Gov. Dayton is backing away from his “tax the rich” revenue plan, according to Politico’s James Hohmann: “Health care and education funding have emerged as the two biggest areas of disagreement in the dispute that shut down the state government last week. Already, though, Dayton appears to be backing off getting an income tax increase, a key part of his gubernatorial campaign last year and budget this year. He acknowledged that the proposal didn’t even come up during Tuesday’s talks. ‘Every time I suggest it, even on millionaires … it’s soundly rejected by the Republicans,’ he said. ‘They’ve got control of the legislature. If they’re not going to support something, then I cannot single-handedly get it passed.’ Dayton floated the idea of increasing the alcohol tax or making fewer products exempt from the sales tax.” You see, those taxes won’t discourage our “jobs providers.”
Tom Scheck’s MPR story includes another comment from former talk radio host, Dave Thompson: “Republican Senator Dave Thompson said Mondale and Carlson were in office at a time when government was growing too quickly. Thompson said he won’t vote for a budget plan that is much higher than the $34 billion plan that the Legislature passed. ‘Would I support a deal that costs $35 billion? I don’t think so, no. I have been pretty clear about that,’ Thompson said. Thompson doubts there are enough votes among Senate Republicans to support a budget plan that large. Dayton seems to understand that and is reaching out to moderate lawmakers from both parties for help to complete a deal.” I used to love listening to Thompson argue against the theory of evolution on his radio program. Clearly, his kind did not come from apes.
Rachel Weiner’s story for The Washington Post says: “GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty (R) took a shot at the [Arne Carlson-Walter Mondale] group and began running an ad this week in Iowa claiming he won the last budget showdown in 2005 when he was governor of Minnesota. ‘Walter Mondale ran for president against Ronald Reagan on a platform that called for higher taxes,’ Pawlenty said in a statement. ‘Arne Carlson supported John Kerry, Barack Obama and other Democrats. It should surprise no one that they both support more spending and higher taxes in Minnesota.’ ”
We really are stepping up in the world. Look, The New York Times editorial page took time to say nice things about us: “How far will Republican lawmakers go to protect millionaires? Those who think a default on the federal government’s credit seems implausible should take a sobering look at the ‘closed’ signs dotting Minnesota. The Republican Party there readily shut down the state’s government on Friday by refusing to raise taxes on the 7,700 Minnesotans who make more than $1 million a year. … Like Republicans in Washington, they have the delusion that they can balance the budget entirely from cuts. The governor proposed more than $2 billion in cuts but refused to slash billions more from education, health care and public safety programs. The Legislature also wanted new abortion restrictions and a voter ID law that Mr. Dayton had already vetoed.” I think I’ll have that framed and sent to my mom.
In fairness, I should frame and send this one, too … from the Wall Street Journal’s opinion page: “Government union members have been rallying at the state capitol chanting ‘tax the rich, tax the rich.’ But Minnesota already does that more than most states and out of proportion to most of its neighbors. It already has the sixth highest corporate income tax rate (9.8%), one of the highest death tax rates (8% to 16%), and the seventh highest tax burden overall as a share of income, according to the Tax Foundation. That hasn’t helped the economy, and over the last decade Minnesota has lagged the national average in job creation, domestic migration and personal income growth, according to a new report by the American Legislative Exchange Council. Mr. Dayton’s gamble is that taxing the richest 8,000 or so Minnesotans won’t hurt the economy, but that isn’t a smart bet when Iowa, the Dakotas and Wisconsin are reining in pension costs and other spending while cutting business taxes. In the South, where most of the new jobs have been created in this recovery, taxes tend to be even lower. Meanwhile, California, Hawaii, Maryland and Oregon have tried soaking the rich, and most of their budget problems have persisted. Experience shows that trying to balance a state budget by loading the tax burden on 1% of the richest residents is fairy-dust economics.” The American Legislative Exchange Council, you ask? Read here.
This was inevitable. Paul Walsh and Jim Anderson of the Strib report: “Vandals went wild at abandoned Minnesota state parks over the holiday weekend, wrecking buildings and driving around closed gates as the government shutdown drags toward its second week. The most serious damage was at Afton State Park, east of the Twin Cities, where 12 people were taken into custody after a burglary and vandalism spree at three buildings before dawn on Monday … Vandals also hit dozens of other state properties in Minnesota … ‘This is just exactly the type of thing we’re going to be seeing repeatedly as the shutdown goes forward,’ said Steve Morse, former lawmaker and DNR deputy commissioner who is now executive director of the Minnesota Environmental Partnership. ‘It shows once again how difficult it is to extricate the state from our lives, and the problems that are going to come to light once something like this happens.’ “
Dave Aeikens of the St. Cloud Times files on the new test of cameras in the courtroom: “This month, a two-year pilot project starts that loosens restrictions on the use of still and video cameras in some civil trials. The old rules required the judge, the defense and the prosecution to agree to allow cameras. County attorneys, judges and defense lawyers typically opposed them. The rules during the pilot project presumes an openness for allowing cameras in the courtroom for civil trials. Criminal trials, family court and commitment proceedings will remain off-limits to cameras. Most court action in Minnesota is in criminal cases. The pilot project is expected to provide a baseline that could help set future policy on camera access in Minnesota courts. For supporters of cameras in courts, it advances a longtime desire to loosen restrictions.” All we need now is an attractive young mother accused of murder and Nancy Grace.
If you’re inclined to suspect them all, here’s further proof that no state employee can be trusted. Emily Gurnon of the PiPress writes: “A longtime state clerical worker pleaded guilty this morning to 20 counts of offering forged checks with information she obtained at work. Terri Lynn Brennan, 47, of St. Paul made copies of real checks that businesses sent to the state Occupational Safety and Health Administration for fines, then used the information on them to create fake checks with payroll check-making software she installed on her home computer. She also bought special check paper on which to print them out. … Brennan said she and her husband made just one check at first, to see if the ruse would work. Dan Brennan took the check to Walmart and cashed it. ‘What did you do with the cash?’ Lamin asked. ‘We split it,’ Brennan said. They told a friend of Dan’s about the scheme. ‘He had lost his job as a garbageman and needed some stuff for his family,’ Terri Brennan said. That was Todd Windingstad of Oakdale, who was also charged in the case after Brennan made some checks out to him. Windingstad, 40, pleaded guilty to 14 counts of check forgery or aiding and abetting check forgery and was sentenced May 31 to 60 days in jail and five years’ probation.”
Finally, the state’s most reliably entertaining political character, GOP Chairman Tony Sutton, has, in true entrepreneurial spirit decided to accept a $100,000-a-year salary for his work on behalf of his party’s clients. Sally Jo Sorensen of Bluestem Prairie notes the report by the Strib’s Baird Helgeson, then launches into the curiosity of Chairman Sutton commencing his salaried employment the same day as the beginning of The Shutdown and wonders, “But that $100,000 has to come from somewhere, right? And the MNGOP didn’t just owe counties money for the recount, but a horde of other vendors as well, after the 2010 election. Why, back on June 1, Bluestem reported in From the fascinating FEC reports of the Republican Party of Minnesota: of counties, committees, and candidates, that there was even a sitting freshman state senator on the list of open receipts. Now Sutton began drawing a salary as well last Friday, coincidentially the same day that the shutdown began. Certainly this new expense, along with older debts, at the Republican Party of Minnesota headquarters creates an incentive for some aggressive fundraising on Sutton’s part.” And yes, The Chairman has asked tax-stressed GOP voters for contributions ‘to help us stop Mark Dayton and build for the next election. Our Republican majorities are all that stand between Dayton and his desire to raise taxes on the hard-working citizens of Minnesota.’ “