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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

A Democratic Weakness In The Minnesota Senate

Category: 2016
Posted: 05/27/15 23:25

by Dave Mindeman

The messy end to the 2015 session had plenty of blame to pass around. The House Republicans obviously pushed a familiar agenda, but their puffery on making things "right" for Greater MN ended with just that - puffery. Most of what Greater MN was looking for never happened.

But another divide emerged at session end which has greater consequences for the Governor and progressive Democrats. And it sits squarely in the Democratic Senate.

When the Senate votes were taken on the Ag/Enviro bill, this is worth noting:

Ten Democrats, nearly all from rural districts, joined Republicans to pass the bill, 35 to 30. There were 29 Senate Democrats, including Eaton and Dibble, who voted against it.

Only 1 Republican voted against the bill. In a Democratic Senate, shouldn't that fact alone make you wonder how good a bill this could be for a Democratic agenda? A bill that deals with the progressive issue of the environment has all but one of the Senate Republicans offering their support. That makes me shudder about the policy in that bill.

Granted, the 10 Democrats in rural districts had agriculture policy to promote here, but it is worrisome that there seems to be a block of Democrats developing that can side with Republican policy. And Leader Bakk seems to be giving that block his tepid blessing.

This reminds me of the Senate make-up during the tenure of Leader Dean Johnson. There was a block of Senators that were adamantly anti-Choice and would constantly hold up Health and Human Services bills with unwarranted anti-abortion amendments.

Dayton will have to try and make policy work through two Houses that are at odds with very different parts of his goals. Finding common ground on one front is difficult enough, but Dayton has to make a triumvirate come together on several bills.

Last year's loss of the Democratic House has proven to be a much bigger disaster than we realized. It should be obvious that we need to double our efforts on retaking that ground in 2016.
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Republicans Don't Hate Public Schools - It's Worse

Category: Education
Posted: 05/27/15 22:48

by Dave Mindeman

In the run up to the end of the last session and during the back and forth getting ready for the special session, the Republicans made a big deal about Governor Dayton's remarks that "some Republicans hate public schools."

Speaker Daudt and GOP leadership wanted an apology. They felt disrespected and the terminology couldn't be further from the truth. They do NOT hate public education.

Well, I guess I am going to agree with them somewhat. They don't HATE public education. They have a much bigger problem with it. They don't respect it.

Republicans give their support to private schools. They will stand with homeschooling. They even go to bat for some charter schools. But when it comes to public schools - they do not have the respect that should be given to our biggest public asset - public education.

The MN GOP doesn't respect the teachers. They don't respect the funding. They don't respect the value to our future. They don't respect the Constitutional mandate we have been given to educate every child.

And that is why it is hard for Governor Dayton to take them seriously when they negotiate on funding public schools. The House GOP prefers to define problems rather than look for solutions. Governor Dayton's promotion of Pre-K is not just a publicity stunt or a funding boondoggle. It is an honest attempt to add another tool to make Minnesota's kids the best educated in the country. To give Minnesota another edge for businesses looking for the best educated workforce. To give educators another means of fixing the achievement gap and tapping future potential.

So Republicans don't hate public schools. But when you are responsible for finding ways to educate every child in the state - not just most of them, but every one of them- utilizing every tool available....and yet do not respect the process that comes from funding that responsibility, you prove that you have failed your Constitutional duty for maintaining a public school system that works for all of us.

It is very simple. You cannot hate what you don't respect. And therein lies a very basic problem. A problem that will make a special session all the more difficult.
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Special Session: The Makings Of A Bad End Game

Category: 2016
Posted: 05/26/15 11:29

by Dave Mindeman

Speaker Kurt Daudt accomplished the pretty much impossible this session. He promoted a divisive new regional split - Greater MN vs Metro, then proceeded to establish rhetoric that exacerbated that split by telling the state that his House caucus would "deliver" on that regional divide for Greater MN, and then, incredibly, DIDN'T DELIVER.

That is why he has been telling us at every opportunity about the nursing home gains that came about in the health and human services bill. The only meaningful issue that Greater MN groups were able to ascertain from the 2015 legislative agenda. Never mind that this funding helps both Greater MN and the Metro and never mind that Democrats were in support of that policy.

Broadband, road construction, LGA money, bonding...the list of Greater MN failures goes on and on - and still Kurt Daudt talks of this session as if there was some great level of success. He has even tried to tout that "one minute to midnight" tawdry finish to the session as a "major" accomplishment.

Moving ahead on bills and dealing with the Senate without including the Governor seems to be a lesson in "How not to run the legislature 101". He laments the governor's vetoes, feigning shock as to how that would come about. Even though that end game was clearly set up via an education bill that left out the needed support of the one person who could make it law.

Kurt Daudt is an affable character. He doesn't seem to be the ideologue that many in his caucus are. He HAS done a relatively decent job holding that group together. But the final product still comes up short.

Going into special session negotiations, the Speaker will probably be hamstrung by a conservative caucus that felt they gave up more than they should have and still didn't get it done. And the Governor is not going to give up his control of the workings of a special session without numerous guarantees. Guarantees that Speaker Daudt will be pressured to resist.

I don't like the way this end game looks. And if Leader Bakk is out there moving on his own agenda again, well....let's just say it is not going to be pretty.
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