The 2017 Legislative Session might have gone down as one of the most productive in recent memory. More likely, it will be remembered for the governor that didn’t have the honor and self-confidence to live with the compromises that he and his team negotiated.
Several of the predictions made by the panel at our Spring Conversation almost came true. The panelists predicted that negotiations would proceed during the final week of the session, and no special session would be needed. In fact, the negotiations between the Republican legislative leaders and the Governor and his staff went down to the wire. A short extension was required to sort out the details, but the Governor ultimately signed the budget bills. A government shutdown was avoided.
This should have signaled a triumph for all. Instead, Gov. Dayton exercised a veto of a line item that funds the legislature after July 2017. His intent is to force the Legislature back to the bargaining table to secure more of the DFL hot-button items (reduced tax cuts, licenses for undocumented aliens, tighter teacher credentials) -- items that he had agreed to forego in the earlier negotiations. In the June 3 opinion section of the Star Tribune, a thoughtful article written by Paul Gazelka and Kurt Daudt details why he’s wrong.
While the Republicans achieved some important goals this session, they clearly did not achieve everything. Not all of the budget surplus was allocated for roads and bridges and for tax cuts. Republicans did not get tax credits for private school scholarships (OAK), and harsher penalties for blocking highways and other transportation hubs were not included in the final bills. While not all that he wanted, Dayton got more money for his personal crusade for pre-K education.
As former Senate Minority Leader David Hann said during the Spring Conversation, Dayton simply doesn’t know how to negotiate – he doesn’t “”get” the concept that both sides need to be happy at the end.
While the major media in Minnesota have been largely silent on Dayton’s potentially unconstitutional action, we can hope that Minnesotans let the governor know that he should accept what he got and be done with it.
At our March 28, 2017 dinner meeting, Jeff Johnson presented convincing reasons to not build the proposed light rail lines. Watch here.
Minnesota Republicans, joined by more than 20 from SD49, filled the ballroom at the Radisson Blu at the Mall of America on March 23 for the annual Lincoln Reagan Dinner. Dennis Prager was the featured speaker, and the huge crowd listened intently as he told them that America is in the midst of a second Civil War. Not as violent as its first Civil War, but a war over fundamental values that is every bit as important.
Prager believes that America’s uniqueness in the world is based on its founding values:
- One Nation Under God, and
- E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One).
These values are being challenged by what Prager calls ““Leftism”. The Left holds that the supreme values should be
- Equality of Outcomes, rather than Liberty
- A Godless Society (where a person’s actions are ultimately answerable to the government rather than to Almighty God)
- Multiculturalism (Promoting Diversity, rather than Unity)
These counter values, Prager argues, are being promulgated by our schools, colleges, and universities. The intellectuals that make these institutions are almost all of one mind when it comes to rejecting the pursuit of individual excellence and personal responsibility. The ideas that they promote are ultimately achievable only through the subjugation of the individual to the collective, of independent thought to uniform group-think, and of personal responsibility to government-granted “rights”. As just one example, he pointed out to the vehement criticism being directed from American campuses at Israel’s human rights record. And not a peep about North Korea’s absolute disregard for the rights of its own people.
As a highly-recognized conservative commentator on radio, Prager noted that when he asked people that he’s met from eastern European countries what they see as the most profound difference between their countries and America, they say “Talk Radio”.
As an observant Jew and fervent reader of American history, he strongly believes that America today is the least anti-Semitic and least racist nation on Earth. “America is an aberration of goodness.”
We highly recommend that you read Kim Crockett’s opinion piece in the January 20, 2017 edition of the Star Tribune, reprinted on the CoAE site. “How Much is ‘Green Bling’ Costing your Town or City” argues that Edina’s expensive foray into solar power panels is an example of “feel-good environment projects”.
A 2014 study done by the Center of the American Experiment concluded that Edina’s 2011 city hall rooftop project had a very low return when compared to the costs being funded by Edina’s 50,000 federal taxpayers and Xcel ratepayers. Given the savings generated by that Edina solar power plan, it will take 154 years to cover the costs. The panels themselves only have a useful life of a few decades.
The article’s key points:
The scale of Edina’s project is too small to measurably reduce greenhouse gases
Money spent on other conservation actions would most likely deliver much more immediate returns
If Edina still wants to invest in so-called “green” technology to reduce carbon emissions, it should be willing to justify spending its own money
As citizens, we need to continue to take a closer look at what our city staffs are putting in front of our city councils. We need to volunteer to serve on our city commissions.
While embracing true conservation measures that better our cities, we need to help our councils say “no” to “free” grants and federal money that can’t be justified by returns on investment.
(Photo is of a similar city hall rooftop project in Falcon Heights.)
Legislature Should Take Tax Actions To Slow Minnesota's Great Wealth Migration
Peter Nelson of the Center of the American Experiment and Dale Kurschner of “Twin Cities Business” have written in 2016 about the flight of wealthy individuals from Minnesota to states where they are “better appreciated.” Thousands are now moving billions of dollars in annual taxable income, gross estate value and net worth to other, more welcoming states. Nelson and Kurschner identified two primary reasons: higher taxes and a growing perception that the state government does not respect its business people.
Higher Taxes. In 2014 and 2015, Minnesota lost or began losing an estimated $2.1 billion in taxable income from 3,099 taxpayers. These same individuals have $17 billion in median net worth and $31 billion in median gross estate value. In almost three-quarters of those moves, respondents said the reason for leaving had to do with Minnesota’s tax policy and collection practices.Read more
We now know that this election cycle’s harassment, confrontation, sign-burning and even violent attacks on Republican supporters were coordinated and funded by Democrat activists. These and other acts of intimidation have been escalating since the mid-1990’s. But they reached new highs (or lows) as the IRS under the Obama Administration focused on Tea Party organizations applying for nonprofit status. And intimidation continued as prosecutors in Wisconsin used unconstitutional “John Doe” investigations in 2013 – 2015 to suppress conservatives in that state.
The Intimidation Game is a well-written, page-turner of a book. It is the stories of individuals who’ve been “called up, served up, beat up, and run out” for taking part in political causes. Kimberley Strassel explains in understandable language some of the legal twists and turns. Strassel reveals how we got from the 1950’s Supreme Court decision that protected the rights of Americans to engage in politics with some degree of anonymity to today’s pressures for full and immediate disclosure, without regard for the risks of retaliation.
The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech, by Kimberley Strassel, c.2016, ISBN 978-1-4555-9188-6, Twelve/Hachette Book Group.
To see a video of author Kimberley Strassel speaking in June 2016 at a forum hosted by the Heritage Foundation,
The debate about raising Minnesota's minimum wage to $15 per hour has been in the news a lot lately. On the surface, it sounds like a good idea. Why wouldn't we want people in low skill jobs to make more money? However, what's not often mentioned or understood is that raising the minimum wage will ultimately hurt the people it's meant to benefit. Substantially increasing a business's labor cost will result in fewer jobs (layoffs and less hiring) and increases in the prices customers must pay for their goods and services. In some instances, mandating higher wages could force marginal businesses to close.
Recent coordinated nationwide 'Fight for $15’ protests held at the end of November have spurred on propaganda and news stories. It is curious that often people who don't even work at the businesses under protest seem to be leading the protests.
The protests appear to be union backed and/or driven. Are the unions involved purely out of altruism or do they have another motive? Would the unions benefit from a higher minimum wage? Some radio talk hosts suggest that many union contracts have a pay scale that is linked to minimum wage. Unions are also trying to organize the various service industry workers. If those workers unionize, it means more dues for the parent union(s). Writing about this is not an attempt to disparage unions. Unions have been and can be good and bring much needed changes to the benefit of workers. That said, in this case it appears unions may have ulterior motives in the 'Fight for $15.'Read more
An article by Ricardo Lopez, published in the Star Tribune on September 28, on the MN Supreme Court decision to dismiss the MVA suit, (requiring that it first be heard in a District Court), included this note:
“Recent court decisions have rejected stricter voter regulations approved in Kansas, North Carolina, North Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin, finding in virtually all cases that voter fraud is nonexistent and that the tougher regulations disenfranchised minority voters.”
Ironically, Fox & Friends reported the next day, on September 29 that Arcan Cetan, the man who went on a shooting rampage, killing 5, at a Washington state mall north of Seattle, wasn't even a U.S. citizen but he still voted three times!
Cetan was a permanent U.S. resident but had never applied for citizenship. Nonetheless, he registered to vote and participated in three voting cycles. Like Minnesota, the state of Washington operates on the honor system. Cetan did not have to provide proof of citizenship when he registered to voteRead more
The following has been adapted from an opinion piece that Max Rymer, our 49B candidate for the Minnesota House, posted on his campaign website:
In typical millennial fashion, I am writing you an open letter. Not because I have something I want to say directly to you, but because I want to make a point to everyone else reading it.
MNSure, last weekend I knocked a low-income housing unit in Bloomington. I talked to a young man, Jerell, who had been on Minnesota Medical Assistance for the better part of a decade. He informed me that, since your inception, he had seen his own costs go up and his benefits go down. Jerell had a number of medical issues, was also on disability, and had preexisting-type conditions that disqualified him from a number of private-insurance options.
MNSure, this confused me.
This man would have and should have been one of the biggest benefactors of the supposed 95% of people who now have affordable coverage.
But he wasn’t.Read more
Our ballot this year will include a state constitutional amendment to establish a commission whose purpose is to set the compensation payable to Minnesota state legislators. Today, the legislators themselves must vote whether or not to increase their pay.
As you may be uncertain how you should vote on this proposed amendment, we offer you MN Rep. Matt Dean's advice, which he posted on FACEBOOK, September 21, 2016.
Rep Matt Dean on the Constitutional Amendment to Raise Legislator Pay
You should vote NO on the legislator pay increase amendment on your ballot this November. Here is why:
The lawmakers pushing this want to get more pay. But the way the law is written makes it look like if you vote YES you are voting to stop us from doing that very thing. That’s duplicitous. It’s wrong. But that’s what government is becoming. Politicians who publicly pretend to fight against that which they work with the other party to privately enact.
In Minnesota, our base salary is about $31,000/year. We also receive per diem (which can be over $10K)Read more