Archive for the ‘Reforms’ Category

This article by CNN’s Maeve Reston and Stephen Collinson is a worthwhile read. That doesn’t mean they don’t get some important things wrong, though.

It’s apparent that they think anyone calling themselves a TEA Party conservative agrees with Ted Cruz’s strategies 100% of the time. That’s apparent when they said “Despite the constitutional constraints on action in Washington and the presence of a Democratic President with a veto in the White House, they are furious that the GOP has failed to overturn Obamacare.”

Actually, I’m not upset with the GOP Congress for “fail[ing] to overturn Obamacare.” I’m furious with Mitch McConnell and John Boehner for not pushing the conservatives’ reform agenda. There’s no excuse for why they haven’t pushed Tom Price’s health care reforms. It’s filled with popular features that are infinitely more popular than the mandates in the ACA. There’s no excuse for not pushing Paul Ryan’s tax simplification legislation. Republicans and Democrats alike support tax simplification. Most importantly, it’s supported enthusiastically by small business entrepreneurs.

There’s no excuse for Mssrs. Boehner and McConnell haven’t pushed cutting government based on the GAO’s reports of duplicative programs. I’d love hearing Democrats defend programmatic duplication that runs into the tens of billions of dollars. (That isn’t a typo. It’s billions with a B.)

Finally, and I’m especially passionate about this, there’s no justification for not pushing Ron Johnson’s regulation reform. Sen. Johnson’s reforms aim to neuter something he calls “weaponized government.” When the EPA insists that a couple in Idaho can’t build their dream home on land they purchased because there’s a low spot somewhere on the property, that’s weaponized government. There’s nothing about that that lives up to “of, by and for the people.”

Though I’m upset with CNN, that’s nothing compared with how pissed off I am with Mssrs. Boehner and McConnell.

Prior to the start of Friday’s special session, Speaker Daudt, Rep. Thissen, Sen. Hann and Sen. Bakk signed an agreement with Gov. Dayton to pass the bills that they agreed to. Part of that agreement was that neither body would amend the bills that were pre-written and posted on the legislative website.

When Sen. Bakk couldn’t deliver enough votes to pass the Ag/Environment bill, the environmental activists pushed him to amend the bill to strip out 2 important reforms from the bill. The biggest reform was eliminating the Citizens Board, which can overturn decisions that the MPCA has made. When Sen. Bakk caved to the environmental activists demands, the bill went to the Senate floor, where it passed without Republican votes.

What happened next was that the House amended the amended Ag/Environment bill, putting the agreed-upon language back into the bill. The MacNamara Amendment passed by a 73-52 vote:

After the amendment passed, the House passed the bill by a 78-47 margin. Shortly thereafter, Speaker Daudt issued this statement:

“This is a responsible bill that meets the needs of our state agencies such as the Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources,” said State Representative Denny McNamara (R-Hastings), who chairs the Minnesota House Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee. “The bill also includes a number of policy reforms and initiatives that have bipartisan support.”

After the Senate changed the agreed-upon language of the legislation, the House moved to restore the original language. “By passing this legislation, we are honoring the commitment we made to Minnesotans with the four legislative leaders and the governor. Now the Senate has the opportunity to do the right thing and send this bill to the governor,” said House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-Crown).

“When this bill becomes law, Minnesota will be able to continue to protect and preserve its food supply, make needed investments in research, and have the funds necessary to respond to the avian flu outbreak.” said State Representative Rod Hamilton (R-Mountain Lake), chair of the Minnesota House Agriculture Finance Committee.

The legislation funds state agencies such as the Department of Agriculture, the Agriculture Utilization Research Institute, the Board of Animal Health, Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), Minnesota Zoo, Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Metropolitan Council – Regional Parks, Minnesota Conservation Corps, Board of Soil and Water Resources (BWSR), and the Science Museum of Minnesota for the 2016-17 budget cycle.

Highlights of the omnibus agriculture, environment and natural resources finance bill include:

  1. Providing nearly $23 million to state agencies in order to better prevent and respond to the avian influenza outbreak that has devastated Minnesota turkey flocks
  2. Creating a new grant program for cities with a population of less than 45,000 in Greater Minnesota to incentivize single stream and other recycling programs.
  3. Increasing funding for Soil and Water Conservation districts to fund more “on the ground” projects.
  4. Providing much-needed reforms to the Wetland Conservation Act, which were developed over the past year and are a consensus of interested parties (such as groups representing farmers and environmentalists).
  5. Approving an initiative that builds on the successful example of counties and landowners that have used a voluntary and locally based process to install buffers to enhance water and soil protection.
  6. Repealing the current ‘Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Trailer Sticker/Decal’ law, and replacing it with a requirement that the boat owner sign an affirmation stating they will abide by AIS laws.

This has been a ‘session from hell’ for Sen. Bakk. In February, he ambushed Gov. Dayton over the commissioners pay raise bill that he voted for. That caused Gov. Dayton to accuse him of stabbing Gov. Dayton in the back, which is an accurate accusation. After that outburst (by Dayton), Kurt Daudt became the only man who Sen. Bakk and Gov. Dayton trusted.

Thanks to this Ag/Environment bill, the DFL special interest groups have put Sen. Bakk at the top of their hit list. They’re even calling for Sen. Bakk’s ouster as Senate Majority Leader. If this thing isn’t wrapped up soon, Bakk won’t have a friend left in St. Paul.

UPDATE: The Ag/Environment bill finally passed as originally drafted. After it passed the House 78-47, it went to the Senate. Sen. Marty made a motion not to concur with the House bill. That motion failed on a 39-28 vote. Sen. Tomassoni made a motion to concur with the House bill as amended. Sen. Tomassoni’s motion to concur passed 40-26. On final passage, the bill passed 38-29. The bill now heads to Gov. Dayton’s desk for his signature.

All of the bills that fund government have now passed. They await Gov. Dayton’s signature.

UPDATE II: This is what put it over the top:

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Until recently, Rep. Gene Pelowski, (DFL-Winona), had a reputation of being a reformer of higher education systems. That reputation has slipped mightily in the last 3 years. I wrote this post to highlight how disengaged he’s been on higher education:

Chairman Pelowski hasn’t held a single hearing looking into any of these disgraceful events. Examining the minutes for the House Higher Ed Committee’s meetings shows that Chairman Pelowski didn’t devote a single minute on oversight. Chairman Pelowski didn’t ask Clarence Hightower where negotiations were at between the Board and Chancellor Rosenstone. He didn’t ask the MnSCU Board about contract negotiations between MnSCU and the IFO.

Rep. Pelowski’s inattention to detail is only surpassed by his willingness to insist on just throwing more money at the problem without providing proper oversight. Here’s something from his latest e-letter:

Rep. Gene Pelowski, the minority lead on the committee, issued the following statement after the vote:

“With a projected budget surplus of $1.9 billion, now isn’t the time to burden our college students with more debt. If enacted, the House Republican’s bill would lead to increased tuition for Minnesota’s students and more debt. Making higher education more accessible and affordable is part of Minnesota’s economic success that produced the $1.9 billion surplus.”

Again, Rep. Pelowski hasn’t demonstrated an attitude towards making sure MnSCU spends the taxpayers’ money wisely. Rep. Pelowski’s attention is solely focused on funding.

KEY QUESTION: Why isn’t Rep. Pelowski interested in efficiency?

Here’s what’s heartbreaking. Throwing good money into a dysfunctional system incentivizes corrupt officials to continue misspending money on unimportant initiatives. Nothing about that sounds right to a sane person. While I’m picking on Rep. Pelowski in this post, the truth is that other legislators have the same attitude.

In 2007, when higher ed funding was increased by $296,000,000, Sen. Sandy Pappas complained that we were “starving higher education.” Despite that increase in funding, students still got hit with major tuition increases. That $296,000,000 increase, BTW, represented an 11% increase in funding.

The point is that MnSCU received a major funding increase but didn’t lift a finger to limit tuition increases. Parents got hit twice, once for a funding increase, then with a tuition increase. There’s nothing equitable about that. In fact, it’s a rip-off to parents. That’s before talking about students who had to take out student loans to pay for MnSCU’s fiscal insanity.

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Brian Beutler is one of the left’s most prominent attack puppies. He didn’t even wait for Sen. Rubio to declare his intention to run for the White House before launching an intellectually feeble attack. If this is the Left’s best shot, they’re in trouble:

Senator Marco Rubio, who will announce his candidacy for president on Monday, was supposed to lead a GOP breakaway faction in support of comprehensive immigration reform, but was unable to persuade House Republicans to ignore the nativist right, and the whole thing blew up in his face. In regrouping, he’s determined that the key to restoring Republican viability in presidential elections is to woo middle class voters with fiscal policies that challenge conservative orthodoxy.

His new basic insight is correct. The GOP’s obsession with distributing resources up the income scale is the single biggest factor impeding it from reaching new constituencies, both because it reflects unpopular values and because it makes them unable to address emerging national needs that require spending money.

It also happens to be the raison d’être of the conservative establishment. Challenging the right’s commitment to lowering taxes on high earners, and reducing transfers to the poor and working classes, will encounter vast resistance. Where Paul can appeal to the moral and religious sensibilities of elderly whites who might otherwise oppose criminal justice reforms, a real challenge to GOP fiscal orthodoxy will get no quarter from GOP donors.

If Rubio were both serious and talented enough to move his party away from its most inhibiting orthodoxy, in defiance of those donors, his candidacy would represent a watershed. His appeal to constituencies outside of the GOP base would be both sincere and persuasive.

The first point worth making is that Mr. Beutler’s opinion is based on his belief that conservatism has been rejected. Starting from the perspective that a political philosophy is antiquated means the person thinks that philosophy isn’t viable. The next point worth making is that Mr. Beutler believes that the book John Judis co-wrote with Ruy Teixeira titled The Emerging Democratic Majority is still Gospel truth. It isn’t. Third, Mr. Beutler apparently thinks that Rand Paul appeals “to the moral and religious sensibilities of elderly whites.” That’s delusional thinking. Rand Paul has a following but it isn’t with Christian conservatives. Let’s examine Beutler’s opinions one at a time.

Conservatism wasn’t rejected by the public. It’s been rejected by politicians like John McCain, John Boehner, Mitt Romney and Lindsey Graham. These politicians have spent too much time listening to the DC Echochamber. When conservative principles are applied, like they’ve been applied in Wisconsin and Texas, they’ve produced fantastic results. Further proof that conservatism still resonates with people is that Marco Rubio repeatedly got standing ovations in his announcement speech and Scott Walker, supposedly a guy who was too boring to be a top tier candidate, got rave reviews for his speech in Iowa.

Next, The Emerging Democratic Majority worked for a couple of election cycles before failing the last 2 cycles. It’s even more pronounced during the midterms. The number of state legislative seats, not to mention the number of legislative majorities that flipped from blue to red, was nothing short of overwhelming.

Finally, Rand Paul isn’t, and never will be, beloved by Christian conservatives. I won’t say that libertarianism and Christian conservatism fit together like metric wrenches fit together with standard bolts. They’re not that incompatible. Rather, I’d say they aren’t a close fit and leave it at that.

There’s no question that the Clinton Machine will do its best to bloody the Republican nominee. It’s their only hope against young, attractive candidates like Gov. Walker and Sen. Rubio and their reform-centric agendas. If they can’t vilify these candidates, Hillary can’t win.

That’s why Hillary’s consultants are drinking Maalox like it was Gatorade on a hot summer’s day.

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When I read this article, I was furious. This story should never be told, in Minnesota or elsewhere:

Despite meeting all of the requirements for a diploma, I had to take a class in college that covered material I had already passed in high school. Worse, this class wouldn’t earn me any credit toward a degree, although I had to pay full tuition for it.

Coming from a low-income family, I did not have the extra money to take a class that wouldn’t count toward my degree. Minnesota’s college graduates already carry one of the nation’s highest student debt loads and repay their loans at an above average rate. Yet remedial classes saddle students with additional debt, don’t earn them degrees, and deter them from completed their degrees – at a time when an increasing number of Minnesota jobs require post-secondary education.

Jazmyne McGill is the face of educational theft in Minnesota. What’s happened to her has happened to other students:

In fact, fewer than one in 10 students enrolled in remedial classes graduate from community college within three years. About a third complete a bachelor’s degrees in six years. Thirty percent of students who complete their remedial courses don’t even attempt entry-level college courses within 2 years, according to Complete College America.

Education Minnesota has been in the business of trapping students in failing schools for years. What they’re doing is unforgiveable. The thought that these students have to pay a price because Education Minnesota’s lobbyists are close friends with DFL politicians is infuriating.

What Education Minnesota and the DFL have stolen from Jazmyne McGill isn’t just time:

Burden is financial and emotional
These classes not only place a financial burden on our students but an emotional one as well. I can attest to the self-doubt that comes along with hearing I needed to take a remedial course. I felt defeated and as though I did not belong.

The fact that Jazmyne McGill had to doubt her abilities is appalling. Any educational system that instills that type of doubt in students needs to be torn down. Reform isn’t possible, at least not in the short term:

While many efforts are under way to strengthen the K-12 system long-term, there’s a solution available that can give Minnesota’s college students immediate relief: co-requisite classes. Co-requisites are an alternative approach to remedial education that alleviates the financial burden of remedial courses. Co-requisites are entry-level credit-bearing classes that provide supplemental academic instruction including individual assistance and on-line support, in areas where students have demonstrated skill gaps.

Co-requisite courses allow students to enter their desired programs of study within the first academic year and give them the opportunity to graduate on time. Rather than eliminate remedial instruction, they embed it into college-level, credit-bearing courses. They help students succeed, lead to higher graduation rates and show them the education system is on their side and wants them to graduate and become productive citizens and workers.

The first step in fixing this problem is to close failing schools. Any system that deprives students of the ability to learn is immoral. Leaving those schools open is immoral, too. Architects of an education system that tells students that they’re trapped in failing schools without a viable option is a system that’s corrupted. Those systems must be eliminated ASAP.

Finally, anyone caught defending the status quo should be fired, too. FYI- People who say all that’s needed is more funding are defending the status quo. That isn’t a solution. It’s a con game that’s played out too long.

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MNGOP Chairman Keith Downey’s op-ed mentions a statistic that needs to be expanded upon:

Most importantly, Schultz never once mentioned the most basic budget facts: State spending on autopilot is scheduled to grow 21 percent over four years, from $34 billion to $41 billion, without spending a dime of the surplus or raising any new taxes. And Democrats have proposed a budget that spends almost the entire surplus — and raises taxes, for an $8 billion, 24 percent increase in spending over four years, from $34 billion to well over $42 billion.

The DFL automatically calculates inflation into their budgets. That’s because, in their way of thinking, that every penny ever appropriated needs to be spent forevermore. It presumes that that money is being spent efficiently and that there isn’t a better way of providing the same service less expensively.

That’s assuming that each agency’s and department’s staffing must increase. The DFL wouldn’t think of eliminating the Met Council or the MnSCU Central Office. In the DFL’s mind, they’re pictures of efficiency and importance. In reality, they’re neither. They’re portraits of inefficiency, cronyism and corruption.

When MNsure was created, the legislature created an oversight committee. It met a couple times, then went silent for months while MNsure imploded. The committee didn’t meet again until after April Todd-Malmlov resigned after taking a 2-week vacation to Costa Rica while MNsure imploded.

The DFL doesn’t believe in oversight. They never have because they don’t think money is ever misspent. Either that or the DFL legislators that think there’s a need for change get bullied by the DFL machine into giving up their reform ideas.

That’s what happened with Gene Pelowski. Everyone knows Rep. Pelowski hates MnSCU. He initially talked a great reform/accountability game while he chaired the House Higher Ed Committee. That changed when it came time to put a budget together. Suddenly, Chairman Pelowski, the reformer, turned a blind eye towards MnSCU. He didn’t even know that Dr. Rosenstone had signed a contract extension that raised his pay by almost $50,000 a year.

If Minnesotans want to continue getting fleeced, all they have to do is keep voting for budget by autopilot. As a bonus, they’ll get a legislature that doesn’t believe in oversight or accountability.

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Last night, Gov. Scott Walker, (R-WI), went ‘on the record’ with Fox’s Greta van Susteren:

One of the first things that Gov. Walker touted was the positive impact Act 10 has had on education:

GOV. WALKER: People claimed that public education would fall apart. Instead, by getting rid of seniority and tenure, we empowered school districts to put their best and their brightest in the classrooms by hiring based on merit and pay … Today, our schools are better. Our graduation rates are up. Our third-grade reading scores are up. Our ACT scores are the second best in the nation.

Thus far, we’ve watched DC pundits and British blowhards ask trivial questions of Gov. Walker about such non-pressing importance like whether he believes in evolution or whether he thinks President Obama is a Christian.

When Gov. Walker didn’t play their gotcha games, the media acted like they’d been scandalized. What’d happened was that Gov. Walker essentially told them, politely, was that he wanted to talk about important things, not the gotcha stuff they wanted to talk about. Thank God for that.

Other than the DC blowhards, nobody gives a rip about Gov. Walker’s thoughts on evolution or President Obama’s faith. What they care most about is what he’ll do to fix the messes that President Obama has created. The people understand that the next president will have to deal with a defiant Vladimir Putin, a terrorist nation that’s expanding its reach and a regulatory regime that’s crippling innovation and job creation.

GOV. WALKER: You’ll appreciate this, Greta. I was in Green Bay, WI, this afternoon. I was at 2 of the leading job creators talking about opportunities for people with disabilities and somebody in the press at the end of the event asked a question about this very subject and I said “I challenge you to go out and walk with me down the streets of Green Bay, WI, and ask 100 people on the street what they really care about. I’m certain not a one of them will talk about the issues we heard about in Washington.

That’s a perfect way to deal with the Gotcha Media. Gov. Walker didn’t respond this aggressively initially but he’s catching on quick. The thing he already understands that Jeb Bush never will is that the press will back down a bit (not a lot but a little) if they’re worried about some timely sharp elbows to keep them on the straight-and-narrow.

Think of it like a Bob Gibson fastball past your head or into your ribs if you showboated after hitting a home run off of him.

The thing that Gov. Walker now understands is that the Gotcha Media that cover the campaigns need him more than he needs any one of them. It isn’t that he needs to constantly pick fights with the reporters covering his campaign. It’s that he needs to remind them that he’ll give preferential treatment to people who don’t ask gotcha questions. If reporters ask tough, policy-oriented questions, he should answer respectfully.

It won’t take long for the reporters to figure out, and adapt to, the ground rules.

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God bless John McCormack for highlighting the lie in Gail Collins’ column. Check this out from Collins’ column:

Mainly, though, The Speech was about waging war on public employee unions, particularly the ones for teachers. “In 2010, there was a young woman named Megan Sampson who was honored as the outstanding teacher of the year in my state. And not long after she got that distinction, she was laid off by her school district,” said Walker, lacing into teacher contracts that require layoffs be done by seniority.

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 title of Collins’ article is “Scott Walker Needs an Eraser”. I’d argue that it’s Ms. Collins that needs either an eraser or an editor. Ms. Sampson didn’t lose her job in 2010 because Gov. Walker “cut state aid to education.”

The reason McCormack highlighted that part of the paragraph is because Scott Walker didn’t take the oath of office as Wisconsin’s 45th governor until January, 2011, which means that Ms. Sampson lost her job because of Democrat Gov. Jim Doyle’s budget cuts to education.

McCormack’s article actually highlights this:

Emily Koczela had been anxiously waiting for months for Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s controversial budget repair bill to take effect. Koczela, the finance director for the Brown Deer school district, had been negotiating with the local union, trying to get it to accept concessions in order to make up for a $1 million budget shortfall. But the union wouldn’t budge.

“We laid off 27 [teachers] as a precautionary measure,” Koczela told me. “They were crying. Some of these people are my friends.”

On June 29 at 12:01 a.m., Koczela could finally breathe a sigh of relief. The budget repair bill?—?delayed for months by protests, runaway state senators, and a legal challenge that made its way to the state’s supreme court?—?was law. The 27 teachers on the chopping block were spared.

With “collective bargaining rights” limited to wages, Koczela was able to change the teachers’ benefits package to fill the budget gap. Requiring teachers to contribute 5.8 percent of their salary toward pensions saved $600,000. Changes to their health care plan?—?such as a $10 office visit co-pay (up from nothing)?—?saved $200,000. Upping the workload from five classes, a study hall, and two prep periods to six classes and two prep periods saved another $200,000. The budget was balanced.

Here’s the difference between Jim Doyle, who supposedly supports teachers, and Scott Walker, who supposedly hates union workers: Scott Walker’s reforms saved jobs, Jim Doyle’s status quo policies would’ve led to teacher layoffs or major property tax increases.

Gail Collins’ editors either don’t give a shit about the truth or Gail Collins doesn’t give a shit about the truth. Either that or liberal ‘journalists’ are only interested in pushing the progressives’ agenda. Either that or it’s all of the above.

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One of the worst-kept political secrets is that the DFL is fighting with itself. That isn’t secret anymore because Gov. Dayton announced that he’s cutting the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s budget:

Dayton was nothing if not transparent about the move. The budget materials given to reporters before the late-morning briefing stated that the total of $3.77 million in reductions to the Park Board over the two-year budget period was due to “the Board’s continuing efforts to obstruct progress on the Southwest Light Rail Transit project.”

Of the total, $1.26 million would have come out of the state general fund and $2.51 million out of the natural resources fund, money intended to help the Met Council and 10 local park agencies develop and maintain parks that are regional destinations (think Minnehaha Falls). The money that would be lost by the Minneapolis board goes toward annual operating costs.

When asked about it, Dayton said it was possible he would support restoring the money, if the Park Board ended it opposition. “In my view, if they have all this money to hire consultants, they don’t need all the state money that’s been allocated to them.” Dayton said. He described the board’s actions so far as “very irresponsible.”

First, I’m totally fine with cutting the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s appropriation through the state budget. If Minneapolis wants a Park and Recreation Board, let them pay for it. In fact, eliminating the state government appropriation is justifiable, in my opinion.

Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s advocates will argue that they add value to the state. That’s disputable at best. It might help Minnesota tangentially. In fact, I don’t know that a compelling case can be made that the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board makes Minneapolis substantially better.

Most importantly, this is a perfect example of why Speaker Daudt shouldn’t consider funding the Southwest Light Rail Transit project, aka the SWLRT project. The DFL is still fighting with itself on the SWLRT project. Next, regardless of whether the DFL is fighting amongst itself, the SWLRT project is a major waste of money. It’s spending tons of Minnesota taxpayers’ money on something that isn’t a priority with Minnesota’s taxpayers.

The DFL a) is proposing a massive middle class tax increase, b) is still fighting with itself on how to spend your money on their friends and c) is telling Minnesota that paying off their political allies is more important than spending your money wisely.

To use Scott Walker’s words, going big and being bold is the way to differentiate between the DFL’s payoffs and the conservatives’ priorities. Going bold is the way for Republicans to win the legislative fight in 2015, then win the 2016 election.

A political party divided against itself will soon be defeated.

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Charlie Cook’s latest article on the state of the GOP presidential race has more than a few flaws in it. He got this part right:

First there is the establishment bracket, with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and possibly former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney competing for that semifinal slot.

Despite the MSM’s ‘reporting’, this isn’t where the action is. It’s mostly a sideshow that’ll keep the DC pundits entertained. Think of this as the ‘vastly overrated’ part of the race.

Cook didn’t get this part right:

Then there is the conservative governor/former governor slot—with, potentially, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker competing, all seeking to be non-Washington and non-Congress candidates, but each with more conservative, or at least better conservative, credentials than Bush, Christie, or Romney.

John Kasich lost his conservative credentials over the weekend when he fought for Common Core. That’s a deal-buster with conservatives. It isn’t likely that Rick Snyder and Mike Pence will run so they can be ignored. That leaves us with Rick Perry and Scott Walker. That’s the real bracket. Let’s call this the conservatives with credentials bracket.

The MSM is writing off Rick Perry. That’s a major mistake. He’s a much more serious candidate this time than in 2012. He’s got a lengthy list of conservative reforms under his belt. He’s definitely anti-Washington. He’s definitely pro-border enforcement, which plays well with conservative activists. He’s signed tort reform, which has led to a major influx of doctors into Texas. While most of the nation worries about doctor shortages, that isn’t a worry in Texas.

That leaves Scott Walker in this bracket. Activists see him as the giant-killer who took on the public employee unions and beat them. Then the PEUs got upset with him and tried defeating him in a recall election. The PEUs took another thumping in 2012. They didn’t have their fill so they returned for another shot in 2014. Gov. Walker’s Act 10 reforms were so popular that Mary Burke, the Democrats’ candidate, didn’t even mention the subject.

That’s one of the brackets where the excitement will be.

Then there’s the youthful senators bracket. This bracket features Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio. I don’t know that any of these candidates will advance to the finals but they’ll generate lots of excitement.

At the end of the day, I suspect that the finalists will be Walker and someone else. I’d be surprised if that someone else is Jeb Bush. Bush is definitely more formidable with the media than with activists.