoretically, represented by Rep. Tom Anzelc and Sen. Tom Saxhaug. After reading this article, it’s apparent that the “Two Toms” are two Toms too many. Here’s a major clue that these legislators shouldn’t be allowed to represent people in the state legislature:

In Minnesota, lawmakers must take responsibility for implementing the above mentioned block grants that serve the poor and need to admit that “what was done in the special session of the past year was not enough,” he said. “We need to admit that the borrowing off future revenues from the tobacco settlement will not be enough and exacerbating the school shift whereby 40 cents on the dollar that the superintendents and school board here in International Falls are receiving from the state government is not forthcoming and therefore they need to borrow or utilize reserves to make up for the difference; we need to admit that that was not a good solution.”

“Lastly, we need a lot of luck in this country, because we are in a global, nationwide recession of catastrophic proportions,” he said, adding that, in Minnesota 100,000 residents have been unemployed for six consecutive months or more.

The first requirement for a legislator should be his ability to communicate clearly. Putting together a 74-word sentence isn’t communicating clearly, especially when the sentence is that incoherent.

Another requirement to be a legislator should be the ability to inspire confidence that the plans implemented will benefit the people. Saying that “we need alot of luck” to get the economy jumpstarted won’t inspire confidence. Whether Rep. Anzelc likes the GOP budget or not, he shouldn’t be making statements that discourage unemployed workers.

Rep. Anzelc is being overly dramatic, too. The recession that we’re now recovering from wasn’t worse than the one President Reagan inherited from Jimmy Carter.

Further, there’s always something to worry about with economies. When the economy was growing during the last Clinton term, the worry was about “the Asian Flu” financial crisis:

The Asian financial crisis was a period of financial crisis that gripped much of Asia beginning in July 1997, and raised fears of a worldwide economic meltdown due to financial contagion.

The crisis started in Thailand with the financial collapse of the Thai baht caused by the decision of the Thai government to float the baht, cutting its peg to the USD, after exhaustive efforts to support it in the face of a severe financial overextension that was in part real estate driven. At the time, Thailand had acquired a burden of foreign debt that made the country effectively bankrupt even before the collapse of its currency. As the crisis spread, most of Southeast Asia and Japan saw slumping currencies, devalued stock markets and other asset prices, and a precipitous rise in private debt.

People worried whether the Asian Flu would take down the U.S. economy. Instead of crashing the American economy, America started a string of 5 consecutive balanced budgets.

Minnesota must redesign and streamline its government to make government in the 87 counties and 435 school districts, as well as townships and municipalities, more efficient, he said.

“We need to deliver government services at a cheaper price and that will require huge sacrifice and a lot of pain, but it’s coming,” he said. “We all need to be part of the solution.”

The two Toms had the opportunity to vote for Rep. Keith Downey’s 15 by 15 legislation that would’ve reduced the state workforce by 15% by 2015. Additionally, they had the opportunity to introduce legislation that would’ve redesigned and streamlined government.

They could’ve offered amendments to King Banaian’s HF2 legislation that included provisions for priority-based budgeting and the Sunset Commission. In fact, they could’ve offered legislation to reform state and local government.

After all, there’s no law that prevents legislators from writing that type of legislation. The good news is that the two Toms will be able to sign onto those bills starting in January, 2012.

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