Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Benson: your voice in Saint Paul?

Rep. John Benson (DFL-Minnetonka)Legislative scorecards can be a meaningful way to evaluate candidates for office. Find an interest group that tracks votes on issues you care about, and look up how your representative or senator voted.

One of the most important legislative issues, especially in a high-tax state like Minnesota, is taxes. The burden on Minnesota taxpayers increased by historic amounts last legislative session. So I looked to see how my state House member, Rep. John Benson (DFL-Minnetonka) fared on the two Taxpayers League of Minnesota scorecards issued during Benson's first term.

The verdict? Benson went from bad in 2007 to worse in 2008.

In 2007, Benson voted as a "friend of the taxpayer" on only three of twelve bills on the Taxpayers League scorecard. He voted the wrong way on the other ten bills, including:
  • Benson voted to override Gov. Pawlenty's veto of the 2007 transportation bill, which was overloaded with tax increases.
  • Benson voted in favor of the proposed constitutional amendment to increase the sales tax with dedicated funding for arts, entertainment, parks and public broadcasting.
  • Benson voted to reverse many welfare reforms and increase welfare spending in Minnesota.
  • Benson voted to mandate that 25% of Minnesota’s energy come from unproven renewable resources by 2025, increasing costs to consumers.
  • Benson voted in favor of the $334 million bonding bill which included millions of dollars in pork-barrel spending above the Governor’s recommendations.
  • Benson voted for billions of dollars in tax increases, including a 50% increase in the gas tax, a wheelage tax, new sales taxes and higher license tab fees.
  • Benson opposed a rule that would have required a 60% vote of the House to raise taxes.

Rep. Benson voted as a "friend of the taxpayer" on zero of eleven bills on the 2008 scorecard. Here is how Rep. Benson did nothing to moderate the spending spree with your money:

  • Benson voted to place a constitutional amendment before voters this November that would increase the state sales tax and dedicate this revenue to outdoor and "cultural heritage" programs. (You can still stop this tax increase by voting no on November 4.)
  • Benson voted in favor of the historic $6.6 billion tax increase contained in the transportation bill, and voted to override Gov. Pawlenty's veto of the bill.
  • Benson voted to balance the state budget by withdrawing $500 million from the state’s budget reserve while reducing spending by only $268 million.
  • Benson voted to raise the state minimum wage and index it to inflation, which would have made it even more difficult to conduct business in Minnesota — especially for small businesses. (This bill was vetoed by the governor.)
  • Benson voted with global warming extremists for a cap-and-trade system that would hurt Minnesota employers and eliminate jobs.

Whom do you think Rep. John Benson has better represented in the moderate Senate District 43? If you're a liberal Democrat, you're probably feeling well-represented. If you're a fiscal moderate-to-conservative, not so much.

Voters in HD 43B should visit candidate Brian Grogan's web site to find out how they can make a change for the better in 2008. Voters in other districts should use the Taxpayers League scorecard to ask some pointed questions of incumbents and challengers alike, and vote for change in November. As Taxpayers League of Minnesota President Phil Krinkie said, "We can't change the legislation that comes out of St. Paul until we change the legislators that we send to St. Paul."

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