Archive for the ‘Cronyism’ 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.
Tags: Terry Bonoff, Mike Nelson, Tom Bakk, Paul Thissen, Mark Dayton, Eliot Seide, AFSCME Council 5, Public Employee Unions, Cronyism, DFL, Sunset Advisory Commission, Accountability, Government Oversight, Reforms, MNGOP
When former DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe announced that he was running to succeed Bob McDonnell as governor, he brought tons of political baggage with him:
Turn over any green-energy rock, and wiggling underneath will be the usual creepy mix of political favoritism and taxpayer-funded handouts. Add to this the Clintons, Mississippi and a murky visa program, and you’ve got a particularly ripe political embarrassment for Terry McAuliffe.
That’s just the tip of McAuliffe’s political difficulties. This information will hurt McAuliffe:
Among the first questions he was asked was why, as a proud “Virginia” businessman, he’d located his business in Mississippi. Scrambling, Mr. McAuliffe stated that he had wanted to bring his jobs home but the Virginia Economic Development Partnership “didn’t want to bid on” GreenTech—whereas Mississippi had offered incentives. He went so far as to criticize the state for not going after manufacturing jobs like his, suggesting he’d change that.
After an investigation, media outlets discovered that Virginia never received enough information from GreenTech to proceed. The Associated Press reported that the state agency worried that “GreenTech lacked brand recognition; had not demonstrated vehicle performance; had no federal safety and fuel-economy certification; no emissions approval…no distribution network” and (ouch) “no demonstrated automotive industry experience within the executive management team.” Rather than respond to these concerns, GreenTech moved on with Mississippi (which perhaps wasn’t asking annoying questions).
As disturbing as that information is, that still isn’t the worst news for McAuliffe. This is:
Virginia was particularly alarmed by GreenTech’s use of an opaque visa program, called EB-5, to fund itself. Part of a 1990 immigration law, EB-5 lets foreigners who invest at least $500,000 in a U.S. company receive green cards. A federal immigration agency approves “regional centers” that administer the program.
While these centers can be run by local government, GreenTech proposed running a Virginia center itself. One official at the Virginia development agency wrote to colleagues that she couldn’t view Greentech’s EB-5 program as “anything other than a visa-for-sale scheme with potential national security implications.”
Touting GreenTech as proof of McAuliffe’s capitalist roots wasn’t smart. Having it exposed that he might be exploiting an immigration statute makes his uphill climb a stiffer challenge than first thought. Explaining away why this “Virginia businessman” opened his business in Mississippi is like loading another sack of bricks onto McAuliffe’s back. Last but not least, finding out that McAuliffe’s company isn’t manufacturing cars or creating jobs is a dagger through McAuliffe’s political campaign.
Get out the butter, folks, because McAuliffe’s campaign is toast.
Today, Jim Graves made it official today by announcing that he’s running against Michele Bachmann again:
In a statement, the AmericInn Hotel chain founder took a veiled jab at his opponent’s national reputation as a lightning rod. “These days, Congress is all about scoring political points rather than actually solving problems, and Minnesota’s 6th District, my home, is losing out because of that more than anywhere,” he said. ”I’m not interested in celebrity, only in solutions.”
That last statement is rather rich considering the fact that Graves told me that he thinks the PPACA is a free market solution to our health care problem. The PPACA is a one-size-fits-all disaster. First, it isn’t a solution. Second, it’s an expensive disaster that’s getting worse with each new onslaught of regulations.
If Graves can’t even identify a disastrous policy like the PPACA, then he’s worthless. Getting the biggest things badly wrong isn’t a virtue. His happy talk about being a new Democrat is BS. New Democrats don’t attend fundraisers hosted by Barney Frank, one of the men who caused the housing bubble to burst. New Democrats don’t defend the PPACA, which Graves tried doing with me.
Graves’ schtick is spin. That doesn’t mean people should take him lightly. He came close to defeating Michele in 2012. Then again, that’s largely because of high voter turnout durning a presidential election and because Michele focused a bunch of attention on her presidential campaign.
Since getting re-elected, Michele Bachmann has focused on solving major problems in the district, including working on widening the I-94 and Highway 10 corridors, not to mention her work in getting the Stillwater Bridge rebuilt.
Another big question awaiting is whether Nancy Pelosi will let Jim Graves be a centrist. She’ll let him talk like a centrist during the campaign. The question is how long that’d last if he’s elected. If he’s elected, Pelosi would likely have a slim majority in the House, meaning she’ll need every Democrat’s vote on the big issue.
Graves will run another dishonest campaign this cycle because that’s his only shot at winning. Make no mistake: Jim Graves won’t hesitate in hitting below the belt if that’s what’s needed. We know that because it’s what he’s done in the past. Graves got a bunch of union workers to lie for him during a campaign ad. These displaced union workers accused Michele of political grandstanding and not giving a damn about them. KSTP ran Graves’ ad through their Truth Test:
Bachmann was in the district on Memorial Day weekend in Stillwater attending events when the explosion happened but didn’t go to the scene. However, a Bachmann staff member was there within an hour.
I know the Bachmann staffer who got to the Verson site within an hour of the explosion happening. Jim Graves didn’t care about this extraordinary performance. He had his sights set on winning an election. If he had to accuse Michele of not giving a damn, that’s what he’d do. If that meant ignoring the facts on the ground, New Democrat Jim Graves wasn’t about to hesitate in putting that disgusting, dishonest ad together.
Tags: Jim Graves, Smear Campaign, Barney Frank, Housing Bubble, Nancy Pelosi, PPACA, Regulations, New Democrat, Michele Bachmann, I-94, Highway 10, Stillwater Bridge, Transportation, MNGOP, Election 2014
Last week, the pension bailout was big news. After complaints boke out about the DFL bailout, pension fund bailout activists quickly started a counterspin campaign:
The casual reader may be taken aback by the $36 million figure, only $13 million of which is taxpayer money. The balance is fees tacked on to homeowner and auto insurance policies to bolster police and firefighter retirement funds. The $26 million is a significant difference.
First, someone should instruct Mr. Leathers that $13 million + $23 million doesn’t equal $36 million. Mr. Leathers’ math difficulties notwithstanding, he seems to think that $13 million of taxpayer money is incidental. It isn’t. It’s money out of hardworking families’ wallets at a time when incomes are stagnant. That’s before talking about the fact that the surcharge on homeowner and auto insurance policies, which, again, is money taken from hardworking families’ wallets.
Unfortunately, the spin gets worse after that:
What is also significant is that Minnesota public sector pensions are extremely modest. They account for 1.6 percent of the state budget, compared with the national average of 2.9 percent. While some states’ pension funds are facing bankruptcy, Minnesota’s funds are in “decent if not perfect” shape, as the story puts it. When asked about the management of public pensions in the state, Legislative Commission on Pensions and Retirement chair Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, stated, “We are responsible.”
TRANSLATION: We’re in great shape compared with California, New Jersey and Illinois. That’s hardly proof that Minnesota’s pensions are in “decent, if not perfect” shape. It’s just proof that they aren’t on the verge of being totally insolvent.
The St. Paul and Duluth teacher funds are unique, and currently both are freestanding. Each has more than 100 years of responsible operation and a detailed plan to become solvent. Dave Anderson, who represents the Duluth Retired Teacher Association, commented at a recent hearing on what he would do to put his district’s pension plan on sound footing: “We will do whatever is good for our members and also what is good for the state of Minnesota.”
The St. Paul and Duluth funds aren’t “freestanding” because of the bailouts they’ve received. Furthermore, Duluth’s pension fund is only 63% funded. That’s pathetic in any situation. It’s especially pathetic at a time when the stock market is sitting at its highest mark ever. If they aren’t fully funded when the stock market is going gangbusters, why should we think that they’ll ever be close to solvent?
As for Mr. Anderson’s statement that the Duluth Retired Teacher Association would “do whatever is good for our members and also do what is good for the state of Minnesota”, I’d believe that they’ll do what’s best for their members. I’m certain they won’t do what’s best for Minnesota.
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.
DFL legislators voted to bail out the pension funds for Duluth and St. Paul school teachers:
Commission chair Sen. Sandra Pappas, DFL-Minneapolis, noted that the statewide TRA would require Duluth and St. Paul plans to be fully funded before any merger. “This is a kind of shared-pain approach,” Pappas said of the St. Paul proposal. “If we’re thinking merger is down the road, bringing benefits in line with TRA and putting some cash into the fund is probably a good move.”
That’s BS. The DFL’s bill isn’t tough love. It’s caving. In 2010, the Duluth pension plan agreed that they wouldn’t get a COLA until their pensions were at least 80% funded. This bill gives Duluth pensioners a 1% annual COLA even though their fund is only 63% funded. In short, the DFL legislature’s definition of tough love is to bail out the Duluth pension fund, then throw in an annual COLA as a bonus.
The fact that the Duluth pension fund is only 63% funded is disgusting. The payouts promised must’ve really been steep. It’s a given that their pensions funds took a hit during the Great Recession. Everyone’s did. Duluth is the only Minnesota pension fund I’ve heard of that’s that badly underfunded.
If this continues, Duluth will be the new Stockton, Calif. In fact, the corruption and financial mismanagement in Duluth is bad enough that they probably could declare bankruptcy.
The worst part about the vote on this bill is that it was rushed through so that they could attend the annual Ranger Party at a famous watering hole near the Capitol. The Ranger Party is considered a can’t miss mixer where “the drinks and other people’s money flows freely.”
Unfortunately for the taxpayers, these DFL legislators are more committed to raising cash for their next campaign than they’re worried about being the taxpayers’ watchdog.
For years, teachers have been double-dipping their pension accounts. Once again, the St. Paul Teachers’ Retirement Association is asking for another bailout of their pension plan while selling it as a reasonable fix to the situation. It isn’t reasonable to the taxpayers. It’s a rip-off.
A proposal is expected to be introduced in the Minnesota Legislature in the next two weeks.
The goal is to close a projected $16.7 million per year gap between what the fund needs each year and what it actually brings in.
“This is a problem that’s easier to remedy now than 10 years from now,” said Paul Doane, the association’s executive director. “I’m convinced this is a major step forward that will help both the long-term solvency and sustainability issue.”
It’s imperative that the remedy include 3 things. First, it’s imperative that the fix end the defined benefit plan. Next, it’s imperative that retire-and-rehire programs stop ASAP. Finally, it’s imperative that early retirement be eliminated. Here’s why it’s imperative the retire-then-rehire program is stopped:
The fund estimates it could get another $3.4 million by increasing employee and employer contributions by 1 percent for each and modifying early retirement and return-to-work policies.
Under the proposal, retirees would have to wait six months before they can return to a job with the district, up from 30 days now. And, if they make more than $46,000 after they return, they would lose some pension benefits, which are now set aside and paid out after returnees leave the district.
TRANSLATION: Retire-then-rehire programs are costing taxpayers millions of dollars in pensions.
What’s fair about telling private sector employees that they’re getting hit with a tax increase to pay for a teacher to retire when they’re 55, then start collecting a pension, then go on a month-long vacation before getting a cushy consultant’s job? That’s the system as it currently exists.
Why should taxpayers be funding a pension fund so public sector employees can retire when they’re fifty-something, especially when it’s a defined benefit pension plan?
There’s a fight brewing on this crisis. This provides a good glimpse into the bailout fight:
Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, who will sponsor the House version of the bill, said this proposal is “fair, appropriate and prudent.”
She noted that St. Paul Teachers received no state aid from 1987 to 1993. The state provided $22 million in annual aid to help the former Minneapolis teachers’ pension fund reduce its shortfall before it merged into the state’s larger Teachers Retirement Association pension fund.
But Thompson rejects the idea of using taxpayer dollars to shore up the fund while many private-sector workers are scaling back their own retirement plans because of the market downturn. He said the proposal is especially unpalatable because its proposed benefit increase negates the higher contributions from employees.
“In a nutshell, the St. Paul Teachers’ Retirement Fund is looking for a net increase in benefits, with the state acting as a guarantor of their investments,” he said. “In this economy, that’s really asking a lot.”
Rep. Kahn’s reply exposed the system’s flaw when she said that St. Paul teachers didn’t receive any state aid from 1987 through 1993. The first pertinent question is “why should Minnesota taxpayers bailout a St. Paul public employees pension plan”? The thinking should’ve been that a pension plan that’s underfunded at a time when the economy and stock market are going strong has a major structural flaw.
The response back then should’ve been to either insist on major structural reforms or let the teachers and trustees run the pension into bankruptcy. Overpromising isn’t a virtue. It’s a curse.
Sen. Thompson is right in saying that it’s wrong to ask taxpayers to fund a bailout that would improve benefits for people in the St. Paul Teachers’ Retirement Fund. With people living longer, increasing benefits isn’t sustainable. That means this pension fund will need another bailout a decade from now.
How’s that fair to private sector taxpayers?
Follow this link to read more on the subject.
Tags: Public Employee Unions, St. Paul Teachers’ Retirement Fund, Unfunded Liability, Pension Bailout, Phyllis Kahn, DFL, Dave Thompson, Pension Reform, Taxpayers, MNGOP
Last week, House Higher Ed Committee Chairman Gene Pelowski challenged MnSCU Vice-Chancellor Laura King:
Led by Winona Rep. Gene Pelowski, the pugnacious House point man on higher education, lawmakers grilled MnSCU chancellor Steven Rosenstone and other MnSCU administrators during a Wednesday hearing.
The resounding message from legislators: Rising tuition costs in MnSCU, the statewide system that includes St. Cloud State University and St. Cloud Technical & Community College, have become a real concern in the past decade.
Wednesday’s hearing was contentious at times. At one point, Pelowski, responding to MnSCU vice chancellor Laura King’s assertion that students were consulted on tuition hikes, flatly told King: “I don’t believe what you just said.”
Chairman Pelowski is justified in questioning Vice Chancellor King. When President Potter eliminated SCSU’s Aviation Department, he was required to follow MnSCU procedure 3.36.1, which requires documenting 9 specific things. He didn’t. Shortly thereafter, Larry Litecky, then the Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs, was asked to respond to why that MnSCU procedure hadn’t been followed. Here’s Mr. Litecky’s response:
My staff and I remain persuaded that the university conducted required and appropriate consultations and assessments that informed its decisions.
Students in the Aviation program weren’t consulted as required. Further, SCSU didn’t provide the documentation that’s required. That means there’s nothing to be persuaded about. Either President Potter documented the things that MnSCU policy requires or he didn’t.
It’s questionable whether the procedure was followed or if the documentation exists.
That means Chairman Pelowski is totally justified in questioning whether MnSCU consulted with students about a tuition increase.
This paragraph caught my attention:
MnSCU officials say state funding cuts during the past decade have forced the system, governed by its board of trustees, to boost tuition to maintain quality of instruction.
MnSCU raised tuitions but didn’t think about shutting down some of its campuses. Why didn’t they think of that? Further, MnSCU and their universities didn’t stop hiring administrators. Shouldn’t that part of MnSCU have been the first part of MnSCU to get examined? There are more administrators in MnSCU and at each MnSCU university now than there were 5 years ago. More importantly, administrators are getting paid more now than 5 years ago.
Pelowski and Poppe questioned the salary and bonus levels for MnSCU administrators, which Pelowski said are coming as students shoulder ever-greater tuition costs. In an example typical of his administrative colleagues, St. Cloud State University President Earl H. Potter III got a $288,550 salary plus a $14,250 bonus in 2012. “The issue is, someone’s bearing the burden for all of this,” Pelowski said. “There has to be a reckoning.”
Pelowski said Gov. Mark Dayton, in a recent meeting between the two, highlighted that many MnSCU administrators make larger salaries than the governor. Dayton’s deputy chief of staff, Bob Hume, confirmed that account and said the number of administrators and administrative salaries are issues of concern for Dayton in both the MnSCU and University of Minnesota systems. “It’s a big chunk of resources we need to make sure we’re applying as strategically as possible,” Hume said.
Why raise tuition when MnSCU should be cutting administrators and administrator salaries? That’s a backwards approach. Administrators cost universities money. Hiring faculty to staff more job-creating programs increases enrollments, which increases revenues.
The question that still remains is whether the DFL legislature will force MnSCU to make smarter financial decisions. Only time will tell on that.
According to President Potter’s office, $146,652 of SCSU’s general fund was spent on the C.A.R.E. Initiative, aka the Community Anti-Racism Education Initiative. According to SCSU’s website, “students, faculty and community participants [overwhelmingly] tell us this is one of the best workshops they have ever attended because the workshops are relevant, engaging, informational, comfortable and eye opening!”
That sounds great but there’s no quantifiable, objective numbers to match with SCSU’s statement. Without verification, we can’t be certain that quote isn’t anything more than happy talk. It wouldn’t be the first time a public institution had issued a statement that was pure blather.
Further exploration of SCSU’s website shows that the first “C.A.R.E. Leadership Team Meeting” was held on Sept. 1, 2006. According to the minutes of that meeting, things got off to a fantastic start:
Convocation week CARE Orientation Workshops were well attended and response from new employees was good.
It’s odd that Sept. 1 and Sept. 21, 2006 are the only meetings of the C.A.R.E. Initiative executive board. That is, they’re the only meetings on the SCSU website.
Here’s the text of President Potter’s email:
From: President’s Office
Date: Mon, 11 Feb 2013
To the Campus Community
As we continue our efforts to create an anti-racist culture with a commitment to diversity and inclusion, I offer this report on the resources we have devoted to this effort over the last several years. A shared understanding of what has been invested in diversity initiatives is all the more critical as we come to grips with a significant reduction in the external resources supporting the Center for Access & Opportunity, the largest single diversity initiative on campus.
An examination of the three most recently completed fiscal years, FY 2010, FY 2011, and FY 2012, reveals that we have a multitude of activities underway that are helping us advance these initiatives. In addition, it should be noted that there are numerous efforts in all areas of campus operations that are embedded in programs which are not included in the financial data in this report. A few examples of such efforts include programs in ethnic studies, African Studies, Global Studies, and Latin American Studies in the College of Liberal Arts; dedicated advisors for students of color in the Center for Advising; and the School of Education’s targeted recruiting program for students of color who are interested in teaching careers. Though critical to our community, these activities cannot be readily identified from an analysis of expenditure data.
University funds that support diversity initiatives have been divided into three groups based on the sources of funds that support the initiatives:
- M&E (also known as University General Fund)
- Student fees
- State and private grants.
Each year, about twenty-five different programs have expended resources in the promotion of diversity at SCSU. Total expenditures across all these programs from the three major sources increased each year from $4.16M in FY 2010 to $4.24M in FY 2011 and $4.32M in FY 2012. The largest segment of programs and resources are supported from the University General Fund which comprised 96 percent of the total expenditures in FY 2010 and FY 2011 and 92 percent of the total in FY 2012. Student fee supported programs increased from 4 percent of the total expenditures in FY 2010 and FY 2011 to 6 percent of the total in FY 2012. The table on the next page provides the expenditure history in each of the programs supported by the three major fund sources during FY 2010, FY 2011, and FY 2012.These important questions weren’t answered:
- How are the program results being measured?
- What are the stakeholders getting in return for their $4.3 million?
- Could some programs be combined or eliminated?
- Could some services provided by programs like the SCSU Women’s Center be handled by Stearns County Social Services?
It’s time that these and other questions were answered.
DFL Rep. John Ward is chief author of HF0171, a bill that would gut the teacher accountability bill Gov. Dayton signed into law last year. Here’s the key part of Rep. Ward’s bill:
1.16 (b) The board must adopt rules to approve teacher preparation programs. The board,
1.17upon the request of a postsecondary student preparing for teacher licensure or a licensed
1.18graduate of a teacher preparation program, shall assist in resolving a dispute between the
1.19person and a postsecondary institution providing a teacher preparation program when the
1.20dispute involves an institution’s recommendation for licensure affecting the person or the
1.21person’s credentials. At the board’s discretion, assistance may include the application
1.22of chapter 14.
1.23(c) The board must provide the leadership and adopt rules for the redesign of
1.24teacher education programs to implement a research based, results-oriented curriculum
1.25that focuses on the skills teachers need in order to be effective. The board shall implement
2.1new systems of teacher preparation program evaluation to assure program effectiveness
2.2based on proficiency of graduates in demonstrating attainment of program outcomes.
2.3Teacher preparation programs including alternative teacher preparation programs
2.4under section 122A.245, among other programs, must include a content-specific,
2.5board-approved, performance-based assessment that measures teacher candidates in three
2.6areas: planning for instruction and assessment; engaging students and supporting learning;
2.7and assessing student learning.
Last year, the GOP legislature passed a bill with much more objective criteria for measuring a teacher’s qualifications:
1.1A bill for an act
1.2relating to education; repealing the requirement that licensed K-12 teachers pass
1.3a basic skills examination in reading, writing, and mathematics as a condition
1.4for receiving a teaching license
Rep. Ward’s legislation, undoubtedly written at the request of Education Minnesota President (and registered lobbyist) Tom Dooher, would eliminate the verifiable, objective, requirements for getting a teachers license. What’s worse is that Rep. Ward’s legislation would replace those objective requirements with subjective, significantly less verifiable, requirements. There isn’t a single thing in this paragraph that’s objective:
The board must provide the leadership and adopt rules for the redesign of teacher education programs to implement a research based, results-oriented curriculum that focuses on the skills teachers need in order to be effective. The board shall implement new systems of teacher preparation program evaluation to assure program effectiveness based on proficiency of graduates in demonstrating attainment of program outcomes.
Who determines what “skills teachers need in order to be effective?” Tom Dooher? That’s laughable. Mr. Dooher’s job, both as a lobbyist and as Education Minnesota’s president, is to protect teachers. His job has nothing to do with guaranteeing great educational outcomes for K-12 students.
Rep. Ward’s legislation would utterly gut the objective criteria established in last year’s licensure reform legislation. That’s a predictable outcome because the DFL cares more about their special interest allies than they care about putting highly qualified teachers in each classroom.
Based on the legislation submitted thus far, it’s apparent that the DFL will do its best to repeal the sensible reforms that the GOP legislature passed. This legislation is proof that the DFL’s agenda is much lengthier than the list of things they campaigned on. That’s because the DFL knows it wouldn’t be the majority party in the House of Representatives if they would’ve campaigned on making it easier for unqualified teachers to get a teachers license.