Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Gov. Dayton is proudly proclaiming that Minnesota is the best state to do business in. He’s basing that propaganda on CNBC’s latest ranking. After looking at how they arrived at the categories that they ranked states on, it’s easy to see how CNBC arrived at their ridiculous ratings. First, it’s important to know this about the rating system:

For example, if more states tout their low business costs, the “Cost of Doing Business” category carries greater weight. That way, our study ranks the states based on the criteria they use to sell themselves.

According to CNBC’s report, workforce is the most important category, followed by cost of doing business and infrastructure, economy, quality of life, technology & innovation, education, business friendliness, cost of living and, finally, access to capital.

Minnesota ranked 13th in workforce, 35th in cost of doing business, 9th in infrastructure, 5th in economy, 3rd in quality of life, 6th in technology and innovation, 2nd in education, 23rd in business friendliness, 32nd in cost of living and 23rd in access to capital.

CNBC’s ratings only tell us what the states think of themselves. They don’t tell us what businesses think of the state. The fact that more businesses are leaving Minnesota than are moving to Minnesota is the best indicator of what businesses think.

That isn’t to say that Minnesota is getting everything wrong. There are some things that we can build off of. It’s just that there’s a handful of important things that we’d better correct if we want to be the best. Lowering the cost of doing business is essential. That’s only possible by streamlining government, especially regulations. Cutting special deals with a couple companies to entice them here, then shafting businesses that are already here, which the Dayton administration has done, needs to change, too.

UPDATE: King Banaian’s article for the Center for the American Experiment highlights similar points. This point is especially noteworthy:

If you’re a state that isn’t particularly business friendly, you don’t talk about that in your marketing materials. You emphasize other things. You puff your materials with discussion of quality of life and how hardworking your workers are and ignore the areas where your policies might make business a little harder to conduct. And CNBC will go right along and take weight off those things, if the rest of the states are doing the same thing.

I can’t emphasize enough the fact that CNBC’s article isn’t a serious economic statement. It’s a statement based off of the states’ PR statements.

This morning, the St. Cloud Times’ Our View editorial couldn’t get it more wrong:

Seriously, short of breaking the two-party stranglehold on state government, this session stands as Minnesota’s poster child for reforming a budget-building process that’s come to rely on procrastination as a feeble excuse for letting a handful of 202 elected officials (201 legislators and one governor) make closed-door budget deals as time expires. Or, this year, afterward.

More transparency is the best solution.

This isn’t an argument against transparency. It’s an argument that ideology, not transparency, drove the special session. Time after time, Gov. Dayton pushed items from the DFL’s special interest wish list. While neither party is immune to pushing things too far, it’s indisputable that the DFL pushed it too hard this session. In fact, I’d argue that the DFL got used to pushing things too far in 2013-14, then didn’t adjust to divided government this year.

Gov. Dayton insisted on a trifecta of bad ideas. First, Gov. Dayton insisted on a major gas tax increase that Minnesotans vehemently opposed. Next, Gov. Dayton insisted on universal pre-k. Even after experts said that wasn’t sustainable, Gov. Dayton didn’t relent until a week later. Finally, Gov. Dayton insisted that the legislature repeal the partial privatization of the Auditor’s office a week after Gov. Dayton signed the bill.

The gas tax increase was a disaster waiting to happen. Three-fourths of Minnesotans opposed the tax increase. That didn’t stop Gov. Dayton from harshly criticizing people opposed to his gas tax increase. When he dug in his heels, Gov. Dayton poisoned the well.

Later, Gov. Dayton insisted on universal pre-K. Even after Art Rolnick showed how expensive it was and how many hidden property tax increases and unfunded mandates were hidden in the bill, Gov. Dayton still pushed the bill in his attempt to pay off his allies at Education Minnesota.

Third, Gov. Dayton pushed that the legislature repeal the statute that gave counties the option of hiring a private CPA to audit their county. That was an especially tricky position to defend since 28 counties already have that option.

Ideology, not a lack of transparency, pushed events in the Legislature.

This morning at 10:00 am, Minnesota’s most recent special session will start. This special session will be a disaster for the DFL on multiple fronts. Harold Hamilton’s explanation makes total sense with me:

To say the least, the special session period (the timeframe starting when the regular session adjourned) has been an utter and absolute disaster for Governor Dayton and the DFL. Even if the special session manages to conclude today, lasting damage has been done to the DFL that will carry over into the 2016 election cycle. In the collective memory of the Watchdog staff, it’s hard to recall more DFL dysfunction and backbiting than what we’ve witnessed over the past three weeks.

That’s the overview. Here’s more of the particulars on why it’s been a disaster for the DFL:

The governor failed to appreciate that these spending bills had bi-partisan support, negating the often convenient narrative that the GOP majority had overreached and the governor was merely acting as the voice of reason in the process. It’s also apparent that governor lacked a convincing, decisive and well-defined reason for those vetoes, which made it difficult for him to lay out for legislators and the public both a reason for a special session and special session legislative objectives around which he could rally both the DFL base and the public at large.

Instead, Dayton looked petty and weak as he vetoed the bills and then flailed about, changing his objectives for a negotiated budget deal. It was a classic case of moving the goal posts, which sowed nothing but doubt, confusion, and some bewilderment in the legislature, the media, and the public at large. First, it was all about universal pre-K education. When it failed to get any traction, especially among educators and education experts, Dayton dropped the proposal.

Next, it got really bizarre when he made a small change in the Office of the State Auditor the centerpiece of his special session strategy. Most Minnesotans can’t name the State Auditor, don’t know the office exists, and really don’t care about it.

Holding up the state budget and threatening a partial government shutdown over obscure language impacting an obscure office will never rally the public or move votes. While Dayton normally leads a parade of one, he led a parade of two on this issue. Himself and the Rebecca Otto, the State Auditor. It also didn’t help that Dayton decided to plant his flag on an issue that he signed into law just days before.

I’ve been preaching these things since the end of the regular session. Initially, Gov. Dayton and ABM tried vilifying Republicans for the special session. The fact that Speaker Daudt negotiated a bipartisan agreement with Sen. Bakk shut that attack down virtually immediately. That line of attack didn’t have a chance of working. The minute that people heard that a bipartisan agreement had been negotiated, they quietly cheered, albeit momentarily, that government had done its job.

Then Gov. Dayton entered the equation. Immediately, Minnesotans’ happy thoughts that government was finally functional disappeared.

Gov. Dayton caved on issue after issue because he was on the wrong side of each of those issues. He fought for unpopular things that cost hundreds of millions of dollars, starting with universal pre-K. Though the sticker price on that was $173,000,000, the real price was that plus $2,200,000,000 for infrastructure plus tens of millions of dollars for transportation, teachers and heating the classrooms.

As for the State Auditor, nobody cares. It’s like an offensive lineman in football. You don’t hear much about them unless they make a mistake. Most citizens don’t pay attention to the office. When Gov. Dayton fought that fight, he essentially said that that was the hill he was willing to fight for and die for.

As for Sen. Bakk, he’s been caught betwixt and between all session long. He ambushed Gov. Dayton on the commissioners’ pay raises. Next, he negotiated a budget agreement with Speaker Daudt that Gov. Dayton and many DFL legislators objected to. Especially noteworthy was the fact that the budget bills didn’t get any DFL votes in the House, compared with Bakk’s senators putting up lots of votes on the agriculture/environment bill that Gov. Dayton vetoed.

At the end of the day, Gov. Dayton and the DFL have frequently looked foolish this session.

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This LTE highlights just how ill-informed voters are. It’s also proof that the DFL’s propaganda machine operates 24/7. Check out this paranoid rant:

There is no longer any doubt; the Republican Party has now embraced “alchemy” as its economic and intellectual reason for being. Daudt, Petersen and Green seem to believe “gold comes from lead.” They are now using four and five year old children to pay for their tax cuts; so too with our infrastructure. This requires a minimum of intellectual honesty and logic.

The citizen who wrote this LTE obviously didn’t do any research into the matter. It’s apparent that he simply regurgitated the DFL’s chanting points without questioning the DFL’s propaganda.

Just once, I’d love reading a well-researched LTE from the Totalitarian Left that’s filled with logical arguments and indisputable facts. I won’t hold my breath while I’m waiting for that to happen.

Our children, the four and five year olds, will become this nation’s future job creators. The Republicans can get a jump start on tax cuts today by using the backs of children in pursuit of alchemy — oops — economic prosperity.

The DFL’s chief argument for their programs is fairness. It isn’t that the DFL is insisting that their programs are efficient or effective. That would give Republicans too easy of a target to take out.

Check this out:

Then too, we have the religious right’s alchemy of gay conversion therapy nonsense (government funded.) Some of these “righties” just can’t stand seeing people they don’t know pursuing the right of happiness. Some of them use the Bible and God (literally) as a cop-out to justify fear, angst and hate — “alchemy.”

The tide is turning. Many among us have finally realized the pandering of political quacks and peeping Toms are losing ground to the 21st Century, YouTube, Facebook and reality.

I frequently say that a little paranoia goes a long way. I don’t think that’s applicable here because this activist appears to have tons of paranoia. What’s frightening is that this activist is the face of the DFL.

AJ Kern’s monthly column highlights shortcomings in Gov. Dayton’s universal pre-K proposal. Here’s one incredible statistic from Gov. Dayton’s own administration:

We’ve gone from implementing a scholarship program targeting at-risk 4-year-olds in 2013, universal all-day kindergarten in 2014, to tantrum-level urgency to implement free universal preschool.

Yet in 2013, the Minnesota Department of Education reported 72.8 percent of children were prepared to enter kindergarten. Nearly 73 percent of Minnesota children prepared for kindergarten is hardly a crisis justifying an inflated agenda.

While it’s important to prepare all children for kindergarten and beyond, it’s foolish to spend billions of dollars on children who are already prepared for kindergarten and beyond. I’ve often cited Art Rolnick’s estimate that Gov. Dayton’s proposal will require many suburban schools to expand their buildings. Those new classrooms will cost these taxpayers in excess of $2,200,000,000.

Because the DFL deceitfully wrote the legislation, it’s difficult to spot the unfunded mandate. The DFL’s legislation requires school districts to provide this service. Then they’re told that the state won’t pay for the things that the school districts will need to provide this service. That’s called an unfunded mandate and it’s almost automatically followed by a major property tax increase.

The Daudt-Rolnick-GOP plan spends money on scholarships that parents can use to send their preschoolers to places like New Horizons Academy and other private facilities that are already doing this type of work in modern facilities. That plan doesn’t come with well-disguised unfunded mandates. It doesn’t impose hidden property tax increases, either.

Ms. Kern highlights this, too:

Universal preschool would require new classroom space, teachers, teaching assistants, transportation, books and materials through questionably long-term sustainable budgets.

It’s one thing to require schools to build onto their schools. That property tax increase would have to be approved by voters because it’s a capital investment. Paying for “teachers, teaching assistants, transportation, books and materials” is another property tax increase but it wouldn’t go before the voters because it’s part of the district’s operating levy.

The DFL will insist that they didn’t raise property taxes while pointing to there not being any taxes in the bill. That’s slight of hand. Had the bill passed, it would’ve set in motion a process that required school boards and districts to raise property taxes.

I’d love hearing DFL legislators and propagandists explain that away.

Finally, I love how Gov. Dayton said that he gave up his demands for universal pre-K. He didn’t give anything up. He was defeated because the Minnesota School Board Association and the Association of Minneapolis School Districts fought against Gov. Dayton’s proposal. If he hadn’t relinquished, the DFL would’ve gotten trounced in the 2016 election for imposing these property tax increases on their citizens.

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Rep. Paul Thissen, one of the slipperiest DFL operators in the House of Representatives, is at it again. Thissen’s statement is typical DFL tax cuts for the rich boilerplate:

“Speaker Daudt said today that an additional $25 million for our kids was a “line in the sand” he would not cross. It is nearly beyond comprehension that Republicans would be willing to force a government shutdown over a refusal to invest an additional $25 million in Minnesota’s kids in order to save nearly $1 billion for their top priority: corporate tax giveaways.

Thank goodness Governor Dayton has been there to fight for Minnesota’s kids and their families all session long. He has dragged House Republicans kicking and screaming from their initial position of forcing teacher layoffs and larger class sizes in a time of surplus to a $525 million investment in our schools. Nonetheless, Republican intransigence means we are missing a historic opportunity to invest in our earliest learners and change the trajectory of the lives of so many Minnesotans.

We will await further details, but remain disappointed that Republicans have left so much work undone, and all to satisfy their desire for tax giveaways for corporate special interests and the wealthiest Minnesotans next year.”

President Reagan expressed my reaction to Rep. Thissen’s deceitful accusation that the Republicans’ top priority is “tax giveaways” to the wealthy:

It’s time that the DFL just stop dead in its tracks with this lie. Whether it’s said by Gov. Dayton, Rep. Thissen or a former nobody legislator, the accusation that Republicans’ highest priority is giving multinational corporations huge tax breaks is disgustingly deceitful.

Enough with that lie. Let’s talk about how it took Speaker Daudt and Art Rolnick and the Minnesota School Board Association and other education organizations to drag Gov. Dayton kicking and screaming away from Education Minnesota’s Gov. Dayton’s universal pre-K plan. In fact, the House DFL stood with Education Minnesota on that disastrous legislation. The next time you see a House DFL legislator, ask them why they’re supporting a massive property tax increase.

Rep. Thissen, why do you still support a major property tax increase to suburban voters? Is all your talk about helping the middle class all talk? What do you have against private early learning centers? Is it because you want Education Minnesota to grow so they pay more dues which, in turn, leads to more money for DFL campaigns?

Finally, are you so cold that you put your political needs ahead of the children’s and parents’ needs?

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Dave Mindeman’s post raises the question of whether the DFL will campaign on universal pre-K in 2016. Here’s hoping that they do.

It looks like Pre-K is not going to be part of the budget deal. Dayton settled for an increase in the per pupil formula, which will probably allow some districts to offer it. But the House GOP managed to obstruct and block more progress in education which the Governor is envisioning as the way forward for Minnesota.

It’s amazing how many progressives pretend that Senate Democrats didn’t reject Gov. Dayton’s proposal. Pretend all you want but the truth is that DFL legislators in the Senate rejected Gov. Dayton’s plan.

I hope the House Democrats take this to the 2016 elections. It is clear that the House GOP blocked an opportunity for Pre-K. The money was there….in the bank…but when the 2016 session unfolds, we will see that money getting used for more tax cutting measures and ridiculous policy ideas.

Let’s see DFL House members from the suburbs campaign on universal pre-K. Let’s see them explain how they would’ve shoved a ton of unfunded mandates down school districts’ throats. Let’s see how DFL candidates explain how quickly those unfunded mandates turn into massive property tax increases.

The lit pieces virtually write themselves. The ads virtually cut themselves.

I don’t think progressives like Mr. Mindeman realize just how toxic Gov. Dayton’s proposal would become by September, 2016. For that matter, I don’t Gov. Dayton fully understands how toxic his plan will become over time.

According to Don Davis’ article, it sounds like Gov. Dayton will announce a special session for later this week:

ST. PAUL — A state budget deal is all done except for a few details, the chief negotiators said Monday, making a special session for lawmakers to complete their work possible as early as late this week.

The almost-deal came on the day when nearly 10,000 state workers were told they could be laid off if no budget passes before July 1. “All of the points that are still outstanding, I would call minor points,” House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said late Monday afternoon. “We are really close right now. … I think we’re there.” “We are very close…” Gov. Mark Dayton said. “We have agreed on the dollars; we have not agreed on the details.”

Things fell quickly into place once Gov. Dayton and the DFL started feeling the heat over Gov. Dayton’s universal pre-K proposal. While it’s true that DFL legislators essentially supported the Daudt-Bakk compromise, people knew that House DFL legislators stood fiercely loyal to Gov. Dayton’s proposal.

It’s inevitable that the DFL and the Twin Cities media (forgive the repetition) will say that this came together because Gov. Dayton relented on his payoff to Education Minnesota, the truth is that Gov. Dayton was forced by Minnesotans, Kurt Daudt, Art Rolnick and various school board associations to abandon his proposal because it’s terrible policy.

Think of it this way. If Gov. Dayton hadn’t relented, there would’ve been a government shutdown, which wouldn’t help either political party while it was ongoing. Still, it would’ve hurt the DFL more in the long term because Gov. Dayton’s proposal would’ve gotten more unpopular with each passing day. Republicans could’ve asked Dr. Rolnick to appear at early learning centers, which would’ve made DFL legislators, especially those in the suburbs, squirm.

The last Friday of the regular session, Sen. Bakk and Speaker Daudt kicked Gov. Dayton out of the room because they’d wasted an entire week negotiating a budget deal but only had agreement on 2 bills. Once they kicked Gov. Dayton from the room, they finished the other bills in 2 hours. Now that Gov. Dayton finally gave up on paying off Education Minnesota with his universal pre-K initiative, there’s an agreement between Gov. Dayton and Speaker Daudt. I wrote here that Sen. Bakk is now pretending that he’s supported Gov. Dayton from the start. Now I understand why Gov. Dayton called Sen. Bakk a backstabber:

Gov. Mark Dayton erupted in anger Thursday in a dispute with the DFL Senate leader over a weeks-long controversy surrounding pay raises the governor gave to his cabinet. “To have a majority leader of the Senate come in and stab me in the back and blindside me is absolutely unacceptable,” Dayton said.

Dayton’s ire came after Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk led the Senate in voting to suspend the salary increases for state commissioners. All but two members of the DFL-controlled Senate voted with Bakk in favor of the proposal. The friction between the Capitol’s two most powerful DFLers threatens to cast a cloud over the rest of the 2015 legislative session. The two have tussled before, but Dayton indicated Thursday that their relations now were beyond repair.

Dayton said Bakk, a former ally, has proved himself untrustworthy because he brought forth the salary smackdown without any warning. “I’m confronted with two hostile bodies of the Legislature, one with a leader I believe I can trust (Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt) and one I know I can’t trust,” Dayton said. “I certainly learned a brutal lesson today that I can’t trust (Bakk.) I can’t believe what he says to me and connives behind my back.”

Sen. Bakk, if you trusted Gov. Dayton wholeheartedly, why did you boot him from the room the last Friday of the regular session? How could you and Speaker Daudt reach agreement on a bill that’s dramatically different than the bill Gov. Dayton pushed until the final minute? If you wholeheartedly supported Gov. Dayton’s universal pre-K initiative, why didn’t you pass it out of the Senate?

Sen. Bakk, there are 2 indisputable facts that you can’t refute. You can’t refute the fact that the Senate affirmatively rejected Gov. Dayton’s proposal. Likewise, you can’t refute the fact that the bill you negotiated with Speaker Daudt passed with overwhelming bipartisan support:

This sentence from Sen. Bakk’s statement is disgustingly dishonest:

While I am disappointed House Republicans are unwilling to invest the additional funding we know our schools need, I agree with the Governor that shutting down state government is not the responsible way to resolve these negotiations.

During the last week of the session, Sen. Bakk bragged that the DFL could ‘win the shutdown’. That hardly sounds like a politician that believes shutting down the government” is irresponsible. That sounds like a politician who thinks the DFL propaganda machine can win a DFL-induced shutdown. It’s also worth noting that Sen. Bakk agreed to the Republicans’ budget.

It’s laughable to think that Sen. Bakk wholeheartedly supports Gov. Dayton’s bill now but didn’t pass Gov. Dayton’s bill during the session. It’s BS to think that Sen. Bakk doesn’t like the bill he negotiated and voted for. Frankly, it sounds like Sen. Bakk can’t decide which lie he’s planning on sticking with. Here’s a suggestion for Sen. Bakk. It’s easier to tell the truth. Then you don’t have to remember which lie you told to which audience.

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Monday afternoon, Gov. Dayton and Speaker Daudt finished negotiating a deal on an education budget. Sen. Bakk immediately issued this statement:

“I applaud Governor Dayton’s leadership in bringing these E12 negotiations to a close. Minnesota’s children and families will be better off thanks to his work in securing additional funding for our schools.

While I am disappointed House Republicans are unwilling to invest the additional funding we know our schools need, I agree with the Governor that shutting down state government is not the responsible way to resolve these negotiations. Throughout this process we have kept the state workers and their families in our minds, and are unwilling to gamble with their future by forcing Minnesota to endure yet another state shutdown.”

That statement has enough BS in it to fill a barn. A special session wouldn’t be happening had Gov. Dayton listened to the people and organizations complaining about his universal pre-K initiative. That’s the plan that would’ve imposed a $2.2 billion property tax increase on taxpayers to build additional classrooms to house these new students. That’s the plan that would’ve cost taxpayers the additional expense of transporting those children and heating their classrooms.

One part of Bakk’s statement is accurate, though. The DFL has “kept the state workers and their families” in their minds. They certainly didn’t keep Minnesota families and taxpayers in their minds. Gov. Dayton was perfectly willing to sign a bill that would’ve imposed one of the biggest middle class tax increases in state history because paying off Education Minnesota was Gov. Dayton’s highest priority.

When the DFL and the Twin Cities media insist that Gov. Dayton gave up his universal pre-K initiative, I’d note that it never should’ve existed. It was fatally flawed from the start. Had Gov. Dayton put children first instead of putting Education Minnesota first, the initiative never would’ve looked like Gov. Dayton’s initiative. It isn’t a sacrifice to give up on a program that a) raised taxes on the middle class, b) put kids in another one-size-fits-all program and c) doesn’t offer parents the flexibility that they need.

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