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Last week, I received an email from Sarah Anderson talking about the state budget surplus. Rep. Anderson wrote “Dear Neighbors, today the state budget forecast was released showing a whopping $1.54 billion surplus.” We have another $2.45 billion in the State’s rainy day fund. Despite all this money sitting in Minnesota’s coffers, it’s stunning that the DFL is pushing tax increases.

It’s time to ditch Minnesota’s ‘business model’ and establish new priorities. The achievement gap isn’t closing, at least not compared to what they should be for all the money that’s gotten spent.

Minnesota’s economy isn’t terrible but it isn’t exactly hitting on all cylinders, either. The DFL spent most of the last decade building Minnesota’s government instead of building Minnesota’s economy. In 2013, Gov. Dayton and the DFL legislature passed the biggest tax hikes in Minnesota history. Since then, the middle class of all age groups have left Minnesota. The only income group that’s increasing their percent in the state are the lowest incomes.

It makes sense. From an education standpoint, Minnesota is mediocre. From a taxes and regulations perspective, Minnesota isn’t competitive. It isn’t close. If the DFL doesn’t admit that their blueprint isn’t working, we’ll quickly turn into a cold California. Why does the DFL think that raising taxes will strengthen the economy?

In 2007, the DFL insisted that spending should be indexed to inflation. Now Melissa Hortman insists that, because spending isn’t tied to inflation, the $1.54 billion surplus is really only $382,000,000. According to Hortman, that’s justification for additional tax hikes.

The moral to this story is that the DFL doesn’t understand a thing about economic competitiveness. They want their tax hikes regardless of whether it hurts or not. This move hurts badly. Throughout the state, people from all income groups (except the poor and the working poor) are leaving for lower-tax states. That’s what’s driving the worker shortage.

Let’s hope Hortman and Walz don’t kill Minnesota’s economic competitiveness entirely. BTW, this is how socialism kills economies. When people lose the ability to make profits, they either leave the state or they stop making what they’d been making.

In Part II of this series, I wrote about a mailer that the DFL sent out a mailer claiming that Republicans voted to give themselves a 45% pay raise. I wrote that KSTP gave the mailer an F rating, meaning that it was “demonstrably false.” That’s the KSTP equivalent of the Washington Post’s 4 Pinocchios rating.

Despite that awful rating, Melissa Hortman insists that the mailer is accurate. Apparently, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a woman or man in the DFL. If you’re part of the DFL, apparently, you’re expected to tell whoppers whether you’re male or female. Hortman insists “that Republicans prioritized the funding measure while failing to complete other important work, including bills related to elder abuse and opioid addiction. She says the campaign material simply highlights those points.”

First, Gov. Dayton line-item vetoed the funding for the legislature, which includes the funding for the Office of Legislative Auditor. It also meant that legislative staffers didn’t get paid. That meant Gov. Dayton vetoed the funding for some important audits into his administration that cast his administration is a bad light. Isn’t it amazing how Rep. Hortman omitted that from her statement?

Hortman contends that Republicans prioritized the funding measure while failing to complete other important work, including bills related to elder abuse and opioid addiction. She says the campaign material simply highlights those points. “That’s entirely fair game, the Republicans priorities, what they chose to do and the order they chose to do things in and the fact that they never got the rest of the work done,” she said.

Actually, Sen. Karin Housley took the lead on the elder abuse so the House knew that that issue was getting taken care of. Next, members of the House got after the opioid addiction crisis virtually immediately. It’s impossible to argue with House Republicans’ priorities.

Finally, the DFL voted overwhelmingly to sustain Gov. Dayton’s veto of the MNLARS bill after they initially voted overwhelmingly for the bill. Thanks to the DFL’s vote to sustain Gov. Dayton’s veto, companies went out of business and families lost their homes.

What about those priorities, Rep. Hortman? Is it that lying and playing politics is more important to the DFL than saving families’ homes from foreclosure? That’s the definition of a dirtbag politician. It’s time to throw the DFL out.

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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After reading this article, you’d think something catastrophic had happened. House Minority Leader Melissa Hortman and Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk took turns criticizing Republicans after the budget forecast was released.

Hortman criticized Republicans, saying “Elections have consequences, and when Minnesotans switched control of the legislature to 100% Republican control, we went from a $1.6 billion surplus to a $188 million deficit in a little bit less than a year. Hopefully people will keep that in mind as we move into 2018.” Bakk chimed in, saying “I pretty strongly advised the governor the last night of the special session not to sign the tax bill because it wasn’t sustainable. I’m not happy I was right.”

Talk about a pair of DFL drama queens. Dave Orrick and Bill Salisbury co-wrote this article, which explains how little of a deal this is. First, they wrote “the federal government reauthorizes a health insurance program for children, which it very well might, the forecast shortfall would fall to about $10 million. There are other such variables that could make it rise or fall.” It’s virtually certain that they’ll reauthorize the CHIP program. That eliminates all but $10,000,000 of the deficit forecast. Next, the model used anticipated only 2.2% growth. That’s because this forecast model predicts that Congress won’t pass the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

It’s absurd to think that the economy will grow at only 2.2% since it’s grown at 3.1% and 3.3% thus far this year. The third quarter would’ve been better if not for 5 hurricanes hitting, virtually wiping out economic growth in Texas and Florida.

Even Myron Frans, the state budget commissioner, downplayed the deficit, saying that the “forecast deficit” was “more of a mist than a downpour.”

This video is part of the DFL’s press conference:

Sen. Cohen’s statements are partisanship at its worst. The term sore loser leaps to mind, too. The DFL talks about the 2013-14 biennium as though it was the glory days. They weren’t. Since the 2011 budget, spending increased by more than $15,000,000,000. That’s fifteen billion dollars with a B. That’s a spending increase of more than 33% in 2 biennium. Let’s also remember that the surpluses following the 2013 budget session were the size of the tax increase.

It isn’t that the economy grew by leaps and bounds. It’s that the tax increase accounted for roughly 90% of the surpluses. Any budget that doesn’t produce economic growth is worthless. That’s what the nation rejected when they said no to a third Obama term. Meager growth isn’t something to be praised. It’s something to be criticized.

The Republicans wanted to pass a pro-growth budget. Gov. Dayton resisted that. For the third time in 4 budget sessions, we had a special session. Yes, unemployment is low but that’s because we’re spending like drunken sailors. There’s a reason why people of all age groups are leaving Minnesota, especially for our neighboring states.

If Bakk, Cohen and Hortman don’t ditch their socialist and/or crony capitalist policies, that outmigration will accelerate. Finally, if the DFL constantly stands in the way of pipeline and mining projects, we’ll never see the good old days again.

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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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According to this article, House Minority Leader Melissa Hortman supports Emperor Dayton’s new-found authority to negotiate in bad faith.

After Friday’s ruling, Hortman issued this statement, which says “Minnesotans expect their elected officials to collaborate on solutions to benefit everyone, but Republicans chose to go to court instead of negotiate in good faith with the Governor. This summer, I joined Governor Dayton in calling on the Republican majorities to return to the negotiating table and work to craft a long-term, sustainable budget for Minnesota. Given the Court’s order, all sides must come together with a spirit of compromise and collaboration in order to reach an agreement that will better serve Minnesotans. I look forward to working with Governor Dayton, Senator Bakk, and Republican leadership to do so.”

A refresher of history is required to detect how dishonest Rep. Hortman’s statement is. Prior to Emperor Dayton’s calling a special session, legislative leaders from both parties and the House and Senate agreed to how much would be spent. Republican leadership then submitted the legislative language for each bill, including the Tax Relief Bill, to the legislative leaders and Emperor Dayton’s senior staff.

It’s vitally important to note that there weren’t any surprises as to what was in the bills. It was there in black and white. Only then did Emperor Dayton agree to call a special session. After the legislature passed these spending bills and Emperor Dayton had signed almost all of them, he insisted that Republicans renegotiate the Tax Relief Bill.

Another important piece of information in this is the fact that Republicans already had agreed to reduce the size of the Tax Relief Bill when Emperor Dayton line-item vetoed the legislature’s funding. For the DFL and Emperor Dayton to now say that they’ll negotiate in good faith takes tons of chutzpah. They haven’t negotiated in good faith thus far. Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt released a joint statement, saying in part “Today’s order did not decide the case or vacate the lower court’s ruling, and we are ready to go to mediation to secure funding for the legislative branch of government. We worked in good faith in the past to attempt to breach this impasse, and will work in good faith again as we look ahead to the mediation process.”

The question now becomes whether Emperor Dayton and the DFL will finally start negotiating in good faith. The thing that Minnesotans should notice is that Emperor Dayton and the DFL insisted that his authorities are absolute. They argued that Minnesota governors should have the authority to hold the legislature hostage until he gets what he wants.

Pretty soon, DFL candidates and incumbents will start campaigning. Many DFL candidates will insist that they’re good at bringing people together. There’s proof that the DFL is good at not keeping their promises. There’s proof that the DFL is good at playing hardball. There isn’t proof that the DFL is good at bringing people together.

Finally, Republicans promised tax relief. They kept that promise. Republican promised educational reform. They kept that promise, too. Emperor Dayton didn’t keep his promises. Then the DFL insisted that Emperor Dayton’s authority was absolute. While all this was happening, Emperor Dayton issued a ruling that he was throwing another bone to the special interests by unnecessarily delaying the Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline replacement project.

It’s obvious that the DFL is the party of the special interests. It’s obvious that Republicans keep their promises. Think about that for a minute.

This morning, KSTP’s Tom Hauser interviewed incoming Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and incoming House Minority Leader Melisa Hortman. One of the first topics they discussed was MNsure. Sen. Gazelka quickly made the point that Minnesota’s system prior to the ACA was significantly superior to the system we’re currently dealing with. To her credit, Rep. Hortman quickly agreed with Sen. Gazelka. Later in the show, former DFL State Party Chair Brian Melendez complimented Sen. Gazelka and Rep. Hortman before stating his optimism that their exchange showed that a deal might be reached this session.

I’d like to think that there’s hope but I’m not optimistic about it. IMO, there are 2 people standing in the way of getting something positive done. One of the people that will likely try jamming things up is Paul Thissen. I’m certain that he’s running for governor. If he runs, I’m confident that he’ll run a scorched earth campaign, criticizing Republicans for not getting anything done.

While I’m confident that Rep. Thissen will play the obstructionist card frequently, I’m certain that Gov. Dayton will continue with his hissy fits. The opening paragraphs of David Montgomery’s article say it all:

There was so little trust left between DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt by Friday that the two leaders wouldn’t agree to meet in private as they tried to salvage a package of bills to cut taxes, build roads and water projects and help people struggling with health insurance premiums.

Instead, the two sat down in front of television cameras to try to salvage a deal they’d been fighting over in various forms since May. The cameras didn’t help. After just 17 minutes of accusations and arguments, both Dayton and Daudt walked out of the room, unable to agree.

It’s obviously a very disappointing outcome,” Dayton said afterwards.

Gov. Dayton’s quote is a lie, at least from his perspective. Gov. Dayton hasn’t wanted to work in good faith with Republicans. He stated it matter-of-factly in multiple op-eds by asking voters to give him DFL majorities in the Minnesota House and Senate. (Instead, Minnesotans gave him GOP majorities in the House and Senate.)

Let’s be clear about this. Gov. Dayton is an obstructionist at heart. He’s shut down state government twice. The first time, it’s possible to argue it was the Republicans’ fault. It isn’t a strong argument but it’s an argument. The other time, though, it’s all on Gov. Dayton. Gov. Dayton vetoed bills from a bipartisan budget agreement negotiated by Speaker Daudt and then-Senate Majority Leader Bakk. (It’s worth noting that Rep. Thissen sabotaged both negotiated agreements.) It wouldn’t be surprising if Gov. Dayton shut down the government again this summer. He’s done it before. He apparently thinks that it’s the only way he’s relevant in the budget process. This is Gov. Dayton’s definition of good faith negotiating:

Daudt accused Dayton of breaking the early-December deal earlier this week, when he unveiled proposed language for all three potential special session bills. The proposed infrastructure bill, Daudt said, took away Republican priorities without harming any of Dayton’s own.

It’s time, after 6 long years of the Dayton administration, to call him what he is. Gov. Dayton is Minnesota’s Obstructionist-in-Chief.

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According to this article, Paul Thissen was encouraged to run for another term as the DFL leader in the Minnesota House of Representatives. In the end, though, he declined, saying in part “I am grateful to my colleagues and Minnesotans for giving me the chance to lead the caucus for the last six years. It has been one of the greatest privileges of my life to lead our caucus and to build a better future for our state. Many of my colleagues have encouraged me to seek re-election as our caucus leader. I thank them for the confidence they have placed in me. However, six years is a long time – the longest period a DFL leader has served since my great political hero, Martin Olav Sabo. And after six years, I’ve decided that I will not be seeking to continue in my role as caucus leader when we reconvene in January. It is time for new voices in leadership to emerge.”

Instead of being led by Rep. Thissen, the leader of the House DFL Caucus will be led by Melissa Hortman.

Rep. Thissen’s decision will undoubtedly start speculation over whether he’s intending to run for governor again. His profile fits perfectly into what the DFL is these days. He’s a Metrocrat, which is essential these days in the DFL. Thissen’s fidelity to the truth is virtually nonexistent. In a party that’s led at the state level by the Alliance for a Better Minnesota and by Corruptocrats like Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and Dishonest Donna Brazile at the DNC level, Thissen is a good, though not great, fit. Most likely, the DFL will endorse Lt. Gov. Tina Flint-Smith as their gubernatorial candidate in 2018.

What’s interesting about the DFL’s pick for their House leader is that they picked a climate-change fanatic from the Twin Cities to be their leader. That isn’t surprising, is it?