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It’s shameful to read an article like this one, then think that it’s called a news article. It reads more like a press release from the Central Minnesota Transportation Authority, the St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce or from Dave Kleis’s office.

The article started by saying “The first Northstar commuter train left Big Lake 10 minutes before dawn on Tuesday. St. Cloud commuters who started downtown on the Link bus left at 3:50 a.m. to catch that train. They arrived in Minneapolis before 6 a.m. I took the last Link and the last train on Tuesday morning, and it still felt early. My trip from bus, to train, to light rail, to the Minnesota Capitol in downtown St. Paul took nearly three hours, but it was easy, prompt and clean.

“For a few moments I felt like a traveler in Europe, looking over farm fields and forests from the top deck of a train. I’ve driven between St. Cloud and the Cities along Minnesota Highway 10 hundreds of times. This was more relaxing. After I arrived at the Capitol — I am the government reporter, after all — I wound up walking a few miles for coffee and a meeting off site. My feet got sore.”

It’s good that Ms. Hertel mentioned that she’s the SC Times’ government reporter. If not for that mention, I might’ve thought that she was the PR director for the Chamber of Commerce.

Later in the article, Ms. Hertel wrote this:

Wolgamott commuted to the Capitol on Northstar a couple times this year as he was pushing his colleagues to fund research into a route expansion. He preferred the train to “sitting in traffic, inching down the interstate,” Wolgamott said Tuesday. He brought his daughter Lily on one trip and they met conductor Vincent Roberts, he said. “She thought it was pretty cool to meet the conductor.”

That’s nice. That doesn’t tell the Times’ readers why this is a vital project. It’s just a cute story. On the other hand, this is important information that’s buried deep in the article:

Relph wants to get a sense of who would benefit from the extended route, so participating communities know how much to pitch in to the cost, which won’t be covered solely by ticket sales, he said. “This will be subsidized.”

The article doesn’t say how big the subsidy will be. It just says that there will be a subsidy. Then there’s this:

The cost of a route extension is not clear. A 2017 Legislative fiscal note estimated capital costs around $37 million. As lawmakers consider expansion of Northstar, $4 million is already allocated for facility improvements in Big Lake to maintain the existing fleet for 20 more years.

The more I learn about this project, the more it sounds like a total boondoggle.

There’s an old saying about boats. It says “A boat is a hole in the water surrounded by wood into which one pours money.” Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? There’s another saying that dovetails with the first saying. It says “the 2 best days of owning a boat are the day you buy it and the day you sell it.”

With Northstar, unfortunately, there won’t be a day we sell it. The subsidies will never end. They’ll only get more expensive. The replacement costs for the train will be forever. Like the subsidies, those costs will only go up.

Just for comparison, there are more cars that use I-94 in a single day than there are riders on Northstar in a year. What’s more, I-94 pays for itself. Plus, it’s capable of transporting goods to markets. Northstar can’t do that if its life depended on it. At best, Northstar is a niche produce. At worst, which I suspect is likely, it’s a boondoggle.

This article highlights how Dan Wolgamott, Tama Theis and Jerry Relph are totally owned by Theresa Bohnen and the St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Last Friday, Wolgamott insisted on this funding, saying that it would create jobs. (That’s what the DFL always says about pork-barrel projects. It’s always hogwash.)

Rep. Nick Zerwas, who represents Big Lake, told the legislature that the average ticket gets subsidized $54. That’s an average subsidy of $14,000 per year per ticket. That’s money that’s wasted that could’ve been used to lower taxes and prevent foolish spending. Any person voting for this foolishness should be primaried and run out of politics.

Further, getting the Chamber’s endorsement should be seen as a negative. They’re moderates at best. They’re also crony capitalists. I can’t remember the last time they fought for pro-growth capitalist policies.

This should frighten people:

Wolgamott says he will be enthusiastically voting for the transportation budget, and will continue to be a tireless advocate to bring Northstar to St. Cloud. Other things included in the transportation bill include an additional $275 million over the current budget for statewide road construction, delivery, and maintenance.

How could this be? Gov. Walz didn’t get his outrageous gas tax increase. We were told that we needed that tax increase to fix roads and bridges. St. Cloud voters better remember that Rep. Wolgamott voted for all of Gov. Walz’s and the DFL’s tax increases.

Friday, I received Dan Wolgamott’s weekly e-letter update. The subject of this week’s e-letter update was the budget. Wolgamott and the DFL are touting their ‘investment’ in education rather than talking about the DFL’s $12,000,000,000 tax increase over the next 4 years:

For more on the House’s Minnesota Values Budget, you can read about the innovations and investments we’re making in health care, education, transportation, and taxes here. These aren’t gimmicks or quick fixes to complicated issues. We’ve made smart, steady investments that are backed up by the values Minnesotans hold dear, and I hope you’ll join me in urging my Senate colleagues to work with us in a way that moves Minnesota forward, not back.

I’m sure it’s purely accidental (not!) that this is the only informational graphic in the e-letter update:

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Wolgamott doesn’t want to be known for the huge tax increases he’s voted for. Zach Dorholt became famous for voting for the DFL’s huge tax increases in 2013. He was defeated in 2014. Wolgamott is a career politician wannabe serving his first term. He wants to last longer than Dorholt. That’s why he’s downplaying the tax hikes that would make Minnesota unattractive to businesses if they went into effect.

Then there’s this:

This highlights just one of several areas where the unsatisfactory investments made in the Senate don’t even come close closing the education funding gap that hurts our schools and students. Our education proposal in the House is the product of input from students, parents, teachers, and administrators. We’re funding our schools based on conversations we’ve had at Town Halls like the ones I’ve held in St. Cloud. This is your budget, and I’ll continue to fight for the investments that you deserve.

Unfortunately for his constituents, he’ll fight hardest for the biggest tax increases in state history. What’s worst is that the DFL’s tax increases hit the lowest 25% of income earners the hardest of all income groups:

The tax plan proposed by Gov. Tim Walz would hit lower income Minnesotans harder than wealthier earners. That’s the outcome of analysis by the Democratic governor’s own Department of Revenue, which carried out a tax incidence analysis of Walz’s plan, which includes, among other things, a reduction in state income taxes but increases in business, estate, gas and vehicle sales tax, among other changes.

According to the revenue department, the overall tax burden on Minnesotans would increase from 11.63 percent currently to 12.39 percent under Walz’s plan, an increase of 0.76 percent. However it’s the lowest earners who would see a bigger increase in their taxes.

That’s what Dan Wolgamott and the DFL are fighting for. They aren’t fighting for students. They’re fighting for Education Minnesota and other DFL special interest groups. Tim Walz’s and the DFL’s profligate spending aren’t investing in the future. They’re pushing productive Minnesotans to other states.

Finally, Rep. Wolgamott and the DFL are making Minnesota more uncompetitive. The DFL couldn’t do much more to push businesses away except putting a sign on each entrance to the state saying ‘Businesses aren’t welcome here.’

It’s safe to say that the DFL House majority isn’t interested in keeping Minnesota competitive with other states. This DFL majority is intent on raising a whole host of taxes. This AP article highlights the latest DFL partisan vote to raise taxes.

It says “The 74-58 vote on the $7.2 billion package fell mostly along party lines. Majority Democrats stressed during several hours of debate that began Friday the need for a stable, dedicated source of revenue to make badly needed road and bridge improvements. Their proposal would raise the gas tax by a nickel per year for four years for a 70% total increase from the current tax of 28.5 cents per gallon.”

Later, the hammer dropped:

Minority Republicans countered that the state already has plenty of money to spend on transportation from existing revenue streams and a projected $1 billion budget surplus. They also pointed to a recent Department of Revenue analysis that found the tax increase would fall hardest on low- and middle-income residents, and said it would make driving more expensive for all Minnesota motorists.

Of course, Dan Wolgamott, my DFL representative, voted the way he was told by DFL Speaker Melissa Hortman told him to. Thus far in his brief legislative career, Wolgamott has voted for billions of dollars of tax increases. It’s apparent that Wolgamott, like his DFL puppet masters, intend on hurting taxpayers. It’s clear that the DFL views taxpayers as ATM machines.

There’s an old saying about how differently Republicans and see the world. It’s said that Democrats see every day as April 15th while Republicans see each day as the 4th of July. This article does nothing to dispel that perspective.

I first wrote about Dan Wolgamott’s LTE in this post. I noted at the time that Wolgamott whined that “our current elected officials aren’t making our kids a priority. We’ve seen the same story play out too many times in our schools: budget deficits that lead to increased class sizes, fewer opportunities for our kids than we had, and when budget deficits get too large, a referendum for a higher local levy. Lily and all of her classmates deserve an outstanding education and a chance to succeed! If we want Minnesota to continue to be a leader, we have to do better, and the Republican-led Legislature needs to step up and adequately fund our schools.”

The problem with that statement is that it’s rubbish. It was a prediction based on Wolgamott’s partisan bias. The truth is that Republicans stepped up and funded education. The bill they passed and sent to Gov. Dayton’s desk would’ve spent $90,000,000 more than Gov. Dayton requested.

The problem? In another of Gov. Dayton’s infamous temper tantrums, Gov. Dayton vetoed the bill. In his LTE, Wolgamott said that if “we want Minnesota to continue to be a leader, we have to do better, and the Republican-led Legislature needs to step up and adequately fund our schools.” Actually, what’s needed is to elect a Republican as governor and never let another spoiled brat DFL politician in as governor. Gov. Dayton was a 2-term failure. He fought with the DFL Senate Leader in 2014. He shut down government in 2011 because he didn’t get everything he wanted. That sounds familiar:

In 2015, Speaker Daudt and Sen. Bakk tried negotiating a bipartisan budget bill. After a week of negotiating, they still hadn’t reached an agreement with Gov. Dayton so they decided to negotiate between themselves. An hour later, they’d reached an agreement. Once again, Gov. Dayton was the impediment.

During his watch, Gov. Dayton watched the MNLARS project fail repeatedly. Further, Gov. Dayton didn’t catch the child care fraud even though a whistleblower told them about it in 2014. Finally, Gov. Dayton didn’t notice the elder abuse scandal. That didn’t get his attention until Republican Sen. Karin Housley started investigating.

In summation, Wolgamott is a blowhard. He accused Republicans of not stepping up for ‘the children’, only to watch Gov. Dayton not step up for the children. We don’t need partisans like Wolgamott in the legislature. We need solutions-oriented men like Jim Knoblach in there. Chairman Knoblach has a history of putting solid, bipartisan budgets together.

We haven’t gotten to the campaign yet and I’m already tired of his whining. In this LTE, Wolgamott essentially whines about the tough job of governing, saying “But unfortunately, our current elected officials aren’t making our kids a priority. We’ve seen the same story play out too many times in our schools: budget deficits that lead to increased class sizes, fewer opportunities for our kids than we had, and when budget deficits get too large, a referendum for a higher local levy. Lily and all of her classmates deserve an outstanding education and a chance to succeed! If we want Minnesota to continue to be a leader, we have to do better, and the Republican-led Legislature needs to step up and adequately fund our schools.”

First, the only thing that Minnesota is a leader in is having people leave the state for other destinations. The state demographer verifies that. So does the IRS. Next, liberal-infested school boards are to blame for this manufactured crisis. We’re told that 59 school districts are running deficits. Then we’re told that 10 percent per biennium spending increases aren’t enough. When’s the last time you got a 10% increase in your wage over 2 years and it wasn’t enough? Third, Mr. Wolgamott, what’s your definition of ‘adequately funding our schools’? Is there a definition? I suspect there isn’t.

But even with a budget surplus, Republicans in the legislature, including Rep. Jim Knoblach, are refusing to support the Emergency School Aid proposal. Some even questioned whether there is an emergency or need for the funding. Politicians are continuing to shortchange our schools just to put corporations and the wealthy first. That’s just not right, and it’s not fair to our children.

I’m tired of the DFL’s lying about Republicans shortchanging kids so they can “put corporations and the wealthy first.” It’s an outright lie. First, Republicans are willing to work with Gov. Dayton on addressing the needs of the 59 districts. They just aren’t willing to add 2% to the K-12 spending formula, which helps schools running surpluses and those running deficits. Instead, Gov. Dayton is insisting on his way only. That isn’t negotiating. That’s what autocrats do.

Next, it’s worth noting that Mr. Wolgamott intentionally omitted the part about a GOP counteroffer. Why? It’s impossible to climb inside a mind like Wolgamott’s but I suspect it’s because he wants to create the impression that Republicans simply don’t care about education. Anyone that works that hard at creating the impression that Republicans don’t care isn’t the type of guy that’d bring people together. I don’t have to question whether Jim Knoblach can bring people together. I’ve seen him do it. I must question Wolgamott on bringing people together because all I’ve got to go on is his claim that he’ll bring people together. That isn’t much to go on with someone as deceptive as he is.

Ensuring all of our children have access to a great education is critical for the future of our state. It’s the key to good jobs and a great economy, and making sure our kids can live a better life than their parents. It’s time for leaders from both parties to work together and pass this Emergency School Aid. And if they won’t, let’s replace them with people who will put our kids first.

What Mr. Wolgamott didn’t say in that paragraph is that Minnesota also needs competitive tax rates and fewer regulations to create jobs and a bright future. Apparently, Wolgamott hasn’t figured it out that people from each age group and each income group are leaving Minnesota because Minnesota just isn’t the desirable state to live in anymore thanks to the DFL’s policies.

We’ve had divided government, in which case the DFL won the budget fight. We’ve had unified DFL government, which resulted in the DFL winning the budget fight. What we haven’t had is unified Republican government. What we know is that Gov. Dayton and the Metrocrats have spent tons of money on Twin Cities things while ignoring rural Minnesota. That’s why voters threw out DFL legislators and gave the legislative keys to Republicans.

That’s pretty astonishing considering the fact that Gov. Dayton repeatedly told voters that he wanted DFL majorities in the House and Senate in 2017. Instead, voters gave him Republican majorities in the House and Senate in 2017. They know the Dayton plan isn’t working. What’s most needed is competence, something that’s been lacking in the governor’s mansion the past 8 years. Think MNLARS, MNsure, the nursing home crisis and the child care fraud scandal.

Last night, Melissa Hortman retweeted something titled a “comprehensive list of DFL candidates running for the House of Representatives.” One of the candidates listed in the link is Dan Wolgamott. It’s difficult to picture him as a serious candidate, mostly because he’s run for 3 different legislative seats in the last 3 election cycles. If Mr. Wolgamott keeps up this pace, he’ll make Tarryl Clark look like homebody. This year, Wolgamott is running for Jim Knoblach’s seat in HD-14B. In 2016, Wolgamott ran for the SD-14 senate seat. In 2014, Wolgamott ran for Tama Theis’s seat in HD-14A. But I digress.

Mr. Wolgamott’s campaign website is nothing but mush. Wolgamott’s priorities page is entirely devoid of substance. What it’s missing in substance, though, it more than makes up for in platitudes and feel-goodisms. For instance, on the subject of higher education, Wolgamott wants to “lower tuition and administrative costs, fully support our state colleges and universities and allow students to refinance school loans.”

St. Cloud State is located entirely in HD-14B. Its enrollment has been declining since 2011. Retrenchment (a fancy term for firing faculty and administration) looks likely in FY2019. Rather than fixing the SCSU crisis, Mr. Wolgamott offers platitudes but no specifics? Where’s Mr. Wolgamott’s solutions to the district’s biggest problem?

On the subject of “Jobs and Economic Development”, Mr. Wolgamott “supports job training and placement programs, expanding start-up business grants, encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship” while streamlining the “permitting process.”

Again, businesses are leaving St. Cloud (Electrolux) for other states or they’re going bankrupt (Herbergers). People are leaving St. Cloud proper. Despite these things, the best Mr. Wolgamott can do is offer generic-sounding platitudes without offering specific solutions. On Mr. Wolgamott’s priorities page, he asks this rhetorical question:

Who cares if something is a Republican idea, a Democrat idea or an Independent idea?

Based on this picture, I’d bet that it matters to Mr. Wolgamott:

Mr. Wolgamott insists that he’ll bring people together. That might be true. It might not. There’s no question whether Jim Knoblach will bring people together. He’s already done that. Do voters want a wannabe career politician who spews platitudes? Or do St. Cloud voters want an experienced policy maker?

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If there’s anything certain in life, the saying goes, it’s death and taxes. In St. Cloud, we can apparently add Dan Wolgamott running for political office as a certainty. According to this article, Wolgamott, who has run for Tama Theis’s house seat in HD-14A in 2014, then ran for the open senate seat vacated when John Pederson retired, is now interested in Jim Knoblach’s seat.

Wolgamott issued a statement announcing his candidacy, saying “Career politician Jim Knoblach currently represents the district and is serving his eighth term (15th year) in the state House. Under Knoblach’s watch, the Legislature has failed to get its work done on time for six of those years, each time resulting in a costly special session.”

The perpetual campaigner is denouncing career politicians. That’s rich. Here’s what you need to know about Wolgamott. First, he’s a Democrat first. His constituents come second. He said as much a few years ago when he wrote an op-ed, saying that he’d vote to raise the gas tax if that’s what his caucus approved. Next, Wolgamott’s talk about bringing people together is just that — talk. I don’t doubt that Wolgamott brings Democrats together. I’m totally skeptical, though, that he’d lift a finger to bring Republicans and Democrats together.

I don’t have to speculate whether Jim Knoblach would bring Republicans and Democrats together. I have verifiable proof that he’s frequently brought Republicans and Democrats together. The most recent example that I wrote about was in 2015, when he was part of Speaker Daudt’s budget team that put together a bipartisan budget agreement with then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk. Of course, Gov. Dayton and other high-profile liberals sabotaged the agreement.

The good news is that Chairman Knoblach persevered, which led to the Daudt-Bakk budget eventually passing during a special session. There’s no reason to think that Wolgamott would stand up to the DFL leadership. He’s a hardline progressive that would’ve voted to create MNsure.

Finally, here’s another part of Wolgamott’s statement getting into yet another race:

Status-quo politicians like Jim Knoblach continue to stack the deck against hard-working, middle-class Minnesotans, prioritizing wealthy donors and corporate special interests instead of working families.

Wolgamott is as cookie-cutter as they come. There’s nothing that says he’d be a leader. If you went to the dictionary for the definition of a career politician, here’s what you’d find:

Jerry Relph won election to the Minnesota Senate on November 8 by defeating DFL candidate Dan Wolgamott by 148 votes. Because he won by that narrow margin, Senator-Elect Relph had to wait until the recount was finished to celebrate. That recount was finished yesterday. Predictably, Relph maintained his lead, though the margin of victory got a little smaller.

According to the article, “Wolgamott picked up six votes in Stearns County, while Relph lost one. Both candidates’ totals in Benton and Sherburne counties remained the same.” The bottom line is that Senator-Elect Relph’s margin of victory is now at 141 votes after starting the recount at 148 votes.

Thanks to this recount and another recount victory in SD-44, Republicans will hold a 34-33 majority in the Minnesota Senate. House Republicans are waiting for the outcome of a special election in HD-32B on Feb. 14 to find out how big their majority will be. Right now, there are 76 Republicans in the House. It’s expected that Ann Neu, the Republican running in that race, will win that election.

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This St. Cloud Times article reports that Dan Wolgamott “will formally request a recount after the canvassing boards of Stearns, Benton and Sherburne counties and the state have certified the election results.” Wolgamott was defeated by Jerry Relph in the election to see who would represent SD-14 in the State Senate for 2017-2021.

According to the article, “Wolgamott said he would request the recount ‘to ensure that our voting process was as fair and accurate as Minnesotans expect it to be.'” The truth is that he won’t win. If Mr. Wolgamott doesn’t know that, then it’s a good thing he wasn’t elected because he isn’t smart enough to represent SD-14.

Seriously, it’s impossible to make up a 142-vote margin in a race where 37,000 votes were cast. When King Banaian was elected to represent HD-15B in November, 2010, he initially won by 10 votes. That triggered an automatic recount. In the recount, Dr. Banaian gained an additional 4 votes. Carol Lewis, his opponent that year, gained 1 vote, meaning that Dr. Banaian officially won by 13 votes, not 10.

In 2014, Jim Knoblach defeated Zach Dorholt by 69 votes. Dorholt didn’t bother asking for a recount, probably because he knew it was a lost cause.

To be fair, it’s entirely possible that the DFL powers-that-be might’ve ordered Wolgamott to request a recount because the majority of the Senate potentially hangs on the outcome to this race.

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