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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Honour Thinks Low Interest Borrowing Is Bad?

Category: Mark Dayton
Posted: 05/05/14 16:44

by Dave Mindeman

Maybe we should cut Scott Honour some slack. After all, this is his first foray into politics...but then, running for governor requires some serious policy approaches. And I don't quite get what Honour is trying to convey in his Op-Ed piece in the Pioneer Press. The link is below:

Scott Honour: A better amount for a bonding bill? Zero

Governor Dayton wants a billion dollar bonding bill. He says we can afford it and judging by the Minnesota economic numbers, we can. Scott Honour thinks ANY borrowing is not fiscally responsible.

A better amount for a bonding bill this year is zero, not $1 billion. For any critical priorities that require funding, use the budget surplus. If borrowing from future generations to spend it on politicians' pet projects were the key to prosperity, the streets would be paved with gold. Instead, our economy is stagnant and our debts have skyrocketed.

Well a zero bonding bill would make a lot of people counting on state projects for local communities pretty upset. Even the legislative Republicans think an $850 million bonding request is a responsible number. Worthington needs help. There are a number of civic projects that have been left behind because of recession. The state security hospital in St. Peter desperately needs an upgrade.

Actually Honour should be up front and supporting the Senate proposal. They take $200 million from the surplus and use it for Capitol projects. I would think Honour would be ecstatic about that.

Bonding bills are part of the state's fiscal management. We use bonds to leverage projects that don't fit the general fund budget. Minnesota has been responsible with this borrowing and it has been acted upon with budgetary restraint - especially during this recessionary period. But a backlog of projects has built up and with the state's economy looking better, this backlog can be addressed.

But since Honour's idea of fiscal management means limited borrowing - where was his outrage when the Republican legislature put together their budget during the last cycle.

Not only did they borrow $2 billion from the schools and force the local districts to pay the interest, but they put the state in more debt with the tobacco bonding portion of the budget. The GOP tacked on an extra $1 billion in debt obligation there. Funny - Honour never talks about that or maybe wasn't even interested at the time.

Honour criticizes Dayton's approach this way:

Gov. Dayton's approach is irresponsible for two key reasons. First, he is jeopardizing our economy by creating an even larger interest obligation, which will shrink the dollars available for the private sector to use to grow and create jobs. And second, he is placing an even greater burden on the next generation of taxpayers who will have to pay back these very large and growing debts.

If Honour would fully understand this decades long approach to fiscal management in Minnesota, he would realize that bonding projects create more jobs. They put money in the pockets of hard working Minnesotans and create more jobs as they return that money to the economy. The private sector benefits from this - it is not an additional burden.

And as for the next generation of taxpayers? Well, each of us in turn is paying down past investments. Much like a mortgage on a house, we get to utilize the fruits of those invesments now - investments that create more economic activity which the next generation can benefit from.

Honour is a money guy - he should understand the benefit of low interest borrowing that creates future wealth.

But then again, maybe he never has had to worry about cash flow.
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On MNsure - Dayton Is Asking The Right Questions

Category: Mark Dayton
Posted: 01/24/14 04:29

by Dave Mindeman

Governor Dayton is not ducking the MNsure reports...and that is a good thing. He promises fixes...

"Those are the decisions that the new management is going to be making, and obviously the Legislature will be involved and the board and I'll have my say in it too," Dayton told reporters. "But we're going to fix it. We're going to improve it. I'm determined we're going to give Minnesota what it deserves."

That's the right approach. Let's forget who or what is to blame and get down to the business of fixing this thing. And this is not going to be easy - it is a mess. But Dayton is right...Minnesota deserves a system that works and gets affordable health care to the people who need it.

And the Governor is asking the right questions....

"Finger pointing about the past, others can engage in that," Dayton said. "My focus is, what do we need to do now? How can we improve the system? How can we eventually fix it? What's it going to cost and how do we go about doing that? Others can make all the informed and uninformed judgments that they're going to make and that's the way the process goes."


The Republican response will be the usual. They will criticize and, as usual, offer no help and no solutions. In fact, they will sit on their hands and hope for more failure.

If they want us to go back to the way things were, then please own that. Let's go back to denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions. Let's kick kids off coverage instead of keeping them on to age 26. Let's not cover cancer screenings. Let's put caps on lifetime coverage again.

Yeah, let's go back, GOP - and you can own that.

It's going to be hard to fix this with a GOP albatross around our necks, but Dayton is going to try.....and at the moment, that is all we can ask.
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Dayton's Statement of His Vision

Category: Mark Dayton
Posted: 02/07/13 16:16

by Dave Mindeman

In Gov. Mark Dayton's State of the State address last night, the reporters said they were surprised. Surprised by the outline of progressive views. Surprised by the forceful promotion of gay marriage rights. Surprised by the Governor's broad based siding with environmental protection.

Although Gov. Dayton is often more practically described as "pragmatic", he is still, deep in his soul, a Wellstone progressive. It seemed like last night's speech gave us his personal reminder of where he stands, deep down inside.

It was reassuring to hear. It was great to see the press "surprised". Too often all we have been getting for sound bites are the dour Republican ideas of the slashing and burning of government.

This governor believes in good government. In investing as a means of economic growth. Of a real, honest to goodness future vision.

Now that this moment has passed, we will all get back to the not so glamorous, sausage factory methodology of grinding out legislation.

Governor Dayton's vision may get somewhat clouded in the grime of the legislative process. And that's OK. Governor Dayton has been in the trenches long enough to know the goal is more like a zigzag line than a straight one.

But at least for one night, vision won out. The ideas of what is possible were stressed and highlighted and glorified.

We all need to hear that once in awhile.
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