Sen. David Osmek Looks Back at Difficult 2019 Session
Sen. David Osmek characterized the 2019 legislative session as largely a holding action by the Republican senate against DFL efforts to raise taxes and grow government. Speaking to Senate District 49 program attendees on Tuesday evening, May 28, the Republican state senator from Mound expressed regret that some good legislation didn’t even get a hearing.
Gov. Walz signed Minnesota’s 2020-2021 biennial budget of $48.3 billion on May 30 after a 21-hour special session. The negotiations to get there covered a number of contentious issues, including increased taxes, growing state government control over health care, unrealistic energy mandates, and even a state model for K-12 sex education.
Sen. Osmek noted that the new budget did not include Gov. Walz’ 70% gas tax increase. But then, Osmek did not feel that the DFL really expected to get the gas tax increase. What they really wanted was to retain the 2% Healthcare Provider Tax.
The Provider Tax is imposed on medical professionals subject to regulation by the state, such as doctors, dentists, and nurse practitioners. It also must be paid by those that sell or repair hearing aids and prescription eyewear, or provide ambulance services. It increases Minnesota’s healthcare costs, as it is generally passed on to patients and to the state’s Medical Assistance program.
While the Provider Tax ultimately was reduced from 2% to 1.8%, Osmek believes that Gov. Walz achieved his real aim of eliminating the “sunset” provision, the requirement that the tax end on a specified date. This tax is also not earmarked to fund state health care benefits. Proceeds from this tax will go into the state’s general fund, providing a “slush fund” to cover future DFL desires.
To read more insights from Sen. Osmek, CLICK HERE
Flohrs Predicts Deadlock as 2019 Legislative Session Wraps Up
Jason Flohrs, State Director for the Minnesota Chapter of Americans for Prosperity, was the featured speaker at Senate District 49 Republicans’ April dinner program. He painted a sobering picture of the obstacles that Gov. Walz and the Minnesota legislature must overcome to reach a budget agreement before the start of the state’s next fiscal year in July. The differences between the DFL-controlled House and the Senate Republican majority will require significant compromises if a state government shutdown is to be avoided.
Flohrs stated that it is the role of the Minnesota legislature to prioritize the needs of Minnesotans within a reasonable budget. This task has been complicated by the view of the DFL governor and DFL House of what constitutes a reasonable budget.
In February, one month into the 2019 legislative session, the Minnesota Office of Management and Budget forecast a $1B surplus for FY 20-21. Gov. Walz’ proposed budget consumed that surplus and demanded more. At $49.5B, it represents a 10% increase over the FY 18-19 budget. The built-in growth in planned spending goes well beyond FY 20-21. Much of the increased spending is not mentioned because it will occur beyond the planning window.
When your appetite for spending exceeds the $1B surplus, what do you do? You simply push for tax increases, without regard to their impacts. A 70% increase in the gas tax, for example. Flohrs pointed out that Walz never campaigned full-out for a 20-cent-a-gallon gas tax increase. He mentioned it, backed off, argued that it should be looked at, but never made it a key point of his candidacy. Now, Walz claims he has a mandate to raise the gas tax, to the point that Minnesotans will be paying the fourth highest gas tax in the nation.
Please CLICK HERE to continue reading about other tax issues that must be resolved to reach a balanced budget and the likelihood of a state government shutdown.
Right Tech Gearing Up to Create Digital Campaign Tools
As the 2018 political campaigns progressed, Lisa and Klaus Schneegans became increasingly aware of the technological advantage DFL candidates had. From raising funds to finding volunteers and reaching potential voters, good Republican candidates were not utilizing the array of digital campaign tools that the Democrats had in their arsenal.
The Schneegans soon determined that those tools were simply not available to Republicans. Since 2016, Democratic donors and Silicon Valley supports were spending millions of dollars to develop digital applications specifically for left-leaning candidates from presidential contenders down to local office seekers. Early in 2019, Lisa and Klaus Schneegans founded Right Tech here in Minnesota to address this imbalance.
As part of Senate District 49’s monthly program series, Lisa Schneegans examined why so many compelling Republican candidates were defeated by very similar margins across the Twin Cities metropolitan area. While they were significantly outspent, more importantly, they were likely working at a technological disadvantage. With the assistance of her husband, Klaus, Lisa made clear that the on-line tools and digital techniques employed in DFL political campaigns are rapidly growing, and Republicans are not keeping up.
Minnesota Republicans were not alone. Nationwide, Republicans lost 300 state house seats in 2018. Lisa provided graphical evidence that application of the array of tools by the Democrats correlated closely with strong turnout by their supports in campaign rallies and by their voters in the election. The tools are clearly working!
Please CLICK HERE to continue reading about the Right Tech PAC and how you can help
Why Do the Twin Cities have a Shortage of Affordable Housing?
Local governments are under increasing pressure to use their power of permitting to require developers to include less expensive housing in their building plans. In his talk on February 26 as part of Senate District 49’s dinner program series, Brad Aho noted that land, labor, and construction material costs are going up faster than the wages of many of the people who currently live in or would like to move to our area. Still, local and regional governing bodies are also a significant cause of increased housing costs in the Twin Cities area.
As an Eden Prairie City Council member for 14 years, Brad Aho has been in a unique place to watch his city develop. He presented comparison information about local communities' housing costs and incomes, showing there is a need for "affordable" housing in our suburbs. He also has a good sense of why housing costs have gone up. He noted that it costs more to build a house in the Twin Cities area than in a suburb of Chicago. A report commissioned by a builders group, recently cited in an article in the Star Tribune, found that an average home in Lake Elmo would cost $47,000 less in Hudson, Wisconsin.
Aho pointed to overlapping local and regional governments as a big part of the affordability problem that they are now trying to solve. Building regulations and fees are significant cost drivers. As much as 33% of the cost of building a new home here can be traced back to local, regional (e.g., watershed districts), and state policies and fees. Aho said that “municipal fees and regulations in the Twin Cities make it nearly impossible to build a single-family house for less than $375,000.”
CLICK HERE to read more about Affordable Suburban Housing.
It's Not (Just) Our Message, More How We Deliver It
The January 22nd Dinner Meeting first started with a thank you from Edina’s own “native son” Keith Downey, pictured at right, who represented District 41A in the Minnesota House and who became the Chair of the Republican Party of Minnesota. Keith admitted that politics could be a “dirty, dusty, feisty business” but exhorted the audience to remember that we must “fight our (political) adversaries hard” according to our principles, but we must also always “leave the field as friends.” He said that one of the greatest privileges of his life was to represent the people of both his district and the State of Minnesota. It was an altogether heartfelt and inspirational talk as he exits politics to enter another phase of his life in the private sector.
The main speaker of the night was Max Rymer (photo at left) a fixture in local politics and self-admitted “passionate, political nerd.” As founder of his digital marketing firm “Nativ3” he was actively involved in several campaigns during the last election cycle. Max had some insightful opinions about taking a drastically modified approach to Republican politics going forward into 2020 and beyond. He believes there are inherent, solvable, structural problems for Republicans in MN.
First, he gave us a frank, and sometimes brutal, assessment of what is and isn’t working for the Republican Party, and for the DFL. He compared and contrasted several differences in how we get our message OUT (contacts – e.g., DFL had more than 17,000 trained, articulate volunteers door-knocking) and ACROSS (effectively persuading folks to vote for Republican candidates). Finances (DFL out-spent us 4:1) and fund-raising differences (DFL has a centralized, shared, list of small-dollar donors) were particularly interesting and played a big part in recent DFL success.
Please CLICK HERE to continue the article on our website.
Looking Back, Looking Forward: Reflections on 2018
By Randy Sutter, Co-Chair, Senate District 49 Republicans
Looking back over the last twelve months, we have had some disappointments. Yet it has also has been a time of growth, a lot of volunteer effort, and accomplishments.
The November election results were clearly a disappointment. DFL candidates won all of the MN House seats in Bloomington, Eden Prairie, Edina, and Minnetonka. In Congressional District 3 (CD 3), we had a high voter turnout for a non-presidential year. Unfortunately, we were not able to retain the Republican votes that we garnered in 2016.
Thanks to Jim Bowen and several dedicated volunteers, we were recognized for our Get-Out-The-Vote efforts in CD 3, and CD 3 had the strongest GOTV results in the state. We had volunteers who knocked on doors, made phone calls, and installed and removed lawn signs. Credit also goes to Trish Burnison, who took on the challenge of stuffing over 2,500 lit bags. Our volunteers made perhaps our strongest contribution ever to the campaign work of the local and statewide candidates. Yet the DFL effort was even stronger. The party that works hard at personal outreach clearly has the advantage. It is one of the areas of improvement ahead of us.
Our senate district put on a number of educational, social, and fundraising events this year.
CLICK HERE to continue reading about the number of activities, events, and contributions we made in 2018, and our plans for the future.