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What Greater Minnesota got out of the 2015 legislative session

It was the morning after the November 2014 election, and soon-to-be Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt was excitedly introducing the freshly-elected members of his new Republican majority caucus, many of them from the far-flung regions of the state. It was because of those members that Republicans had regained control of the chamber after two years, knocking out 10 DFL incumbents in districts outside of the metro area.

Like he had done many times on the campaign trail, Daudt criticized the DFL majority party for “leaving Greater Minnesota behind.” And he promised Republicans wouldn’t do the same.

Daudt wasn’t alone in making such pledges. Early in the legislative session, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, a Democrat from Cook, echoed the House leader’s sentiments, saying the rural parts of the state were not recovering from the recession as fast as the metro area. Both parties rolled out packages of bills designed to help.  

But more than five months later, groups representing Greater Minnesota are giving the 2015 session an incomplete.

Some of their top priorities — fixes for roads and bridges, increased Local Government Aid for cities and tax credits to help spur investment in housing for middle-income workers — fell apart in the session’s final days as Republicans and Democrats hit an impasse over a tax bill and a long-term transportation funding package. Groups are also lamenting the loss of a bonding bill and a funding package to spend dollars from the Legacy amendment, which ran out of time in the hurried final moments of the 2015 session.

“It would be hard to paint it as a big win for any one group or a geographic area,” said Dan Dorman, a former Republican legislator and current executive director of the Greater Minnesota Partnership. “There were some small victories, sure, but with the tax bill going away we lost a lot.”

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton has vetoed an education passed by the Legislature and plans to call lawmakers back for a special session, and Dorman, like many others, hopes that some of their proposals could be revived this summer. “Special session might be the chance to turn it into the Greater Minnesota session that was talked about five months ago,” he said.

Some bright spots

The way Daudt sees it, there were still significant victories for Greater Minnesota in the final budget deal. Most notable is a provision he personally considered a top priority: Changing the way nursing homes are reimbursed.

Nursing homes currently get reimbursed by Medicaid in a combination of state and federal dollars, but with budget cuts over the years, the reimbursements haven't kept up with inflation. The proposal that passed the Legislature would pump $138 million in state money to pay for higher nurse salaries.

Then-Minority Leader Kurt Daudt
MinnPost photo by Briana Bierschbach
Then-Minority Leader Kurt Daudt with newly-elected Republicans speaking at a news conference the day after the 2014 election where the party added 10 seats from Greater Minnesota.

“This is something that will make an unbelievable difference for our long-term care facilities, particularly in Greater Minnesota,” Daudt said. “In many of those smaller towns, many of these long-term facilities are the largest employer. They are now going to be able to pay their employees a competitive wage.”

Dorman says the nursing home funding is a good thing, but it’s not specifically targeted toward Greater Minnesota. Nursing homes across the state will benefit. “Saying long-term care for Greater Minnesota, that’s like people saying education is a metro issue,” Dorman said.

Other areas got some funding, but nothing near what groups were hoping for during a session with a nearly $2 billion budget surplus: 

  • Roads and bridges: While a broader transportation funding package didn’t pass, there was $12 million in one-time money included in a “lights on” transportation bill that will help cities with populations of less than 5,000 people fix their roads and bridges. Groups initially wanted $28 million in ongoing funding for that program.
  • Broadband: Greater Minnesota groups were pushing all session for better access to high-speed Internet for businesses outside the metro. While as much as $100 million was considered at one point for broadband access, in the end just $12 million was passed.
  • Crossings: Funding for railroad safety provisions fell apart along with a transportation plan. Only $5 million was included in a bill to create rail emergency response teams and upgrade several rail crossings.
  • Local Government Aid: The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities was requesting $23 million increase in LGA over the next two years. Democrats in the Senate proposed increasing LGA payments by $89 million over the next two years, while Republicans proposed reducing payments made to just Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth. In the end, no changes were made to the program after tax negotiations broke down.
  • Workforce training: Workforce training grants were included in the final jobs package to the tune of $2 million over the next four years, but the language in the bill didn’t specifically direct those grants to Greater Minnesota.

Marty Seifert, a former Republican House minority leader and now a lobbyist with the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, said there were other positive policy developments for Greater Minnesota, including a requirement that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency get an independent peer review and cost-benefit analysis of all new water quality regulations. Environmental groups opposed the changes, which they said would put politics into a scientific process, but Seifert says it could help local governments save money on multi-million dollar water treatment overhauls.

“For the biennium, I think the grade is still incomplete,” Seifert added. “We want to see how special session goes and we have big hopes for 2016.”

For legislators, a mixed bag

For freshman Rep. Peggy Bennett, a teacher and a Republican from Albert Lea, the final result was a mixed bag, but she’s mostly pleased with what they were able to pass this session. 

“Did we get everything done or everything we wanted? No, but that’s probably never going to happen,” Bennett said. “No one ever gets everything they want.”

She ticked off a number of accomplishments: She’s pleased with the new nursing home funding, a teacher loan forgiveness program that she says will help recruitment in rural Minnesota, and $100 million put toward keeping tuition costs down at Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) campuses.

Many rural Republicans ran on fixing roads and bridges in outstate Minnesota, but Bennett counted blocking a DFL proposal to raise the gas tax and other fees to pay for roads and bridges as a victory for rural Minnesota communities. “I see that as incredibly harmful to Greater Minnesota, especially low and middle income people,” she said. “I heard from many people: Don’t raise the gas tax, it will kill our area.”

State Rep. Paul Marquart
State Rep. Paul Marquart

But Rep. Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, said more money should have been put into higher education for full tuition freezes at MnSCU and University of Minnesota campuses, rail safety and transportation immediately. And without additional money for LGA, Marquart said property taxes will increase in the next two years.

Marquart said Republicans’ Greater Minnesota rhetoric fell away when they proposed a $2 billion tax cut plan.

“At some point, they decided we are going to put all of our eggs in the big tax cut basket, and I think when they did, rural Minnesota interests went out the door,” Marquart said. “At that point you couldn’t do education like you wanted, and freeze tuition, and because they were doing that, we lost the transportation bill too.”

“There was so much rhetoric from the Republicans saying this was going to be the rural Minnesota session, and there were all these high hopes. And, I tell ya, when you look at what happened, it was a big flop.”

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Comments (89)

I agree with Rep. Marquart

As a soon to be resident in Greater Minnesota, I think the Republicans put too much focus on tax cuts for the folks that put money in their campaigns, and less focus on the voters that gave them the majority in the House.

More LGA for Greater Minnesota? Republicans said take it from the big bad cities, who already get less per capita in LGA. That wasn't going to happen, but Republicans used it in their us against them rhetoric.

One of the biggest losses for Greater Minnesota? Both parties should be ashamed about the paltry 12 million for broadband in Greater Minnesota, which is badly needed.

Compromise on a smaller gas tax should have been reached to get the transportation funding going. Another huge loss for Greater Minnesota that Republicans appeared to not have much interest in.

In an era

when politicians see their jobs as nothing more than fighting over "who gets what," just avoiding having your wallet lightened even further is a victory for the masses, rural or otherwise.

Greater Minnesota

With respect to these issues, would Greater Minnesota have done better if they had elected a DFL house of representatives?

IMO

Probably not. Possibly worse in my opinion. The DFL has farmers right in their name yet seems to do almost everything counter to what farmers like.

IMO

They would have done better with DFL. A better funded transportation bill and better funded broadband policy were high on my list. Nursing homes did OK, which was a positive. The water quality issues which involve farming have not been addressed, but are not going away. This should not be construed as ant-farmer, IMO, and is not by most farmers, but more so by most big corporate farmers.

anti-famrer/corporate farmer

Less than 3% if all farmers are corporate farmers so why should Dayton target such a small minority? It is very anti farming and anti agricultural. Dayton has an ax to grind and is against farming entirely. If it was not anti farming it would have been tailored to fit the current farm bill and not penalize farmers.

Responsibility

Seriously? Asking the poor farmers to do something to clean up their own mess at their own expense is anti-farming?

Just because the "mess" winds up on public property doesn't change who is at fault, nor who is responsible.

mess

It isn't only their mess btw. And yes it is anti-farming if they are encouraged to do it in the first place and then punished for it just like it was anti-farming to blame and point fingers as Dayton has done.

Responsibility Part II

We are not talking about anyone else but agriculture. "Well, Bobby did it too" doesn't solve or excuse anything.

I believe it was the DNR who pointed the finger. Over many years.

How does anyone solve a problem, ( which in many ways is part of the Governor's job) without figuring out the source? "Gee, it's too bad all our water is polluted. Too bad I can't say who is causing it!"

Please help us understand that.

Also, please explain where the State of Minnesota encouraged anybody to deliberately ignore existing law.

exactly

Blaming one group when the reports clearly stated URBAN pollution was a problem too doesn't solve anything either. The MPCA report was talking about others as well but Dayton chose to single farmers out and be anti farming and has proposed nothing at all to curb urban pollution. There isn't any other way to spin it as much as anyone tries. BTW the most common pollutant in MN waters and the cause of the majority of TMDL waters is mercury and nothing else. Mercury has nothing to do with farming. And we certainly don't solve the problem by slapping a one size fits all approach whether some areas need it or not(many do not). You solve it by working with groups with knowledge of the areas not environmental groups who do not have that knowledge nor have they any expertise in farming or buffers. At no point did I say any existing law was ignored. The existing law is on the books but is currently not being enforced the same statewide.

Yes a DFL House Would Have Done Better for Greater Minnesota

They always do.

Our Republican representatives proved, once again, that they are far more interested in keeping the Tax Phobic, Grover Norquist-acolyte wing of their party happy,...

than they are in actually serving those of us who elected them,...

They'll blame "the cities" for the fact that they didn't get anything done for us, out here,...

and far too many rural voters will believe them while remaining stubbornly ignorant of the facts, which run against their biases,...

and their tendency to let their fear of, bigotry toward, and jealousy of what they imagine to be the worthless, lazy lives of inner city folk,...

lives which they imagine themselves to be supporting with their tax dollars,...

overwhelm any actual, factual reality that might exist.

The GOP co-opted DFL solutions

None of the what Greater Minnesota got from this session was consistent with conservative, small government ideology. The GOP caucus was transparently talking out of both sides of its mouth when it claimed to advocate for both Greater Minnesota and smaller government (and tax cuts).

What the GOP caucus quite nakedly stands for is 'small government for thee, but not for me'. True conservatives motivated by principle should be irate over this but so far I've seen what I expected - tribal solidarity. That is not the case with the DFL caucus without whose support none of these provisions benefitting Greater Minnesota could have passed. Furthermore, Greater Minnesota simply cannot live without subsidies, and DFL ideology supports the idea that market forces should not be the sole determinant of where one lives.

The central cities rank somewhere in the 400's out of roughly 750 communities when one looks at the LGA per capita figures. Small outstate communities take the vast majority of the spots at the top. Though we cannot pretend to expect honesty in politics, the cynical abuse of the truth exercised by current GOP caucus over the past few years is beyond the pale.

Broadband?

If I remember correctly when Clinton signed the 1996 telecommunications act, in exchange for giving away the public airwaves and deregulating the big communications companies, they promised to get broadband into ever nook and cranny of the US within 10 years. Well, to no one's surprise that hasn't happened and now here we are, nearly 20 years and billions and billions of dollars in lost revenue later, proposing to spend public money on what private industry promised to do. Of course the media that should be reporting this is the same industry that benefited from this giant boondoogle so its not surprising that they don't remember, but shouldn't our elected officials?

gas tax

Maybe that tells us everything we need to know about how Republicans can't be trusted to govern, that they list as a top accomplishment blocking the DFL from finding a revenue source to fix the backlog of road and bridge maintenance.

More Gas

"Bennett counted blocking a DFL proposal to raise the gas tax and other fees to pay for roads and bridges as a victory for rural Minnesota communities. 'I see that as incredibly harmful to Greater Minnesota, especially low and middle income people,' she said."

In case Ms. Bennett didn't notice, an "incredibly harmful" increase in the price of gas has taken place while she and her hardworking Republican colleagues have been busy protecting us from an increase in the price of gas (that would fix people's roads):

One month ago the average price was $2.38 per gallon;

On week ago the average price was $2.57 per gallon.

http://www.minnesotagasprices.com/

Let's see. That would be an increase of 19-cents in three weeks. And not a penny of it will do anything to fix anyone's roads.

And, according to the "gas charts," it looks like the price of gas was at or below $2.00 per gallon when legislators began their work at the beginning of January which would mean there was a 25-percent increase during the time Republicans were battling to make sure the price we pay wouldn't go up.

But as incredibly harmful as they are, those increases are always A-okay and never need be questioned or railed against because they weren't caused by the government (that is responsible for fixing those rural roads).

Funny how that works, isn't it?

Many factors rose price at the pumps

What has the price of oil done since the Legislative session began? The price of gas always increases in the Spring as people are traveling more and the refiners switch to the summer blend.

The problem most people saw with Dayton's proposed wholesale gas tax is that as the price of gas raises, so does the the amount of the tax collected. Did you honestly believe Dayton when he claimed that said wholesale gas tax would not be passed along to the consumer at the pumps? Find me one example where a wholesale tax doesn't get passed along to the consumer?

Maybe if the State wasn't spending as much money as they are now and want to in the future with the proposed Southwest Light Rail plan with urban transit plans and spend some of what is already being collected by the gas tax in Greater Minnesota the State would be better. And please spare us any mention about how the Twin Cities Metropolitan area "subsidizes" Greater Minnesota. It's getting to be an old, tired line.

The metro does subsidize outstate mn

And to deny that fact is laughable. The metro is tired of this long term funding.

And let's not forget THESE legislative gifts

These beauties aren't all limited to "Greater Minnesota," but the legislature has definitely made sure they'll be included.

Freedom from scientific meddling with their drinking water:

"a requirement that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency get an independent peer review and cost-benefit analysis of all new water quality regulations. Environmental groups opposed the changes, which they said would put politics into a scientific process, but Seifert says it could help local governments save money on multi-million dollar water treatment overhauls."

Freedom from needing to be involved:

"abolition of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s citizen board, which gives ultimate authority to people with maximum independence from outside pressure – [that] would erase time-tested hallmarks of progressive stewardship."

Freedom to help irradicate more of those pesky bees with poison flowers:

"the cute rewriting of new pollinator protections to let insect-killing plants be sold as “pollinator friendly,” so long as the first contact with a systemic insecticide isn’t fatal, would undercut modest, sensible, important steps forward on a problem where action is long overdue."

And maybe the most humongous gift ever given to Greater Minnesota (in a completely bi-partisan way)...

(Potential) Freedom from ever having to go fishing or swimming or anywhere NEAR the Boundary Waters, Lake Superior, or Northeastern Minnesota in general again:

"the amazing categorical exemption of copper-nickel mining from state regulations on solid waste — a blank check for industrial pollution sources that don’t yet exist, for discharges that can’t yet be quantified, with impacts extending for centuries."

http://www.minnpost.com/earth-journal/2015/05/legislatures-environmental...

I'd say that pretty much blows all the "Didn't really get much" talk right out of the water. And that isn't all. There's way more stuff like that stuff (the Freedom to pay more for electricity, for example) that almost no one knows about yet because people (including most of the legislators and media folks) are just barely beginning to figure out what actually hit the state last Monday night over at the House at one minute to midnight.

As a rural guy living in N

As a rural guy living in N Minn, we get turtle crossings, boat landings (on favorite lakes of legislators), bike bridges, newly paved roads that very few drive on and my favorite, ballparks in the middle of now where. Come on up and see what the DFL has done for us the past 50 yrs. We are the rural Detroit, Baltimore and Gary Indiana. We need jobs not busy body projects that are touted as bring millions to the Range to help us.

Will I be able to deduct the 50x300 feet of my lake shore from my property taxes since I will no longer be able to do anything with it when the "buffer rule" passes from our gutless elected officials.

Both parties are shameful to be honest, I just get tired of "we are looking out for you" BS from my DFL elected officials who we still see face to face up here once in a great while. Used to see them more but I guess the perks that go with being an elected official are greater in Mpls/St Paul than Big Fork.

Sorry but

NorthEastern Minnesota has been receiving handouts from the state for decades, with little return. The reality is the range is waiting for union jobs at mining companies with high wages and benefits for people with little education. The Range is a huge waste dump, no tourism, no significant college presence and little new economic thought. Time to quit subsidizing dying extraction its businesses. They have already made the decision to leave, and their politicians STILL want to sign blank checks for their industry.

Well stated, Robert.

The Range reminds me of the UP of Michigan. What few people are left have either reinvented themselves and moved on, or bitterly cling to a boom or bust, mining economy that for the most part, has been gone for decades.

Decided to Leave

It seems to me that the metro living environmental fringe folks are working as hard as they can to kick those Mining, Lumber, Hunting, etc industries, jobs, etc out of Northern MN. Often against the will of those who live there.

Not Hard Enough

It seems to me that if I and generations of my descendants, and the rest of the citizens of Minnesota are going to be on the hook for paying to clean up pollution from a very profitable private business, those "metro living environmental fringe folks" aren't working hard enough.

Perhaps you should actually educate yourself

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-bc-mn--mesabi-nugget-layoffs-2015...
Sounds like free market capitalism at work to me, but you can go with the imaginary liberal, city slicker boogieman theory if you'd like.

Sorry, Joe...

but you folks always tell me that government doesn't create jobs. Now it's up to the state to provide you with a livelihood so that you can continue to live up there? I left a rural town when I was young and moved to the cities for a job with more money and opportunity. It seems that simple mentality is lost on some up there.

Sorry about the dilemma you're facing in having to figure out what to with your lake shore. That sounds like an issue that we can all relate to. Have you considered just enjoying it?

Buffer phobia

Do you plow and plant row crops right down to your shoreline? Do you have your cows and pigs swimming off your dock? If not, you do not have much to worry about when it comes to buffer rules. As a matter of fact, I would not be surprised that if your lake shore neighbors chose to row crop right to your property's edge or have their cows swimming next to your kids, you would agree that buffer rules are a good idea. As a frequent visitor to SE MN, I see exactly this happening to streams that used to be filled with trout. Instead, farmers freely abuse these public waters all the while they take all the crop subsidies they can get from the oppressive government that wants to tell them how to manage their stream side property.

Can we please go back to "Outstate" instead of "Greater"

The PB bit has gone on too long. If outstate Minnesota is "Greater," doesn't that infer the Metro area is "Lesser"?

You know - the part of the state with the most people who pay the most taxes?

Very few people do better with republicans

If in fact rural voters went with the republicans or divided government because they thought they'd get more, it was a "Kansas" moment of stupidity. The fact is they were getting and would have gotten more from democrats.

The only major thing they can claim to have gotten at this point is no new gas tax, but that's actually a loss because without it, they don't the infrastructure they want and need. And while no one was looking republicans in those not too far flung suburbs are starting to clamor for more choo choo's. They want North Star extended to St. Cloud, and they want to see LR lines.

Republican calculations are always based on bizarre calculations that are mathematically and ethically challenged. For instance, why is it better to inflict thousands of additional dollars worth of co-pays and health insurance premiums on tens of thousand of Minnesotan's while saving "rural" Minnesotan's a few cents per gallon on the gas pump? Gas taxes his rural people hard? How hard compared to unemployment, recessions, housing shortages, and high education costs? If you think your pathway to wealth in this world is paying 13 cents a gallon less for gas you're in for a shock.

Paul, you are wrong about why

Paul, you are wrong about why out state folks voted for a change up here. We've heard all the "stuff" the DFL has promised us for past 50 yrs on the Range and are living with the results. The DFL (including Reps up here) are regulating the 2 natural resources we have outta business, logging/mining.

Joe...

"We've heard all the "stuff" the DFL has promised us for past 50 yrs on the Range and are living with the results. The DFL (including Reps up here) are regulating the 2 natural resources we have outta business, logging/mining."

In other words: "Yeah", after 50 with the DFL you thought you'd get more from the GOP. How's that working out for you? As for mining and logging you'll find that the DFL is far more likely to extend unemployment, spend stimulus money, and create retraining and education programs. The DFL is also more likely to build and maintain your roads and other transportation infrastructure so people, goods, and services can get in and out of your region. In fact despite our population we already the 5th most extensive road system in the country, most of that built in the last 50s years by the way. The GOP will talk about getting government out of the way so entrepreneur's can innovate.

Meanwhile, neither mining or logging jobs last forever because they depend on finite supplies of lumber and ore, and global availability and demand. You know, if we were to spend the trillions of dollars we need to spend on our national infrastructure it would create a national demand for steel... but that wouldn't help the Iron Range would it so best keep government spending as low as possible.

Blaming government

This article from the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer magazine suggests that demand for wood products is at an all time low. We could log twice as much lumber sustainably but there is no demand for it.

http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/mcvmagazine/issues/2014/sep-oct/forest-produc...

Logging and mining jobs are dangerous and costly. That labor will continue the trend to become more automated over time regardless of the demand.

Trees

Trees are finite?

Disingenuous, John.

Exactly where was that claim made? It's a rhetorical question...we both know the answer.

Answer

Please read the comments above.

"Meanwhile, neither mining or logging jobs last forever because they depend on finite supplies of lumber and ore,"

Nice try

That's not to say trees are finite. Trees in areas that can sustain logging operations are.

Basic forestry

If I were to plant a tree today, how long before it would be ready for some commercial purpose? Put another way, if we were to cut down all of the harvestable timber in Minnesota today, how long would those jobs last?

Rate of Harvest

It depends on the rate of harvest. Goal is to have it aligned to rate of tree renewal.

About 70 years

We do plant trees for future harvest, and it takes about 70 years for those trees to reach a harvestable maturity.

Interesting

Joe,
Don't you find it interesting that these DFL folks want to legislate and constrain many of the businesses and behaviors in greater MN, while saying we spend too much for the few people who live there?

That of course is not what is being said

I for one, and I suspect nobody else here, has said anything of the kind, John. If I could reiterate the point I and others made earlier, it's that the kinds of subsidies needed to maintain outstate Minnesota are more consistent with the DFL's governing philosophy and contradict the GOP's small government rhetoric. Yours is an empty strawman argument.

Disagree

Theo,
Repeatedly people here are saying that the folks in Greater MN should be thankful because there is a slight revenues transfer from the metro to out state. Which of course is questionable in the first place due to a lot of factors that make it hard to determine. I mean who are we building those 4 lane rural state highways for? Where would the metro's huge agribusiness economy be without the farm fields? Etc?

Second the folks in the metro ignored the opinions of the rural citizens when gay marriage was passed immediately after they made it clear that they disapproved.

Third, the folks from the metro want to control mining, wolves, buffer strips, and many other things in areas where they rarely visit.

Therefore I think the country folk would be happier if the metro folk focused on fixing their own neighborhoods and stopped trying to tell them how to live on the other end of the state.

Ignored the opinons?

What about the opinions of the majority of people that wanted to make same sex marriage legal? What about the majority of people that voted down the amendment put forth by the GOP to enshrine discrimination into the state constitution? Why is it that conservatives puff up their chests and declare they have a mandate, no matter how small a margin their victory was, but Democrats are supposed to acquiesce to their point of view when they're in the minority?

Majority

"the majority of people that voted down the amendment"

You are correct, the majority of citizens did vote down the ammendment that would have have made gay marriage illegal forever.
However no majority of citizens agreed to make gay marriage legal. (ie Ireland)

The DFL can do as they wish, however their politicians and supporters should not be surprised when the local politicians are booted out of office after voting against the strongly communicated will of their local constituents.

GOP politicians also get booted when they vote against the will of their constituents.

Why no repeal effort?

If the majority of people living in rural Minnesota were against the passage of the gay marriage law, and they booted Democrats because of it, a person would think a Republican party working on behalf of rural Minnesotan's with such obviously strong beliefs would have at least attempted to repeal the law this year, futile as that attempt would have been. They must be saving "Repeal Gay Marriage Now!" for the 2016 campaign.

50 / 50

The only reason it got passed was because the DFL had full control. It can not be undone until the GOP has full control. Besides I think the state is split ~50/50 on the issue, so there likely will be no effort to repeal.

That's a bit desperate don't you think, John?

It's like saying that the only reason my team lost is because their opponent scored more points.

This is flat out nuts

"Second the folks in the metro ignored the opinions of the rural citizens when gay marriage was passed immediately after they made it clear that they disapproved."

This is ridiculous. It is absurd. Seriously: get a grip. We all voted on this, following a perfectly fair referendum process. That majority in large parts of outstate Minnesota which voted against gay marriage rights was no more ignored than anyone else.

You live in a democracy. Your interest was outvoted. Be a true citizen of a democracy and accept that by the very nature of the government which benefits us all you will sometimes not get your way- and that is perfectly legitimate.

Referendum

It would have been interesting if the DFL had proposed a referendum regarding legalizing gay marriage, rather than using their temporary majority to shove it through. Personally I am indifferent to the topic and probably would have needed to flip a coin.

T2

I am thinking most of them would prefer if the metro folks focus more on improving the metro instead of telling them how to live their lives. We have metro folks calling them bigots because they don't support gay marriage, trying to stop them hunting wolves, trying to block mines in their communities, telling them how to be responsible farmers, etc, etc, etc.

I think the GOP resonates with them since they try to let communities make their own decisions and keep more of their own money. Where as, as you say the State DFL
folks seem to prefer collecting more taxes and then trying to tell others what they need...

Maybe the metro folks think they don't have enough problems of their own to address. (ie crime, achievement gap, poverty, teenage pregnancy, single parent households, etc) Or maybe it is just more fun to tell other how to live...

Nicely said

Especially the "We have metro folks calling them bigots" part evidenced by a post above:

"and far too many rural voters will believe them while remaining stubbornly ignorant of the facts, which run against their biases,...

and their tendency to let their fear of, bigotry toward,"

Never forget it was Rudy Perpich who coined "Greater Minnesota" and we will not ever return to calling it anything less than that in honor of the greatest DFLer ever.

City folks' problems

"Poverty?" The three poorest counties in Minnesota are rural (Mahnomen, Beltrami, Blue Earth). Ramsey County is sixth; Hennepin County is 27th.

"Teenage pregnancy? Mahnomen and Beltrami Counties are, once again, the leaders in this category. Hennepin County's teen pregnancy rate (46 per 1,000 women between 15 and 19) is comparable to that of Martin County (45.5/1000). Ramsey County (52.6/1000) comes in just a tad less than Watonwan (52.9/1000).

"Single parent households?" Mahnomen (47%), Beltrami (41%), Cook (39%), and Freeborn (38%) lead the pack here. Hennepin and Ramsey Counties are at 32% and 35%, respectively.

Maybe that isn't enough for rural folks, and they want to tell the rest of the state how to live (No gay marriage!).

Averaging Does Wonders

Yes, including the whole county does hide our urban decay problems pretty well... There are a lot of well to do families living in the burbs. Maybe if you compare those rural areas to just Plymouth, the metro would look even better.

The limits of averaging

Averaging cannot hide the fact that rural Minnesota is poorer than the metro area, has higher rates of teen pregnancy, and has a greater percentage of families living in single-parent households, all of the ills you attribute to the metro.

Or were you referring only to scary ol' Minneapolis as your exemplar of the sinkhole that is the metropolitan area?

Several

I think the areas that need significant help and would make the country folk look better off cross Minneapolis and several other cities. As we have discussed many times.

And yet

We keep pouring the money into the metro. I thought we were supposed to be looking out for the poor and the disadvantaged. Let's target the money to where it is needed--outstate.

Source

Here is a good MinnPost picture of the huge metro variation.
https://www.minnpost.com/cityscape/2010/12/census-2010-can-metro-area-so...

By the way, I would rather live in Porter MN on $20,000 / year than in N Mpls on $20,000 / year. We need to make sure we are comparing cost of living as well as household income.

A Thought

"Maybe that isn't enough for rural folks, and they want to tell the rest of the state how to live (No gay marriage!)." RB

I think they will adjust, however I don't think they will choose to elect local politicians who clearly voted against their clearly documented will. I assume those politicians thought they knew better what was in the best interest of the people living in greater MN...

"The best interest of the people living in greater MN"

Because human rights and human dignity mean nothing if the folks back home don't think it's in their best interest.

The Kansas Mentality

I’m not trying to insult anyone but one has to recognize the fact that rural votes for republicans aren’t very smart. I’m not saying urban voters are smarter but it’s never a good idea to vote against your own best interests.

Contemporary republicans will not deliver more representation to Greater Minnesota because on a very basic level they are ideologically opposed to the very notion of doing so. They may talk about representation but when you get to the details there’s never any “there” there.

Elsewhere on Minnpost we have a map of statewide disparity, and our economic data show that
Greater Minnesotan’s are poorer, more un- and underemployed, and generally lacking in several areas. Republican promises to address this are basically disingenuous because on a very basic level they don’t actually have a problem with it.

Republicans (and their supporters here in the comments) look at maps of disparity and unemployment and see a natural economic order. As far as republicans are concerned disparity is the result of meritocracy and any government attempt to reduce disparity is ill advised government wealth redistribution.

The republican mentality dictates that if you’re unemployed or underemployed, or living in an economically depressed region you’re responsible for your own choices. These are the guys that complain that the bank and auto industry bailouts were unethical meddling in the free markets. These are the guys that responded to the recession with more spending and tax cuts rather than massive stimulus spending. The republican brainstorm for getting us out of the recession was a sequester that has prolonged the recession and delivered recovery to the top 1%. And I hate to tell this but the top 1% don’t live in Greater Minnesota.

Seriously, do you really think the guys who want to eliminate minimum wage are going to roll out a plan to redistribute more of Minnesota’s wealth out-state? You may get silencers for your guns but you're not going get any jobs out of these guys.

Speaking of Minnesota’s wealth; it’s also not very smart to buy into republican wedge politics that pit rural and urban Minnesota against each other. There’s no future in that strategy for Greater Minnesota because the population and the wealth are NOT located in Lake County. Look at the disparity map and you can see where that billion dollars of tax cuts is going to go… and it’s not Alexandria.

Democrats and urban voters like myself are more than willing to devote our combined resources towards economic development, infrastructure, housing, and aid to local governments outside the metro area, but republican are actually opposed to such budget plans. Don’t take my word for it, just look at the last budget proposal’s and the last budget. Dayton and the Democrats wanted to spend more money out in Greater Minnesota in almost every category than the republicans voted for. Republican’s were more interested in cutting spending and giving wealthy metro residents tax than they were in serving Greater Minnesota. This shouldn't surprise anyone but apparently rural voters haven't been paying attention.

And as far as logging and mining are concerned, if you thought guys who brought us the Time of Shedding and Cold Rocks that wreaked so much havoc on the Iron Range and have resisted any effort to extend the recovery more equitably are going roll out some kind of stimulus plan for the Iron Range you’re just being silly. If Greater Minnesota is lucky they’ll maybe get some sympathy from republicans, but nothing else.

OK so maybe rural voters just wanted divided government, but that means again that they’re either completely happy with things the way they are or they weren’t being smart. You didn’t have be a rocket scientist to predict that gridlock and stalemate would be the result, and in fact, some republican lawmakers are actually very satisfied with a session that did nothing, and nothing is what we got.

Unless rural voters are happy with the status quo this was a perfect example of people voting against their own best interests. The question is: "Will they learn?"

Vote for Self Interest

I think there is an important concept and philosophical difference here. A vote for one's self interest can vary greatly.

If one believes that letting the State and Federal government decide how one's money is best spent, how the land in their community is to be used, what is socially acceptable behavior in your neighborhood, who deserves charity payments from your hard work, etc, then Paul is correct that a vote for DFL politicians is in one's self interest. They definitely do believe in government intervention and that they know better than you.

If one wants Local communities and oneself to determine how one's money is best spent, how the land in their community is to be used, what is socially acceptable behavior in your neighborhood, who deserves charity payments from your hard work, etc, then a vote for DFL politicians is probably not in one's self interest..

Sounds good

Local communities and oneself determine how one's money is best spent,

how the land in their community is to be used,

what is socially acceptable behavior in your neighborhood,

who deserves charity payments from your hard work.

It appears you believe those things will happen if the communities we live in are represented by people who subscribe and stay true to whatever political brand you're recommending (those espousing belief in conservative, libertarian or Ayn Randian concepts and philosophy, it seems).

Sounds good, but unfortunately, the landscape you're painting doesn't resemble the reality outside the window. No voter being represented by those you would recommend is actually doing any of the things you list to an extent that comes anywhere near what you imply.

Please Ellaborate

"No voter being represented by those you would recommend is actually doing any of the things you list to an extent that comes anywhere near what you imply."

Individuals, Towns, Townships, Local School Boards and Counties do many of these things. However it is likely they will have views that are different from those in St Paul, Washington DC, UN, etc. Please explain what you are thinking?

Republicans in the woods

I live in the Non-Metro Area. As far as my Republican representative's efforts to make life better for all of us out here goes, he voted whichever way "party leadership" told him to vote which means he voted to:

Eliminate all property taxes for all businesses in the state ($850 million per year);

Provide $350 million per year in estate tax relief for MN's wealthiest 800 heirs or families;

Cut $500 million per year in income taxes paid by the 46% of MN Social Security recipients whose total income is above the level that exempts them from having to pay income tax on their SS benefits;

Cut funding in half for broadband expansion and enhancement in rural Minnesota;

Cut the Health and Human Services budget by $1 billion per year;

Eliminate MinnesotaCare (for several of his constituents);

Eliminate the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Citizen's Advisory Board;

Weaken all of Minnesota's clean air and water standards and make operations as difficult as possible for the science-based agencies charged with understanding the problem, defining necessary solutions and enforcing their implementation.

And those are just a handful of the most visible things he voted for on my and the rest of his "Greater Minnesota" contituent's behalf.

And, in partial further response to what John A. had to say above, I feel safe in saying every Republican representative of any voter living anywhere in the state (rural or urban) voted for exactly the same things. How that adds up to helping local communities and oneself determine how one's money is best spent, how the land in our communities is used, what "socially acceptable behavior" is, or who deserves "charity payments," is hard to see. To me it looks more like one big block of people voting in lock-step for whatever it is THEY believe would be the best way for ALL of us to handle those things.

Power Transfer

Reducing the State collected taxes, State operated programs, State generated laws, State funded committees, State mandates, etc should allow local people to better tailor their local government spend and laws around their local priorities. (ie self govern)

Seems logical to me.

Shedding and cold rocks?

I don't know where that came from, and I tried to change it... what I mean to say was: "if you thought guys who brought us the Great Recession that wreaked so much havoc on the Iron Range and have resisted any effort to extend the recovery more equitably are going roll out some kind of stimulus plan for the Iron Range you’re just being silly."

2015 Session

I think both parties should be ashamed of themselves.

The 'one minute 'till midnight' episode in the MN House was like a bad horror movie, but you already knew the ending.

Our roads are crumbling. Our bridges are decaying and falling, both parties agreed on this. What was the outcome? Nada. Zip. Nothing.

I think we should be paid back as tax breaks for all legislators salaries this past session, to begin with!

Excellent comment

Now there is a comment I can agree with.

Perfect example

John says:

" A vote for one's self interest can vary greatly.

If one believes that letting the State and Federal government decide how one's money is best spent, how the land in their community is to be used, what is socially acceptable behavior in your neighborhood, who deserves charity payments from your hard work, etc,..."

I didn't say "self" interest, I said "best" best interest, there's a difference. This is a perfect example of obscure abstraction. By definition one's best interests don't submit to ideology, so what you may or may not think about who spends your money isn't the point. This is why you can't trust republican priorities. Voting isn't about expressing abstract values, it's about governance and self governance. The isn't about local control etc. etc., Do you want your roads maintained? Do you want a decent public school system? Do you want affordable and reliable health care? Do you safe neighborhoods? These are concrete issues, not abstractions.

These abstractions actually obscure issues and priorities making it very difficult to recognize let alone vote in one's best interest.

ones best interest

That is a fine point I will need to give some thought to:

one's best interest does not equal one's self interest...

Does this mean that someone else is more capable of determining what is in one's best interest than the individual (ie self) or those that live closest to them?

Who is best suited to define and prioritize maintained roads, decent public schools, the correct healthcare system, safe neighborhoods, etc, and self govern? People from the community, people from 300 miles away, or people from 1500 miles away?

I always find it interesting when Democrats say they know what is in the best Interest of others...

I don't think it's that Democrats think they know what's best.

I think it's that Democrats believe in individual and shared responsibility. Republicans believe only in individual responsibility.

Local vs Global

I think Democrats believe that the whole country should adopt their vision of "individual and shared responsibility". And that the USA should be converted to a Democracy where the majority rules.

I think Republicans believe "individual and shared responsibility" should be defined at the lowest level of government as reasonably possible. And that the USA should stay a Republic where people from different areas of the country can self govern within reason.

Simply Wrong

It's an historical fact that you live in a liberal democracy wherein individual rights are protected as matter of design and law. Furthermore republicans are historically far more likely to oppose individual civil rights and promote intolerance than are democrats. Democrats and liberals believe very strongly in our Bill of Rights, election process, and checks and balances. It's not democrats who have been trying to disenfranchise voters all over the country so they can impose their polices despite their unpopularity.

Your concept of individual and shared responsibility is simply incoherent. These concepts don't have different definitions on different levels, an individual is an individual on any level and something is either shared or it isn't. We can argue about whether or not something ought to be shared, but the definition of "shared" doesn't change on local level.

This notion of a some kind of distant government is based on a stereotype of a government that simply doesn't exist in the United States.

Try Again

Here is the first result for Democracy vs Republic.

http://www.lexrex.com/enlightened/AmericanIdeal/aspects/demrep.html

Your Source

I wouldn't be quoting Lex Rex as a source for much of anything. These people are looking at "nutty" in the rear-view mirror.

Source

Which source do you prefer?

America is not a liberal democracy or a national democracy... We are a republic for good reasons.

Better source

Someone without such an obvious and, may I say, non-mainstream political agenda and an eccentric understanding of history.

http://volokh.com/2013/10/28/democracy-republic-mutually-exclusive-terms/

Republic's... again

This the part where the conservative claims that we live in a republic, not a democracy. Anyone who makes such a claim is irrevocably confused. A republic is a form of democratic government. There's nothing to see here- move along. And remember, this reasoning once concluded that it was a great idea to open fire on Fort Sumter.

These "republic" claims let claimants pretend that they are patriots without acknowledging the fact that they don't believe in democracy. It's like some kind of attempt to resolve cognitive dissonance by redefining our form of government to make it more compatible with ideology. Nevertheless it's nonsense.

Democracy or Democracy

RB has a good point, I need to clarify my view. America is very different from smaller countries and for good reason. In many countries a slight majority of citizens in the country can overwhelm the slight minority, which can cause instability and big problems. (ie Iraq) In the USA, the cities, counties and states have powers that allow them to self govern. This allows one region/ group of people to spend, tax, regulate, enforce, etc differently within certain bounds.

From my view, most Conservatives would like to keep the power closer to the citizen. Where as the Democrats envision "ideal policies" that shall be adopted at the State, or preferably Federal level. Thus forcing the country to adopt and conform with their views.

So there are 2 very different democracies... The National Democracy where everyone must conform across the country, and Republic Democracy where citizens in Wyoming can adopt different taxes, spending, laws, etc than California.

Like "the Range," for example?

"This allows one region/group of people to spend, tax, regulate, enforce, etc differently within certain bounds."

How, in your view, would the above apply to the question of copper-nickel mining in northeastern Minnesota?

Actually

"Republicans believe only in individual responsibility."

Republicans talk a lot about personal responsibility but they don't seem to have a coherent concept of personal responsibility beyond: "You're not the boss of me" or "Democrats do it to". When was the last time you saw a republican politician actually take responsibility for something in a meaningful way? The only one I can think of off hand is Nixon and I think the lesson republicans learned from that was: "never take responsibility for ANYTHING".

Not Taking Personal Responsibility

I think that is a typical trait of all politicians, and unfortunately most people.

I mean listen to Obama, Dayton, Education MN, DFL regarding governmernt shutdowns / slow recovery, etc, etc.

It seems that "Not Me" cartoon character is everywhere.

Exhibits A and B for me

I've been waiting for years for any Republican to accept a speck of responsibility for anything having to do with "the Great Recession;" the 750,000 jobs disappearing every month in 2008, the families that lost their health insurance, homes, life savings, etc., as a result of Republican policies that were put in place after the election of George Bush Jr and the actions taken by his administration, chief among them, huge tax cuts for America's wealthy and the incredibly destructive and expensive war in Iraq.

When the Clinton administration left office in 2000 Republicans inherited a booming economy, 99-cents per gallon gasoline, and a multi-billion dollar budget surplus that could have been used to start paying down the $5 trillion national debt - $4 trillion of which had been created by the policies and actions taken by Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr., their administrations, and Republican Senators and Representatives.

But no. Tax cuts for some of the wealthiest people on Earth instead. And, eight short years later, a cratered economy that caused an uncountable number of Americans major, real world damage and pain, and left us a $1+ trillion (yearly) budget deficit, a $10 trillion national debt, and $3.89/gallon gas.

And I've never seen or heard any Republican anywhere "fess up" and accept any responsibility at all for ANY of that.

"Is it possible mistakes were made?"

"When are you going to stop blaming George Bush and admit that Barack Obama is the one that needs to accept responsibility for whatever problems you're referring to. It is time to move on."

I've been waiting for years now for any Minnesota Republican to take any responsibility whatsoever for the decade+ of state budget deficits and the endless legislative and governmental chaos and practical trouble that caused for a whole lot of everyday Minnesotans (local gov aid cuts, big property tax increases, cut services, bad roads, falling bridges, etc.).

"Is it possible mistakes were made?"

No. As a matter of recent fact, what we got instead of anything resembling a Republican taking responsibility for any recent past mistakes, or any sign of "political humility," was a seamless return to the same thinking and orchestrated series of legislative actions that would have led us straight back into the same morass had the Senate not stopped many of them, and had the Governor not stepped up and vetoed some of the others.

I don't know what the psychiatric description is of the complete refusal of ANY Republican to discuss the reality of the above ("denial" seems too "shallow" or tame), but it reminds me of the seven year old boy who just got caught throwing a stone through one of the old storm windows leaning against the back of the garage saying, over and over again, "I didn't do it. It wasn't me. I didn't DO it!"

Kids do that. We've all seen it. Most of us have probably done it ourselves. Everyone knows we did it, including us. But, for some reason (that even strikes US as bizarre), we just cannot bring ourselves to admit it and will "stick to our story" no matter what.

But that's what kids do. It's fairly normal. But most adults - especially those who consider themselves to be reasonably intelligent honest and forthright - will, from time to time, own up to mistakes and see what they can do about not making them again.

So it strikes me as peculiar indeed when so many adults who consider themselves intelligent honest and forthright refuse to discuss, let alone acknowledge, ANY mistakes they may have made, any potential flaws in their designs, any infallibility.

Or maybe I should say it doesn't surprise me to see that kind of thing happen in "normal life among adults," but it gets a little disturbing when it's so universally concentrated in one "set" of adults that is continually vying for the power to be able to impose their agreed upon ideas and designs on millions of people.

"Never accept responsibility for ANYTHING!"

Exhibit A: The undeniable, tangible, factually demonstrable failure of national Republican policies and actions through the first decade of the 21st century.

Exhibit B: The Minnesota version of the failure of Republican policies and actions during the same period of time.

Causation

It seems you are certain regarding the causation of many things. Whereas I see both DFL and GOP policies at fault for many of our challenges. And neither of them like to take responsibility.

Taxes too low !!! Spending too high !!! Taxes too low !!! Spending too high !!! Taxes too low !!! Spending too high !!! and on and on

Seeing double?

When in comes to both DFL and GOP policies being at fault, are you saying things are in balance, or that there really is no "major" party you and others should support, or what?

And you forgot to list the apparent thinking behind this year's GOP budget strategy, actions and votes:

"Taxes too high! Spending too low!"

Capability

Absolutely! I grew up in a small town, as did you I believe. I certainly think there were many folks with a better understanding of how to accomplish those things you state than the hacks elected to the local governance in the area. It's not that they were bad people, or that the local electorate was deficient in electing them. It's that they were by and large small town folk with small town experience that did not equip them to address the challenges sometime faced in governance. Why local control should be championed as a panacea when so often local interests are myopic and thick headed is mind boggling to me. Good ideas are good and bad ideas are bad regardless of the distance they travel.
A final point to ponder, Libertarians espouse a distaste for crony capitalism, no? Explain to me how lowering the cost of entry to those so disposed (your local county board commissioner comes a lot cheaper than your US senator for example) will do anything but exacerbate an already well corrupted system. If "Boss Hogg", is made the final powerbroker in your town where do you go for redress when he starts handing out payback to his buddies? This system was tried once, lasted for quite a while too, right up until the point folks started revolutions to break free of it. Why on earth should we try it again?

Black and White

"Good ideas are good and bad ideas are bad regardless of the distance they travel."

So who should be the final arbiter of good or bad?

Daily we argue good / bad policy to no resolution. Socialism vs Pure Capitalism and everywhere in between. Global warming, causes, actions, etc. Personal freedoms of various people.

I am not saying to get rid of State and Federal controls and oversight, but I think we should be aware that as taxes, controls, etc go up the chain, local cash and freedom is reduced. Is that really your goal? To force other Americans to your view of good against their will.

As opposed

To castigating them over what one side believes are poor choices, in the hopes of converting them to the same chosen philosophy, or making them give up and go away? Yes the myth of conservatism as benign tyrant.

Not to belabor the point but...

Regarding the concept of voting in one's own best interest John asks:

"Does this mean that someone else is more capable of determining what is in one's best interest than the individual (ie self) or those that live closest to them?"

The difficulty John appears to having with concept of his own best interest illustrates my point perfectly. Not to pick on John, my whole observation is that there are a significant number of voters out there having the same difficulty, if it were just John Greater Minnesota wouldn't have got zilch out of the last legislative session. How can you expect people who don't understand a concept will vote for it?

Obviously principle of voting in one's own best interest doesn't involve letting someone else decide what's in one's own best interest. I don't know what part of the phrase: "Own best interest" is confusing?

The concept itself isn't that difficult, the difference between "best" and "self" is recognizing that in the long run selfishness doesn't always produce the best results because we live in a community. For instance even though I long ago graduated and never have and never will have children in the public schools it may in my best interests to pay for other kids education. Tax cuts are another example; one may be able to argue that a tax cut is in one's immediate best self interest. But let's say you live in a state with a population of million people, and a city with a population of 40,000. And let's say a million dollars worth of local aid to your city government is cut in order to give you a tax cut. Now that million dollar used to cost you .25 (your share as on of 4 million people). Now your city has to raise the money locally... so your .25 tax cut just cost you $25 (your share as one of 40,000). Now one can argue that the city doesn't have to make up the difference, they can cut services or charge more, but again, that's not necessarily "better" than paying 25 cents.

You don't have to go out to Greater Minnesota to see this principle in the real world. Here in St. Louis Park when used to get more State funding prior to 2004. At that time the city didn't charge home owners for removing diseased trees on the boulevard. Then we all got our $10 - $20 tax cuts and our $50 dollar rebates... and now the city charges $500 to remove diseased trees. So were those tax cuts and rebates really in your best interest? If you live in Greater Minnesota the problems even worse because you don't have the population. The republican response to this was to try to pass laws making it impossible for local governments to raise taxes to make up the difference... so much for local control.

Democracy and "best" interests

"Who is best suited to define and prioritize maintained roads, decent public schools, the correct healthcare system, safe neighborhoods, etc, and self govern? People from the community, people from 300 miles away, or people from 1500 miles away?"

If this were just the musing of one person instead of foundation of the republican platform it would simply be a mild curiosity.

Another one of my frequent observations is that on a very basic level this republican mentality doesn't believe in democracy and doesn't really understand the function of government. Simply put, this is why their attempts at governing fail so miserably most of the time.

When you parse it out, the question above basically reveals a type of magical thinking that assumes that society just manifests itself as product of ideology. The question itself is basically incoherent because it replaces our actual system of government with a stereotype. The assumption is that we live in a failed state and have to re-invent government.

The reality is that we're living in a liberal democracy that long ago answered these questions and designed a government that establishes priorities based on citizen participation. There is no "distant" government making all of our choices and setting our priorities. We have layers of government populated by elected officials ranging from our City Council's to the President of the United States. Priorities don't originate in St. Paul, you have a State Representative and a Senator representing you in St. Paul, and another Representative and Senator in Washington DC.

When liberal's like me vote to pay for your roads and bridges and schools that we will never use we're not controlling your priorities we're helping you pay to for the priorities you've established on the local level. And while some things are "local" other things are not. Water isn't "local", it's a shared resource that's interconnected. The water running through or next to your farmland isn't "yours", so when we pass laws to protect that water we're not stepping on your local priority, we're protecting a shared resource.

Now as individuals we don't always agree with the priorities that get established, but that doesn't mean that some mysterious distant government is oppressing us and stomping our local priorities. And it doesn't mean that we have to invent some new way of recognizing priorities or making public policy, we've got one that been working for over 200 years. Our system isn't perfect but if you think WE have priority problems... how do you think they establish priorities in Somalia?

Thanks but no thanks. I'll take our big ol system of layered democracy over your imaginary small government any day.

Again, it's difficult to imagine how someone who doesn't understand or believe in how all of this works can cast an intelligent vote in their own best interest. Listen: your big complaint is some distant government that doesn't respond to your local priorities? So you vote for republicans who promote agendas established by Lawyers in Texas (ALEC) and un-elected party hacks (Norquist, Rove, and Keith Downey)? You think THAT'S an improvement? You think THAT'S local control?