LWV candidate forum, Wolgamott edition

Wednesday night, the League of Women Voters’ St. Cloud Chapter hosted a candidate forum at the St. Cloud City Council Chambers. While a number of topics were discussed, this post will focus on the empty answers of Dan Wolgamott, the DFL-endorsed candidate running against Tama Theis.

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The Praetorian Guard Guards Most Praetorianilly

According to numerous sources on Facebook, Gov. Dayton bailed on a get out of the vote rally in Mankato yesterday because he was “ill”.

As of 6 AM, not a single word about it anywhere in the Twin Cities media.

Please let me know if you see anything. But I’m going to guess we don’t.

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Taxpayers can’t get a ‘break’ with St. Paul’s artsy stop signs

ST. PAUL, Minn. — St. Paul may be predictably progressive, but the powers at City Hall enthusiastically embrace the “1 percent.” The 1 percent, that is, of costs automatically taken off the top of local government construction projects, under a city ordinance mandating taxpayer-funded public art.

Form counts as much as function in city infrastructure projects. “The city council believes planning and development decisions should give aesthetic and social value equal weight with any project’s functional and economic values,” according to the Public Art Ordinance Program Guidelines.

Read more at Watchdog.org Minnesota Bureau

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Steve Simon, race-baiting edition

After watching this video from this morning’s Secretary of State debate, it’s difficult to determine whether Steve Simon is dishonest or unqualified for the job:

Here’s part of what was said that makes me think that Rep. Simon is a Sharpton-like race-baiter:

STEVE SIMON: I really don’t support this idea of a sort of Lexus lane for voting or the so-called “Express Lane Voting. First of all, it seems intended to be a separate but equal system. All I have to go on are Dan’s own words when he characterized on a TEA Party TV show in the spring when he said “If you don’t want to show an ID, be my guest. You can go over to the side and wait 2 hours in the cold. That’s fine.”

Rep. Simon’s reciting the separate but equal line was an intentional race-baiting statement. It’s intent was to frighten African-Americans. That’s partisanship at its disgusting worst. Politicians that play on people’s fears aren’t public servants; they’re politicians.

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Were you aware that Governor Dayton proposed a huge middle-class income tax hike?

Note: this commentary was rejected by the editors of MinnPost and the Star Tribune. 

Were you aware that Governor Dayton proposed a huge middle-class income tax hike?

 If you were unaware of the Dayton tax hike proposal, you are not alone.  The local media never reported it. 

Dayton’s first budget proposal as Governor was to create a new 10.95% income tax bracket for "rich" people: individuals making over $85,000 and married couples making over $150,000 in taxable income. That doesn't seem like it would affect the middle class, but it would.  You see, Governor Dayton's huge tax hike was not indexed for inflation.  So, while salaries and prices will naturally continue to climb, the new tax bracket threshold would stay at $85,000 for individuals and $150,000 for married couples. Eventually the entire middle would be taxed at the new 10.95% rate. 

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My health insurance story

When Minnesota-based insurance company PreferredOne announced they would no longer offer plans via the state health insurance exchange MNsure, we knew it would adversely affect the majority of Minnesotans who had any kind of health coverage.

Since PreferredOne offered the lowest premiums of any insurance companies on the exchange, it's no surprise that they serviced 60% of those who enrolled on MNsure. And while PreferredOne customers had the option of keeping their plans for the next plan year, they would face a double whammy of a) the obligatory annual premium increase and b) no longer being eligible for subsidies/tax credits since their plan would be outside the exchange. That's why the ridiculous spin of premiums only increasing 4.5% on health plans through MNsure was only to be believed by anyone who didn't use a scintilla of nuance.

To make up for the financial hit they took offering plans on MNsure, PreferredOne is going to have to levy substantial increases on their plans for 2015. Since I had a high premium, low deductible plan via PreferredOne outside the public exchange, I was prepared for a significant increase myself. How significant? If I am to keep the exact same individual plan (the fetching Mrs. Carlson has coverage through her employer), my monthly rate will increase a whopping 54%!

For those not numerically savvy, that's slightly higher than 4.5%.

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Is Minnesota Evidence of a GOP Wave?

With one week to go before the election, public sentiment seems to be breaking in the Republicans’ favor. Time will tell: projections depend on turnout models, and the Democrats are making hysterical efforts to turn out their base, as well as counting on voter fraud in key states. But will 2014 be just a satisfactory year for the GOP, or will there be a wave that includes unexpected victories?

I have generally leaned to the former view, but here in Minnesota there has been some interesting poll movement. Republican Jeff Johnson has now pulled to within seven points of Governor Mark Dayton, 45%-38%, according to the Star Tribune Minnesota Poll. The same poll has Al Franken’s lead over Mike McFadden down to single digits at 48%-39%. Normally one wouldn’t get excited about trailing by “only” seven or nine points, but it is striking that neither Dayton nor Franken can get to 50% support, just days before the election.

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Meanwhile, across the St. Croix

Boom.

MILWAUKEE – A new Marquette Law School Poll finds Republican Gov. Scott Walker leading Democratic challenger Mary Burke 50 percent to 43 percent among likely voters in the Wisconsin governor’s race. Another 3 percent say that they are undecided or that they do not know whom they will support, while 1 percent say that they will vote for someone else. Likely voters are those who say that they are certain to vote in the November election.Among registered voters in the poll, Walker receives 46 percent and Burke 45 percent, with 4 percent undecided and 1 percent saying that they will vote for someone else.The poll interviewed 1,409 registered voters, including 1,164 likely voters, by landline and cell phone Oct. 23-26. For the full sample of 1,409 registered voters, the margin of error is +/- 2.7 percentage points. The margin of error for the sample of 1,164 likely voters is +/- 3.0 percentage points. This is the final Marquette Law School Poll before the Nov. 4 election.

And Mary Burke's claim that her tenure at her family's company, Trek Bicycle, is a qualification for higher office? Well. . . .

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Rep. Savick: The Past Has Ears

Representative Shannon Savick is a first-term Democrat from House District 27, the Albert Lea area, south of the Metro.  She’s a member of the Democrat Farmer Labor party. She’s blessed with a fairly well-off rural community for whom the consequences of DFL control aren’t yet life-or-death, and the presence of the Albert Lea Tribune, a newspaper that gives the City Pages and Star Tribune a run for their big-city money as mouthpieces for the DFL.   The paper has, of course, endorsed Savick. 

Everything seems hunky-dory for Ms. Savick, who is running for a second term. 

Everything but one; an especially noxious vote against Minnesotans’ human rights and civil liberties during her freshman session in 2013.  It was a bill by Rep. Paymar that would have:

  • Banned “Ugly Guns”: The bill would have banned firearms with scary military-looking cosmetic features
  • Banned Large-Capacity Magazines: Paymar wanted to force law-abiding homeowners and citizens to be forced to reload 2-3 times as often if they are beset by determined, dissociative or chemically motivated attackers. 
  • Private Transfers: While even some Second Amendment people think this – requiring all purchases to go through a federally-licensed firearms dealer (FFL), to close the non-existant “gun show loophole” – doesn’t sound too noxious on the surface, its byproduct -a paper trail for all guns – makes the next step, universal registration, trivially easy.

Savick was one of four outstate DFLers – including John Ward, Erik Simonson and Paul Rosenthal – who voted for this atrocity of a bill. 

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Do Not Repeal Obamacare

Recently, one of our good conservative candidates was criticized for saying that Republicans should stop trying to repeal Obamacare.  It was a great example of saying the right thing in the wrong way.  If the nation was run according to common sense Obamacare would never have been passed, or certainly would have long ago been repealed, but our nation is not run by common sense but by politics.  Therefore, the way one says things and the way one frames the debate about legislation makes all of the difference.  Since Republicans have tried many times to repeal Obamacare outright only to have the Democrat Senate completely frustrate their efforts, and since even if Republicans take over the U.S. Senate this year Obama will certainly veto any repeal of his “greatest achievement,” we need a “Plan B”-- a “morning after” solution.

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The Wrong Kind

Education , the state teachers’ union, is the largest campaign donor in the state.  They give almost exclusively to Democrats, and have reportedly given twice the amount of the largest Republican donor in recent years.
 
So far in 2014, their political action committee has spent $2.5 million on the state election, according to records on file at the Campaign Finance Board.  Their spending was made possible, in part, by their borrowing $785,000 from a local bank.  And the election year is not over yet.

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Dayton’s Budget: A Big Fat “F”

Cato’s 2014 Fiscal Policy report card gives Minnesota’s a resounding “F”, and it doesn’t mean “For Fiscally-Ingenious”.  The grade puts Minnesota eighth from the bottom in terms of fiscal policy:

Governor Dayton replicated his grade of “F” from the last Cato report card. Under Dayton, general fund spending increased 13 percent in 2013 and an estimated 4 percent in 2014. His poor score also stems from his large tax hikes. In 2012 he signed into law higher taxes on gaming. In 2013 he approved a package raising annual revenues by $1 billion, which is almost 5 percent of total state tax revenues. The package created a new top individual income tax rate of 9.85 percent above the current top rate of 7.85 percent. It also raised cigarette taxes by $1.60 per pack. In 2014 he partly reversed course and signed into law modest tax cuts that reduced estate taxes, ended the marriage penalty under the income tax, and reduced sales taxes on business purchases.

The net result?  We – the actual people of the state – are two billion short.

It was a richly-deserved “F”.

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