Into the abyss

And so the shutdown begins.  The GOP controlling the Minnesota legislature has demanded complete capitulation to their agenda and if they don’t get it they’re perfectly willing to drive off the cliff.  This should be viewed as educational given current goings on in Washington DC as things portend badly both for the ongoing debt limit discussions, and the next budgetary cycle in general.

Yesterday the Monica Davey wrote in the New York Times about how Minnesota may be ungovernable.   University of Minnesota political scientist Lawrence Jacobs is quoted:

It’s a very sad day for Minnesota.  It’s a state that had a well-earned reputation for being well governed where, at the end of the day, politics were done in a fair and efficient manner. And it’s now on the cusp of ungovernability. There’s a new ethic here that compromise is weakness.

Well….let’s be clear about a few things.  The GOP has not come to govern, they have come to burn down the house. With billions of dollars separating the legislature from the governor in final budgetary negotiations, they offer $200 million in adjustments as a compromise while demanding it be deducted elsewhere, and pretend they have given up the keys to the ranch.  Meanwhile Governor Dayton has reduced his budgetary request by over $2 billion and wisely refuses to go any lower.

MNPublius has a good graphic which shows what’s really going in with the respective negotiating positions and how much each side in the debate has offered.  The Minnesota GOP refuses to allow even the smallest tax increase even upon those making over $1 million a year – despite the fact that the wealthiest pay a significantly smaller share of their income in state taxes than do the poor and middle class.

Republicans refuse to negotiate in good faithAs it became apparent a compromise would not be reached the “cone of silence” over negotiations collapsed and the details of competing offers are not pretty.  The Star Tribune reports part of the GOP offerings included over $700 million in deferred payments to Minnesota school districts – this on top of the roughly $1.5 billion in “deferred” payments we know the schools will never see, and issuing “tobacco bonds”, adding to the state’s debt without clear benefit as with infrastructure, etc.

Talks also broke down because of Republican insistence on inserting policy provisions – voter ID requirements, abortion restrictions, etc. – into what should be clean budgetary bills.

Presidential wannabe Tim “hard times in the land of” Pawlenty presided over Minnesota’s desperate race to the bottom.  He kicked the can down the road time and time again, unwilling to demonstrate the leadership and political courage necessary to undo the damage he initiated as majority leader in the Minnesota House.  Minnesota used to be a national leader in health, education, job creation, innovation – now we’re middle of the pack, and only because the GOP hasn’t turned us into Mississippi.  Yet.  But they’re still trying.

Kudos to Governor Mark Dayton, who’s turning out to be a lot stronger and smarter than any of us anticipated, on standing firm and protecting Minnesota’s heritage of effective, responsible government.

The state government is now running with a skeleton crew – just a few essential services such as prisons and the state patrol are operating.  It will be interesting to see how long this lasts, but let there be no confusion.  Negotiation and compromise takes two parties EQUALLY willing to participate.  Thus far the GOP proposals have been a joke.  They must do better.  Minnesota demands no less.


Ding dong the witch is dead

Finally, five weeks too late, failed gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer of Minnesota faces reality and concedes to Democrat Mark Dayton.

From the Star Tribune:

Republican Tom Emmer conceded the governor’s race to DFLer Mark Dayton Wednesday, bringing an end to the disputed election and clearing the way for Dayton to take office on Jan. 3.Emmer also waived his right to a recount, and the state Canvassing Board quickly certified the original election night results and declared Dayton the winner. The board signed the election certificate shortly after noon, making Dayton the governor-elect.

Those actions mean Dayton, a former U.S. senator, will become the first Democratic governor in Minnesota in two decades.

One of Dayton’s first orders of business January 3 will be to sign an executive order opting in for federal health care money – something outgoing wingnut wannabe Tim “hard times in the land of” Pawlenty has opposed in his ongoing quest to appeal to the Republican base in 2012.

Dayton inherits a $6.2 billion deficit, deteriorating infrastructure, lagging education and social programs, and a brand new GOP controlled legislature which will make it very challenging for him to undo the damage the last eight years of malfeasance have wrought.

Challenges notwithstanding, at least Minnesotans rejected Emmer’s doubling down on the previous administration’s failures.

Kudos to Emmer for concessions to reality. Unlike the Franken/Coleman recount, there were thousands of votes separating the candidates – within the margin of a state funded mandatory recount, but at the upper end to the point that barring major failures previously undetected in the initial count, there was no way for him to win.

And Jeers to Best Buy and Target who contributed mightily to backers of Emmer’s campaign, evoking a storm of protest by people who object to business interests buying elections. Minnesota law remains stronger on disclosure requirements, in many states and nationally, monied interests practically have carte blanche. Does disclosure make a difference? Too early to tell, but I like to think so. If nothing else, you know what you’re getting.

Governor Pawlenty is just wankerific

Oh yippie. Governor and presidential wannabe Tim “hard times in the land of” Pawlenty wants to exempt Minnesota from reality. Isn’t that just precious, and not surprising since he unallotted thousands of the poorest of the poor from …the state’s health care coverage last summer.

Timmy – how about you stop trying to appeal to the “sensibilities” of South Carolina Republican’ts and start focusing on governing your own state for a while?

“Depending on what the federal government comes out with here, asserting the 10th Amendment may be a viable option,” Pawlenty said, when asked about it by a caller on a Republican Governors Association conference call. “But we don’t know the details. As one of the other callers said, we can’t get the President to outline what he does or doesn’t support in any detail. So we’ll have to see, I would have to say that it’s a possibility.”

Pawlenty made it clear that he and other Republican governors will be more assertive about the 10th Amendment: “I think we can see hopefully see a resurgence in claims and maybe even bring up lawsuits if need be.”

Oh please.

TPM observes:

The same view — properly called nullification, a doctrine dating back to the pre-Civil War days in the South — had previously been expressed by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN).

More heartburn from ineffective governance and planning

MinnPost has the goods:

The Minnesota Department of Transportation’s recently released statewide transportation plan on policies and highway investments flags a startlingly large $50 billion gap between dollars available for roads and bridges and the $65 billion required to meet state needs in those areas over the next 20 years.

This deals with transportation infrastructure, but across the board – social services, education, environmental protection… Minnesota is falling apart.  The Republican administration has been hell bent on turning us into a northern Arkansas, and they’re well on track.

Goodbye Norm

I’ve mentioned this before, but for the price of your morning cup of coffee, you can contribute to helping Norm Coleman go away, giving Minnesota the full representation in the US Senate it so desperately needs and deserves.

Help Norm Coleman Take a Hint
Help Norm Coleman Take a Hint