Friday, February 29, 2008

Here Is What Happens

Here is what happens when you give 85 Democrats control of the Minnesota House of Representatives!

1.1A bill for an act
1.2relating to public health; increasing affordability and continuity of care for state
1.3health care programs; modifying health care provisions; establishing a public
1.4health access fund; increasing the tobacco impact fees; providing subsidies for
1.5employee share of employer-subsidized insurance; establishing the Minnesota
1.6Health Insurance Exchange; requiring certain employers to offer Section 125
1.7Plan; creating an affordability standard; requiring mandated reports; authorizing
1.8rulemaking; appropriating money;amending Minnesota Statutes 2006, sections
1.916A.725, subdivision 1; 62A.65, subdivision 3; 62E.141; 62L.12, subdivisions
1.102, 4; 256.01, by adding a subdivision; 256.9658, subdivisions 3, 9; 256B.061;
1.11 256B.69, by adding a subdivision; 256D.03, by adding a subdivision; 256L.05,
1.12by adding a subdivision; 256L.06, subdivision 3; 256L.07, subdivision 3;
1.13256L.15, by adding a subdivision; Minnesota Statutes 2007 Supplement, sections
1.1413.46, subdivision 2; 256B.056, subdivision 10; 256L.03, subdivisions 3, 5;
1.15256L.04, subdivisions 1, 7; 256L.05, subdivision 3a; 256L.07, subdivision 1;
1.16256L.15, subdivision 2; proposing coding for new law in Minnesota Statutes,
1.17chapters 16A; 145; 256B; proposing coding for new law as Minnesota Statutes,
1.18chapter 62U; repealing Minnesota Statutes 2006, section 256L.15, subdivision 3.

If you are a smoker, a member of the middle class (income $45,000 to $150,000 annual income), an employer, a health care professional or a health care consumer be prepared to pay dearly for your health care. For example:

2.11 Subdivision 1.Goals. The initial goals of the public health access fund are to reduce
2.12the percent of Minnesotans who are obese or overweight to less than half by the year
2.132020 and to reduce tobacco smoking by 2 percent annually starting in 2011. By 2011,
2.14and considering available funding, the commissioner of health, in consultation with the
2.15State Community Health Advisory Committee established in section 145A.10, subdivision
2.1610, and other stakeholders, may make recommendations as to future goals related to
2.17alcohol use and illegal drug use.

Do you smoke? Use alcohol? Overweight? Be prepared to have the state dictate what you can and can not eat, drink or otherwise consume.

Say you are a family of 4 living on $66,000 a year (400% of the federal poverty level). Your cost for "free" government health care will be capped at 8% per year or $5280. If you have employer provided health care you will get a "credit" for the amount of your health care premiums, deductibles and other cost sharing, minus an amount based in the "affordability" specified in section 62U.08. Now for this typical family in that range our premiums, deductables and other cost sharing only amounts to about $2500 a year - net increase in health care premiums of $2780.00. I thought this was supposed to make health care "more affordable"?

It also creates a whole new level of state bureaucracy - the Commission of Health! Just what we need.....more government!

I am just starting to read this 52 page book. Keep an eye for more thoughts and notes here in these pages. But if first impressions are anything, I am not expecting much from this.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Open Letter To Rep. Abler

Dear, Rep. Abler,

I listened, with great interest, to your speech on the House Floor last Monday. While I was dead set against the bill, I was willing to listen to a divergent opinion on the subject. Apparently, based on your remarks, I was the only one of that mindset. I listened to you go on about how so many people from other districts contacted you and how you had over 800 emails and how you were searching for a "local" one. Well, using that "logic" Rep. Abler, since I am in Scott County, does that mean only my representatives in Scott County can raise my taxes? While I wish that were the case (I have two very fiscally conservative representatives in Mike Beard and Mark Buesgens) I know that is not the case. Therefore, since representatives who are outside of my district can raise my taxes, then I think that I am well within my rights to lobby said representatives.

Another thing that struck my about your speech was your insistence that people who publically opposed the bill (like Phil Krinkie and Jason Lewis) didn't tell the whole story about what was in the bill and yet you did the same thing. You never mentioned (in your floor speech in defense of the bill) that the quarter percent sales tax increase was dedicated to light rail! You also never mentioned the 3.5 cent gas tax surcharge that goes on top of the two cent gas tax increase. You mentioned that the gas tax is dedicated to roads and yet you neglect to mention that the Trunk Highway funding formula takes most of the gas tax money that is raised in the Cities and sends it outstate where the needs are not as dire! You also neglected to mention the surcharge on leased and rental vehicles that is in this bill. It is obvious to me, that there is cherry picking of information going on from both sides. I would assume that someone so passionate about the whole story being told would be the one to tell the whole story. Clearly I was mistaken.

It seems to me that your mind was made up on this issue from the get go and no amount of input from anyone outside of your special interest groups (i.e. the Chamber) was going to change your mind. I can appreciate that, but please do not be surprised when the voters, the people you are supposed to represent rally against you. And do not be surprised when taxpayers interestes from outside of your district take an active roll in helping replace you. After all, you worked hard to take money away from taxpayers outside of your district. Can you really blame them for trying to prevent that in the future?

Gov. Pawlenty Predicts Taxpayer Revolt

That Gov. Pawlenty is predicting a taxpayer revolt is fantastic news for someone who created a blog called Taxpayer Revolt: We Are Not ATM's. Here's how Gov. Pawlenty made that prediction:

Gov. Tim Pawlenty today predicted Minnesota taxpayers would revolt against the gas and other tax increases that Democrats in the Legislature imposed on them Monday by overriding his veto of the transportation bill.

"Yesterday the DFL had their day raising taxes," Pawlwenty said at a Capitol news conference. "Now the taxpayers of Minnesota will have their days between now and when they get to decide how they want this Legislature to run in the future and who's going run it.

"Yesterday will be the day that began a tax revolt in Minnesota," he said with uncharacteristic passion.

Consider that the opening salvo of the 2008 campaign to return GOP to majority status in the Minnesota House of Representatives. I've seen people react with a white hot passion to this tax increase. Outstate Democrats & Republicans should be worried this fall if they voted for the transit tax increase.

The first indicator of people's disgust with tax increases came in November when Minnesotan rejected a significant number of school board levy requests. Another indicator nationally came when Oregon rejected an 85 cent per pack cigarette tax increase. By itself, that would've been newsworthy. That they rejected that tax even though every penny of that increase would've gone to pay for a children's health care program is startling.

This week & weekend, county & district BPOU's will hold their endorsing conventions. It's a formality that Ron Erhardt won't get endorsed. Other BPOU's might send a similar message to the Wayward 6.

Here's another 'reminder' from Gov. Pawlenty:

"The Republican brand, the Republican credibility depends on keeping a lid on and reducing taxes," he said. "That's who we are. That's what we do." He hinted that he would pay back legislators for overturning his veto.

"I guess the announcement over the loudspeaker on the airplane will be: 'Please
buckle your seat belts because there may be some unexpected turbulence,'" he said.

Personally, I'd love finding out that Gov. Pawlenty's staff had compiled a list of all the unjustifiable spending items being considered for inclusion into the bonding bill. Once it passed, I'd use the line item veto to cancel out anything that's wasteful. Like say this item:

$18,197,000, this appropriation is to the commissioner of administration for repair and renovation of the exterior of the Department of Transportation Building

or this:

$23,983,000 for design, construction, furnishing, and equipping a new Department of Transportation district headquarters facility in Mankato

or this:

$4,299,000 for predesign, design, construction, and restoration of historic roadside properties on the Great River Road

Unfortunately, these items can't be vetoed because they were in the Transportation Bill. That said, there won't be a shortage of targets in the bonding bill. If there's anything guaranteed other than death & taxes, it's that politicians seeking re-election won't run out of ideas to waste taxpayer's money.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

More Letters From The Revolution

People are downright pissed off about the DFL’s override of Gov. Pawlenty’s veto. Here’s another person upset with the DFL’s override:

Today is not a day that I am proud to call myself a Minnesotan. As the economy in this state already in dire straits, it greatly saddens me that as a taxpayer in this state that I am forced to stretch my already thin budget even further. Over the past 5 years or so, due to the cost of housing increasing exponentially, many people moved out of the city, however in order for a decent paying job we must commute into the city for work. I live near Princeton, but work in Minnetonka. Like those who need to commute in order to survive, we are the ones who are going to feel even more pain with this bill. For instance, my monthly gas costs are about $340/month, I drive a very small economy car and have pretty much cut out any unnecessary driving. This includes going home to my mother’s for holidays. With this vote, I will need to fork out yet another $100 per month just for gas. I’ll have to update my bankruptcy attorney with this new fact. Yes, bankruptcy attorney.

Have you looked at your local newspaper and counted how many foreclosures are listed?? Elk River paper has 10 pages plus of foreclosures. My development alone has had 3 foreclosures and 4 near or impending foreclosures in the last 3 years; the humbling fact is that there are only 18 homes in my development.

As workers, we have already started to “brown bag” lunch everyday because we simply cannot afford to eat out anymore.

Fact: You have voted to increase your lunch expenditures to $95/day! How many times do you eat every day? That is my grocery bill for the entire month for my family!

Also, where did the money go that was generated by the last transportation bill? Many people now wish that they hadn’t voted “yes” to that one now that another has been forced into existence.

MN is one of the most heavily taxed states in the nation (as I’m still paying last year’s tax bill, despite the thousands I’ve already paid out). With this bill, MN will also be proud to boast that it is one of the highest gas tax states as well. The taxpayers would be happy to pay more IF and only IF there wasn’t so much
wasteful spending being done by our “leaders.”

From the arguments for this bill:
1) It will create 33,000 jobs. Question: What about all the people that will lose their jobs or will not get a reasonable raise this year (one that would not even keep up with the cost of living in the first place) due to increased overhead of already suffering businesses? Won’t the money end up in the construction company’s pockets instead of the worker due to the increased overhead costs??
2) A million people will be coming to MN in the next year. Question: Are these going to be taxpayers or tax suckers? Taxpaying as in working, paying state income tax, not being on any government assistance (welfare, food stamps, daycare assistance, health care)?
With the rising costs of running a company; small businesses have already cut many benefits to their workers including health care. These workers are either uninsured or insured by PMAP or GAMC. As an individual who works in the health insurance
industry and has worked in the metro area hospitals, I see the incredible amount
of waste that the general person who is on state health insurance causes. An
example: Going to the ER for pink eye! Who takes the cut? The hospitals - who
then pass on the loss to the paying people. Some ways to cut expenses of the
welfare system in this state is to:
1) Every able-bodied person will not automatically receive welfare benefits – Get a Job! The system has made it more beneficial to stay on welfare than to get a job.

2) Only people who actually live in this state full-time are eligible to receive benefits, there are many people that drive to MN to pick up their check, committing crimes while they are here. Check the paper.

3) Many workers need to take a drug test in order to have a job, why not require drug testing for a welfare paycheck? That would eliminate a lot of money that goes out the door.

4) As workers, we need to drive to work and complete our job in order to collect a paycheck. Why don’t welfare recipients have to expend some time and energy inreceiving their monthly stipend? Go stand in line; you’re not doing anything anyway (this would cut down unnecessary MD visits). Let’s make these people put some effort in receiving their handout.

Unfortunately, I have personal experience (through a friend) with several drug dealers in the Minneapolis area, they drive nicer cars, have more toys and do nothing all day for their effort, BUT they get a free ride from our state who is not willing tostand up against these thugs and even prosecute them effectively for their crimes which costs the taxpayers about $10,000 each time they are arrested. I won’t even go into all the irresponsible, mentally and financially unstable people who continue to have more and more children. Two words: Mandatory Sterilization.

In light of the tragedy in Cottonwood, how many illegals are getting my tax money directly or indirectly? Get them out of the state, prosecute them and send the bill to the country in which they came from. This needs to stop. I’ve even considered leaving my own country over this.

I believe that part of the “yes” vote was in order to preserve your own status aswell as your friends that are in the ancillary government offices. I am tempted to run for office myself so that at least one more person would stand up for the citizens of MN. I do want to thank each person who did such thing, including both of my representatives who did not bend to meet their own needs.

The sum of it is, if you going to force MN taxpayers, who are already in extreme financial distress, pay more daily just to be able to live in this beautiful state then first cut the wasteful spending that is being done.

We fly coach (if we can even afford that) because we can’t afford otherwise, so as
leaders, you should also fly coach and pay for your own trips if you have made your own choice to go somewhere. If we have to “tighten up our boot straps” then you should be required to as well. That is what the general public’s plea to you is. Our health care benefits, retirement funds, and income are going down while everything we pay for is going up (premiums, cost of living in every way). If you force us to pay even more in taxes, then do as you say!We want to see actual results of our hard-earned money that is being taken without being asked. It seems that every other “temporary” tax has never gone away, the question is: Is this ever going to go away or do I have to leave my home state in order to be able to afford to live?

This is not only my views, but of many Minnesotans.

Just open your ears and listen to the public’s outcry.

Though I don’t agree with everything that this person says, I can’t deny the fact that he makes multiple compelling arguments. That’s why I’ll just get out of the way & let them speak for themselves.

One thing that I spotted was his (her?) saying that "I am tempted to run for office myself so that at least one more person would stand up for the citizens of MN." I'd strongly encourage this person to do exactly that. If they choose not to run, then at minimum, volunteer for the campaigns of those who believe in the same things as you do.

Taxpayers Speak Up

A loyal reader of LFR just forwarded an email from some angry taxpayers. The email was originally sent to a legislator. I'm withholding the names of the taxpayer. Here's the message that these taxpayers wanted to send:

For those of you who voted to over ride the governor veto shame on you, especially those of you Republicans who defected. My wife and I are finally at a time in our lives when we can enjoy some of life. But our pockets books are continually being raided by politicians local and national who think we have a money tree in our back yard. Local taxes, city taxes, excise taxes, state income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, county taxes, social security, licenses, gas taxes, car license tabs, stadiums, light rail, where does it stop!!!!!!!!!!! When does it stop!!!!!!!!!!

I thought that I would never consider moving away from Minnesota, but you got me thinking now. It is intirely possible we may retire in some other state. Lives with in your means. When money is tight, we spend less, and make our money work more efficiently, cut where we can. If we need more money we don't steal it from our neighbors, we tighten our belt. I suggest you tighten yours, and stop stealing from us. You guys waste so much.

I think South Dakota has the right idea for both business and residents.

Message to the DFL: If you think that these people won't be motivated to boot your arse out of office, think again. And you'll deserve it. You've pushed through tax increases that the people hate with a passion. Your next move is fairly predictable. I'm betting that you'll try your 'soaking the rich' gambit next. You'll hope that people will get distracted. You'll hope that they'll think that everything's ok now that the rich are getting soaked.

That ploy won't work because John & Jane Public will still remember how they've had their pockets picked by ineffective liberal legislators. They'll remember that the vast majority of GOP legislators supported their right to keep their money. I'll make sure of that.

Rest assured that I'll do my best to fan the flames of their anger. Rest assured that I'll throw some white gas onto those flames, too. Mark Buesgens had it exactly right when he said that the bill was a "compromise amongst thieves."

I've heard lefties like former St. Cloud Mayor John Ellenbecker say that high taxes are needed to buy alot of education & good roads. He cites the Perpich years as an example. Unfortunately, taxes then weren't nearly as invasive as they are now. Take this bill for example.

It's refered to as a gas tax bill. While it's certainly contains an increase in the gas tax, that's only part of the story. It also includes an increase in license tab fees, something that the DFL originally touted as only affecting new vehicles. We learned that that isn't true last Thursday when Rep. Rob Eastlund got Paul Marquart to admit that it applies to any vehicle that isn't registered in Minnesota.

Also included in this bill is a 7- county metrowide sales tax plus a provision that lets county commissions levy a sales tax without putting it up to a vote of the taxpayers.

This is serious stuff. We The People demand that the DFL prioritize spending first before increasing taxes. The DFL hasn't shown one iota of compassion for the struggling small business owner or the retired couple living on fixed income. They haven't shown that they're interested in much of anything other than raiding people's wallets and feeding their special interest allies at the public trough.

The DFL as the Party of the People? Don't make me laugh. They're the Party of the Hog Trough Special Interests.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

And The Winner IS.....

One of the fun things about moving, especially in the age of the Internet, is learning about your new home. So in order to learn about my soon (?) to be new home's political and legislative landscape, I have subscribed to a couple of politcal blog feeds and newspapers from Utah. One of which is "The Senate Site" which is a blog run by the State Senate Majority! The new session started last week so I have been getting daily updates and today's update pointed me to a very interesting economic study (closed circuit to King - I can't wait to see your analysis of this information). According to the ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index, the most economically competitive state in the union is.......UTAH! The report rates states based on 16 factors. They are.

• Highest marginal personal income tax rate
• Highest marginal corporate income tax rate
• Progressivity of the personal income tax system
• Property tax burden
• Sales tax burden
• Tax burden from all remaining taxes
• Estate tax/Inheritance tax (Yes or No)
• Recent Tax Policy Changes 2005-06
• Debt service as share of tax revenue
• Public employees per 10,000 residents (ed - Uh oh!!!)
• Quality of state legal system
• State minimum wage
• Workers’ Compensation costs
• Right-to-work state (Yes or No)
• Tax/Expenditure Limit• Education Freedom Index

Minnesota, on the other hand.....

The report also talks about population migration to and from the states and what the causes of this migration appears to be. This includes a cautionary tale to Minnesota (whose top corporate marginal tax rate is the 5th HIGHEST in the country) Legislators - INCLUDING Governor Pawlenty (who lately seems to think that increased regulation is a good thing)....

It takes a lot of public policy folly to persuade people to pack their bags and abandon California’s sunshine, 70-degree weather, scenic mountains, and beaches, but lately the politicians in Sacramento have proved themselves up to the task. The latest Census Bureau data indicate that in 2005, 239,416 more Californians followed Tiger Woods’s lead and left the state than moved in. That was also the case in 2003 and 2004. The native-born outmigration flows have become so systemic that the cost to rent a U-Haul trailer to move from Los Angeles to Boise, Idaho is $2,090—or some six times more than the cost of moving in the opposite direction.23 What’s gone wrong with the Golden State? A big part of the story is a tax and regulatory culture in Sacramento that treats rich people as if they were cash dispensing ATM machines.
The cost for businesses of complying with California’s rules, regulations, and paperwork is more than twice as high as other Western states.24
Perhaps this story is a sign of the times: One of the leading companies that manufactures surfboards, a quintessential California firm, closed operations in California due to fear of “fines, civil lawsuits, and even time in prison.”25
But the real growth killer is California’s steeply “progressive” income tax with a 10.3 percent rate applied to high-income residents—the highest in the nation outside New York City. The richest 10 percent of earners pay almost 75 percent of the income tax burden in the state. And most of these “evil rich” are small business owners, i.e. the people who create the jobs.26

Overtaxation and a nanny government that wants to dictate EVERY ASPECT of your life are a sure fire way of chasing people away from the best of weather and we certainly do not have the best of weather here in Minnesota - especially in January!

Hello, St. Paul????? Is anybody listening??????

Cross posted at Ladies Logic and True North because I have nothing better to do with my time!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Bridges and budget constraints

I was at a public presentation made by some Republican legislators last week -- I have some notes but don't think I'll post them -- the discussion was about veterans and our support for the Iraq War. Some chirpy woman, who had made several critical comments already that evening, declared that we had made no payment on the Iraq War, which only could make sense to me by her claiming that every dollar taxed by our Federal government has to be spent on all the other things in the budget. That is, her implicit assumption is that we can only spend a dollar on Iraq after all those farm subsidies, health care cost reimbursements and post offices named after everyone and his mother-in-law.

I find this logic either amusing or irritating, depending on my mood. At the time I was irritated, but after visiting with friends I let it go.

Irritation returned this morning as I read the second in the StarTribune's full frontal assault on your wallet in the name of safety.

For MnDOT to keep pace with all statewide transportation needs from 2008 to 2030 -- including construction, safety projects, maintenance, and upgrades -- it would cost taxpayers $38.1 billion, according to MnDOT's most recent estimates.

But over that same time period, with current funding policy, MnDOT estimates that it will only have $14.5 billion.

McFarlin said MnDOT's fiscal 2008 budget is short at least $85 million for scheduled construction projects.

At what point did anyone discuss redistributing money to transportation from other parts of the budget? "Which ones?" you ask. Well, Phil Krinkie has an idea: Maybe we don't need to spend money on transit, particularly when you buy an 80 mile project but get a 40 mile project instead. Nicole Russell wonders about $50 million to provide security at the GOP Convention. Nice that Bemidji State gets some sugar for engineer and nurse training but could that money be better spent?

Every additional dollar spent on bridge repair, construction, or inspection has three sources: You can tax more; you can borrow more; or you can spend less somewhere else. Dropping any of those three from the equation means you are optimizing subject to NO budget constraint. This is the height of folly; you cannot run your own home buying more of X, Y and Z without at least considering if you could do without so much of A, B, or C. Neither can you run a government.

(Crossposted from SCSU Scholars.)