Archive for June, 2011

There’s no doubt who the culprit is if there’s a state shutdown. If people think it’s anyone other than Gov. Dayton, they didn’t read this MPR article. Thanks to John Gunyou’s letter to MnDOT Commissioner Tom Sorel, we now see who’s pulling the strings:

Perhaps more importantly, the 169/Bren Road project is a locally contracted and managedproject. Unlike state highway projects, the city of Minnetonka is fully administering all phases of construction, including inspection and testing, and has already received all necessary project approvals from MnDOT. This leaves a very limited role for MnDOT during the actual construction phase, which is now well underway. In short, the Minnetonka project is not dependent on any legislative or administrative action, and is wholly independent of and unaffected by any state shutdown. Construction can clearly proceed according to the already authorized schedule and standards, whether or not MnDOT is fully or partially staffed.

After reading that paragraph, you’d think that this project shouldn’t be affected by a state government shutdown. That’s what I thought. This paragraph shows who’s sabotaging the project:

I hope you appreciate how troubling it was to be informed by your staff on June 21, just yesterday, and only a few days before scheduled demolition of the Bren Road bridge that MnDOT is unreasonably exercising a little-known clause in the state contract, and forbidding the city from using state right-of-way for this project during a state shutdown. Your staff gave no reason for why they are exercising this right. Given the limited amount of space in which contractors have to work on this project, it would be all but impossible for work to continue without utilizing the state right-of-way.

Suffice it to say that Sen. Gimse, the chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, wasn’t happy with Gov. Dayton:

Gimse says the letter is proof that MnDOT is telling contrators that they won’t have legal access to state right of way, the room they need to work, if the state shuts down.

“They have thousands and thousands of miles of road right of way across the state of Minensota,” Gimse said at a Capitol press briefing this afternoon.

“They don’t supervise every mile of that road right of way. These contractors know what they’re doing, they understand what they’re doing. It’s simply a way, I believe, for them to inflict additional pain. It makes no sense. It’s simply grass area on the sides of the road where equipment will stand, where materials will stand. And maybe a staging area.

Here’s MnDOT’s flimsy excuse for shutting the right-of-way down:

MnDOT is the legal owner of trunk highway right-of-way and is responsible for its condition. By state law, it is illegal to do work in state right-of-way unless it is authorized by the state road authority. MS 160.2715.

MnDOT inspectors insure that contractors are meeting contract specifications when constructing any type of infrastructure. Not conducting the inspections could put taxpayers at risk financially if the work needs to be done over. And, if work does not meet appropriate safety specifications, it could put the driving public at risk.

MnDOT’s explanation isn’t a serious explanation. It’s a PR dodge used to deflect criticism from Gov. Dayton. The right of way isn’t getting rebuilt. It’s merely being used as a staging area for supplies.

According to Gunyou’s letter, MnDOT isn’t responsible for this project’s inspections. MnDOT knew this because they were reacting to Gunyou’s letter to MnDOT Commissioner Sorel in which Gunyou stated that the city of Minnetonka was doing the inspecting.

Simply put, this is Gov. Dayton acting like a vindictive spoiled brat because, for the first time in his life, an adult told him he couldn’t have his way.

Pressure is mounting on Gov. Dayton. Gunyou isn’t just anybody. Last year at this time, he was Speaker Kelliher’s runing mate. That isn’t the only pressure, either. Gov. Dayton knows support is crumbling beneath his feet because MinnPost is running this article, which is critical of raising taxes.

Will Gov. Dayton back down? With the DFL starting to criticize him, there’s hope.
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If, God forbid, Gov. Dayton’s budget were to become law, it would be an unmitigated disaster economically. That there are few things in Gov. Dayton’s budget that I agree with isn’t surprising.

Gov. Dayton’s tax increases won’t strengthen Minnesota’s struggling economy. I’m not discounting, nor have I ever said, that a well-educated workforce isn’t important to a state’s economic health. I’m simply saying that a well-trained workforce is only one leg of a three-legged stool.

Reasonable marginal tax rates are as important as a well-trained workforce to economic vitality. Trumping both those things, combined, is overregulating businesses.

Yesterday, I came face-to-face with Gov. Dayton’s economic brethren in the person of Bruce Mohs. Mohs thinks that educational experts’ advice should be treated like they’re words etched into stone tablets on Mount Sinai. When it comes to experts who’ve actually created jobs, though, Mohs has a dramatically different perspective which he stated with eloquence and passion. He said “When a businessman tells me that higher taxation will slow job growth, I don’t believe them.”

It’s apparent that Gov. Dayton shares Mohs’s distrust of the private sector.

Gov. Dayton’s tax increases won’t strengthen Minnesota’s economy. Gov. Dayton’s tax increases won’t improve Minnesota’s competitiveness regionally, nationally or internationally. Gov. Dayton’s tax increases won’t create prosperity. Gov. Dayton’s tax increases won’t persuade entrepreneurs to put their capital at risk.

Gov. Dayton sent a chilling wind across the business community’s bow by picking Paul Aasen, the militant environmentalist who headed MCEA, as his MPCA commissioner. Does anyone think a guy whose organization sued the Big Stone II powerplant into oblivion will be friendly to business when he’s controlling the levers of power in the MPCA? I certainly don’t.

There’s something else that people haven’t talked enough about, which is that we’ll be facing another oversized deficit 2 years from now even after raising taxes. That’s what Tom Hauser asked about last Sunday on At Issue With Tom Hauser:

HAUSER: No matter how this budget is resolved this year, can you guarantee that in 2 years that there won’t be another request for another tax increase, maybe on these same wealthy taxpayers?
HARTNETT: It could happen and it depends on what services we need.
HAUSER: At what point does this spiral end?

According to State Demographer Tom Gillaspy, we’ll be facing another $5,000,000,000 deficit in 2013 and another $5,000,000,000+ deficit in 2015. Gillaspy attributes it to the number of people retiring or leaving Minnesota adversely affects revenues at a time when spending is increasing by 15% per biennium.

In other words, the Dayton economic disaster will cripple Minnesota’s economy for half the decade, if not longer. If that’s true, why consider the Dayton budget?

First, no economy can grow fast enough to sustain a 15% biennial growth rate to the budget. Second, government that grows at a 15% growth rate is pissing away 10’s of millions of dollars if not more.

We aren’t ATM’s. We deserve a growing economy and a state government that doesn’t overextend itself. We deserve a state government that doesn’t raise taxes to pay off the DFL’s special interest allies. We deserve a state government that doesn’t keep expanding because the DFL thinks we aren’t generous enough with other people’s money.

Let’s tell people that the DFL’s budget calls for unsustainable spending increases that requires job-killing tax increases. That’s scary enough but that isn’t the worst of it. What’s scary is that Gov. Dayton hasn’t put a spreadsheet telling the legislature how he intends on spending this money.

Signing onto Dayton’s unmitigated disaster would be awful. The only thing worse is signing onto DUD without knowing how it’s being spent.

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I just attended dueling K-12 press conferences at Tech High School. At the outset, Bruce Hentges said “We are willing to work with area legislators regardless of party.” The clear suggestion was that this press conference would be solely about the policies contained in the K-12 bill that Gov. Dayton vetoed.

It didn’t take long for that facade to disappear. As part of his closing remarks, Mr. Hentges said “While there are several things we like in this bill, the other parts of this bill are directly opposed to our platform”. Hentges went on to single out Rep. Hosch as having voted against the bill, saying that “Except for Rep. Hosch, all our legislators voted against our platform.”

After the DFL press conference, I caught a portion of the conversation between Rep. Gottwalt and Bruce Mohs. Mohs sits on the ISD742 school board. Rep. Gottwalt pointed out that the bill Hentges had railed against had changed significantly.

In a strange exchange after the press conference, Bruce Mohs said that, if he wanted to learn aviation, he’d ask Jeff Johnson. Mohs then said that he’d learn from King Banaian if he wanted to learn about the economy. Mohs finished by saying that legislators should listen to the superintendents if they wanted to know about schools’ needs.

Mohs then said that he didn’t believe businesses when they said raising taxes would harm job growth.

I then told Mohs that I thought his last comment was strange considering he’d just passionately lectured us about trusting experts. I said that businesses were experts in creating jobs, which he agreed with. I then asked why he’d believe education experts but not experts in creating jobs.

He tried interrupting me but I persisted. I asked him to explain why we should trust one set of experts but not another set of experts. I didn’t get a response to my request.

Despite Mr. Hentges opening statement alluding to the need to work together and pass legislation that best helps students to learn, the partisanship was obvious and disappointing.

After the meeting, a woman approached Rep. Gottwalt and asked why he hadn’t compromised with Gov. Dayton on the budget so the state could avoid a shutdown. Rep. Gottwalt said that he’s been down to the Twin Cities 5 of the last 7 working days, hoping to negotiate a budget agreement.

Rep. Gottwalt then said that Gov. Dayton’s commissioners tell the GOP legislators that they aren’t authorized to negotiate. I asked Rep. Gottwalt if Gov. Dayton had put a specific budget plan together. Rep. Gottwalt said that Gov. Dayton hadn’t. I then asked if there had been any negotiations during yesterday’s meeting in St. Paul.

Rep. Gottwalt confirmed that there hadn’t been because the HHS people in the room weren’t authorized to negotiate a budget.

I asked whether he could characterize the meetings as negotiations or if they’d be more accurately characterized as meetings that didn’t include negotiations. Rep. Gottwalt said that the latter description was accurate, the former wasn’t.

The double-talk started with the opening statement and didn’t stop until after the DFL press conference. It’s disappointing that the DFL’s press conference didn’t live up to Mr. Hentges’ opening statement.

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Gov. Dayton is quickly earning the title of Gov. All-Or-Nothing, thanks to his insistence on dealing with a complete, comprehensive budget:

WURZER: Is there a point at which you call the legislature back to pass a lights on bill?

SHOWALTER: That’s part of the negotiations and a question of whether a part of a budget is worth it or whether we’re trying to get to a lasting budget deal that would be good for Minnesota. The governor has been pretty clear from the very beginning. He’s looking for a set of bills that are complete, comprehensive and solve the budget deficit but ultimately help Minnesota’s economy today and in the future.

Gov. Dayton’s unwillingness to sign a ‘piecemeal budget’ inflicts real life pain on the 23,000 workers who will be laid off on July 1. That intransigence isn’t acceptable. What gives Gov. Dayton the moral authority to play a my-way-or-the-highway game of chicken with 23,000 people’s jobs?

The truth is that Gov. Dayton doesn’t have the moral authority to inflict pain on that many people in a single day. He might have the legal authority but that isn’t the same as having the moral authority.

Thus far, Gov. Dayton’s actions have been utterly corrupt. He hasn’t negotiated in good faith. In fact, it isn’t that difficult to make the case that he hasn’t done much negotiating period.

Sen. Paul Gazelka said this about Gov. Dayton shutting down MnDOT:

Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Brainerd, said the 2005 state shutdown affected fewer employees than those who may be a part of this year’s potential shutdown. He urged those involved in negotiations to identify areas where agreement can be reached and take action there.

While Gazelka said Republicans are respectful of the governor, he disagrees with Dayton’s call for a total package solution before acting on other bills. “He wants all or nothing,” Gazelka said.

DFL Rep. John Ward doesn’t disagree with Sen. Gazelka’s statement:

Rep. John Ward, DFL-Brainerd, who attended the news conference, said that while the two parties are close on what state expenditures should be in transportation there are policy differences, particularly on transit programs that affect the disabled, the elderly and students.

The governor, Ward said, has made it clear he doesn’t want to solve the budget problem in piecemeal fashion. “He wants a total package,” Ward said.

Rep. Ward, Gov. Dayton’s intransigence is showing by insisting that the entire budget be done at once. It’s apparent that he doesn’t give a damn about the 23,000 people he’ll be laying off as a result of his brinksmanship.

What’s worse is that Gov. Dayton’s budget, such as it exists, doesn’t really solve the biggest problems facing the state. If Gov. Dayton’s budget passes, State Demographer Tom Gillaspy says we’ll face a $5,000,000,000 deficit in 2013. And another $5,000,000,000 deficit in 2015.

That’s because spending is the culprit.

Raising taxes won’t strengthen Minnesota’s economy. Passing Gov. Dayton’s tax increases won’t prevent property tax increases. Passing the DFL’s tax increases won’t cause entrepreneurs to start hiring again. In short, this is an exercise in class warfare that hurts everyone.

Construction projects on Minnesota’s highways aren’t just about jobs. They’re about public safety, too. By playing his my-way-or-the-highway game of high-stakes game of chicken, Gov. Dayton is saying raising taxes is a higher priority than public safety.

For instance, the winding 2-way road between St. Cloud and Foley is one the most dangerous stretches of road I’ve ever driven on. Thanks to Gov. Dayton’s shutdown, that project will likely be postponed another year.

If Gov. Dayton dropped his I-won’t-sign-anything-until-I-get-my tax-increase positions, that dangerous stretch of Highway 23 would be fixed. Apparently, Gov. Dayton thinks passing his tax increases is more important than improving public safety.

It’s time that Gov. Dayton stopped acting like a spoiled brat and started acting like a statesman. Gov. Dayton’s my-way-or-the-highway game of chicken is affecting public safety. That’s utterly unacceptable!!!

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Yesterday, Rep. Steve Gottwalt asked if the Dayton administration would prepare a budget that included spreadsheets and fiscal notes. What he was told is stunning and disappointing.

One of the commissioners told him they were busy with shutdown preparations so he couldn’t guarantee anything. Let me repeat that. The Dayton administration is too busy shutting government down to find time to avert a shutdown.

Let’s understand that this means that Gov. Dayton isn’t doing everything possible to prevent the laying off of 23,000 state employees effective July 1. Public employees need to comprehend what’s happening. The governor that they financially supported through ABM is giving them the finger.

Gov. Dayton is telling them that they’ll be unemployed indefinitely. He’s put a higher priority on raising taxes than he’s put on keeping state employees employed.

In his drive to raise taxes, Gov. Dayton is sending 23,000 state workers to the unemployment lines for an indefinite period of time.

Last night, a retired union worker asked Sen. Pederson, Rep. Gottwalt and Rep. Banaian where their jobs were. If I’d had the opportunity, I’d tell him that they’re missing thanks to Gov. Dayton’s shutdown is slated to wipe out 23,000 jobs in a single day.

Gov. Dayton is long on brinksmanship and short on statesmanship. He’s acted like a spoiled brat throughout these negotiation-free budget negotiations.

Gov. Dayton supporters, kick back in your recliners. You’ll have the time because you’ll be unemployed. That’s because, in Mark Dayton’s Minnesota, you get hurt while Gov. Dayton declares his chef and gardener as essential operations.

UPDATE: Those of you who appreciate reporting that doesn’t go through ‘the Strib/MPR filter’, a little change in the tip jar will go a long ways in keeping first source reporting in the hands of this citizen journalist.

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Monday night, I attended a townhall meeting hosted by Rep. King Banaian, Rep. Steve Gottwalt and Sen. John Pederson. A crowd of over 100 people packed the Haven Township Meeting Hall for the event.

The meeting started almost on time, with Rep. Gottwalt arriving late after attending a meeting on the HHS budget.

The accusations and misinformation flew fast and furious from the start. Bruce Stocke said that Republicans had based their campaigns “on jobs, jobs and jobs. Where are the jobs?” Later, Mark Jaede said that the cuts in higher ed funding were real and that the uncertainty of the shutdown was hurting enrollment at St. Cloud State. Jaede later said that funding for higher ed was “at 1999 levels”, a number repeated by two other professors.

The crowd applauded numerous times after repeating the DFL’s talking points. The applause ratcheted up the intensity bit-by-bit until it reached a tipping point. That came when a man stepped to the microphone without identifying himself, then saying to the GOP legislators that “You guys should be fined.”

After the questions were stopped at a predetermined time (the Haven Township commissioners were meeting that night at 6:30.), the legislators addressed some of the questions.

Rep. Gottwalt said that he’d arrived late because he’d attended what he’d hoped would be a negotiating session. Rep. Gottwalt said it was disappointing that the commissioners there told the legislators that Gov. Dayton hadn’t given them the authority to negotiate on his behalf.

Rep. Gottwalt said that the people criticizing the legislators shouldn’t stop with the legislators, adding that Gov. Dayton won’t negotiate with Republicans. Gov. Dayton won’t put a concrete budget proposal together complete with spreadsheets and fiscal notes.
Without those, Gottwalt said, it’s impossible to tell whether the budget that they’d be negotiating on would even balance.

Rep. Gottwalt stunned the crowd when he said that Republicans had agreed to Gov. Dayton’s spending levels for K-12 Education, the courts and Public Safety.

One person I spoke with outside the hall after the meeting told me that this was the first he’d heard of that news. I took that as a clear indictment of the Twin Cities media for not doing its job.

Sen. Pederson brought up another stunning point when he asked the crowd when the last time was that Gov. Dayton had held a townhall meeting. Sen. Pederson’s reply was that Gov. Dayton hasn’t held a townhall meeting with the general public since taking office.

Rep. Banaian was the last of the legislators to speak. One thing he addressed was one gentleman’s statement that the legislators’ refusal to raise taxes on the rich caused his property taxes to increase by 13%. King said that you can’t take one set of statistics, combine them with another set of statistics, then automatically call them facts.

King said that this application of statistics proved that the gentleman didn’t know much about facts or statistics.

The fact that Gov. Dayton keeps calling the legislators into meetings without giving his commissioners the authority to negotiate is a stunning admission. Frankly, it’s more than a little disheartening, too.

It’s a clear indication that Gov. Dayton is intent on shutting state government down on July 1. That’s deeply disappointing considering the growing bipartisan support for a lights-on bill that keeps construction projects progressing and that would prevent a mass layoff of 23,000 government employees.

UPDATE: Those of you who appreciate reporting that doesn’t go through ‘the Strib/MPR filter’, a little change in the tip jar will go a long ways in keeping first source reporting in the hands of this citizen journalist.

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This op-ed, co-written by Sen. Koch and Speaker Zellers, is a welcome shot of reality for Minnesotans who haven’t followed the budget battle that closely. This paragraph summarizes things perfectly:

The problem with Gov. Dayton’s budget is that it does not exist. Since revising his tax proposal a month ago, the governor has failed to identify how he would spend the $1.8 billion in additional revenue. Thus far he has not proposed any reductions in spending to close the budget gap. Even with his increased tax burden on small business owners and job providers, Gov. Dayton still doesn’t have the money to fund his proposed spending.

It’s impossible to negotiate against something that isn’t as authentic as a unicorn. Until Gov. Dayton and the DFL put together a real budget, complete with fiscal notes and spreadsheets, I’d advise Republicans to meet with Gov. Dayton but refuse to call the meetings negotiations. I certainly wouldn’t change anything else from the budget they passed during the regular session.

In light of Cathie Hartnett’s admitting that there might be more tax increases 2 years from now, I’d demand that Gov. Dayton promise to work sign King Banaian’s priority-based budgeting bill, complete with a sunset commission. It’s long past time to change how budgets are put together and what priorities we set. Thus far, Gov. Dayton hasn’t showed that he’s willing to explain what his priorities are beyond raising taxes.

His non-existent plan isn’t anything he or his administration is apparently worried about. During a recent Commission on Planning and Fiscal Policy meeting, the Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner said a plan did not exist. That simple statement defines the governor’s. He has no plan. He just wants to raise taxes, and he is getting ready to shut down government in a careless attempt to force the issue.

The veil is thus ripped to shreds. In official testimony, MMB Commissioner Showalter admitted that Gov. Dayton hasn’t put a complete, comprehensive budget proposal on the table. That’s pretty ironic considering the fact that Gov. Dayton demanded that Republicans put a “complete, comprehensive budget proposal” together before he’d negotiate with them.

The reality is that Gov. Dayton is demanding from Republicans what he won’t do himself. Meanwhile, Gov. Dayton is on the brink of letting 23,000 state employees go over a cliff of his making because that’s what his ideology demands.

That isn’t leadership. It’s time that Gov. Dayton showed some statesmanship instead of exhibiting his brinksmanship.

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To those on the left, support for raising taxes isn’t changing. Their trolling for votes campaign might be popular with the DFL’s base but it isn’t winning over independents. Still, the DFL persists in trolling for legislators:

With the state edging toward a historic and wide-reaching government shutdown, the road to resolution could lead straight to a handful of GOP freshmen who barely won election and veteran legislators intent on preserving a Republican majority.

Supporters of DFL Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposal have identified more than two dozen lawmakers who they think could be persuaded to cross over to resolve the state’s budget deficit, raise some revenue and avert, or at least shorten, a bruising government closure.

Dayton supporters have been making lists of Republicans they consider least ideologically driven, or the most electorally vulnerable, and picking away at them one by one with a barrage of phone calls and local television advertisements.

“I’ve gone back to work; now is supposed to be down time,” said Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, a target of many of the calls. “Now it’s like campaign-level activity.”

For Democrats, the math is pretty simple. If DFLers stick together, they need just five of 37 Republican senators and six of 72 GOP House members to pass a budget compromise.

The math is straightforward. The DFL’s path to that mathematical solution, though, couldn’t be more difficult.

I’ve spoken with a number of legislators and conservative newsmakers since the end of the regular session. The thing that I’ve told them is that Republicans have the superior policy positions on the most important issues, namely on spending and creating jobs. That’s because Gov. Dayton and the DFL don’t have a plan for creating jobs.

Truthfully told, Gov. Dayton doesn’t have a real budget. The budget Gov. Dayton submitted was rejected by the DFL legislature, not because they didn’t agree with Gov. Dayton’s increased spending and tax hikes but because they didn’t want their fingerprints on something that unappealing to Minnesotans.

If I were advising Leader Koch and Speaker Zellers, I’d tell them to be willing to negotiate but only if Gov. Dayton and the DFL put a real budget together, complete with spreadsheets outlining how much money is spent on each agency or bureaucratic boondoggle.

I’d suspend negotiations until Gov. Dayton got serious about spending the taxpayers’ money wisely. At this point, there’s no proof that Gov. Dayton and the DFL wouldn’t spend the taxpayers’ money foolishly.

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Readers of this blog know that I’ve been critical of SCSU President Potter and of MnSCU in general. I’ve questioned MnSCU’s decisionmaking, too. That’s why I’m critical of anything talking about how essential MnSCU is in its present configuration. That’s why I’m critical of this St. Cloud Times YTE.

While Minnesotans entered or returned to school for training in a number of career fields, 33 percent of non-traditional students graduated with degrees from health programs, comprising MnSCU’s highest proportion of non-traditional graduates.

Steve Hine, with the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), believes the trend of non-traditional students enrolling into health programs will continue.

Training and staffing well-skilled health care professionals statewide is critical in the coming decades, as retirements and aging baby boomers create a double crunch on demand. DEED predicts health fields will lead the next decade’s labor market growth, specifically jobs in personalized and home care and registered nursing, with a combined 51,000 new jobs.

There isn’t a thoughtful person who objects to training people for a high-paying career, whether it’s in health care, agriculture, heavy equipment operation or aviation.

It’s the crap degrees that I have a problem with. For instance, the Masters Degree program in Social Responsibility at St. Cloud State seems like a questionable use of limited resources. Here’s the synopsis for Social Responsibility:

This interdisciplinary Masters Degree in Social Responsibility addresses a citizen’s responsibility to others, to society and to the environment.

Simply put, it’s a graduate level indoctrination program. What’s the justification for spending $1,218,000 in teacher salaries alone on this class? BTW, that’s before pensions and health care are factored in.

Another program within MnSCU is the ecotourism degree from Central Lakes Community College in Brainerd:

The CLC AAS degree in ecotourism is designed to enable the graduate to use sustainable tourism to expand economic development and to improve the quality of life for your destination. As one of the few colleges in the nation to offer an ecotourism degree, our program meshes a range of disciplines for a well-balanced start in nature travel. Fourteen program areas at CLC blend the required 48 credits, and a host of electives allow the student to emphasize special interest areas such as nature viewing, culture or business. At the core of this program is respect for the environment.

WOW!!! Another indoctination program involving the environment. Who would’ve thought that on a modern college campus?

How about the Nail Care Technician certificate from Century College in White Bear Lake? Here’s the synopsis on that course:

This Nail Care Technician certificate includes instruction in theory and practical application techniques of cleansing, shaping, polishing, massage of hands and feet, and also the application of artificial nails. Completion of this certificate prepares students for state written exam and certification of skills as required by Minnesota cosmetology laws and rules for licensure. Program costs listed below are approximate, and books and other fees are not included for general education coursework.

I’d love hearing why this is taught at a community college and not at a private trade school. Whatever money is being spent on this program is too much.

The point to me highlighting these programs, and I could go on alot longer, is to tell people that MnSCU wastes alot of money on degrees that shouldn’t be offered. If they disappeared from the MnSCU menu of degree programs, the money could be saved but the programs wouldn’t be missed.

It isn’t that conservatives hate MnSCU. It’s that conervatives know that too much money is spent on soft degrees. It’s why there’s a growing number of conservatives that are warming to the idea of reforming MnSCU. In fact, it isn’t just conservatives that are warming to that idea.

During the Clinton administration, liberals would just mention the word education and think that we should spend more. Those days are grinding to a halt. We’ve accumulated too much debt to spend recklessly.

A reformed, accountable MnSCU is worthy of support. MnSCU in its present form is worthy of support with the condition that it be significantly reformed.

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I just finished watching the Face-Off segment of At Issue With Tom Hauser. Suffice it to say that today’s segment is pure gold to Republicans. Here’s the key exchange:

HAUSER: No matter how this budget is resolved this year, can you guarantee that in 2 years that there won’t be another request for another tax increase, maybe on these same wealthy taxpayers?
HARTNETT: It could happen and it depends on what services we need.
HAUSER: At what point does this spiral end?
HARTNETT: I have not seen the Democrats say they want to drive every rich person from the country. There are plenty of rich Democrats who get the same taxes as those rich Republicans.

Admitting that raising taxes this year might not prevent Gov. Dayton from asking for another tax increase two years from now is stunning for a couple reasons.

First, it says that raising taxes won’t help grow the economy. Why on God’s green earth would we do something that grows Minnesota’s government but doesn’t grow Minnesota’s economy? It’s an admission that the DFL puts a higher prioritiy on funding Minnesota’s government than it puts on growing Minnesota’s economy.

Second, it’s a straightforward admission that the DFL worries more about spending, spending, spending than about the taxpayers’ wallets.

Shouldn’t the focus of the budget be as least as much on building a strong economy as it is on balancing the budget? In fact, shouldn’t it be focused more on building a strong economy than on balancing the budget?

The Dayton administration hasn’t shown any interest in building a healthy economy. The Dayton administration’s attitude, along with the DFL’s attitude, has steadfastly been about government, not the economy. That’s a trainwreck waiting to happen.

Gov. Dayton is intent on proving Margaret Thatcher’s old saying right, that the problem with socialism is that, sooner or later, you run out of other people’s money to spend.

The other stunning thing about Ms. Hartnett’s admission is that she apparently thinks most Minnesotans think that funding government programs is more important than building a strong economy. A thoughtful listener couldn’t make that conclusion because they’d know that creating alot of private sector jobs is Minnesotans’ top priority.

It’s time the DFL and their media shills woke up to what Minnesotans want most: a thriving private sector economy. Raising taxes and increasing spending won’t create a thriving private private sector economy.

It’s just that simple.

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