Monday, August 16, 2010

The wrong kind of change came to SD43

In 2006-2007, a change in representation came to SD43. More than a change in name only, SD43 Sen. Terri Bonoff and HD43B Rep. John Benson radically changed how SD43 was represented on tax issues, according to data reported by the Taxpayers League of Minnesota. (The data for Benson is not missing in 2008, his score was zero in that year!) The question for voters in 2010 is: did constituent views really change that much, or has there been a disconnect between Bonoff and Benson and their Plymouth and Minnetonka districts?

In contrast, HD43A Rep. Sarah Anderson's tax votes have shown continuity with her predecessor, current Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson. Have her constituents' views been represented in her votes on tax legislation?

To put these years in context, in 2006 there was a growing discontent with Republicans, which apparently helped the DFL to win two of SD43's three open seats from the Republicans. 2008 was the Democrats' year with the election of Barack Obama. Since then, Obama's approval ratings have steadily declined, while the TEA Party movement has grown on the principles of limited government, lower taxes, and free markets. Rep. Benson won re-election in 2008, but Sen. Bonoff has not faced the voters since 2006.

People vote (or don't vote) for a wide variety of reasons, but in 2010, as James Carville famously said, it's "the economy, stupid." This fall, with Minnesota's unemployment rate the second highest in the five-state area and Minnesota businesses relocating to more business-friendly states, SD43 voters should be asking Bonoff some tough questions about votes like these:
  • 2010: Bonoff voted to increase the state debt by $1 billion
  • 2010: Bonoff voted to approve $34 in additional debt for the Metropolitan Council
  • 2009: Bonoff voted in favor of a $330 million Senate bonding bill that was $130 million more than the House version, in a year when the state faced a $6 billion budget deficit
  • 2009: Bonoff voted in favor of the $4.3 billion transportation bill that included funding for various light rail and commuter rail projects, continuing the trend for rail funding over highways and road maintenance
  • 2009: Bonoff voted to override the Governor’s veto of a $1 billion tax increase, which included a new fourth tier income tax (the override failed)
  • 2008: Bonoff voted for a $6.6 billion tax increase that raised the gas tax, sales tax and vehicle registration tax, and created a new level of government in the Metro area to spend millions on transit boondoggles including the Central Corridor light rail line
  • 2008: Bonoff voted for a $1 billion pork-laden bonding bill that contained no funding for roads and bridges
  • 2007: Bonoff voted for the transportation bill, which raised taxes by billions of dollars, including a 50% increase in the gas tax, a wheelage tax, new sales taxes and higher license tab fees
  • 2007: Bonoff voted to pass the tax bill, which included tax increases, increased welfare to local units of government (LGA) and mandated automatic spending increases
  • 2006: Bonoff voted to raise taxes for stadiums, the arts, and the environment
  • 2006: Bonoff voted to have Minnesota taxpayers bail out the Minneapolis Teachers Retirement Fund to the tune of $1 billion
Voting to increase taxes and accelerate runaway spending will not lead to increased employment and economic recovery (it hasn't yet); in fact, it won't even lead to increased tax revenue. Sen. Terri Bonoff's radical departure from past SD43 representation shows that she was the wrong kind of change for this district and wrong for Minnesota, especially in this economy.

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