Archive for the ‘Taxes’ Category

This LTE from Carolyn Nieters contains the obligatory DFL lie. Ms> Nieters fulfilled her obligation to the DFL by saying “I saw in the news that House Republicans like Rep. Jim Knoblach proposed investing exactly zero dollars of our $900 million surplus toward education for our community. Zero! Yet their plan includes doling out tax giveaways to the richest Minnesotans.”

If I got paid $20 each time a DFL politician or activist made that accusation, I’d be Donald Trump wealthy. Last May, I spoke with Rep. Greg Davids, the chairman of the House Taxes Committee, about his tax bill, which I wrote about here. When I contacted Chairman Davids to respond to Gov. Dayton’s statement about tax breaks for “millionaires and billionaires”, he said “My bill does not do that. Eighty percent goes to individuals. Tax relief is for the middle class…. My tax bill is tax relief for the poor and middle class.”

First, Ms. Nieters should be criticized for thinking that increasing spending on anything should be paid for with one-time money. That shouldn’t happen. Period. That money should either be rebated back to the people or used to fix Minnesota’s roads. Next, Ms. Nieters either doesn’t know that this is a supplemental budget or she knows and hides that fact from readers.

Last spring, Kurt Daudt and Tom Bakk negotiated a bipartisan budget agreement. That agreement included a significant increase in education spending. Is Ms. Nieters suggesting that we ignore Minnesota’s roads and bridges to pay for additional education funding? If that’s her plan, about the only people who’d agree with her are members of Education Minnesota.

Then there’s this BS:

After a decade of shifts and gimmicks, with students facing crushing college debt and the need for things like pre-K for our youngest learners, we are going to give away our surplus to those who already have the most wealth and power?

Ms. Nieters, did you even bother reading Chairman Davids’ tax bill? If you insist that you did, then you’re either lying or you need lots of help in remedial math and remedial reading. Nowhere in Chairman Davids’ bill does it offer a windfall for “those who already have the most wealth and power.” That’s either a figment of your imagination or you’re just lying.

It’s worth noting that the surplus has shrunk by $1,000,000,000 since last session. The February, 2015 forecast had a projected surplus of $1,900,000,000. In December, 2015, that had shrunk to $1,200,000,000. Now it’s shrunk to $900,000,000. (Apparently, the booming Dayton economy is a myth, too.)

After the DFL legislature passed the biggest tax increase in Minnesota history and Gov. Dayton signed it into law, capital flight from Minnesota accelerated. This study verifies that with IRS statistics.

It’s time to reject the DFL’s failed policies. It’s time to criticize the DFL for their web of lies, too.

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This op-ed, co-authored by DFL Sen. Kevin Dahle and DFL Rep. Vicki Jensen, is mostly fiction. It’s totally in keeping with the DFL’s transportation chanting points. Mostly, though, it’s a thinly-veiled attempt at a major middle class tax increase that isn’t needed.

Dahle and Jensen start with a false premise, stating it “is well reported that Minnesota’s transportation needs have reached a critical point.” There’s been no doubt that lots of stories featuring DFL quotes have been written. The question isn’t whether Minnesota’s roads need maintaining. One of the questions is whether Minnesota should focus on roads and bridges or if Minnesota should focus on transportation. Another question worth asking is this: if it’s that well-documented, why didn’t the DFL majorities in the House and Senate send a bill to the DFL governor that raised the gas tax in 2013?

The DFL legislature found time to spend $90,000,000 on the Senate Office Building. They found time to subject farm equipment repairs and warehousing services to the state sales tax, which Gov. Dayton eagerly signed into law. Then the DFL legislature found time to repeal those sales tax increases. Again, Gov. Dayton eagerly repealed the sales taxes that he’d signed into law the previous spring.

The question that hasn’t been asked is why, if this was such a high priority, the DFL didn’t act on it when they had full control of the legislature and had a DFL governor.

This paragraph is an outright lie:

Unfortunately, that’s where our similarities seem to end. We are willing to look at all options on the table. However, we are unwilling to compromise on a plan for our transportation network that is worse for rural communities. By relying on local tax increases, one-time spending, and borrowing, the Republican plan does not provide the same level of support for those communities ? our communities ? that need it most.

Last spring, Rep. Tim Kelly, chairman of the House Transportation Finance Committee, presented a plan that raised revenues without raising taxes. Then he issued this statement:

Personally, I am happy to have had the opportunity to help put together the fiscally responsible Road and Bridge Act of 2015, which will do so much good for the State of Minnesota.

Under this proposal, the State of Minnesota would repurpose revenue that is already being collected from existing sales taxes on auto parts, the Motor Vehicle Lease sales tax, the rental vehicle tax and the sales tax on rental vehicles. By placing these revenue streams – estimated at $3.078 billion over the next ten years – in a newly created Transportation Stability Fund, Minnesota would not only provide new money for roads and bridges statewide, but also for small city roads, bus services in Greater Minnesota, suburban county highways, and metro area capital improvements.

Making this change would dedicate $1.44 billion for county roads, $583 million for municipal roads, and $282 million for roads in towns with fewer than 5,000 residents.

The DFL is clearly lying when Sen. Dahle and Rep. Jensen state that the “Republican plan does not provide the same level of support for those communities … that need it most.” That’s in direct conflict with Chairman Kelly’s statement that his plan would “dedicate $1.44 billion for county roads, $583 million for municipal roads, and $282 million for roads in towns with fewer than 5,000 residents.”

They do not provide any new funding for larger city local roads, and they do not provide enough investment for smaller cities.

The Republican-endorsed candidates for Dahle’s and Jensen’s seats should pepper them with questions about their dishonesty. I’d ask them why they’re pushing for a major middle class tax increase, too. It’s time to rip the mask off the DFL and expose them for the dishonest tax-hiking maniacs that they are.

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It isn’t a secret that hardline progressives hate Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. It isn’t surprising to find out that they aren’t the brightest bulbs in the political chandelier, either. This post is a perfect example of hardline progressives hating Scott Walker without a legitimate reason. According to this post, Scott Walker is to blame for Wisconsin’s economic woes for time when he wasn’t governor.

The post cites “state-by-state analysis from the Pew Charitable Trusts” to blame Gov. Walker for Wisconsin’s economic problems, saying “Wisconsin experienced the biggest decline in middle-class households in the country between the years 2000 and 2013.” That’s interesting because Jim Doyle, a Democrat, was Wisconsin’s governor for 8 of those years. What’s annoying is that that isn’t the first time Democrats have blamed Gov. Walker for Gov. Doyle’s decisions. Originally, Gail Collins’ column blamed Gov. Walker’s budget cuts for teacher layoffs that happened before he took office.

Collins column originally said “All of that came as a distinct surprise to Claudia Felske, a member of the faculty at East Troy High School who actually was named a Wisconsin Teacher of the Year in 2010. In a phone interview, Felske said she still remembers when she got the news at a ‘surprise pep assembly at my school.’ As well as the fact that those layoffs happened because Walker cut state aid to education.

The budget cuts that supposedly led to those teacher layoffs happened in 2010, the year before Scott Walker took office. As for Gov. Walker’s accomplishments, this information is definitely positive:

Proponents of the measure, including Chris Rochester, MacIver Institute spokesperson, said Act 10 has saved taxpayers $5.24 billion. These taxpayer savings come from government employees putting more money into their own retirement and health benefits, of which taxpayers previously pay a significant portion, Rochester added.

Saving taxpayers $1,000,000,000+ a year is an impressive amount of savings. At that point, taxpayers have the option of approving the hiring of more teachers and staff, giving teachers raises or keeping property taxes inexpensive or a combination of those options. That sounds like a positive outcome.

Contrary to statements in this article, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce isn’t the consistent friend of the GOP. David Montgomery wrote “the GOP’s traditional allies in the business community are joining DFLers in the push to include transit in a transportation funding package.” The Minnesota Chamber is, at best, an on-again, off-again ally to the GOP.

Let’s check out the Chamber’s history. In past years, they’ve pushed for lots of bonding projects like civic centers and downtown renovations. That’s proof that they aren’t limited government conservatives. That isn’t surprising.

In 2008, the Chamber provided the DFL with the political cover they needed to raise Minnesota’s gas tax. That transportation bill also included lots of fees that went towards increasing transit funding. Eight years later, the Chamber is pushing another round of middle class tax increases to pay for transit projects. Apparently, the other fee increases didn’t work. (At the time the 2008 tax increase plan passed, I predicted that they’d be back sooner rather than later for more tax and fee increases. I was right. Hint: it didn’t require Nostradamus to get that prediction right.)

House Speaker Kurt Daudt routinely expresses a similar sentiment: that the Legislature should focus on new road and bridge spending and not on buses and trains.

Speaker Daudt is right. Minnesotans can’t afford another DFL middle class tax increase. Taxpayers aren’t ATMs. It’s time to start prioritizing rather than putting together oversized wish lists that can only be funded with major tax and fee increases.

When Gov. Dayton pushed B2B tax increases, the Chamber fought him on it because it was their ox getting gored. Now that the tax increase is hitting someone else, they’re pushing for it. Apparently, the Chamber is ok with tax increases … as long it doesn’t hit them.

This article suggests that the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce is preparing to sell out the Republican Party on transportation … again.

It’s telling that the reporter says that the “GOP’s traditional allies in the business community are joining DFLers in the push to include transit in a transportation funding package.” It’s as if the Chamber thinks that transit isn’t getting properly funded and that additional transit funding deserves a higher priority.

The Chamber is wrong on both counts. Frankly, since the Minnesota Chamber consistently insists on playing footsie with the DFL, rank-and-file Republicans should start calling the Chamber something different. I suggest that they be called ‘The Crony Capitalist Chamber. The Chamber isn’t about limited government. They aren’t opposed to tax increases. They’re just opposed to when the DFL wants to raise their taxes.

That isn’t speculation. There’s sufficient proof for that statement. In 2008, the Chamber provided the political cover to pass a major gas tax and transit tax and fee increase. That led to them overriding Gov. Pawlenty’s veto of that major middle class tax increase. There wasn’t a hint of regret that they pushed that bill.

In 2013, when the DFL wanted to raise taxes on businesses, though, they raised a stink about it. They criticized the business-to-business sales taxes. They opposed the Tax Bill proposed by Gov. Dayton and supported by the DFL. To hear the Chamber talk about it, you would’ve thought the end of the world was approaching.

Now the Crony Capitalist Chamber are siding with the DFL again. They’re lifting the middle finger against a middle class that’s getting squeezed. They’re lifting that middle finger because it’s someone else that’s getting hit with a tax increase.

Most importantly, let’s call this tax increase for what it is: a failure. In 2008, we were told that we had to raise the gas tax to meet Minnesota’s then-future transportation needs. Eight years later, the same people have returned to tell us that this tax increase will help fix Minnesota’s transportation needs.

The Chamber was wrong then. It’s likely that they’ll be wrong this time. Most importantly, the GOP has a plan that will work. It’s time to tell the Crony Capitalist Chamber that the Republican Party isn’t interested in part-time allies that don’t have Main Street’s interests at heart. The GOP needs to tell the Crony Capitalist Chamber that they’re siding with their neighbors, co-workers and friends instead of siding with their part-time allies in the Crony Capitalist Chamber.

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A little over a week ago, the St. Cloud Times published my LTE in which I talked about how Speaker Daudt challenged Rep. Thissen. Specifically, I wrote that Thissen accused Republicans of throwing “controversial provisions into big bills right at the end” of session. Unwilling to let Rep. Thissen’s spin go unchallenged, Speaker Daudt asked him to name some specific controversial provisions that Republicans threw into big budget bills at the end of the 2015 session.

Rather than respond substantively, Rep. Thissen repeated the accusation.

Later, I wrote that “Tim Kelly, the chairman of the House Transportation Committee, wrote an op-ed saying that the next transportation plan Thissen submits ‘will be his first.'” I also said that it’s “a disgrace that the DFL would pick a dishonest man to lead them in the House.” I finished by saying that the DFL agenda is “all criticism and no solutions.” I must’ve gotten under Rep. Thissen’s skin with that. Earlier this week, the Times published Rep. Thissen’s op-ed.

Rep. Thissen’s op-ed addresses some items from the DFL agenda. He started by saying that the “reality is we have been the party of ideas, bringing forth common-sense solutions to address Minnesota’s biggest problem — too many Minnesotans are being squeezed in an economy tilted in favor of the insiders, elites and special interests.” With all due respect, Rep. Thissen, the DFL is the party of special interests.

Nobody’s been squeezed more than the Iron Range. They’ve been squeezed by environmental absolutists who demand that mining projects can’t produce any pollution ever. They’ve been squeezed so tight that it’s difficult to find middle class families on the Range. Minnesota’s poverty rate is 11.5%; compare that with Hibbing’s poverty rate of 20.6% and Virginia’s poverty rate of 26.5%. Then, Rep. Thissen, tell me who’s getting squeezed and who’s getting ignored by the DFL.

Rep. Thissen also wrote that “House DFLers proposed just a solution comprised partly of the House GOP transportation plan and Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposal.” That isn’t a solution. The DFL’s ‘solution’ would’ve imposed a major tax increase on the very middle class taxpayers that Rep. Thissen insists are getting squeezed by the special interests. FYI- Gov. Dayton’s transportation plan is virtually identical to Move MN’s transportation plan. Move MN doesn’t exist anymore. The new DFL-aligned transportation lobbyist organization is called Transportation Forward.

Rep. Thissen, when the DFL approved spending on the Senate Office Building, which group of squeezed people did that help? When the DFL legislature passed its Tax Bill, it included sales taxes on farm equipment repairs, warehousing services and other B2B taxes. This table offers a good explanation of the middle class tax increases the DFL imposed on Minnesotans:

Rep. Thissen, why did the DFL legislature pass this mountain of middle class tax increases in 2013, then vote to repeal them in 2014?

It’s crazy that Rep. Thissen thinks that this is a solution:

We have introduced legislation that would demand powerful drug companies be more transparent about profits to reduce costs of prescription drugs.

That’s right, Rep. Thissen. Central Minnesota has been insisting that the state government get involved in telling businesses how they’ll be allowed to conduct business. Minnesotans are getting squeezed by busybody politicians like Rep. Thissen have heaped piles of compliance costs, reporting requirements and regulations on businesses. That, more than anything else, is what’s driving up costs.

Finally, what’s interesting is that Rep. Thissen didn’t argue that he wasn’t truthful about the controversial provisions thrown into bills.

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This article highlights another instance in which the DFL is trying to drive companies out of Minnesota. They shouldn’t be blamed, though. Democrats in Washington, DC, are attempting to drive companies out of the U.S.

Specifically, “Senate DFLers are pushing a more generous paid family leave than the three states that require it, mandating up to 12 weeks of paid time off for new parents or people caring for sick family members. That’s double what is required in New Jersey and California; Rhode Island offers eight weeks.” Additionally, the “fight is gaining attention at the national level as Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have proposed leave policies.”

This is just another thing ton the DFL’s agenda that’s driving employment costs up for Minnesota businesses. (It isn’t like they aren’t already leaving for lower tax states.) The executive summary of Peter Nelson’s report doesn’t paint a positive picture for Minnesota.

This information is especially troubling to Minnesota’s long-term health:

Most of the taxpayers who leave Minnesota for lower-tax states are in their prime earning years. One might think that most high-earning families who leave Minnesota are retirees moving to Florida or Arizona, but this is not the case. Working-age people between 35 and 54 account for nearly 40 percent of Minnesota’s net loss of tax filers for the 2013-2014 period.

In other words, Minnesota isn’t losing people at the end of their prime earning years. If they were, they could recover from that fairly quickly. It’s more difficult to recover long-term income loss because you have to attract people who are entering or in their prime earning years.

Further factoring into this difficult situation is the fact that people in their prime earning years aren’t likely to be as loyal to Minnesota as someone in the last part of their prime earning years. Someone that’s 60 and still earning significant dollars likely has a family here. They’ve established their lifestyle and are comfortable with it. Their friends are likely here, too.

It’s understatement that government-mandated business costs don’t incentivize companies to stay loyal to Minnesota. Their first priority is to maximize their company’s profits, which contributes to their family’s security.

This says it all:

Doug Seaton said he believes that politicians have no business telling employers to offer paid family and medical leave.

When politicians start putting their capital at risk and start signing the front of the paycheck, they can choose to offer paid family and medical leave. Then there’s this:

“Politicians, most of whom have no experience signing paychecks for employees of any kind, are not in a good position to make these decisions,” Seaton said. “It restricts the ability of the business to tailor its benefits to all employees in a way that makes sense.” He added that it came on top of “what employers already perceive as a very extensive and expansive set of entitlements in Minnesota.”

That’s a polite way of telling politicians to stop imposing their will on companies that they don’t own. It’s a polite way of telling politicians to shut up.

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One of the reasons why this session will be contentious is because the DFL is insisting that a promised tax cut be coupled with a middle class tax increase. Simply put, Kurt Daudt and the House GOP caucus won’t let that happen.

The DFL’s proposed middle class tax increase comes from raising the state gas tax. First, it’s indisputable that sales taxes are regressive, hitting the middle class and the working poor harder than it hits the wealthy. Second, raising the gas tax hurts commuters more than it hurts people living in urban neighborhoods. (Imagine that. Democrats proposing raising taxes on the middle class living in exurban and rural Minnesota while protecting rich white people living in the safest DFL districts. That’s as surprising as hearing that Bill Gates made money last month.)

Rep. Thissen highlighted the DFL’s transportation priorities when he said “For someone that’s a leader of the state to come up here and say transit is controversial? It’s only controversial to the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party.”

Actually, Rep. Thissen, imposing a middle class tax increase to pay for transit projects is controversial. It’s controversial because people in outstate Minnesota have put a high priority on fixing Minnesota’s roads and bridges. We don’t care about new light rail projects. Our highways, streets and county roads are filled with potholes. I wrote this article to highlight that the roads are dangerous. I wrote that article in May of 2014. Minnesota’s highways, streets and county roads need immediate attention. Transit doesn’t need immediate attention.

Last year, Move MN was leading the lobbying effort for shoving the DFL’s middle class tax increase down our throats. After they failed, something that was inevitable, they’ve been replaced by Transportation Forward. TF will fail, too, because Republicans won’t vote for a middle class tax increase to pay for something that isn’t essential. It’s worth highlighting, too, that there isn’t a great grassroots groundswell of support for new transit funding.

The only way the DFL’s middle class tax increase gets serious consideration in the Senate is if the House GOP provides political cover. That won’t happen. Imagine the political danger involved for the DFL if the DFL majority in the Senate passed a gas tax but didn’t get political cover from the GOP. The ads write themselves. Mailers with headlines like ‘DFL passes middle class tax increase’ or ‘DFL ignores Minnesota’s roads and bridges’ would definitely get people’s attentions.

Things might get real ugly real fast for the DFL if the DFL pursued this ill-advised strategy.

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Rep. Paul Thissen specializes in hot partisan rhetoric. Unfortunately for Minnesotans, he’s a disaster when it comes to solving Minnesota’s biggest problems. Rep. Tim Kelly, the chairman of the House Transportation Committee, called Thissen out on Thissen’s failure in this op-ed when he wrote “Do you recall Thissen’s ‘comprehensive transportation solution that truly fixes the problem long-term’ from two years ago? Me either, because it didn’t exist.”

In 2013, Thissen was too busy bragging about the DFL’s historic investment in education to pay attention to transportation, saying “We kept the promises we made to the people of Minnesota to complete our work on time, balance the budget honestly, and invest in priorities Minnesotans broadly share like education, property tax relief and job creation.”

Rep. Thissen won’t like talking about how the DFL’s “historic investment” in education resulted in gigantic property tax increases in places like Princeton and St. Cloud.

This picture is a list of then-Speaker Thissen’s official statements:

Conspicuously missing from those archived statements is something expressing the DFL’s prioritizing transportation. In fact, it’s nowhere to be found. It’s interesting that then-Speaker Thissen had time to praise Gov. Dayton’s Unsession:

Governor Dayton has rightly put a focus on ways we can make our government work better for the people of Minnesota with his ‘unsession’ legislative agenda. We will work with the Governor and with legislators on both sides of aisle to move forward with common sense ideas to make our government more ‘user-friendly’ to the people and small businesses of Minnesota.

Again, the DFL had the time to hold an Unsession but they didn’t put a priority on fixing Minnesota’s roads and bridges. It’s appalling that the Twin Cities media hasn’t pressured Rep. Thissen into giving an answer as to why the DFL put a higher priority on holding an Unsession than they put on fixing Minnesota’s roads and bridges.

Perhaps it’s because Thissen, like the DFL, isn’t interested in fixing Minnesota’s problems.

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When the first rumor got out that Jason Lewis was thinking about running for John Kline’s seat, the DFL’s opposition research staffers must’ve smiled for a week. As a former radio talk show host, and a provocative, feisty one at that, Lewis certainly wasn’t a stranger to controversy. It isn’t a stretch to think that the DFL will deploy their war-on-women chanting points if Lewis is the GOP candidate in Minnesota’s Second District.

Let’s hope that they do.

In 2014, I wrote more than a few articles about Mark Udall’s re-election campaign against Cory Gardner. This article, in particular, highlights the fruitlessness of deploying the war-on-women tactic. Sen. Udall used those chanting points too often, leading the Denver post to nickname him Mark Uterus in their article endorsing Sen. Gardner.

The candidate most likely to win the DFL’s endorsement is Angie Craig. Based on her issues page, she sounds like a well-financed, cookie cutter progressive. After watching her debate on Almanac, I’m convinced that that’s who she is. She’s great at reciting her lines but thinking on her feet isn’t a strength.

Make High Quality Public Education and Debt-Free College Our Highest Priorities

In other words, she’s a Bernie Sanders socialist. Either that or a Hillary Clinton socialist. (It’s difficult to distinguish between them.)

Build a Sustainable Economy and Create Meaningful, Good-Paying Jobs

Thank God for Ms. Craig for reminding us that government creates jobs:

Let’s support and reward businesses that create jobs and invest in infrastructure and research and development in America.

I’ve got a better idea. How about getting government out of the way and let businesses do what they naturally do. Like most socialists, Ms. Craig apparently thinks that companies don’t invest in their businesses or R & D. It’s clear that Ms. Craig has never seen this video:

Dr. Friedman was right in saying that “the world runs on individuals pursuing their separate interests. The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus. Einstein didn’t construct his theory under order from a bureaucrat. Henry Ford didn’t revolutionize the automobile industry that way.”

While there’s no question that Minnesota’s Second District isn’t as conservative as it was before redistricting, there’s no question that it’s suddenly a liberal district that will support a socialist. Without interfering in the race, the fact is that Jason Lewis would light this socialist-in-training like a Christmas tree.

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