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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

AAA Bond Rating Is Back

Category: Mark Dayton
Posted: 07/28/16 17:57

by Dave Mindeman

In another example of the difference between Democratic and Republican economic policies, the Fitch rating system has restored Minnesota's AAA bond rating.

We lost that rating under the Pawlenty administration.

Minnesota has prospered under Mark Dayton. Our business climate is getting national recognition. Our economy is bustling. And all of this in stark contrast to our neighbor to the east, Wisconsin.

Mark Dayton did the unthinkable - he used tax increases on the wealthy to balance the budget while working to improve the lives of the middle class.

It worked. Let me repeat. It worked.

And the Fitch rating shows us the difference. The Pawlenty administration used gimmick after gimmick to balance budgets without new revenue. It showed up in our financial stablility - and Fitch took the unprecedented step to lower our bond rating. We have paid more interest on our bonds because of that. It was fiscal malpractice.

Dayton boldly took the opposite approach and the nation has noticed. While conservative legislatures in Wisconsin and Kansas doubled down on "trickle down" economics, Minnesota stayed true to Democratic economic principles.

Fitch noticed. The country noticed.

Thank you Dayton. Thank you Democrats.

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Yes To A Gas Tax

Category: Mark Dayton
Posted: 01/23/16 13:11

by Dave Mindeman

Well, Governor Dayton said something he will get into trouble for.....

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton says a gas tax increase to fund road and bridge repairs should still be on the table.

Gasp! (Republican eyerolling ensues)

But, as I have tried to point out before, a gas tax, in the current environment, is absolutely the right thing to do.

We are struggling to pay for infrastructure. The Republicans have already decided that they will shift spending away from other needs to roads and bridges (leaving other departments holding the bag and leaving transit high and dry) and take on more borrowing (while we are already talking about a bonding bill).

The Senate is a bit more open to the idea of a gas tax, but I suspect that Senator Bakk has probably already traded that one away.

With gas prices at these kind of levels, we should be increasing the state gas tax immediately. Sure, prices will eventually go back up, but in the mean time, use the opportunity to collect revenue that is already dedicated to roads and bridges. Sunset the tax provision or tie it to a certain price level - and it can go away. But just do it.

There is an additional benefit to raising the gas tax. When prices are this low, people are tempted to over consume (which adds to environmental pressure) and to purchase bigger vehicles, which increases consumption beyond the current price environment.

Dayton is right. Let's discuss it....look at it....act on it.

Roads and bridges are not getting any better.
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2015 Session:Lost Opportunities for Dems Thanks To Sen. Bakk

Category: Mark Dayton
Posted: 06/09/15 20:22, Edited: 06/09/15 20:24

by Dave Mindeman

Governor Dayton decided to end his holdout on the State Auditor language and press ahead on some other issues prior to a special session.

I expected this would happen. Although I admire the Governor's intentions and motives, he was sitting out on a limb without the key support he needed.

And when I say support, I mean Majority Leader Tom Bakk.

Time after time in this legislative session, Tom Bakk has undermined DFL positions. When the Democrats should have had the higher degree of influence, Senator Bakk was dealing with the other side for a different agenda.

The Commissioner salary issue was only the beginning. In nearly every instance in regards to policy, Governor Dayton and the House Democrats were on their own.

Senator Bakk advocates for his region. And that, by itself, is fine - in fact, admirable. But he is supposed to be in a more general leadership position. He has a responsibility to work with the House minority and the Governor. But way to often he was at odds with one or the other or both.

His "deal" making with Daudt gave the House Republicans a much more persuasive argument about bipartisan stances and the wrong type of united front in confronting the Governor on end of session positions.

The Governor stood alone. The House minority gamely tried to give Dayton support, but, as we well know, a House minority has little opportunity to have an impact on final negotiations.

Which brings us back to Bakk once more. If he had stood with the House, their ideas would have had more influence and merit. And if Bakk had even tried to stand with the Governor's positions, better compromises would have been possible.

The session was disappointing and a large step backward from the progress that was made inn 2014.

Bakk has not been very visible during these last days - probably because he would have to be continuously explaining why he gave tacit approval to the House GOP's agenda.

Democrats need to remember this. I hope the rank and file Senators in the DFL caucus are not damaged by this ridiculous personal power play by a man who uses power for personal politics.

Democrats could have gone into 2016 with a renewed opportunity to take back control of the reins of government. But thanks to Bakk, we now have to hope we can hold on to what we still have.

Democrats deserved better than this. Governor Dayton deserved better than this.

As for Bakk, let's consider this a lesson learned that this man cannot be trusted.

Now we have to try to move ahead with damage control.
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