Neil Peterson is one of the Wayward Six that crossed over to the dark side on the transportation bill. Today, the Strib ran his op-ed explaining why he voted for the bill & for overriding Gov. Pawleny’s veto. It’d be a stretch to call it convincing. Here’s one part that doesn’t pass the laugh test:

In the bill is municipal state aid, with $11 million for Bloomington, $4.8 million for Edina and $150 million for Hennepin County. This money will be available for street repair and improvements over the next 10 years.

While that’s true in theory, it isn’t always true in practice. I’m sick & tired of hearing that cities ran deficits because they got shorted on their LGA. While that’s probably happened occasionally, it’s often the case that cities ran deficits because they made poor spending decisions, then relied on LGA to pay for goodies instead of necessities.

Here’s another part of his op-ed that makes assumptions that shouldn’t be made:

If these dollars do not come to our county and cities through this allocation, residents in my district will eventually pay for the improvements through increased real-estate taxes. That is the bottom line. The cities and the county will have no other choice but to go to their primary source of funding, our real estate taxes, to get transportation needs met. With this bill, I voted to avoid higher property taxes.

This statement assumes that every dollar spent is spent efficiently. I’m totally unwilling to cede that point. I don’t buy into that. I don’t think any conservatives buy into that, either. How often do cities vote to build a new library or fire department, then go to the voters with a new levy request? I know St. Cloud’s done that. In fact, it’s currently doing that.

This paragraph is especially egregious:

What is the remedy for a slowing economy? Jobs. We need these dollars in Minnesota. Our way of life here and our future depend on a strong economic base. We bemoan the loss of 900 jobs at Macy’s downtown, but we are losing many times that number in our construction industry alone. Think of the positive effect of thousands of Minnesota jobs in the next decade. With this bill, I voted for a stronger economy.

While it can’t be argued that we need to create jobs, it’s equally inarguable that those jobs should be created by the private sector. Whenever the DFL talks about a jobs bill, it’s guaranteed that they’re talking public works projects paid for with a tax increase. It’s never dawned on them that they need to cut marginal tax rates, especially capitol gains & corporate tax rates, to create a business-friendly environment. It’s never dawned on them that doing that would free up money to be re-invested in Minnesota’s economy. In fact, I can’t picture a DFL legislator who wouldn’t think that that’s heresy.

The proof is available. NWA is likely moving to Georgia because their tax climate is superior to Minnesota’s. I’d love seeing how many small businesses either got started in South Dakota or Colorado because of their business-friendly environment or that left Minnesota because of our tax system.

I know that retirees are leaving Minnesota in droves because I’ve talked with several retirees that tell me that their friends have left for Florida or Arizona or Texas. A number of these people have told me that they’ll soon leave, too.

Finally there’s this paragraph:

I supported the bill and was encouraged to do so by the endorsement of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, the Minnesota League of Cities, the Environmental Partnership and the president of the University of Minnesota, plus countless other organizations and, believe it or not, constituents.

Here’s what the LMC does:

The League of Minnesota Cities promotes excellence in local government through effective advocacy, expert analysis, and trusted guidance for all Minnesota cities. The League represents more than 800 Minnesota cities. We envision a future for Minnesota and the League where all cities are thriving, taking advantage of new opportunities, and successfully meeting ongoing challenges. The League continues to provide premier service to its members, and is recognized as the trusted, authoritative and unified voice on issues affecting cities.

We work in the interest of cities and the communities they serve, achieving our mission through the expertise, involvement, and cooperation of our members, Board, Ambassadors, staff, and sponsors.

Simply put, they’re a taxpayer-funded lobbyist group that lobbies for more money for their member cities. That means that Rep. Peterson just admitted that part of the reason he voted for this bill was because he voted the way a lobbyist group wanted him to vote.

It’s one thing to vote on principle that happens to coincide with a lobbyist. It’s quite another to vote that way because that lobbyist told you to.

This is a flimsy attempt to spin his casting a indefnsible vote. It clearly failed to accomplish its mission.

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