Archive for the ‘Taxes’ Category

Last night on the Kelly File, Roger Stone tried explaining how Trump’s tax plan would be paid for. Unfortunately for him, he talked himself into a corner that there’s no getting out of. Stone insisted that Trump is a fiscal conservative, saying that Mr. Trump would offset the cost of his tax plan by cutting spending. At that point, Guy Benson highlighted Mr. Stone’s spin, saying that we should be skeptical of spending cuts coming from a guy who’s “proposing Obamacare on steroids.”

Sunday night on 60 Minutes, Trump was asked about his health care plan, at which point Mr. Trump said “I’m going to take care of everybody. I don’t care if it costs me votes. Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.” When Pelley pressed Mr. Trump further about who would pay for this coverage, Mr. Trump said “the government’s gonna pay for it. But we’re going to save so much money on the other side.”

The question Mr. Stone left unanswered is how a man that wants government to pay for everyone’s health care is a fiscal conservative. It’s unanswered because it isn’t possible. That’s like saying a company’s intellectual property is safe because they hired an IT guy away from the Chinese government to secure their intellectual property.

In midterm elections and presidential elections, 65 polling stations are open in St. Cloud. In this year’s off-off-year election, the St. Cloud ISD742 School Board will only open 13 polling stations. According to this St. Cloud Times article, Kevin Januszewski, executive director of business services for the St. Cloud school district, said this move is designed save on the cost of the election. What Mr. Januszewski isn’t saying is that having the election next year would eliminate the school board’s cost of the bonding referendum vote entirely. That’s because there’s a presidential election next year.

Voter participation is at its highest during presidential elections. Further, the cost to the school district drop dramatically because they don’t pay for the entire election. If costs are significantly less and voter participation is at its highest, that’s the sweet spot. Public officials are always saying that they want high voter participation rates. Here’s the opportunity to guarantee that. Why didn’t the ISD742 School Board pick 2016 for this gigantic bonding referendum vote?

Is it because they want low turnout? Apparently so. I noted in this post that voter participation from within the education community was sure to be close to 100% while voter participation from the average taxpayer will at its lowest. It’s historically been that way for decades.

To the taxpayers:

  1. Has the school district asked you for your input into this important decision?
  2. Has the school board informed you about the bonding referendum beyond vague generalities?
  3. Has the school district been upfront with you about the property tax implications for you personally?
  4. Have they explained the ramifications of this property tax increase on St. Cloud’s tax base?
  5. Has the school board explained why they’re holding this vote when voter participation is at its lowest?

Personally, the answer to those questions are no, no, no, no and no. Without answers to these important questions, I can’t support this referendum at this time. Vote no on November 3.

Allahpundit’s post about Donald Trump is essentially a report on Mr. Trump’s latest whining after getting hit with negative publicity. According to the headline of AP’s article, Trump’s attorney will sue the Club for Growth if they don’t immediately stop running a negative ad about Mr. Trump’s liberal positions.

According to AP’s post, Alan Garten, Trump’s general counsel, said “Mr. Trump does not support higher taxes. This is the very definition of libel.” Unfortunately for Mssrs. Garten and Trump, Mr. Trump recently said “that he’d lower taxes on the middle class but ‘would let people making hundreds of millions of dollars-a-year pay some tax, because right now they are paying very little tax and I think it’s outrageous.'”

In other words, Mr. Trump is threatening to sue Club for Growth for telling the truth about his position on raising taxes. Good luck peddling that with a jury. That’s if it makes it that far, which isn’t likely.

The threat of litigation is meant to distract attention from what Mr. Trump doesn’t want people to think about. With that in mind, let’s focus on what Mr. Trump doesn’t want us to focus on. I’m betting that they don’t want people focusing on Trump’s support “a one-time tax of 14.25 percent on the superwealthy 15 years ago.” In 2000, the federal government was running a massive surplus. They were on track to eliminate the debt by 2020.

At a time when the economy was humming along, creating jobs, wealth and huge surpluses, why tinker with what’s working? Despite that, that’s precisely what Trump proposed.

Mr. Trump loves portraying himself as a genius who will get America’s economy growing again. Though there’s proof that he knows how to make money for himself, there’s nothing in his past that says he knows what policies will get America’s economy growing again.

UPDATE: Trump’s whining is getting tiresome. Trump’s Twitter obsession with Megyn Kelly is beyond tiresome:

Do you ever notice that lightweight @megynkelly constantly goes after me but when I hit back it is totally sexist. She is highly overrated!

What I’ve noticed is that Megyn hasn’t complained about Trump’s attacks. She’s repeatedly said that she’s a big girl that shrugs attacks off. The same can’t be said of Trump.

He’s the poster child of thin-skinned whiners.

Simply put, Trump tweeted this to draw attention away from his pathetic substance-free replies on national security. That won’t work, Mr. Trump. Why pick a whiny reality TV host when we can pick a real commander-in-chief? That’s right. We shouldn’t.

Eric Williams’ LTE advocating for passage of the school board bonding referendum isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. For instance, Williams’ first argument to vote for the referendum is “A robust school system adds value our community. Young entrepreneurs who want to start innovative businesses need quality workers. What attracts these entrepreneurs and quality workers is a quality school system.”

I won’t dispute that a well-trained work force is an economic benefit to any community. I have multiple dispute. with the referendum. First, the school board is trying to shove a massive property tax increase down our throats without telling us a) any details about the size of the new Tech HS or b) what enrollment model they’re using to determine the size of the building.

Without knowing that, it’s impossible to say whether a $113,800,000 project is needed. That’s before considering why the school board threw in a bonding request for improved technology. That’s been paid for with the operating levy. Taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for that with interest tacked on. Here’s Williams’ second bullet point:

Quality schools raise the value of our homes. I would argue that it is the most important reason young families choose to live where they do. Realtors often leverage the quality of a community’s school system when they market a home to a family new to the area.

Again, it’s another generalized argument. For the sake of discussion, let’s stipulate that it’s true. Does Mr. Williams think that taxpayers want to be treated like ATMs? Wouldn’t they be more impressed with a great new facility that the district didn’t overpay for? I’m betting that taxpayers would appreciate it if the district had modern facilities and that weren’t overbuilt. Here’s Williams’ final bullet point:

I think we all agree that a quality school system is a huge attractor for young families. Selfishly, I would love to see my children and the children of my friends and neighbors who have graduated from Tech and Apollo choose to raise their families in St. Cloud. (We won’t have far to go to see our grandchildren!)

This LTE didn’t address anything of substance. It’s filled with platitudes and emotional appeals. That isn’t a justification for passing the biggest bonding referendum in St. Cloud history. It definitely isn’t a justification for passing the biggest bonding referendum in St. Cloud history without a series of townhall meetings.

Vote no on November 3.

Bill O’Reilly closes his show by saying “The spin stops here because we’re definitely looking out for you.” If I were to transfer Mr. O’Reilly’s closing statement to the St. Cloud Times, I’d have to slightly modify it to say “the spin starts here because we want the $167,000,000 referendum to pass without explaining the details about what the new Tech High School looks like.” I’ll admit that isn’t as succinct as Mr. O’Reilly’s closing. That doesn’t mean it isn’t accurate.

This LTE is long on generalities and platitudes but short on specifics, which is what voters deserve. It isn’t helpful to hear the citizen say that “As part of the community task force that researched and evaluated equitable options for our high schools, I realized the need to act now to improve our schools.” That isn’t detailed information about the size of the new high school nor does it tell taxpayers if other options were seriously considered.

This paragraph is spin:

This conversation was inspiring. The impact that improvement to our facilities will have on the entire community is why we need to vote yes. Vote yes for the future of St. Cloud education and to continue the high level of excellence in our public schools.

The worst kept secret in St. Cloud is that parents are pulling their children out of Tech HS and transferring them to Sauk Rapids-Rice HS or Rocori HS or to Sartell HS. That tells me that there are problems at Tech that can’t be solved with a new building. That tells me that a new building will raise people’s property taxes without fixing the underlying problem.

The ISD742 School Board has hid the specifics from the public. That alone is justification enough to vote no on the bonding referendum. That the school board hasn’t tried explaining what their goal is or why their proposal is the best solution indicates to me that taxpayers should vote no on the bonding referendum.

This bonding referendum is the biggest bonding referendum in the history of St. Cloud. Voters have the right to know what’s being planned and why it’s the solution to the problem.

Though I doubt it was meant as such, I’m betting that the St. Cloud Times Our View editorial is a wakeup call to taxpayers. That’s certainly the intent of this post. The Times’ Editorial Board laments the fact that “there are no yard signs, no visible campaigning, and really not much buzz about the plan.” Then it highlights the “good news” that “the group has experienced leaders and its website,, contains ample information about the history of Tech, the need to upgrade it and Apollo, and how to vote” before returning to lamenting that few people know about this website before the Times’ editorial.

Perhaps that’s their strategy.

The Times is right. The “group has experienced leaders” who’ve led the fight for other levy increases. Rest assured that everyone in the ‘education community’ a) knows about this referendum, b) can recite with great fluency the virtues of voting yes and c) can’t wait to start voting. Those “experienced leaders” have already counted the education community’s votes.

It’s foolish to think that this “experienced leaders” is running an under-the-radar campaign because this is a terrific deal for St. Cloud. If this deal was that important and that well thought out, these “experienced leaders” would’ve canvassed St. Cloud at least 3-4 times.

It isn’t a stretch to think that the education community doesn’t want a high turnout amongst regular taxpayers because they’re afraid that regular taxpayers are fed up with all of the tax increases that they’ve been hit with the last 2-3 year. Perhaps the education community is afraid that regular taxpayers are upset that they haven’t seen a meaningful pay raise in 5 years or more. Meanwhile, under Gov. Dayton and the DFL, government spending has skyrocketed.

The state budget has seen major increases while families have struggled. Gov. Dayton and the DFL isn’t on the ballot this November. Still, it’s a great time to send them a signal that taxpayers are fed up with the DFL’s spending increases and Gov. Dayton’s tax increases.

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.

It’s been years since the regular session of the Minnesota Legislature was this ‘colorful’. It didn’t take long for the fireworks to start, which leads into the regular session’s losers list:

  1. Mark Dayton — Dayton announced that he was unbound now that he’d run his last campaign. It didn’t take long before we learned that that meant he’d start lobbing grenades at whoever got him upset. Tom Bakk ambushed him on the commissioners pay raises. Sen. Bakk, here’s your grenade. Republicans proposed a new way to fund fixing Minnesota’s potholed roads. Here’s your grenade. Gov. Dayton also misread the Republicans and Kurt Daudt. He thought he could bully them into compliance. Though his bullying was ever-present, it didn’t move Republicans because their agenda was popular with Minnesotans. Gov. Dayton never figured that out. He’s still whining about it after the special session.
  2. Tom Bakk — Sen. Bakk ambushed Gov. Dayton on the commissioners pay raises but he didn’t do it until they became unpopular with Minnesotans. Sen. Bakk’s ambush smacked more of political opportunism than voicing displeasure with a bad policy. That was especially true when a reporter actually pointed out that Sen. Bakk voted for the pay raises. Sen. Bakk got stung hard when Gov. Dayton accused him of stabbing him in the back. Later, Gov. Dayton said that he trusted Speaker Daudt more than he trusted Sen. Bakk. FYI- That wound never healed. I don’t know that it ever will.
  3. Metrocrats — They came in with high expectations. Tina Flint-Smith was the new Lt. Governor. They had a bold progressive spending agenda. By the time the session was over, Rep. Thissen’s face was more likely to be seen on milk cartons than at negotiating sessions.
  4. Move MN — They fought for a gas tax increase. They lobbied both caucuses hard, sometimes sneakily. In the end, they got their lunch handed to them.
  5. Brian McDaniel — Brian McDaniel isn’t a household name to most Minnesotans but he’s known by political nerds like me. McDaniel is Republican lobbyist who lobbied for the aforementioned gas tax increase. What’s worst is that he didn’t disclose that he was lobbying for Move MN when he went on Almanac or At Issue. That’s definitely unethical.
  6. Keith Downey — His ‘Send it all back’ tax refund campaign was a disaster. He knew that a $2,000,000,000 tax cut didn’t have a chance of passing. Period. When he appeared in the ad himself, he made himself the face of opposition to the House Republicans’ agenda. The Twin Cities media had a field day playing up that dispute.

I’m sure there were other losers during the regular session but that’s my list. If you want to add to this list or if you want to disagree with me, knock yourself out.

Technorati: , , , , , , , , ,

Dan Wolgamott visited with KNSI’s Dan Ochsner Wednesday afternoon. Wolgamott was the DFL-endorsed candidate against Rep. Tama Theis in 2014. Here’s a little historical information on that race. Rep. Theis won that election by 1,300 votes while garnering 55% of the vote.

One of the topics discussed during the interview was transportation. Wolgamott lamented the fact that a compromise wasn’t reached to fix Minnesota’s potholed roads. I wrote this post after the St. Cloud Times published Wolgamott’s op-ed. Here’s part of what Mr. Wolgamott said in that op-ed:

Our roads are aging, the congestion is getting worse and our state is falling behind on delivering the vibrant transportation options we need. We feel the bumps in our pothole-filled roads and the hit in our wallets with vehicle repairs.

It’s time for us to invest in our roads and bridges, which is why St. Cloud needs better leadership than State Sen. John Pederson. As made clear in two recent articles in the St. Cloud Times, Pederson has some thoughts on the state’s transportation network. As the Republican lead on the Senate Transportation and Public Safety Committee, he could play a vital role in providing St. Cloud the comprehensive transportation investment we need.

Instead, Sen. Pederson backs a plan that not only shifts money away from our schools and services for our most vulnerable residents, but relies heavily on borrowing for our roads and bridges, putting the costs on the state’s credit card. This plan depends on action to be taken by future legislatures. However, there is no guarantee future legislatures will make those decisions. Instead of stability, this is another example of politicians promising something in the future to justify ducking their responsibilities now.

TRANSLATION: Minnesota’s roads need fixing.

That’s long on complaining but short on solutions. That’s typical Wolgamott. This is, too:

We need an honest, comprehensive approach that creates a dedicated source of new funding for our roads and bridges, one that will meet the demands of our growing state.

TRANSLATION: I support the Dayton-Bakk-Move MN gas tax increase plan.

The tip-off is Mr. Wolgamott’s use of the phrase “comprehensive approach.” Whenever you hear that phrase, grab your wallets. It means that the DFL intends to raid your wallets again. As I’ve repeatedly said, the public supports the GOP plan because it a) doesn’t raise taxes and b) isn’t comprehensive. I’ve repeatedly said that 75% of Minnesotans support the GOP plan.

When 75% of Minnesotans support the GOP plan, why shouldn’t the GOP plan pass with overwhelming support? Further, I’d love hearing Mr. Wolgamott explain what a compromise looks like. Is a smaller but still unpopular gas tax increase the compromise Wolgamott would support? If yes, that means he still supports a failed policy. In 2008, the legislature raised the gas tax with the promise that that tax increase would provide the revenues needed to cut down on Minnesota’s backlog for a generation. It’s a short 7 years later and the DFL is back insisting that this gas tax increase will be the last gas tax increase…until the next gas tax increase.

Wolgamott is a polished speaker but he’s still an empty suit who will support the DFL’s agenda if elected.

Technorati: , , , ,