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Archive for the ‘Paul Gazelka’ Category

The DFL’s anti-tax cut argument amounts to this: Spending increases, especially to K-12 education, always takes precedent over cutting taxes. In the DFL’s mind, there’s never a time when tax cuts are justified. That’s perfectly understandable considering who the DFL’s special interest allies are. Sitting atop their list are the environmental activists and Education Minnesota. Now that House and Senate Republicans have reconciled their tax cut/conformity bills, it’ll be interesting to see how Gov. Dayton will rationalize his veto of another set of tax cuts.

While it’s true that Gov. Dayton signed tax cut legislation last year, it’s also true that Gov. Dayton defunded the legislature after he signed the tax cut legislation. Further, Gov. Dayton fought those tax cuts tooth-and-nail but was forced to sign it. He was heading towards shutting government down again so, rather than shutting it down like Gov. Dayton and the DFL did in 2011, Gov. Dayton signed the tax cuts, then line-item-vetoed out the legislature’s operations budget. Let’s not forget that Gov. Dayton reneged on the previous year’s tax cuts after promising to sign those cuts.

Here are the details of the proposed tax cuts:

The House and Senate deal lowers the state’s first tax bracket from 5.35 percent to 5.25 percent. The change affects a single filer’s earnings below $25,890 and a couple’s below $37,850. The second tax bracket rate drops from 7.05 percent to 6.85 percent. This decrease affects a single filer’s income between $25,891 and $85,060 and a couple’s between $37,851 and $150,380. The rate reductions would take place over two fiscal years, so the lower rates would be in place by 2020. The changes would cost $137 million this year and $341 million by 2020.

Here’s a fearless prediction: the DFL will criticize the House-Senate GOP tax cuts as tax breaks for big corporations. What the legislation says is irrelevant to the DFL. What’s important to the DFL is that they’ve rehearsed their lines properly.

If Gov. Dayton vetoes the GOP tax cuts/conformity bill, the DFL will have to justify to voters why they voted unanimously against the bill. PS- I suspect Gov. Dayton will veto the bill, though I also think he’ll try negotiating a smaller tax cut. If Republicans push him on this, they’ll win the policy fight and gain a big issue for the campaign.

Thursday will be D-Day for Gov. Dayton and the Minnesota Supreme Court. According to Brian Bakst’s reporting, the “Minnesota Supreme Court is expected to deliver its long-awaited decision Thursday in a court case between the governor and Legislature. A notice from the clerk of courts to parties in the case said a decision has been made in the lawsuit regarding Gov. Mark Dayton’s vetoes.”

Bakst continued, saying “If [the] high court invalidates the line-item vetoes, it would cause funding to spring back. If [the] justices uphold the vetoes, it will push the Legislature toward a financial crisis.” That’s true but more than that, if the Supreme Court sides with Gov. Dayton, it will have reversed itself.

In this post, I highlighted the fact that the Supreme Court ruled that Gov. Dayton, like previous governors, has line-item veto authority. I also highlighted the fact that the Supreme Court said that a constitutional provision (the line-item veto) can’t “be used to achieve an unconstitutional result.” In the Supreme Court’s ruling, they also said that Minnesotans have a “constitutional right to three independent branches of government.”

The Minnesota Supreme Court, whether it realizes it or not, is on trial here. If they rule that the legislature must spend down the money appropriated to the Legislative Coordinating Commission, aka the LCC, they will be violating multiple Minnesota statutes. First, part of the money appropriated to the LCC pays for the operations of the Office of Legislative Auditor, aka OLA. In this post, I wrote “Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles has already expressed concerns about certain functions of his office being suspended – specifically the certification of state financial reports that support the state’s credit rating and the receipt of federal funds.” It’s inconceivable to me that the Supreme Court would rule against funding the OLA simply for those reasons.

I don’t doubt that the DFL operatives in black robes want to justify siding with Gov. Dayton. It’s just that I can’t imagine them saying in their preliminary ruling that you can’t use part of the state constitution to achieve an unconstitutional result. Saying that a governor has the right to temporarily disable the part of the government that represents the people is incomprehensible.

Check in with LFR Thursday for the Supreme Court’s final ruling in this important case.

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Something jumped out at me while reading this article. Specifically, I’m upset with Melissa Hortman after she said “I think that Senator Gazelka should work with Democrats like Governor Dayton and me and Senator Bakk to solve a problem rather than using people as pawns in a political dispute.” Actually, Gov. Dayton is the problem. If he hadn’t negotiated in bad faith, this wouldn’t have happened. In fact, he negotiated in bad faith twice, once when he said he’d sign the Republicans’ tax relief plan 2 years ago. He negotiated in bad faith this year when he signed the tax relief bill, then line-item vetoed the funding for the legislature.

Gov. Dayton’s holding the people of Minnesota hostage because he wants to renegotiate legislation he’s already signed. Giving a governor that type of authority is unforgiveable. With that authority, governors could hold the legislature hostage every budget session. Is the Supreme Court willing to give the executive branch that authority over the legislative branch? If they’re willing to do that, then the Supreme Court is corrupt. They’re willing to give one branch of government the upper hand in budget negotiations. It isn’t difficult to envision a governor holding the legislature hostage if the legislature doesn’t give him what he wants.

Here’s what I’d tell Rep. Hortman. Rather than defending people in the DFL, she should defend the people of Minnesota. Thus far, she’s defended the DFL. She hasn’t defended Minnesotans.

By vetoing the legislature’s funding, then filing the appeal after losing the first court case, Gov. Dayton has endangered the funding for the Office of Legislative Auditor, aka OLA, and the Revisor’s Office. I wrote in this post that those offices aren’t inconsequential offices:

The office of the Legislative Auditor is funded through the LCC. Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles has already expressed concerns about certain functions of his office being suspended – specifically the certification of state financial reports that support the state’s credit rating and the receipt of federal funds.

The Office of the Revisor of Statutes is also funded through the LCC and they work year-round with state agencies on rule making authority. The Revisor’s office would also be necessary to draft a bill to restore legislative functions once session begins in February.

Thanks to Gov. Dayton’s line-item veto, the office that certifies Minnesota’s financial reports that keep our credit rating healthy is getting its funding stripped. The Revisor of Statutes Office is essential to Minnesota’s rule-making and legislation writing processes. What is Gov. Dayton thinking when he’s stripping funding from these essential offices? Was Gov. Dayton thinking when he forced the stripping of these funds?

Anyone that’s willing to shortchange these offices just so he can renegotiate a bill that he’s already signed is disgusting. Gov. Dayton isn’t a man of integrity. He’s a man who thinks that the ends justify the means. How pathetic.

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Minutes ago, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka announced that the Minnesota Senate is suspending operations. Specifically, his statement says “Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka announced today the Minnesota Senate will run out of money on December 1, 2017 unless new funding becomes available or the courts restore the legislative appropriation vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton.”

Sen. Gazelka continues, saying ““We don’t take the suspension of operations of the Minnesota Senate lightly – this is not a game – but we really have no other choice today. The Senate is running out of money due to Governor Dayton’s veto of our appropriation. Even though we prevailed in our lawsuit in Ramsey County District Court, the Governor refuses to recognize that order and is forcing us to spend down our carry forward.”

It’s worth noting that the Senate isn’t the only institution affected by Gov. Dayton’s petulant behavior. The statement highlights the fact that “The office of the Legislative Auditor is funded through the LCC. Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles has already expressed concerns about certain functions of his office being suspended – specifically the certification of state financial reports that support the state’s credit rating and the receipt of federal funds.”

This is the Supreme Court’s moment of truth. They punted, leaving many unresolved questions. One thing they said in their ruling was that Minnesotans had the right to a “fully-functioning legislature.” As part of the legislative branch, the OLA has the obligation to certify “state financial reports that support the state’s credit rating and the receipt of federal funds.”

Sen. Gazelka added this reminder to his statement:

“Further, a proper respect for our co-equal branches of government counsels that we intervene in their dispute only when absolutely necessary. It has become ‘absolutely necessary’ for the court to weigh in. The people of Minnesota will no longer have a voice in the legislative branch after the first of the year, not to mention the pain inflicted on our employees.”

That’s from the Court’s ruling. The question now is whether the Court will enforce the principles it stated in its rulings. If they don’t, I’ll know that they’re just DFL politicians in black robes. I’ll know that they aren’t jurists making rulings based on the Constitution. I’ll know that they’re politicians first.

Finally, there’s this:

The Office of the Revisor of Statutes is also funded through the LCC and they work year-round with state agencies on rule making authority. The Revisor’s office would also be necessary to draft a bill to restore legislative functions once session begins in February.

It’s time for the Supreme Court to issue a ruling. Their spineless dithering put the state in this mess. It’s time they stopped their dithering and did their jobs as jurists.

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Articles like this one verify something that I’ve suspected since the Supreme Court’s initial ruling in the Legislature’s lawsuit against Gov. Dayton’s line-item veto fiasco. It verifies that these justices are either spineless or they’re politically motivated.

Last week, the Supreme Court “demanded more answers about the budget clash between DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and the Republican-controlled Legislature.” The article continues, saying “To be clear, the court requires specific statements that identify all funds the Legislature may use,” said the Thursday order, signed by Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Gildea. The word ‘all’ in her order was in italics.”

That’s a dodge. With all due respect to Chief Justice Gildea, that’s BS. That’s because this doesn’t settle the constitutional issue raised when Gov. Dayton used his line-item veto to cripple the legislative branch. The question that the Court hasn’t addressed is whether Gov. Dayton’s constitutional authority is absolute. Sam Hanson, Gov. Dayton’s attorney, insisted that it is. That’s BS. Frankly, he should have his license suspended for making such a bad faith argument.

First, finding out how much money the legislature has isn’t relevant because Gov. Dayton vetoed the legislature’s operating budget for the entire biennium. Next, finding out how much money the legislature has doesn’t determine whether the people have the right to a fully functioning legislative branch. The Supreme Court has essentially ruled that a governor’s authority to control a budget is greater than the people’s right to be represented.

If the Supreme Cowards Court doesn’t rule expeditiously on this aspect of the fight, Minnesotans should consider impeaching these justices for not upholding the Constitution. Any black-robed idiot that thinks a governor’s budgetary authorities are more important than the people’s right to representation needs to be impeached because their thinking is totally screwed up. They’re incapable of thinking things through.

Chief Justice Gildea, if you won’t stand up for the people’s right to representation, then you’ll have to go. Ditto with the other justices that voted with you.

UPDATE: I just sent the Supreme Court of Minnesota this email:

I’ve written something about the Supreme Court’s unwillingness (thus far) to issue a FINAL RULING on whether a governor’s right to a line-item veto is more important than the people’s right to representation at the state capitol.

It’s time to make a final ruling on which constitutional provision is most important.

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To: Speaker Daudt, Sen. Gazelka
From: Gary Gross, Chief troublemaker, Uppity Peasants Brigade
Subject: Gov. Dayton standoff

Gentlemen, I’m proud of you for standing your ground in this fight against Gov. Dayton. Don’t renegotiate the tax bill that Gov. Dayton signed. Instead, tell Gov. Dayton that you’ll broadcast the fact that Gov. Dayton and the DFL didn’t put a high priority on serving their constituents.

Instead of renegotiating the tax bill, the House should immediately submit a clean funding bill that funds the legislature for the rest of the biennium. Pass it ASAP, then send it to the Senate. If Gov. Dayton vetoes the clean funding bill, I’d schedule an override vote immediately. If the House or Senate votes to sustain Gov. Dayton’s veto, tell each outstate DFL legislator that voted to sustain Gov. Dayton’s veto that they’d better prepare for the onslaught of advertising that’s heading their direction. Tell these DFL legislators that their constituents will hear that they voted against the GOP tax relief package for farmers, small businesses and the middle class. Tell these DFL legislators that their constituents will hear about their votes to keep the legislature shut down, too.

Let them know that voting with Gov. Dayton will come at a political price.

Gentlemen, tell the DFL that listening to their special interest allies will cost them bigtime this election cycle. Gov. Dayton told Tom Hauser that he wants to drag you back to the negotiating table because he’s worried that the government might run a deficit. Like you, I’ve paid attention to Gov. Dayton’s message from the start of his administration until his lame-duck year. Not once has Gov. Dayton or his DFL allies said a thing about being worried that families have enough to put a roof over their head, save for retirement or for their children’s college education or help meet their bills.

Thanks for standing tall. Thanks for not letting Gov. Dayton’s special interest allies bully you. Keep up the good work.

Earlier this week, I wrote about Paul Gazelka’s Strib op-ed in this post but I missed Speaker Daudt’s op-ed. I’m upset with myself that I did. That’s because Speaker Daudt’s op-ed opened my eyes to something that I hadn’t considered previously.

The first paragraph that caught my attention was when Speaker Daudt wrote “That’s why at the end of the last legislative session, I was so proud of the historically productive results we achieved. A Republican-led House and Senate worked with our Democratic governor and balanced the budget while investing a historic amount into roads and bridges; boosted funding to our schools; passed Real ID enabling Minnesotans to travel; lowered health insurance premiums; and reduced taxes for millions of Minnesotans. Most important, we did it together.”

Lots of people have written about the fact that this was a productive session. There’s no disputing that fact. The paragraph that got my undivided attention was where Speaker Daudt wrote “The Legislature didn’t get everything it wanted, and the governor didn’t get everything he wanted. But in working alongside one another, we brought the session to a productive conclusion. Then, perhaps after hearing complaints from members of his own party, Gov. Mark Dayton expressed second thoughts about the compromises he had negotiated. Despite personally having agreed to each and every one of the bills, including the amount and provisions within the tax relief bill, the governor tried to go back on his word. He line-item-vetoed funding for the Legislature in an attempt to force us back to the negotiating table.”

Think about that a split-second. Neither the governor nor the legislature got everything they wanted but they negotiated a deal that both supposedly could live with. After Gov. Dayton agreed to the size of the tax relief bill and the provisions in it, the legislature passed the bill and sent it to Gov. Dayton. Despite the agreement and the fact that Gov. Dayton got lots of the things he’d prioritized, Gov. Dayton line-item vetoed the funding for the legislature.

Gov. Dayton said he vetoed their funding to coerce the legislature into renegotiating the Tax Bill. I’m betting that isn’t why he vetoed it. I’m betting that his special interest allies told him that they were vehemently opposed to the tax bill for ideological reasons. In 2011, Gov. Dayton reneged on a budget agreement he’d negotiated with then-Speaker Zellers and then-Senate Majority Leader Koch. They reached an agreement. They returned to their caucuses to tell them they had a deal. When they returned to Gov. Dayton’s office, they learned that Rep. Thissen and Sen. Bakk talked Gov. Dayton into reneging on the deal that he’d agreed to and initialed.

There’s a significant part of Gov. Dayton that simply can’t sign a bill unless he’s certain he’s getting the better end of the agreement. He’s simply too rigid. That’s why 3 of the 4 budget sessions during Gov. Dayton’s time in office required a special session. What’s particularly upsetting is that Gov. Dayton won’t admit that he’s attempting to preserve his bargaining leverage when the legislature returns in February. Both sides know that the legislature has some reserve funds that they can use but they both know that it isn’t enough to fund the legislature for the rest of the biennium.

It’s also upsetting to hear Gov. Dayton accuse the legislature of lying to him and to the Supreme Court:

Gov. Dayton needs to quit with his my-way-or-the-highway shtick. It’s getting old.

If there’s anything that comes through in Paul Gazelka’s op-ed, it’s that Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka won’t hesitate in questioning Gov. Dayton’s statements.

Sen. Gazelka proved that when he wrote “The governor abruptly ended mediation, accusing us of lying to him. I strongly disagree but decided it was best to let it pass and try to get back to the good working relationship we had forged during the session. But now that he has publicly stated again that I had been dishonest about the Senate’s position and that our team did not act in good faith, I have no choice but to defend the Senate. The members and staff (both partisan and nonpartisan) of the Minnesota Senate have acted honorably, even in the shadow of the governor’s attempt to defund our branch of government. All of us continually look for ways to end the impasse and stay true to the Constitution’s declaration that the legislative body share power with the executive branch.”

Next, Sen. Gazelka crystallized the issue ultimately facing the legislature, saying “Apparently, our updated report to the court upset the governor once he realized his leverage over the legislative branch was temporarily weakened. Whether it happens next month or next February, the fact remains that because of the governor’s veto, the Minnesota House and Senate will run out of money long before the two-year biennium ends.”

What I’ve repeatedly and consistently said on LFR is that, ultimately, the Supreme Court needs to resolve this constitutional balancing act. They’ve already ruled that the line-item veto is constitutional. They’ve also ruled that governors can’t use a constitutional tool to achieve an unconstitutional result. Finally, they ruled that the people of Minnesota have the right to 3 fully functioning branches of government.

There’s only one ruling that would satisfy each of those parts of the Supreme Court’s ruling. If they want to satisfy their statements, they have to rule that Gov. Dayton improperly used a constitutional tool. By voiding Gov. Dayton’s line-item veto, they’d allow the entire bill to pass. After all, Gov. Dayton approved the rest of the bill.

I’m disappointed in the governor’s tone and accusations that we were dishonest. I’m frustrated that, unlike any other governor in Minnesota’s history, Gov. Dayton wiped out funding for the legislative branch, and I’m disheartened that I even have to defend my team in the public arena. But it’s important for the public to know the governor’s public comments on this matter are not accurate.

Sen. Gazelka, lots of Democrats likely agree that Gov. Dayton overstepped his bounds. They just can’t say that publicly.

In this fight, Gov. Dayton hasn’t been 100% honest. It’s a shame he wasn’t. I said at the time of the Supreme Court’s ruling that Gov. Dayton’s actions weren’t in good faith. I’ve always been able to say that Sen. Gazelka’s actions have been in good faith.

When Paul Gazelka stepped to the podium at Friday’s press conference, one of the first things Sen. Gazelka said was “both mediation and why we sued was because the governor can’t defund the House and the Senate. That’s the issue. The issue isn’t how far we can run. We have a 2-year budget that we have to fund that we have to fund all the way to July, 2019.” I hadn’t seen this press conference but I’m happy that I’m on the same wavelength as Sen. Gazelka. I wrote about that identical principle earlier this week.

Another thing that caught my attention happened when Sen. Gazelka said “We went back in our notes and found that the governor absolutely said that he’d support the tax bill as is on the Saturday before the end. It would have been a shock had he not signed that bill.” Let’s examine that a minute.

In 2011, GOP legislative leaders met with Gov. Dayton on June 30 to make a final attempt at reaching a budget deal before the midnight end of the biennium. When Gov. Dayton agreed to a budget deal that didn’t include tax increases, legislative leaders went back to their caucuses to tell them that they’d hammered out a deal that didn’t include tax increases. When Speaker Zellers and Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch returned to Gov. Dayton’s office, Gov. Dayton told GOP leadership that he’d rejected the deal that he’d initially signed off on.

After a 2-week shutdown, Gov. Dayton agreed to the budget that the GOP leadership had proposed on June 30. When he finally accepted the deal, Gov. Dayton admitted that he didn’t realize Republicans had stripped out the controversial language from their proposal.

This year, Gov. Dayton signed off on the GOP Tax Relief Bill. Now he wants the GOP to renegotiate their tax relief bill in exchange for him signing a bill funding legislative operations. Sound familiar? If you answered yes, it’s because Gov. Dayton has shown a habit of reneging on deals that he’s initially signed off on.

Here’s the GOP press conference from last Friday:

I’d recommend watching Gov. Dayton’s’ press conference, too. Watch the difference between Gov. Dayton’s attitude and GOP leadership’s attitude. Gov. Dayton looked peevish and petulant. Speaker Daudt and Sen. Gazelka looked like adults.

Like in other years, GOP leadership will be waiting to pass a bill to restore funding for the legislature when the legislature opens in February. It’s still debatable whether Gov. Dayton will sign that bill. If Gov. Dayton vetoes it, Speaker Daudt should immediately schedule an override vote. Let’s see if DFL legislators would vote to not fund themselves. If they stick with Gov. Dayton, rural DFL legislators should expect to be tied to Gov. Dayton. They should also start writing their concession speeches or their retirement speeches.

If the DFL sides with Gov. Dayton, it will be proof that they’re Democrats first and that representing their constituents ranks way down their list of priorities.

It isn’t a stretch to think that Gov. Dayton’s appointees to the Minnesota Supreme Court ran interference for him today. Though MPR’s article on this morning’s oral arguments doesn’t highlight it, Justices Lillehaug and Hudson asked some questions of Doug Kelley. Kelley represented the legislature in this matter.

Justice Lillehaug and Justice Hudson “pressed Doug Kelley, the attorney for the Legislature, on why legislative leaders adjourned their special session without waiting for Dayton to act on the bills they passed.” That isn’t a constitutional question. That’s a political question.

When Kelley tried talking about Dayton’s reason for line-item vetoing the legislature’s biennial budget, Lillehaug insisted that going into a person’s motives were off-limits. In this situation, though, Lillehaug didn’t think asking about the legislature’s adjournment was off-limits. If the legislature’s motives for adjourning were fair game, Gov. Dayton’s motives for his line-item veto should be fair game, too.

Gov. Dayton’s reason for vetoing the legislature’s budget is relevant because Gov. Dayton wanted to tip negotiations into his favor. Complicating matters is the fact that the legislature and Gov. Dayton had signed a contract specifying that there wouldn’t be any amendments to any of the bills, that the dollar figures and policy provisions were fixed and the legislative language was read before the contract was signed.

In many ways, then, the agreement is a legally binding contract. Gov. Dayton vetoing the legislature’s funding with a line-item veto is breaking that contract. The legislature had agreed to compromise on some of their priorities if Gov. Dayton compromised on some of his priorities.

Once the caucus leaders and Gov. Dayton signed that contract, the implication is that signing bills that lived up to the contract was expected as part of that agreement.

The biggest worry that the legislature has is that Gov. Dayton’s appointees will side with him out of political loyalty, not because that’s what the Constitution demands. Simply put, the worry is that they’re Democrat operatives first and that ruling on the side of the Constitution is a distant priority.

From an historical and biographical perspective, Lillehaug is a hardline progressive: