Archive for the ‘Melissa Hortman’ Category

It’s still too early to tell but today’s statistics give us reason to hope that we’re putting COVID-19 behind us in Minnesota. The article starts by saying “Minnesota reported 435 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Sunday and 24 deaths, but also a sharp rise in the number of people who have recovered and no longer need to be isolated. The number in isolation declined by 618 people, including the 24 who died. Even after removing those, Sunday saw the largest single-day increase in the people released from self-isolation since the earliest days of the pandemic in Minnesota.”

That’s a cheerful statistic from a releasing people from self-isolation standpoint. Still, it’s just one day. I’ll feel better after we’ve strung 3-5 days in a row together like that. This is worth looking into:

In Winona County, residents of the Sauer Health Care facility for skilled nursing and hospice services accounted for at least 14 of the county’s 15 deaths from COVID-19, Malcolm confirmed last week.

How do we know that those people didn’t die because of the disease they were in hospice for? Knowing that people with life-threatening illnesses are prone to catching COVID-19 isn’t news. If that’s news, then so is finding out that the sun rising in the east is news, too.

Besides age and underlying health conditions, residing a in group-living facility can be a risk factor. Just over 80 % of the fatalities in Minnesota have been residents of long-term care or assisted living facilities. Twenty-one of the 24 deaths reported Sunday occurred in long term care facilities.

What has Gov. Walz, Commissioner Malcolm and the DFL done to fortify nursing homes and assisted-living facilities? The DFL has complained about testing virtually every day. Testing has its place but it isn’t as important as protecting the elderly. Depending on the type of test, that tells you whether the person has the virus or whether the person has antibodies. What has the DFL done to protect vulnerable adults? If Gov. Walz wants to act like a monarch, then he’ll take the blame for decisions he made or should’ve made.

Republicans are willing to shoulder part of the responsibility for those decisions. Unfortunately, Gov. Walz, with protection from the DFL House, isn’t willing to relinquish those special emergency powers 2 months into this crisis.

Gov. Walz and Speaker Hortman are playing purely partisan games in an attempt to pressure Republicans. House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt has said that “his caucus will block passage of a public infrastructure borrowing package until the peacetime state of emergency Gov. Tim Walz has used to enact the stay-at-home order and other coronavirus response measures comes to an end.”

Predictably, Speaker Hortman responded, saying “it is ‘disappointing to see the minority leader threaten to block much-needed investments in local jobs and projects in our communities.'” Ms. Hortman, there’s a simple solution to this impasse. It’s found by letting the people have a say in matters. Leader Daudt laid it out pretty simply:

The Legislature is in session. We believe we should be working with the governor on the response to COVID-19 and keeping Minnesota safe.

I’ll put it in simpler terms. Minnesota isn’t a monarchy. Tim Walz isn’t an emperor. He was elected to be Minnesota’s governor, not Minnesota’s king. It’s time he dropped the monarch act and provided servant leadership.

Speaker Hortman apparently favors monarchies:

Governor Walz and his Administration have served the people of Minnesota well during this crisis, and his thoughtfulness is why Minnesotans overwhelmingly approve of his actions. Ending the peacetime emergency declaration before the emergency has passed would be reckless.

Actually, letting Gov. Walz do whatever he wants is reckless. Power corrupts but absolute power corrupts absolutely. Right now, Gov. Walz is acting like he’s got total authority to do whatever he wants. If Hortman wants to campaign that Gov. Walz has the authority to make unilateral decisions and that he’s made nothing but good decisions, I can’t wait to see her surrender her Speaker’s gavel this November.

Gov. Walz and Speaker Hortman, if you want to run as an autocrat and the chief supporter of an out-of-control autocrat, don’t expect a gentle reception outside downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul this November. People with common sense don’t like authoritarianism. This about it this way. Gov. Walz has decided to ‘let’ more businesses open. Gov. Walz has ‘let’ people start fishing again. Gov. Walz has ‘let’ golf courses open after being pushed by protesters into that decision.

If this is right, the law needs changing:

The state of emergency, currently to end May 13, does not require legislative sign off, though lawmakers can vote to end it. House Republicans have made several unsuccessful attempts to pass legislation rescinding the order. The governor can extend the measure every 30 days with approval from an executive council of statewide elected officials, though he must call back the Legislature if he acts again after it has adjourned. Daudt said he would rather see the Legislature remain in session without a state of emergency past May to approve any virus response measures.

The legislative branch, not the executive branch, is where political disputes should be settled. Further, giving the governor the authority to extend his autocratic decisions theoretically gives him the ability to extend it indefinitely if there’s a divided legislature. Giving a governor the ability to make decisions without consulting the legislature is a recipe for disaster. Nobody should ever have that type of authority. The people must have a say in the matter.

Now that he’s been dumped by the DFL, people must wonder what’s next for Sen. Tom Bakk. I’ve thought about that subject myself and I’ve reached the conclusion that Sen. Bakk would look fantastic with MNGOP after his name. What’s left within the DFL that fits Sen. Bakk?

It can’t be disputed that:

  1. today’s DFL has decided that Iron Rangers aren’t welcome within the DFL;
  2. today’s DFL is the metrocentric party;
  3. today’s DFL hates pipelines, mining and blue collar workers;
  4. today’s DFL is the gun grabber caucus;
  5. today’s DFL is the party of socialists.

Sen. Bakk, I haven’t always agreed with you but you’ve worked to make PolyMet and Twin Metals a reality. Susan Kent and John Marty won’t help make those things a reality. Paul Gazelka, Kurt Daudt and other Republicans would enthusiastically team with you on those initiatives.

It’s clear that today’s DFL isn’t interested in rural Minnesota. Sen. Bakk, you know this is BS:

“What I know about the DFL Party is that whether in the Senate or in the House or statewide offices, we’re the only party that represents Minnesotans from the Canadian border to Iowa and from the Dakotas to Wisconsin,” Hortman said.

That’s BS on steroids. When’s the last time a metro DFL politician voted for building a pipeline? That’s right, Sen Bakk. It’s been a decade+. Sen Bakk, when’s the last time a metro DFL politician enthusiastically supported precious metals mining? That’s right, Sen Bakk. They’ve never supported precious metal mining. They haven’t even half-heartedly supported precious metal mining.

Sen. Bakk, you have a chance to establish a different legacy for yourself. There’s an opportunity for you to send a signal that you’re an Iron Ranger first, last and always. Think of the message of statesmanship first that fighting for the people, not a political party, would send. That legacy is a powerful thing, something that would permit you to say that people, not party, matter most to you.

Sen. Bakk, it’s time for you to put your constituents, not the DFL, first. Your constituents want to build things, work hard and be rewarded for doing the right thing. Sen. Bakk, you have the opportunity to send a message to metro DFL politicians that the Range fights for Rangers.

Sen. Bakk, carpe diem. Carpe diem.

Rep. Nick Zerwas has had it with the DFL’s unseriousness about rampant fraud at the Department of Human Services.

Rep. Zerwas issued this statement to highlight yet another case of uncaught fraud:

Rep. Nick Zerwas, R-Elk River, who serves on the House HHS Finance Division and has been outspoken on the issue of waste, fraud, and abuse at the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS), issued the following statement regarding this morning’s Pioneer Press report that DHS overpaid the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and the White Earth Nation by $25 million for Medicaid services. Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles will be soon opening an investigation into the overpayments. According to a statement from Governor Walz, the overpayment issue had been occurring for five years.

“Republicans have been sounding the alarm about waste, fraud, and abuse across DHS for years—this is an agency that seems to have a blatant disregard for taxpayer dollars, and is simply not doing enough to stop activity that is costing taxpayers tens of millions each year,” Zerwas said. “It’s time for House Democrats to stop ignoring the turmoil at DHS, hold hearings, and get answers to the questions we all have about Minnesota’s largest state agency.”

All 55 members of the House Republican Caucus sent a letter earlier this week to House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, requesting hearings on the leadership shakeup at DHS.

It’s apparent that Gov. Walz and Speaker Hortman haven’t taken this expanding scandal seriously. Jim Nobles has already issued a report that highlights rampant fraud within DHS. Apparently, he’ll soon be starting another investigation into this scandal.

At what point will the DFL, Gov. Walz and Speaker Hortman put a higher priority on fixing this mess than they’re putting on playing CYA? Gov. Walz ran on the slogan of One Minnesota. Apparently, if you’re part of the government, he’ll fight for you and protect you. If you’re a taxpayer, Gov. Walz will let your hard-earned taxes get stolen by government grifters. Doesn’t it feel great to know that this administration protects cronies while shafting taxpayers?

This is just the latest incident where cheating was exposed. Nobles’ report is filled with other examples of fraud that weren’t detected until well after the fraud was committed.

This is just proof that the Party of Big Government, aka the DFL, is also the Party of Unlimited Slush Funds to their special interest allies. The DFL has proven that they just can’t be bothered with governing with integrity.

This article contains some frightening information. It says that the “largest budget bill was not publicly released until several hours after the special session had begun.” I’m guessing that they’re talking about the HHS bill though I don’t know that for certain.

This highlights the DFL’s failures on multiple fronts. First, the House DFL leadership wasn’t ready for primetime. Kurt Daudt highlighted how various bills didn’t have spreadsheets whatsoever while other bills had the spreadsheets intended for other bills. That’s disgraceful, especially for a special session. It’s one thing if these mistakes were made at the start of a session with a new majority. It’s another when the DFL majority had the entire session to learn how to make the ship run right.

The DFL failed miserably.

Second, the DFL promised unprecedented transparency. Having the governor, the speaker and the Senate majority leader negotiate the budget when they’re the only ones in the room isn’t the portrait of transparency that Minnesotans were looking for. Blame DFL Speaker Melissa Hortman for that failure.

In most years, the negotiation includes the House and Senate majority leaders, the House and Senate minority leaders, the commissioners and committee chairs in both the House and Senate. That didn’t happen this year. That’s another DFL failure.

This GOP press availability highlights the DFL’s failures:

That’s before talking about the DFL’s tax increases, especially the DFL’s proposed $12,000,000,000 tax increase over the next 4 years. That’s before talking about the DFL’s unsustainable spending increases.

It’s time to fire these DFL jackasses. The DFL’s policies were terrible and ill-advised. The DFL’s managerial skills were horrible. What’s worth keeping?

This article highlights just how out-of-touch the DFL is with voters. Frankly, it’s stunning to hear the DFL’s spin on the DFL’s disastrous session. As I said here, the DFL got smoked this session.

House Speaker Melissa Hortman said Democrats “fought until the very last minute” to include some of their top priorities in the final bills but ran out of time before Monday’s mandatory adjournment for the regular session. She cited driver’s licenses for immigrants living in the country illegally, making it easier for workplace sexual harassment victims to sue and making emergency insulin supplies more affordable.

House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler said they could raise their issues again next year, and use them against Republicans in the 2020 campaign when they hope to hold the House and retake the Senate. He cited gun control, paid family and medical leave and some education measures. “We feel like we’ve made some progress this year and we have marked out where we want to go in the future,” Winkler said.

As a Republican, I have one thing to say to the DFL — Thank you for pushing drivers licenses for illegal immigrants and gun control. Those are issues that poll extremely poorly in the outer ring suburbs, the exurbs and rural Minnesota. In this video, Speaker Hortman says that they tried laying out the DFL’s vision going forward:

According to the DFL Speaker’s own words, the DFL’s vision for Minnesota going forward is higher taxes and less accountability to the taxpayers. If that’s what they’re selling, and it is, then I’m betting that Minnesotans aren’t buying.

It’s understatement to say that House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt didn’t compliment the DFL after this session. Rep. Daudt criticized House DFL leadership, saying “I am not going to stand for this dark of night, making decisions behind closed doors with no one knowing what’s the bill. The authors of the bills didn’t know what was in the bills, we didn’t have spreadsheets, the spreadsheets that we did get didn’t match the bills. This is an absolute shame on the Democrats who are running the chamber on the Minnesota House of Representatives.”

If Minnesotans care about performance, then they should fire the DFL and replace them with people that know how to make things run properly. The DFL, especially Speaker Hortman and House Majority Leader Winkler, have a variety of nickname options. One legitimate option is the gang who couldn’t shoot straight. Another option would be ‘the not yet ready for primetime players.’

Here’s why Leader Daudt was upset:

This has been the least productive, least transparent session in the history of this state. Minnesotans should be ashamed of the process at the end of this legislative session.

Look how out-of-touch Speaker Hortman looks in this picture:

Walz looks like he’s about to blow a gasket while Hortman is smiling. What’s up with that? Here’s Leader Daudt’s press availability:

I’m with Leader Daudt. The DFL should be utterly ashamed of their incompetence. Unfortunately, the DFL won’t be ashamed of their incompetence because that would require a conscience, something that the DFL hasn’t had for 20 years. In light of Leader Daudt’s information about the Sick Tax, the DFL’s insistence on the Sick Tax is, at best, puzzling. That’s being charitable. If the federal government covers the things that the Provider Tax was originally put in place to cover, then the Sick Tax can’t be part of the final budget. If it’s being used as a slush fund for DFL special interest vote-buying, then it’s gotta go.

The more information that I gather about the budget agreement, the more I’m certain that Republicans should hold up the bills until the DFL caves on the health care provider tax. Period. That shouldn’t be part of the final budget.

In 2020, DFL freshmen will have to campaign with a handful of millstones hung around their necks. First, the House freshmen will have to explain why they voted for the biggest potential tax increase in Minnesota history. Next, they’ll have to explain why they voted to increase health care costs to pay for a DFL slush fund. Third, these DFL freshmen will need to explain why they were part of the least productive, least competent legislative majority in recent Minnesota history.

Good luck with that.

These negotiations (which I wrote about here) produced some of the biggest winners and losers in recent history. Let’s start with the biggest losers.

It’s impossible to imagine a bigger loser than Tim Walz. He lost on his tax increases, including the gas tax, the sick tax and the income tax increases. He and the DFL lost on spending, too. Another major loser was DFL Speaker Melissa Hortman. She was present throughout the negotiations but didn’t seem to be an active participant in those negotiations. I’d give her a ‘Potted Plant Award’ for participation.

Another major loser throughout the negotiations was DFL House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler. Friday night on Almanac, his first time on the big stage, DFL Rep. Winkler was used like a whipping post, first by Sen. Roger Chamberlain, then by House Minority leader Kurt Daudt. (More on them later.)

The other major loser in these negotiations was Education Minnesota, the people most famous for owning the DFL:

The biggest winners in this negotiations are Minnesota’s taxpayers. They didn’t get hit with one of the biggest tax increases in Minnesota history. That alone makes them a big winner.

The next biggest winner was Roger Chamberlain. Throughout these negotiations, he fought for the taxpayers, reminding the politicians who they worked for, aka the people. He took Rep. Winkler to the proverbial wood shed multiple times. After Rep. Winkler spurted out that “there are no free lunches”, Sen. Chamberlain reminded Rep. Winkler that the people not represented at the Capitol were “the people who pay the bills”, aka the taxpayers.

It’s hard to see how Kurt Daudt, the former and hopefully future GOP Speaker of the House, could’ve been more effective. He stated emphatically on Almanac that the DFL could raise spending by 7.3% without raising taxes a penny. That statement might’ve done more to finish the talks than anything else.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t praise Senate Majority Leader Gazelka for his job in negotiating this budget. Let’s remember that he won a significant tax cut by getting the 7.05% rate dropped to 6.8%. Rest assured that the DFL didn’t fight to include that policy change in the budget agreement.

Finally, I’d have to apologize if I didn’t include the House DFL legislators. They all voted for the Walz/DFL tax increases, which will hurt them in 2020, then saw Gov. Walz throw them under the proverbial bus in final negotiations. I can’t imagine them being too happy with Gov. Walz and the DFL leadership for that ‘favor’. That makes the DFL, especially the DFL House majority, a major loser in these negotiations.

Tim Walz and the DFL continue insisting upon a budget that’s best described as insane, stupid or counterproductive. The DFL’s goal, apparently, is to make Minnesota uncompetitive with other states. We’re already the highest-taxed state according to Kiplinger’s. That isn’t good enough for Tim Walz and the DFL, though. They’re pushing a $12,000,000,000 tax increase over the next 4 years.

What’s worse is that it hits the lowest incomes the hardest. That isn’t just my opinion. That’s the official summary of Gov. Walz’s Department of Revenue’s Tax Incidence Report! The latest word is that Walz and the DFL have ‘offered’ a 16-cent-a-gallon gas tax instead of a 20-cent-a-gallon gas tax. WOW! How generous. Walz and the DFL have also offered to trim $300,000,000 of spending from a $51,000,000,000 biennial budget.

If Walz and the DFL want to run on that in 2020, bring it on. That’ll be as popular as a Packer fanatic at a Vikings game. Good luck with that.

Thanks to the DFL, we’ll soon have 4 of the last 5 budget sessions ending with either a government shutdown or a contentious special session. In other words, the DFL has made governing dysfunctional again. No wonder why wealth keeps fleeing the state.

The first 6 seconds of this video of the Republicans’ press availability last night shows how determined the DFL is to overtax Minnesotans:

For instance, the budget surplus from the November forecast is over $1,000,000,000. Additionally, the year-to-date additional surplus is $573,000,000, which is 3.1% above forecast, including $489,000,000 in unexpected revenues in April, 2019. That’s before factoring in $2,523,000,000 in Minnesota’s Rainy Day Fund. That’s a record amount in the Rainy Day Fund, BTW.

What’s obscene about that is that that’s money stolen from Minnesotans who would otherwise use that money to create jobs. Instead, the DFL has confiscated that wealth to protect government. That’s how not to govern.

Republicans should stand their ground. Period. This isn’t just a budget fight. It’s a fight to restore sanity to the budget. At no point has the DFL offered reforms to fix the problems that’ve been identified by various OLA audit reports.

In summary, the DFL is gaining the reputation of spending recklessly and ignoring existing problems. Let’s see them run on that in 2020.

It’s insulting to hear DFL legislators and Democrat Gov. Tim Walz complain that Republicans hadn’t moved from their position of being unwilling to raise Minnesota’s taxpayers burden by $12,000,000,000 over the next 4 years. According to this AP article, the DFL expected GOP lawmakers to accept that $12,000,000,000 tax increase in exchange for the DFL cutting $332,000,000 out of the DFL’s $50,000,000,000 budget.

That isn’t a compromise. That’s a total capitulation if it happened. Thankfully, it won’t happen. That’s because the GOP majority in the Senate won’t budge on these (or any other) tax increases.

Minnesota’s tax and regulatory system has already made it one of the least competitive states in the US. According to Walz’s own Department of Revenue report, the Walz-DFL monster tax increases promise to hit lower income taxpayers the hardest:

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.

The so-called Party of the Little Guy wants to soak the little guy? That fits the DFL’s identity since the DFL seems to think that President Trump’s broad-based recovery is only being felt by millionaires and billionaires, not the blue collar workers that’ve experienced a 4.5% growth in wages compared with the 1% seeing a 3% increase in wages:

The governor said in an interview on Minnesota Public Radio that his budget was based on what the state needs to spend to maintain quality education and other programs at a time when the state’s population is growing, and that he’d like to see some reciprocity from Republicans.

That’s BS! Minnesota doesn’t need to become less competitive taxwise. Republicans’ campaign slogan should be ‘Make Minnesota competitive again.’ There isn’t a polite way to put this so I’ll just say it. Tim Walz and Melissa Hortman are economic illiterates. Walz was a nobody in Washington, DC. Hortman’s list of accomplishments is shorter than Barack Obama’s.

If the DFL keeps insisting on their massive tax increases, Hortman will be a 1-term speaker and Republicans will gain seats in the Senate, too. These tax increases are, to put it politely, counterproductive. The DFL should be sued for economic malpractice.