Archive for February, 2008

Larry Schumacher is a friend & a good Capitol reporter. that said, he didn’t include an important fact in this article. The part he didn’t include, which I suspect is because he didn’t have confirmation of this, pertains to this paragraph:

After voting against the bill last week, Rep. Mary Ellen Otremba, DFL-Long Prairie, said she went home to her district and heard people telling her to change her position and override Pawlenty’s veto.

Otremba said she disagrees with raising the state’s gas tax because it will have a disproportionate impact on many of her district’s residents who have low incomes.

But a $25 tax credit for low-income families and the rise of property taxes to pay for roads and bridges helped convince her, she said.

I know that region’s roads well. They have fantastic roads. Highway 27 between Little Falls & Long Prairie is one of the best trunk highways in the state. She also has a very conservative constituency.

The dirty little secret that the DFL doesn’t want to get out is that Speaker Kelliher told Rep. Otremba that she’d lose her chairmanship if she voted to sustain Gov. Pawlenty’s veto.

Earlier today, I heard Larry Haws’ quote on KNSI. He said that he understands the pain this will cause. Then he let fly with this statement:

“We’re getting our roads & bridges back.”

Back from where, Larry? What was I using to get around town? For that matter, who held them hostage? If they were being held hostage, why didn’t we hear about the hostage negotiations in the newspaper or on the radio?

This isn’t the first time Rep. Haws has made such a intellectually vacant statement. Last fall, I attended a League of Women’s Voters Education Forum, of which Larry Haws, Tarryl Clark & Steve Gottwalt were panelists. Steve had just said that we needed to prioritize spending first before increasing taxes. Here’s Larry’s reaction:

“Maybe we do need to prioritize.”

Earlier, Steve talked about how parents reading to their children helped them as much or more than all day kindergarten. After Steve’s opinion, Larry said that he “might have to introduce a bill making it mandatory for parents to read to their children.” At the time, I thought that Larry was saying it to jab at Steve. It wasn’t until later that evening that I started questioning that opinion. After all, it was the DFL that introduced hundreds of the lamest bills ever introduced.

Simply put, Larry isn’t a wonk. He isn’t a moderate. He’s a destructive tax-raising liberal who’s gotten elected because he’s crafted an image of being a moderate.

Isn’t it time that the voters of HD-15B make retiring Larry Haws our top priority? Can we afford to do anything less?

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People are downright pissed off about the DFL’s override of Gov. Pawlenty’s veto. Here’s another person upset with the DFL’s override:

Today is not a day that I am proud to call myself a Minnesotan. As the economy in this state already in dire straits, it greatly saddens me that as a taxpayer in this state that I am forced to stretch my already thin budget even further. Over the past 5 years or so, due to the cost of housing increasing exponentially, many people moved out of the city, however in order for a decent paying job we must commute into the city for work. I live near Princeton, but work in Minnetonka. Like those who need to commute in order to survive, we are the ones who are going to feel even more pain with this bill. For instance, my monthly gas costs are about $340/month, I drive a very small economy car and have pretty much cut out any unnecessary driving. This includes going home to my mother’s for holidays. With this vote, I will need to fork out yet another $100 per month just for gas. I’ll have to update my bankruptcy attorney with this new fact. Yes, bankruptcy attorney. Have you looked at your local newspaper and counted how many foreclosures are listed?? Elk River paper has 10 pages plus of foreclosures. My development alone has had 3 foreclosures and 4 near or impending foreclosures in the last 3 years; the humbling fact is that there are only 18 homes in my development.

As workers, we have already started to “brown bag” lunch everyday because we simply cannot afford to eat out anymore. Fact: You have voted to increase your lunch expenditures to $95/day! How many times do you eat every day? That is my grocery bill for the entire month for my family!

Also, where did the money go that was generated by the last transportation bill? Many people now wish that they hadn’t voted “yes” to that one now that another has been forced into existence.

MN is one of the most heavily taxed states in the nation (as I’m still paying last year’s tax bill, despite the thousands I’ve already paid out). With this bill, MN will also be proud to boast that it is one of the highest gas tax states as well. The taxpayers would be happy to pay more IF and only IF there wasn’t so much wasteful spending being done by our “leaders.”

From the arguments for this bill:

1) It will create 33,000 jobs. Question: What about all the people that will lose their jobs or will not get a reasonable raise this year (one that would not even keep up with the cost of living in the first place) due to increased overhead of already suffering businesses? Won’t the money end up in the construction company’s pockets instead of the worker due to the increased overhead costs??

2) A million people will be coming to MN in the next year. Question: Are these going to be taxpayers or tax suckers? Taxpaying as in working, paying state income tax, not being on any government assistance (welfare, food stamps, daycare assistance, health care)?

With the rising costs of running a company; small businesses have already cut many benefits to their workers including health care. These workers are either uninsured or insured by PMAP or GAMC. As an individual who works in the health insurance industry and has worked in the metro area hospitals, I see the incredible amount of waste that the general person who is on state health insurance causes. An example:
Going to the ER for pink eye! Who takes the cut? The hospitals – who then pass on the loss to the paying people. Some ways to cut expenses of the welfare system in this state is to:

1) Every able-bodied person will not automatically receive welfare benefits – Get a Job! The system has made it more beneficial to stay on welfare than to get a job.
2) Only people who actually live in this state full-time are eligible to receive benefits, there are many people that drive to MN to pick up their check, committing crimes while they are here. Check the paper.
3) Many workers need to take a drug test in order to have a job, why not require drug testing for a welfare paycheck? That would eliminate a lot of money that goes out the door.
4) As workers, we need to drive to work and complete our job in order to collect a paycheck. Why don’t welfare recipients have to expend some time and energy in
receiving their monthly stipend? Go stand in line – you’re not doing anything anyway (this would cut down unnecessary MD visits). Let’s make these people put some effort in receiving their handout.
Unfortunately, I have personal experience (through a friend) with several drug dealers in the Minneapolis area, they drive nicer cars, have more toys and do nothing all day for their effort, BUT they get a free ride from our state who is not willing to
stand up against these thugs and even prosecute them effectively for their crimes which costs the taxpayers about $10,000 each time they are arrested. I won’t even go into all the irresponsible, mentally and financially unstable people who continue to have more and more children. Two words: Mandatory Sterilization.

In light of the tragedy in Cottonwood, how many illegals are getting my tax money directly or indirectly? Get them out of the state, prosecute them and send the bill to the country in which they came from. This needs to stop. I’ve even considered leaving my own country over this.

I believe that part of the “yes” vote was in order to preserve your own status as
well as your friends that are in the ancillary government offices. I am tempted to run for office myself so that at least one more person would stand up for the citizens of MN. I do want to thank each person who did such thing, including both of my representatives who did not bend to meet their own needs.

The sum of it is, if you going to force MN taxpayers, who are already in extreme
financial distress, pay more daily just to be able to live in this beautiful state then first cut the wasteful spending that is being done. We fly coach (if we can even afford that) because we can’t afford otherwise, so as leaders, you should also fly coach and pay for your own trips if you have made your own choice to go somewhere. If we have to “tighten up our boot straps” then you should be required to as well. That is what the general public’s plea to you is. Our health care benefits, retirement funds, and income are going down while everything we pay for is going up (premiums, cost of living in every way). If you force us to pay even more in taxes, then do as you say!
We want to see actual results of our hard-earned money that is being taken without being asked. It seems that every other “temporary” tax has never gone away, the question is:
Is this ever going to go away or do I have to leave my home state in order to be able to afford to live?

This is not only my views, but of many Minnesotans. Just open your ears and listen to the public’s outcry.

Though I don’t agree with everything that this person says, I can’t deny the fact that he makes multiple compelling arguments. That’s why I’ll just get out of the way & let it speak for itself.

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Here’s another email forwarded to me by another loyal reader of LFR. The email was originally sent to Tarryl Clark:

I am writing because it may relieve some of the disappointment and anger I feel at this moment. I have been a resident law abiding taxpayer in Minnesota for almost 60 years. I am now faced with a decision I never thought I would have to consider. Due to a confluence of events brought about by liberal leadership, I now must consider leaving my home.
Five years ago I lost my steady job due economics. At 55 I was unable to replace that income or any of the benefits. Result: our household income has been dramatically reduced even tho I have 3 part time jobs. Since that time we have seen our property tax bill increase more than 300%. We now face an addition to that amount due to a school levy recently passed. We are also fighting a city government which claims they must assess us for work performed on a county road that accesses our property. This has been paid for by the county but local government needs the money so we are being double taxed for that. Now in the face of what you like to call a recession, you have opted to further inflate our C O L by your recent override of the Governor’s veto on the proposed gas tax and light rail improvement which does NOTHING to help YOUR constituency.
My choice now is to deplete what little is left of our retirement savings to pay property taxes, default on payment of these oppressive taxes, or try to sell our home(which we love) in a horrible market and move out of this state.
I wonder what you and your lawmaker associates would do with this choice? I bet I’ll never know!

The DFL thinks that Minnesota’s taxpayers are their personal ATM, with cash available anytime they want it. The DFL has become the Lobbyists’ Party. They’ll do whatever their special interest lobbies tells them to do. A city needs more LGA to postpone making difficult decisions? Done. A transportation lobbyist says we need a few pieces of pork mixed into the biggest tax increase in Minnesota history? Added. A county commissioner doesn’t want to include the taxpayer in the tax levy equation? They’re excluded.

Someone named Miss Mary left a comment. Normally, I don’t put comments into the text of a post but this one deserves special mention. Count her & her husband as angry taxpayers. Here’s the text of Miss Mary’s comment:

My husband fired off the following email this morning to our august state senator, Ann Rest:

“As a businessman and salesman who has to pay for my gas in the pursuit of generating more revenues for you to tax, I have to ask myself “Is the meager 42 cents on the dollar write-off enough to buy my silence?” Nope. Is the extra 6 cents a gallon with no cap in sight and an open-ended, ever-rising, unchecked tax enough to still buy off my silence? Nope. Right now,with a veto verride ,you and this Legislature have cost me $91 this year. Will I be thinking about you every time I fill up? You bet. Will I support anyone who voted for this abomination and will I tell others every time I gas up? You bet I will work against all of you.I actually thought about bumper stickers. e.g. “Like your new trains? Thanks for the Gas Tax”, “Trains & Buses 75%. Drivers 25%. What a deal!” “Taxes on cars? Legislators from Mars.” “Gas taxes for trains? A legislature with no brains.”

I won’t hold my breath for a reply.

I’m guessing that politicians like Ann Rest, Tarryl Clark, Larry Haws & Larry Hosch think that this white hot anger will subside before November’s elections. They’re probably right in the sense that this intensity won’t be sustained at this high level. That said, I’ll bet that they won’t forget their votes. I’ll even bet that this will change votes from D to R. I’ll guarantee that this will get people fired up to volunteer on campaigns for people who promise to be the taxpayers’ watchdog.

There are a few silver linings to these ominous clouds.

One silver lining is that a taxpayer revolt is taking shape. That revolt, which is fueled by politicians who take raising taxes lightly, will impact this year’s elections.

Another silver lining is that GOP activists are telling their representatives what they expect from them. They’re withholding endorsements. They aren’t tolerating the spin about the greater good & other phoney arguments.

The best silver lining is seeing us deal with the ‘Wayward Six’. I’m all for having a big tent. I’m just not for an unprincipled big tent.

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A loyal reader of LFR just forwarded an email from some angry taxpayers. The email was originally sent to a legislator. I’m withholding the names of the taxpayer. Here’s the message that these taxpayers wanted to send:

For those of you who voted to over ride the governor veto shame on you, especially those of you Republicans who defected. My wife and I are finally at a time in our lives when we can enjoy some of life. But our pockets books are continually being raided by politicians local and national who think we have a money tree in our back yard. Local taxes, city taxes, excise taxes, state income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, county taxes, social security, licenses, gas taxes, car license tabs, stadiums, light rail, where does it stop!!!!!!!!!!! When does it stop!!!!!!!!!!

I thought that I would never consider moving away from Minnesota, but you got me thinking now. It is intirely possible we may retire in some other state. Lives with in your means. When money is tight, we spend less, and make our money work more efficiently, cut where we can. If we need more money we don’t steal it from our neighbors, we tighten our belt. I suggest you tighten yours, and stop stealing from us. You guys waste so much.

I think South Dakota has the right idea for both business and residents.

Message to the DFL: If you think that these people won’t be motivated to boot your arse out of office, think again. And you’ll deserve it. You’ve pushed through tax increases that the people hate with a passion. Your next move is fairly predictable. I’m betting that you’ll try your ‘soaking the rich’ gambit next. You’ll hope that people will get distracted. You’ll hope that they’ll think that everything’s ok now that the rich are getting soaked.

That ploy won’t work because John & Jane Public will still remember how they’ve had their pockets picked by ineffective liberal legislators. They’ll remember that the vast majority of GOP legislators supported their right to keep their money. I’ll make sure of that.

Rest assured that I’ll do my best to fan the flames of their anger. Rest assured that I’ll throw some white gas onto those flames, too. Mark Buesgens had it exactly right when he said that the bill was a “compromise amongst thieves.”

I’ve heard lefties like former St. Cloud Mayor John Ellenbecker say that high taxes are needed to buy alot of education & good roads. He cites the Perpich years as an example. Unfortunately, taxes then weren’t nearly as invasive as they are now. Take this bill for example.

It’s refered to as a gas tax bill. While it’s certainly contains an increase in the gas tax, that’s only part of the story. It also includes an increase in license tab fees, something that the DFL originally touted as only affecting new vehicles. We learned that that isn’t true last Thursday when Rep. Rob Eastlund got Paul Marquart to admit that it applies to any vehicle that isn’t registered in Minnesota.

Also included in this bill is a 7- county metrowide sales tax plus a provision that lets county commissions levy a sales tax without putting it up to a vote of the taxpayers.

This is serious stuff. We The People demand that the DFL prioritize spending first before increasing taxes. The DFL hasn’t shown one iota of compassion for the struggling small business owner or the retired couple living on fixed income. They haven’t shown that they’re interested in much of anything other than raiding people’s wallets and feeding their special interest allies at the public trough.

The DFL as the Party of the People? Don’t make me laugh. They’re the Party of the Hog Trough Special Interests.

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First of all, I thought that the GOP speakers did a great job yesterday. I told Steve Gottwalt last night that if truth & coherent logic were all that mattered, the veto would’ve been sustained with votes to spare. I’d also like to thank Steve & Dan Severson for their stirring speeches. They certainly made GOP activists everywhere proud.

Thats’ why I transcribed their speeches. GOP activists who are going to be meeting in the next week or so will want to hear their speeches, both because of their content & their passion. Let’s start with Steve’s speech because he got things started:

REP. GOTTWALT: Thank you Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker & members, we all know what’s at play here today. I’ll pick up where I left off last week. Is this the best that we can do? The answer that I’ve heard resoundingly from my constituents– maybe you’ve heard it from some of your constituents, too– is no.
This is not the best that we can do. This is not fair to rural Minnesota vs. Metro. It is not fair to the taxpaying citizens of Minnesota. It is an undue burden at a time when they can ill afford it. And we have a responsibility & an obligation to go back to the drawing table, work together on real compromise that includes a conversation with us & the Governor’s office & put together a package that Minnesota can support & sustain. Members, I urge you to vote red on the motion to bring this back.

Steve laid out some important principles that should guide our policymaking the rest of this session. The most important of those principles is to listen to your constituents. That should be the first demandment that BPOU chairs should make of candidates that are looking for their endorsement.

Another principle is that the legislation must make sense in the context of what people are willing to pay in new taxes. Minnesotans are sick of tax increases. Before the week’s end, the DFL is planning on bringing up the tax bill.

The bill that was overriden Monday is the biggest in Minneosta’s history. The Tax Bill they’re brining up later will likely eclipse that. Any candidate or incumbent who isn’t committed to keeping the rest of the taxes low shouldn’t be endorsed. It’s that simple.

Next is Dan’s speech:

REP. SEVERSON: Thank You Madam Speaker & members. I’ve been sitting on the Transportation Committee for the last six years & I ran on transportation as one of the major issues because it produces infrastructure. It produces jobs & it’s important to our economy. And we’ve been through a process this year. Two years later, after I got into the House, the Governor put forward a plan with a very aggressive proposal with $800 million in bonding. MnDOT realized the debt service on that bonding by creating efficiencies within the agencies itself. So we have had some creative history in the past & bringing these things to pass.
I will tell you that I am passionate about ensuring that we have a transportation bill this session. This is probably one of the most important bills we can pass. But this bill is not that bill. When I’ve been in the district– and I’ve been in the district– and I’ve been talking to people & I’ve been getting calls this weekend about this bill. I get calls from people that say ‘You know what?’ I got a call from a man who has to go down to Rochester twice a week to get medical care. He’s not rich. He’s rural. He’s out there. He’s gotta drive a lot of miles to make it happen. This bill will significantly dip into the discretionary spending, of which he has very little of now. Yet we’re talking about looking at a budget deficit coming up on Friday. Why are we going after this one which adds more tax burden to our taxpayers today? At a minimum, we oughta be discussing this next Monday after we get this prognosis.
You know, when we started this session, just to bring it back, last March, when we voted for this transportation bill, a bill that was smaller than this bill, it was passed off this floor, the Governor vetoed the bill in April. At the end of April, we did not bring this bill up to the floor.
It wasn’t until the last 30 minutes of the session that we got a chance to take another look at that transportation bill. No time to bring forth any compromise. So what happens this year? We get an even bigger bill. So Sen. Pogemiller is standing up at the Chamber of Commerce meeting & he’s saying that this is going to be a bipartisan bill. This bill has got to go through all the committees. And we’re gonna get bipartisan support for this. You know what? I’m thinking that sounds good to me.
I go to the Transportation Committee & the debate before that committee was “Well should we even offer amendments to dress up this…large animal? And you know what? We said that we were going to take them at their word. They said that they were going to work bipartisanly. And we put four amendments forward. You know how many went on? Zero. This last year & this year, we have had less members, less than 5 percent of the minority’s amendments absorbed into any of this legislation. And so those people who are listening, want to talk about bipartisanship & reaching across the aisle, let me tell you. It ain’t happenin’. This bill that we’re talking about today puts $4.3 million into the Great River Road Building Project. What does that have to do with roads & bridges? This bill puts in one & a half percent into the bonding requirements into bicycle trails in the Metro area. What does that have to do with moving buses & cars & people on roads?
Members, there’s a bunch of pork in this bill. This is not a bipartisan vote even if you have some members from our caucus vote for it. We had no input into this process. And I would urge you, members, to sustain the Governor’s veto. Let’s get a bipartisan, a truly bipartisan– if the Governor doesn’t want to participate, that’s fine– but we have voices in the Minority here. Let’s get a truly bipartisan bill put before us.
If you reach forward & you punch the green button, what you’re saying to the taxpayers is that “I’m reaching deep into your pocket & I’m pulling out all the green in your wallet & I’ll leave you the change.” That’s the kind of change that we’re talking about here. Members, I urge you to vote red on this motion.

I’ve talked numerous times with Dan. I’ll tell you that Dan doesn’t like the thought that such a tiny amount of amendments get taken seriously. This DFL-dominated legislature has accepted less than 5 percent of the amendments that the GOP has offered & they have the audacity to talk about compromise & bipartisanship? That’s downright insulting. In fact, insulting isn’t strong enough. Let’s keep these statistics in mind this fall when the DFL runs another ‘say one thing, do another’ campaigns. Let’s tell the people how dishonest they are. Let’s remind the people that they campaigned on not raising taxes, then passing the biggest tax increases in Minnesota history. Let’s remind them that they inherited a $2 billion surplus & within a year turned it into a $1 billion deficit.

Most importantly, let’s remind them that the DFL promised to be fiscal moderates & governed like the most out-of-control liberals in the history of the state.

We’re loaded for bear on these points.

The DFL passed a budget that would’ve spent 17 percent more than the previous biennium. It’s a good thing that Gov. Pawlenty vetoed that budget, keeping the spending to 9.6 percent.

Last but certainly not least, here’s Mark Buesgens’ speech:

REP. BUESGENS: Thank you Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker & members, I want to touch on that word compromise once again. And I had brought it up last week when this bill was up before us & I’ll bring it up again. This idea of compromise
is so shallow here at the legislature. What this bill is is a compromise between those that wanted to take a whole lot of money away from the taxpayers & those that wanted to take a little less than alot away from the taxpayers of Minnesota. If this were truly a compromise, we would’ve been looking for ways in which the government can trim spending on one hand & while others want to increase taxes on the other. This is a compromise among thieves. If we’re truly looking at compromise, then there should be some give & take between the government & the people they’re supposed to represent. And yet, nowhere in this bill does it tell government to live within its means. Nowhere in this bill is the taxpayers protected.
Instead, this bill is full of increases after increases after increases. And it’s the families back at home who are going to pay for these increases. And we have people who stand up on this floor who have the audacity to say that this is compromise. There’s no compromise within this bill. There is no compromise within what we’re going to do today, to the families, to the taxpayers, to the hardworking people of the state of Minnesota.
You know, it’s gonna be easy for some people to say yes. And we’ve got the whole tribe outside the door, everyone bellying up to the trough. They want more & more & more while the people that fill the trough, while the workers of the state of Minnesota are out trying to squeak by.
I don’t know if any of you looked at your local newspaper recently, but my foreclosure list has tripled in the last two years.
Over & over & over again, people are losing their jobs. They’re on unemployment in my district. I don’t know about yours.
And yet we want to compromise with the people of the state of Minnesota. We’re gonna ram this through because we’re afraid of what Thursday will show. We’re afraid that Thursday’s gonna show that people are even hurting more. And yet this piece of legislation is called a compromise.
A compromise amongst thieves, members, & we should reject them both. We should go back & truly look at a compromise between the people outside this door & who are gonna make billions of dollars if this bill passes & the people outside this city who are working their tails off to afford the bill what we’re about to do today.
That would be true compromise. That would be true courage. That would be statesmanship & if we could do that, that would truly make the people of the state of Minnesota proud of this body.

Rep. Buesgens is absolutely right. This bill didn’t represent compromise. This bill was ramrodded with little attention paid to the minority. The DFL is passing bills quickly. They think that they can do no wrong. This November, they’ll find out that they’re out of touch with their voters.

Here in the greater St. Cloud area, Mssrs. Haws & Hosch should get used to seeing their names in print telling their neighbors & constituents that they were part of the DFL majority in the legislature that turned a $2 billion surplus into a $1 billion deficit in less than a year.

Next November, it’s time for thoughtful people to step forward & end the DFL Disaster. They’ve unearned our trust with their policies, their broken campaign promises but most importantly with their ingoring the will of the people.

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Back at it again. Let’s hope this turns out better.

3:19– The moment of truth is at hand. 91 ayes, 41 nays. They’ve overriden the veto. Minnesota’s economy will be hurt by this. A message to the spineless RINOs: Way to go. Thanks for selling us down the river.

3:14– Rep. Lieder is now telling the body that he’s just Marty making a stretch with his facts. What gall. Now he’s talking about the reforms in this bill. Reforms that aren’t there. PERIOD. Now he admits that there isn’t a need for reforms.

3:07– Marty’s fired up, talking about the DFL campaigning as fiscal moderates, then raising taxes by billions. He’s chastizing them for telling Minnesotans that this will provide property tax relief, saying that the county commissioners will gobble up the money for their ‘needs’.

3:00– Rep. Hortman, You talk about needing $1.7 for transportation. They aren’t needs. They’re wants. Why don’t you be straight with the voters? Rep. Emmer says that the DFL will have to answer to that this November.

2:49– Rep. Emmer is asking Rep. Olin if he “promised your constituents that you would raise taxes.” Rep. Olin said that he doesn’t recall the question being raised. Emmer pounces, saying “I guess it isn’t the high priority that your leadership says it is.” He’s now saying that “There’s no connection between the bridge collapse & this bill.” Now Rep. Emmer is talking about NWA moving to Georgia, citing their lower tax rates.

2:39– Tom Emmer talking. “We’ve been told that this is a jobs bill. We’ve been told that this is a property tax relief bill. It’s none of the above.” He’s now accusing Rep,. Hortman of not telling the truth. He’s taking on Tony Sertich, saying that “I’m sure that you’ll talk about 33,000 jobs being created & that you’ll omit that it was 1,100 in committee.”

2:11– Randy Demmer’s talking about a Christmas tree, about people adding things because this is an important bill. He’s saying that this is too full of too many things we don’t need. “Government spending creating jobs is like a dog chasing its tail.” EXACTLY RIGHT!!! “Is the government creating jobs how we got to be so prosperous?” AMEN RANDY!!! Preach it!!! “It’s time to take some ornaments off this Christmas tree.”

2:09– My apologies. Cindy’s liveblogging, too.

2:05– Rep. Demmer: Friday night, I didn’t hear anything about the transportation bill. “I didn’t hear anything Saturday night, either.” He said that he didn’t hear about it at church Sunday morning, either.

2:01– Rep. Westrom is really getting riled up, talking about Minnesota’s small businesses hurting & government threatening to take things away because businesses are getting behind. Thank you, Rep. Westrom. This is what we get with the DFL in control. Simply put, they’re heartless. They couldn’t care less about We The People.

1:53– Torrey Westrom is talking about the comprehensive list of the bill’s reforms: MnDOT will send a couple extra reports. He’s calling the DFL out, saying that this bill doesn’t have anything to do with reform. He’s calling the DFL for being an ‘increase taxes first’ party, a party that ignores reform. Now he’s talking about how the legislature doesn’t have the will to set priorities. He’s calling out Bernie Lieder for “talking about reforms when I joined that we still haven’t done a dozen years later.”

1:51– Rep. Hortman is back spinning the transportation bill as being balanced between metro & rural. That’s already been proven wrong by Rep. Holberg. What Rep. Hortman won’t talk about is how this isn’t balanced between the lobbyists’ requests & the people’s ability to pay for the hit they’ll take.

1:40– Bud Nornes speaking. He says that he went out for breakfast Sunday morning & that nobody at his table– there were 11 at his table– talked about transportation. He’s saying that “Maybe we’re making a bigger deal of this than it is with our citizens.” That’s consistent with other districts, too.

1:35– Rep. Olson is talking about the bill being ramrodded because the DFL knows that the budget forecast will restrict what they can do. “We can’t afford tax increases when we’re going into a recession.” AMEN TO THAT!!!

1:29– Rep. Wardlow is speaking. He’s talking about his Friday night. when he went out for dinner, constituents approached him & said they were supportive of him voting against the bill.

1:20– Jim Abeler is up. “Some days on a Sunday, it’s very quiet. This wasn’t that type of weekend.” Abeler is voting to override. Shame on him. He’s talking about an ugly process. That’s a pile of BS. It’s been a ramrod job by the House dictatorship. Then he says “This is not my career.” Let’s hope he’s a prophet. He needs to go.

1:17– Mark Buesgens: “This is a compromise between thieves. There isn’t a compromise between government & the people.” “There is no compromise in this bill.”

1:15– Rep. Hortman is defending the metro bike funding in this transportation bill. That’s a nonstarter.

1:11– Dan Severson: “This is probably the most important bill we can pass. This bill is not the right bill.” “I just got a call from a gentleman who travels to Rochester twice a week. This bill will cut into the few discretionary dollars he has left.” “This bill puts $4.3 million into the Great River project…This bill is full of pork.” “If you punch that green button, you’re telling the voters that you’re reaching into their wallets & leaving them with a few pennies.”

1:09– Steve Gottwalt: “This is not the best we can do.” We have a responsibility to go back & have real discussions with our side & with the governor.”

1:07– Communication from the Gov. Copy has been provided to each legislator. Rep. Lieder moves to reconsider the bill. “This is a safe roads bill.” This will put people back to work. “This bill will help plug the holes” that have grown over the years.

12:57– The House is called to order. They’re opening with a Psalm.

12:55– House Chamber is about half full. These folks aren’t punctual. I guess they’ve both got arms to twist.

12:45- Legislators are still filing in.

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Yesterday, I submitted a Write Now editorial to the St. Cloud Times. I just got word from Randy Krebs that it’s posted on their website. Follow this link to read it.

Randy, Thanks for the great title:

Write Now: Gas tax goes against will of people

Yesterday, I posted about the Times Editorial board’s editorial that touched off my Write Now editorial. As you’ll recall, this opening to their editorial touched a nerve:

So for the third time within three years, here Minnesota sits.

A massive and much-needed transportation package has the support of almost 70 percent of legislators. Seventy percent!

Yet a handful of elected officials somehow see themselves and their partisan political agendas as more important than what a large majority of legislators, and, we believe, rank-and-file Minnesotans, know this state needs.

It’s time that the DFL got in touch with Minnesotans. During his floor speech Thursday, Leader Seifert talked about not caring if all the farm organizations & the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce endorsed the largest tax increase in Minnesota history if the people of Minnesota opposed it.

This past weekend, Republican activists sent a message to the legislators who voted for the bill, a message that said that We The People will be heard. Let’s hope that voters send that same message next November to the DFL.

We can’t afford another minute of the DFL’s financial mismanagement, much less another term.

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Yesterday, I noted Matthew Continetti’s column in the Weekly Standard for the Democrats’ attempt to spin their failure to make permanent the Protect America Act. In this morning’s Washington Post, Chairmen Jay Rockefeller, Pat Leahy, Sylvestre Reyes and John Conyers have an op-ed that continues the spinning of the issue. Here’s one of the opening declarations in the op-ed:

First, our country did not “go dark” on Feb. 16 when the Protect America Act (PAA) expired. Despite President Bush’s overheated rhetoric on this issue, the government’s orders under that act will last until at least August. These orders could cover every known terrorist group and foreign target. No surveillance stopped. If a new member of a known group, a new phone number or a new e-mail address is identified, U.S. intelligence can add it to the existing orders, and surveillance can begin immediately.

While it’s true that surveillance didn’t come to a standstill, it’s equally true that our surveillance was hampered by not having the PAA in place. That’s because a FISA Appeals Court judge ruled that communications between Pakistan and Afghanistan that passed through American switches are domestic communications and that they require a warrant.

Here’s what Admiral Mike McConnell told Chris Wallace on the subject:

Meanwhile, the ACLU and the tort bar filed lawsuits against the telecommunication companies that had cooperated with the U.S. government in the Terrorist Surveillance Program. Naturally, the telecoms, fearing that they soon would be paying damages, grew wary of cooperation with the government. And some of the FISA judges, the same folks often accused of “rubberstamping” the executive’s wishes, raised the bar that needed to be met before counterterrorist surveillance could begin. Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell recently told Fox News Channel’s Chris Wallace that by summer 2007, “We were in extremis, because we had lost…about two-thirds of our [surveillance] capability.”

In other words, while it’s true that “our country did not “go dark” on Feb. 16″, it can be accurately said that our capabilities weren’t what they were with the PAA intact. I don’t think that people would like it if they found out that our surveillance capabilities shrunk that dramatically when Pelosi’s Democrats let the PAA expire so they could go on recess. That’s both irresponsible and dangerous.

As Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Wainstein acknowledged while speaking to reporters on Feb. 14, “the directives are in force for a year, and with the expiration of the PAA, the directives that are in force remain in force until the end of that year…[W]e’ll be able to continue doing surveillance based on those directives.”

Again, while it’s true that surveillance continued, it’s equally true that it was severely hampered. No amount of spinning will change that.

If President Bush truly believed that the expiration of the Protect America Act caused a danger, he would not have refused our offer of an extension.

President Bush thinks that, when Congress has over six months to renew this bill, they should get the job done. Instead, Democrats conducted one misguided witch hunt into the Bush administration after another. On the day that the Senate passed a bill that renewed the PAA, the House instead voted to hold Harriet Miers and Josh Bolten in contempt of Congress, a fight they’ll surely lose in the courts. They also conducted hearings into the Roger Clemens steroid scandal.

But if our nation were to suddenly become vulnerable, it would not be because we don’t have sufficient domestic surveillance powers. It would be because the Bush administration has done too little to defeat al-Qaeda, which has reconstituted itself in Pakistan and gained strength throughout the world. Many of our intelligence assets are being used to fight in Iraq instead of taking on Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda organization that attacked us on Sept. 11 and that wants to attack us again.

This is a strawman argument. We aren’t arguing about domestic surveillance powers. We’re talking about overseas surveillance powers that FISA now considers domestic surveillance powers. Furthermore, their saying that “Bush administration has done too little to defeat al-Qaeda” is laughable. The truth is that the Democrats wouldn’t have done nearly as much in fighting terrorism as the Bush administration has done.

It’s time for the Democrats to stop spinning their failures. It’s time for them to get their work done for once.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

At 12:30 Monday afternoon, stop past as I will be liveblogging the override vote on the Transportation (Overtaxation) Bill.

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After reading the Times Editorial Board’s editorial, I’m stunned at how little they expressed their care for taxpayers. Here’s how they open their editorial:

So for the third time within three years, here Minnesota sits.

A massive and much-needed transportation package has the support of almost 70 percent of legislators. Seventy percent!

Yet a handful of elected officials somehow see themselves and their partisan political agendas as more important than what a large majority of legislators, and, we believe, rank-and-file Minnesotans, know this state needs.

Needless to say, I didn’t let this go without criticizing their thinking. There’s two problems that I immediately detected. The first problem is obvious: Why do 70 percent of the politicians support this bill while 70 percent of the taxpayers think it’s an awful idea? Isn’t that a perfect illustration of the serious disconnect between politicians and the people?

The other major disconnect is between the Times Editorial Board & the facts. Why would they think that “rank-and-file Minnesotans” believe that passing the biggest tax increase in Minnesota history is what “this state needs”? Polling certainly doesn’t indicate that. Days after the I-35W bridge collapse, KSTP published a poll showing that Minnesotans overwhelmingly opposed a gas tax increase. Here’s what I posted on that poll:

Many politicians have called for the gas tax increase to shore up aging highways and bridges.

“This is really a call to action and this is a duty that we need to fulfill on behalf of the memory of people who’ve lost their lives,” House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher said.

But so far, it appears most Minnesotans don’t agree. Fifty-seven percent of people surveyed say the state should not increase the state gas tax. Only 38 percent say it should go up. Of those who want a gas tax increase, 47 percent would prefer an increase of less than five cents. Another 35 percent say they would pay 5 to 7 cents. But few would pay more.

The KSTP poll surveyed 500 adults. 57 percent said no to any tax increases. Of the 38 percent that said the gas tax should be increased, 59 percent said they’d only support it if it was for a nickel per gallon or less. According to my trusty calculator, 79.4 percent of those people polled said that they’d only support a gas tax increase of a nickel or less per gallon.

Things haven’t changed much since then. KSTP conducted another poll right before the session started. Here’s the first question & the response they got:

Do you think the state gas tax should? Or should not? Be increased to pay for improving the condition of our roads and bridges?

36% Should
59% Should Not
5% Not Sure

Here’s the second question:

By how much do you think the tax should be increased?

64% 1-5 Cents
23% > 5 Cents
12% Not Sure

According to the most recent polling, 575 of the 700 people polled think that the gas tax either shouldn’t be raised or raised less than a nickel.According to my trusty calculator, that’s 82 percent wouldn’t support the House Transportation bill’s tax increases.

Again, I go back to my opening question. Don’t the taxpayers matter in the DFL’s decisionmaking process? Don’t the taxpayers matter to the Times Editorial Board’s decisionmaking process? They say that they think “a large majority of legislators, and, we believe, rank-and-file Minnesotans” support the biggest tax increase in Minnesota’s history yet the facts don’t bear that out.

If the DFL persists in staying this far out of touch, they’ll be in for a rude awakening this November. You can’t oppose the will of 80+ percent of the people on the big issue of taxes & expect to win seats in the House. It just ain’t happening.

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