Friday, September 28, 2012

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Why Legislative elections matter

Written by David Faith,

Amidst the drama and 24/7 coverage of a Presidential campaign, it can be easy to lose track of state and local races. People have a tendency to think that bigger means more important and the federal government is obviously bigger than Minnesota’s.

State politics is poorly covered by the media and there are many otherwise well-informed citizens that couldn’t tell you who their state representative is. This is a problem because state and local governments have enormous power over citizens living in their jurisdictions. This is a problem because the state of Minnesota has a governor champing at the bit to raise your taxes dramatically in order to fund an enormous and likely-permanent expansion of state government. This is a problem because the only thing standing in that governor’s way is a Republican legislature.

An examination of the DFL platform and the governor’s agenda reveals exactly what they plan for Minnesota. Let’s take a look at just a few key elements.
  • Regulation – The DFL’s official party platform shows an astonishing faith in government regulation of private activity. It endorses “reasonable” regulations of “fair competition,” regulations of prices, environmental regulations, regulations of labor, regulations of businesses, and regulation of investment. It endorses requiring more government inspections, more government licensing, and even more government supervision of the election process. The platform never says precisely what “reasonable” regulations entail, but you can be certain that “reasonable” means “more.” This is despite the fact that we are already living in the most regulated society in American history. To cite just one example, in the 1950’s less than 5% of occupations required a license from the government. Now people in nearly 30% if occupations must obtain permission from the government before they can even practice their trade. If you think we should turn more power over to government officials to decide what we can and cannot do then the DFL platform is for you.
  • Taxes – Mark Dayton is famous for being perhaps the most pro-tax governor in America. He has repeatedly advocated raising taxes and in the last legislative session vetoed a Republican effort to provide moderate tax relief to Minnesota businesses struggling with the comparatively unfriendly tax environment in this state. Unusually even for a Democrat he has waxed poetic about his love of taxes, calling them “the lubricant for the machine of democracy” and the “fuel of our social engine.” He flippantly declared “Read my lips, tax the rich.” Last year he proposed raising state taxes to 10.95%, the highest in the nation, on “rich” folks making the Donald-Trump-like sum of $85,000/year. Make no mistake, Dayton’s views on taxes reflect the DFL’s platform of “progressive” taxation, and it is only the steadfastness of our Republican legislators that has prevented him from enacting his tax policies so far.
  • Religious Freedom – The DFL platform mentions separation of church and state twice, but curiously does not refer to the general constitutional rule preventing an establishment of religion under state authority. Instead the DFL endorses “separation of church and state” with regards to particular pet issues, including right to privacy, school curriculum and educational funding. To translate, the left has historically used “right to privacy” to advance their views on social issues, so “separation of church and state” in respect to privacy means that the DFL wants churches to butt out of social issues and to force churches to fund family planning and other practices that worshipers consider contrary to their religious beliefs. “Separation of church and state” as to education means that religious viewpoints are not welcome in schools and that the state should discriminate against religious schools by denying them, and only them, access to state funds generally available for other educational institutions (including other private institutions). The DFL platform also advocates taxing certain property of tax-exempt (often religious) organizations. Unsurprisingly, one thing you will not find in the DFL platform is an endorsement of the free exercise clause of the United States Constitution, which guarantees religious freedom against governmental interference.
  • Second Amendment – The DFL platform advocates “reasonable firearm policies.” Three guesses what that means, and the first two don’t count.
Minnesota’s legislative elections this year matter, perhaps more than ever, because there is a clear distinction between the Dayton/DFL agenda and that advocated by our Republican legislature. If you want to live in a state with low taxes, fewer regulations, freedom of conscious and the right to bear arms, then it is vital that you get out there and support your state legislative candidates by giving of your time, your money, or at the very least, your vote.

David Faith is Vice Chair At Large of the SD44 Republicans. This post originally appeared on

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mark Stefan could tip the balance in the House

Written by David Faith,

The Minnesota House of Representatives is up for grabs this election. And the stakes couldn’t be higher. Just last week, DFL Governor Mark Dayton delivered a speech re-confirming three key points: (1) that raising taxes is the “acid test” (his words) of his entire administration, (2) that he is disgusted with attitudes that gave rise to the tea party, and (3) that the only thing standing in his way is the Republican legislature.

Mark Stefan is the GOP-endorsed challenger battling to topple incumbent DFLer and reliable Dayton-man John Benson in House District 44B. Stefan is in many ways the ideal candidate to bring the message of economic liberty. He’s seen the economy from the virtually every perspective, having worked variously as a small businessman, consultant, and employee. He understands how budgets work and decries the accounting tricks, such as transferring funds from education accounts to cover general expenditures, which have characterized DFL governance. His financial stance is simple and concrete: (1) A real balanced budget (no new gimmicks); and (2) a tax and regulatory environment friendly to small business.

Stefan understands that 75% of new jobs come out of small business. He’s seen how government red tape can squash fresh business ideas in their cradle. He’s seen punitive taxes and bureaucracy hurt not only business owners, but also the people they employ. Employees, after all, are the first to suffer when a business simply can’t afford the continued costs of complying with government. Anyone that has met Mark can tell you he’s committed to this race. He’s not a career politician. He’s never run for political office before. He’s in it because he genuinely believes that excessive government is creating a barrier for his children and yours and making it harder for the next generation to achieve their dreams.

Many, indeed, most House races this year will not be close. Most districts are solidly in the bag for one party or another. That means that Republicans’ ability to maintain control in the legislature and provide a counter-balance to Mark Dayton will come down to an astonishingly small number of key races in swing districts. 44B is one of those districts. Depending on which index you look at, 44B is somewhere between DFL +3 and dead even, which means it is within the margin of error under even the most pessimistic assumptions. Republicans can win here, and they’ve won here before. Mark Stefan can win this race, but he needs support. If you’re in 44B, or if you’re in a district that will not be close, one of the best things you can do this election to advance economic liberty is to support Mark Stefan in any way you can.

David Faith is Vice Chair At Large of the SD44 Republicans. This post is cross-posted from

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Terri Bonoff is no "moderate"

Written by David Faith,

The citizens of Senate District 44 are represented by two very different Senators. The first is the Senator voters see during the campaign season, a consummate politician that portrays herself as pragmatic and moderate. The second is the Senator that goes to Saint Paul and reliably supports the tax, spend, and regulatory agenda of the DFL. Both are named Terri Bonoff.

Terri Bonoff is not a moderate. She is a liberal activist and leading Obama fundraiser that supports higher taxes, more government, and less individual freedom. We know this by looking at her voting record, and the bills she sponsored in the state Senate. It is easy to call yourself moderate. It costs nothing, and it is good politics in a swing district where moderate voters decide elections. But words are cheap unless followed up with action. When it came to action, when it came to casting her ballot to support real legislation, Senator Bonoff has sided again and again with big government and against Minnesota taxpayers.

Let’s examine just a few concrete examples of the Bonoff record.

On raising taxes – Bonoff has repeatedly voted to raise taxes on the people of Minnesota, including measures to raise gas taxes and sales taxes at a time when many Minnesotans are already paying too much for basic goods. In the last two sessions Bonoff authored two tax bills that are especially telling:

1. A bill making it harder to get rid of “temporary” tax increases passed to fund capital improvements. The bill works by allowing taxing districts to propose a new capital project as soon as an old project, which originally justified the tax increase, expires, and put it on the ballot as a “renewal” while representing to the voters that it is not a tax increase since it is the same as the previous (supposedly temporary) levy. This avoids having to propose a new referendum asking voters for a tax increase to support each new project.

2. A bill calling for a “Tax Expenditure Advisory Commission.” For those unversed in the Orwellian newspeak of the left, “tax expenditures” is what liberals call tax cuts. Bonoff’s commission, together with its taxpayer-funded professional staff, would review tax cuts and make recommendations each legislative session about which tax cuts ought to be abolished. The bill would also cause various tax cuts to automatically expire if they are not explicitly re-authorized by the legislature every ten years.

These two Bonoff-authored bills make it absolutely clear what her philosophy is on taxes. She thinks that tax increases should be easy and subject to less scrutiny. Tax cuts, by contrast, should be hard, jealousy scrutinized and automatically terminated.

On spending – While calling on citizens to tighten their belts to pay more to the government, Bonoff has steadfastly opposed efforts to reduce the state’s own bloated expenditures. Just in the last two sessions she voted against mild budget reductions for state bureaucracies, against small decreases in the government workforce, and against repealing unaffordable expansions to the state’s already unsustainable Medicare spending. Indeed, she’s authored bills to appropriate more government money to such vital projects as purchasing park land, creating more bike paths, and reimbursing filmmakers for making movies that contribute to “heritage.”

On Voter ID – Bonoff voted against requiring the same degree of security to prevent voter fraud that every state imposes to prevent 20-year-olds from drinking. She voted against even allowing the people of Minnesota to vote on a measure that would require people to show state-issued photo identification at the polls, even if such IDs are provided for free to anyone that can’t afford it.

On education – While Bonoff has shown some willingness to experiment around the margins, such as with alternative teacher licensing, her primary solution to our education challenges has been the same one offered perennially by every Democratic politician. Throw more money into the same 19th century education system and hope for a 21st century result.

Bonoff voted against a measure that would have prevented public Universities from raising tuition more than 3-5% per year. She also opposed any reduction in taxpayer subsidies to the same Universities. Republicans have realized that squeezing the taxpayer for University funding isn’t going to help Minnesota families so long as Universities have no incentive to cut costs. Bonoff has lined up to defend the status quo.

David Faith is Vice Chair At Large of the SD44 Republicans. This post is cross-posted from