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Just like Speaker Daudt predicted, the Met Council has announced that they’ll “come up with the final piece of the state and local funding” for the SWLRT project. That’s the mini-bombshell about the SWLRT project.

The major bombshell this week happened “when House Speaker Kurt Daudt revealed the existence of an email from Met Council Chairman Adam Duininck to Governor Dayton stating that the federal government has no plans to execute a funding agreement until sometime in 2017 because of ongoing litigation regarding the project. He’s (Dayton) hid that from the public and from the Legislature and from the press since January of this year. We know the federal government is not going to fund it for a year and a half. There is no deadline. There is no reason that we have to take action now on Southwest light rail,” said Daudt.”

It’s connect-the-dots time. First, the Senate DFL bonding bill that was defeated was the biggest bonding bill proposed in state history by orders of magnitude. It was for $1,800,000,000. Next, every DFL senator voted for that bill. Third, that $1,800,000,000 bonding bill didn’t contain a penny of funding for SWLRT. The state’s share would have been $135,000,000. In a pork-filled bill of almost $2,000,000,000, the DFL didn’t include $135,000,000 on a project that they insist today is Minnesota’s highest bonding priority? What idiot DFL senator omitted that funding from a monster bill like that?

Fourth, Gov. Dayton vetoed a major tax relief bill, then insisted that he wouldn’t call a special session unless Republicans added funding for a project that the DFL refused to fund in a $2,000,000,000 bonding bill.

Connecting these dots tells this indisputable story: Hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans won’t receive tax relief because the DFL refused to fund SWLRT initially, then insisted on funding it as a condition of holding a special session.

It’s time to throw these DFL legislators out of office. It can’t happen soon enough. What type of person would omit funding for a project, then deny farmers, veterans, students with student loan debt and small businesses tax relief? The DFL’s position is that it’ll fight for funding a light rail project but it won’t fight for tax relief for students, veterans and farmers.

Minnesota, you’ll have a choice this November. Will you vote for politicians that won’t fight for students, parents, farmers, veterans and small businesses? Shouldn’t you vote for the party that’s fought the good fight for students, farmers and veterans? The choice is clear. The DFL needs to get run out of St. Paul ASAP.

They deserve it because they’ve fought for the special interests, not the people. That’s grounds for immediate dismissal.

St. Paul Chris Coleman is asking for another major property tax increase. This is likely the first in a lengthy list of mayoral sob stories set to be published.

Mayor Coleman, it seems, expected a “$3 million boost in state aid” that isn’t coming. The sob story will sound something like this: We passed a budget that expected an increase in LGA but House Republicans killed that. Now we’re stuck with a $3,000,000 deficit, which means we’re going to have to cut “up to nine police officers.”

Actually, the entire paragraph reads “The breakdown of talks over a potential special legislative session means the city isn’t going to get an expected $3 million boost in state aid, and simply cutting that money could cost the city up to nine police officers, force one of the city’s recreation centers to close and trim the city’s racial equity initiatives, Coleman wrote Wednesday in a letter to the St. Paul City Council.”

Start cutting, Mayor Coleman. Forcing “one of the city’s recreation centers to close” isn’t a tragedy. Losing 9 police officers at a time when BlackLivesMatter activists are throwing cement blocks and rebar at police offices is a tragedy. This paragraph sums it up perfectly:

“This is not acceptable,” said council member Dai Thao. “We spend millions of dollars on the Palace Theater. Some of the folks targeted by these cuts would never experience the Palace theater,” said Thao, saying the cuts wouldn’t be fair for many St. Paul residents.

The first question that isn’t being asked is this: why did St. Paul spend “millions of dollars on the Palace Theater”? Here’s why they spent millions on it:

Enhancing the vibrant downtown entertainment district is at the core of this project. Expected to attract more than 100,000 people downtown annually, the Palace Theatre will fill a need in the current entertainment venue market by offering a contemporary music venue twice as large as Minneapolis’ First Avenue.

In other words, St. Paul just pissed away millions of dollars to compete with Minneapolis? Now they want to raise taxes because they’re spending like a bunch of drunk sailors at a strip club. Imagine spending millions of dollars on a building like this:

The upshot of this article is that the DFL has finally admitted what I’ve said from the start. The DFL is finally admitting that they don’t care about veterans, students with student loan debt, parents trying to save for their kids’ college education or farmers.

By insisting that Republicans agree to funding SWLRT, the DFL is insisting that the GOP fund a low-priority item. It ain’t happening. Light rail is a terrible investment. It doesn’t take hundreds of cars off the street, as the Met Council insists. It doesn’t increase flexibility for people. It’s extremely expensive. Bus lines are much more efficient and flexible.

Essentially, the DFL wants SWLRT funding because they want their pork.

Gov. Dayton admitted he doesn’t give a shit about the middle class when he said “I’ve concluded … I am not going to call a special session.” What a shock. The spoiled rich brat threw another hissy fit because he didn’t get everything he wanted. While he threw that hissy fit, he vetoed $800,000,000 worth of middle class tax relief. Gov. Dayton did that after promising that he wouldn’t use the tax cuts as leverage for getting everything he wanted in the bonding bill. Specifically, Gov. Dayton said no to $800,000,000 of tax relief for farmers and other blue collar workers because the GOP wouldn’t cave on hundreds of millions of dollars worth of spending on a light rail system that shouldn’t be a priority to anyone.

The DFL apparently doesn’t want these tax cuts either. If they did, they’d stand up to the spoiled rich brat in St. Paul, something that they haven’t done. Rep. Thissen and Sen. Bakk haven’t challenged Gov. Dayton on this. Locally, Dan Wolgamott and Zach Dorholt haven’t insisted that Gov. Dayton call a special session. Neither has fought for middle class tax relief. Wolgamott’s about Dan page says this:

Dan understand how to build relationships to pass tough legislation to support students, fix our roads and bridges, and reform state government.

That’s BS. Wolgamott hasn’t lifted a finger for any of these things. He’s sided with Gov. Dayton 100% of the time. This is BS, too:

Dan is innovative and forward-thinking and will create opportunities to grow an economy that works for everyone that works for everyone by supporting policies that help our local businesses, workers, students, and families.

Wolgamott has done nothing to show he’s anything except a cookie-cutter career politician. He’s done what he’s been told to do. He hasn’t been innovative. He hasn’t been forward-thinking. He’s done what the DFL told him to do.

That’s what puppets do.

Bakk’s puppet

This weekend, I wrote that I was skeptical of reports that a special session would be called this August. After reading Don Davis’ article, I’m hoping that a special session only happens if Republicans stand steadfast against SWLRT.

In the article, Sen. Bakk thinks that, with regards to SWLRT, “there appear to be some alternatives available.” Here’s hoping that Speaker Daudt shoots that down immediately and harshly. Anything that gets SWLRT built is unacceptable. Any Bakk-favored alternative should be shown the door in as hostile a manner as possible.

LRT projects are a disaster. If communities want to build them, let them build them with their tax revenues. Then let them subsidize their operations with their property taxes or their sales taxes. Talk that the business community wants them isn’t justification for building SWLRT. If businesses think LRT is so fantastic, let them pay for building them.

The dirty little secret is that LRT isn’t worthwhile except if taxpayers build it and subsidize its operations. Even then, these projects benefit the few while hurting others. Ask the displaced businesses in St. Paul if they’re fans of LRT. Hint: when asking that question, wear a bullet-proof vest.

There is some good news in the negotiations:

Dayton said he is more optimistic than ever that there will be a special session. “Where there is a will, there is a way.” The governor said he gave up all spending he earlier wanted to come up in a special session other than work needed on sex offender facilities and at the state hospital in St. Peter.

That’s the benefit of steadfastly saying no to unreasonable spending demands. Give Speaker Daudt and Sen. Hann and their caucuses credit for that. It wouldn’t have been possible if members of their caucus had left their reservation.

That’s why Speaker Daudt needs to return to that position and why Sen. Hann needs to be given the title of majority leader. Conservatives would applaud them shutting down Gov. Dayton’s reckless spending demands. Minnesota’s economy would improve by not having the legislature and the governor pile tons of new regulation on small businesses, too.

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According to this article, Sen. Bakk, Speaker Daudt and Gov. Dayton are close to an agreement on a special session. I question the accuracy of that statement.

The article opens by saying “A special Minnesota legislative session to approve tax cuts, transportation projects and public works construction could happen in a month, but the governor and key legislators are not quite ready to promise that.” Notice the hint that all is not well? Saying that “the governor and key legislators are not quite ready to promise that” set off red flags with me. Several paragraphs later, my suspicions were vindicated.

The vindication came when the article said a “major unresolved issue continues to be whether to approve a light rail line from downtown Minneapolis to the southwestern suburbs.” That’s indisputable. That’s the line Republicans shouldn’t cross under any circumstances. It’s the Minnesota equivalent to the infamous Bridge to Nowhere.

Speaker Daudt needs to realize that he’s sitting in the power position. I’m betting that DFL candidates aren’t popular because Gov. Dayton vetoed a major tax cut bill. Bakk and Dayton aren’t striking a more conciliatory tone because they’re altruistic. They’re striking a more conciliatory tone because they aren’t getting the response they’d hoped for.

Speaker Daudt, Sen. Hann and all Republicans should stand steadfast against the SWLRT project. If metro DFL legislators object, fine. Republicans don’t need to flip urban seats to flip the Senate. They need to flip seats in rural Minnesota. That’s where the tax cut bill is popular. If DFL candidates and incumbents want to defend Gov. Dayton’s veto of the Tax Bill, Republicans should rejoice that the DFL is giving them that gift.

Further, I’d encourage Republican House and Senate candidates to highlight the fact that the DFL put broadband and SWLRT at the top of their priority list and that Republicans put gutting taxes on farmers, the middle class, the military and small businesses at the top of their priority list.

Let’s fight that fight on our side of the battlefield. Let’s see if the DFL is capable of fighting that fight. I’m betting they’ll lose that fight by a significant margin.

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Ron Kresha represents Little Falls in the House of Representatives. Rep. Kresha is the incumbent running for re-election in District 9B. (The main cities in Rep. Kresha’s district are Little Falls, Long Prairie and Pierz.) It’s safe to say that HD-9B is a district with tons of farmers. Though the district has changed since I last visited the area, I’m still able to identify most of the cities and towns in the District.

Now that I’ve laid out the history of the district, let’s dive into the editorial Rep. Kresha’s opponent wrote. Rep. Kresha’s opponent made a point of saying “I will listen to farmers. I will stand up for our farmers, and I will fight for our farmers because I know that without them, our communities would not survive. As state representative, I will make sure our farmers are not forgotten in St. Paul. That is why I am running as the Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidate. I want to shed light on the struggles our farmers deal with and thank them for their hard work.”

Of course, Rep. Kresha’s opponent had to throw in the cheap shot of saying “My opponent in Minnesota House 9B has done very little to preserve farms and to make certain farmers are treated like the first-class citizens they are.”

With all due respect, the DFL hasn’t done much to help farmers. The DFL opposes building pipelines that would free up rail space so farmers could get their crops to market faster. In fact, the DFL is ruled by environmental activists who love regulating farms to death. Metro Democrats tried and succeeded in killing a major proposed farming operation in western Minnesota through the use of the now-defunct Citizens Advisory Board. The DFL killed this proposed farming operation so Republicans killed the advisory board because “the Citizens Board had stopped projects that had gotten their MPCA permits.”

Does anyone seriously think Rep. Thissen will let Rep. Kresha’s opponent fight for farmers? There’s a better chance that the king’s horses and king’s men will put Humpty Dumpty back together again than there is of Rep. Thissen will let any pro-farmer legislation get a committee hearing. If you’re living in rural Minnesota, voting for the DFL is a wasted voted.

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After reading this LTE, I’m left wondering whether everyone in the DFL is utterly gullible or if it’s just a majority of them that are gullible.

I started questioning the premise when I read “Even though I haven’t been politically involved, I have done a fair amount of reading. The Minnesota Republican Party seems to be stuck in the thinking that what we need is more tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.” How can you do “a fair amount of reading” and still think that the Republican Party of Minnesota thinks “that what we need is more tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans”?

Anyone with a reading comprehension level above eighth grade knows that the GOP passed a tax bill that would’ve benefitted veterans, students with student loan debt, farmers, small businesses and parents trying to save for their children’s college education. What part of that sounds like Republicans think “tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans” is the path to prosperity?

Either the man who wrote this LTE is illiterate or he’s exceptionally dishonest. It’s possible he’s both.

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When this year’s legislative session ended, the CW was that the DFL held the upper hand in the PR/campaign fight. Whether that was true or not at the time isn’t relevant anymore. What’s relevant is who’s fought the smartest fight to this point. This statement hammers home some important points.

In total, it says “House Republicans did their job this year, negotiated in good faith and passed bipartisan bills on the priorities most important to Minnesotans. Unfortunately, Senate Democrats and Gov. Dayton deliberately obstructed progress. First, Senate Democrats blocked funding for transportation and infrastructure, then Governor Dayton vetoed tax relief for working families, college students, parents, farmers, and veterans. If Gov. Dayton knew he was going to veto the tax bill, he should have done it a long time ago and called a special session right away. Now the election is ramping up and the political environment will get in the way of honest compromises. We are willing to hold a special session. We agree with Gov. Dayton’s requests in the tax relief bill, and we should pass the bipartisan compromise transportation and infrastructure bill that was agreed to on the last day of session. We are not going to rehash the whole session by repeating negotiations on half a billion dollars of new spending demands.”

The DFL has talked solely about process, talking about the end of session. Republicans have talked about Gov. Dayton vetoing the Tax Bill, then questioning why Gov. Dayton decided to hurt veterans, farmers, college students, parents saving for their kids’ college education and small businesses.

I won’t say that people don’t care about process. If I were a betting man, though, I’d bet that people care more about getting tax relief. If the DFL thinks that they’re winning that fight, I hope they keep thinking that.

The DFL is also highlighting the line ‘If the Twin Cities wants to raise the money to build SWLRT, they should be able to.’ I’d agree to that statement only if the DFL agreed that the metro also paid for the annual operating deficits, too.

The DFL needs to pick up seats in exurban and rural Minnesota. Arguing that tax relief for farmers, veterans and small businesses hinges on a metro project is exceptional stupid politics on the DFL’s part.

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Saying that this editorial doesn’t have a pro-DFL tone to it is understatement. Let’s start with where the editorialist says “when Gov. Mark Dayton pocket vetoed HF 848 which would’ve provided significant tax relief to the citizens of Minnesota, it sort of felt like something major was lost.”

I don’t think Gov. Dayton realizes that his veto of the Tax Bill is killing the DFL. When the editorialist writes “Gone was tax relief for veterans, gone was tax relief for small business owners, gone was a tax break for farmers, gone was a tax break for the residents of Houston County who live in Minnesota but work in Wisconsin, gone was the forgiveness of interest paid on debt on the new school building.” he listed all of the groups of people who were hurt by Gov. Dayton’s veto. That’s a devastating paragraph.

It’s even more damaging to the DFL when the editorialist adds “All because the governor wanted additional monies for a light rail line in Minneapolis. Two years of hard, hard work by Rep. Greg Davids (Rep. Preston) on the bill dissolved by the governor not signing the measure into law.” This places the blame for Minnesotans not getting tax relief squarely on Gov. Dayton’s shoulders. People won’t care about the drafting error. Their response is likely to be ‘Call a special session and fix it then.’

Contrary to popular opinion, Republicans aren’t the ones at risk. The DFL is. While Gov. Dayton and the DFL whines about the end-of-session process, Republicans talk about the tax cuts that Gov. Dayton vetoed. In a messaging fight of end-of-session process vs. DFL vetoed tax relief, tax relief wins by a wide margin. If the DFL thinks that’s a fair fight, I’ll agree. It’s as fair a fight as I’d like.

Davids, when receiving the phone call from the governor of his plan to veto it, worked to appeal to their friendship. The governor chose politics.

That’s as surprising as finding out that the sun rises in the east. There’s more:

The Republicans came up from $600 million to $950 million in the bonding bill that would’ve addressed transportation needs in the state. Davids said anything over $1 billion jeopardizes the state’s bond rating. The governor wants $1.5 billion with about $600 million going towards a new light rail line in the metro.

Gov. Dayton is foolish if he thinks Republicans will cave on SWLRT funding. Like I said earlier, Republicans are in the stronger position. The DFL is sitting in a position of weakness, especially in outstate Minnesota.

People living in outstate Minnesota won’t care if SWLRT is funded. They’ll care that Gov. Dayton vetoed their tax relief. The longer this drags out, the better it is for Republicans. That’s because they’re fighting for fixing roads and bridges and significant tax relief.

That’s a winner for the GOP and then some.

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The special session that everyone wants to have hinges on 2 things: Gov. Dayton’s insistence on more spending in the general budget and funding of the SWLRT. Of the two, it’s thought that funding SWLRT is the higher priority for Gov. Dayton and the DFL.

That makes sense since they’re the metro party. They aren’t the party that puts a high priority on roads and bridges. They’re the party that sees transportation through the lens of using transportation as a tool for social engineering.

If there is a special session, there’s no doubt that the Tax Bill will be fixed, passed and signed. If Gov. Dayton vetoes it again, that veto will be put up for an override vote, which would pass overwhelmingly. The DFL doesn’t dare sustain Gov. Dayton’s veto this close to the election. That would be political suicide.

But I digress. Back to the transportation section of the bonding bill. Republicans should be the ‘party of no’ on SWLRT funding. In return, they could throw in a few more dollars for traditional transit. They should, however, be steadfast in their opposition to funding SWLRT.

If Gov. Dayton and the DFL pick SWLRT as their hill to fight and die on, then Republicans should take them up on that offer. That fight would strengthen every exurban and rural GOP incumbent and challenger immensely. It would simultaneously weaken every DFL legislator and challenger, too. This is one of the few times when politics is a zero-sum proposition.

Beyond the special session, though, Republicans should make a concerted effort to explain why the gas tax is obsolete as a funding method for fixing Minnesota’s roads and bridges. Though this op-ed talks about Wisconsin’s transportation situation, the same principles apply:

Wisconsinites are going farther on the same gallon of gas than they were even 10 years ago. This trend will not be reversing. The number of vehicles on the road has been stable since the beginning of the decade. The state cannot count on more vehicles on the road to make up for fewer gallons needed per vehicle. Furthermore, add in new vehicles that do not use gas or use very little like hybrids, fuel cells, and all electric, the future of gas tax revenue becomes clear to anyone with a basic understanding of mathematics.

The gas tax has reached the point of diminishing return. Increases in the gas tax will not provide the all the desired additional revenues the legislators, transportation bureaucrats, and road builders hope for. When you raise the price of something, you get less of it. When gasoline was $4.00 per gallon, people drove less than they do now at $2.50. Drivers also gravitated to more fuel efficient options or options that do not use gasoline at all. These options will only get more abundant as the technology improves.

In 2008, the DFL promised that raising the gas tax would provide the funds to fix Minnesota’s roads and bridges. It’s failed miserably. I predicted at the time it would fail. I wasn’t alone.

It’s time to start pushing the issue of finding different ways to fund road and bridge repair. If the GOP wants to provide a contrast to the DFL on transportation, which it should, this is the approach to take.

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