Tuesday, August 31, 2010

John Benson's tax-heavy voting record

In a previous blog post, I summarized the votes that make up Sen. Terri Bonoff's (DFL-Minnetonka) poor career rating on the Taxpayers League of Minnesota's legislative scorecards. In this post, I'll show why Rep. John Benson's (DFL-Minnetonka) career score is even lower than Bonoff's.

2007: Benson repeatedly voted in favor of what the Taxpayers League called a "bloated" transportation bill, then voted to override Gov. Pawlenty's veto of the bill, which would have raised taxes by billions of dollars, by up to $500 a year for a family of four. Benson also voted in favor of the Health and Human Services Finance bill, which would have reversed many welfare reforms and increased welfare spending in Minnesota (the bill was vetoed by Gov. Pawlenty). Rating: 25.

2008: Benson earned a big zero in this year, for voting contrary to Taxpayers League positions on every one of its tracked votes, including amending the state constitution to dedicate revenue from a new sales tax to fund "natural resource protection and cultural heritage programs;" levying an additional $6.6 billion in taxes on transportation and creating a new Twin Cities metro bureaucracy (vetoed by Gov. Pawlenty, veto overridden), and a $1 billion bonding bill with according to the Taxpayers League, "hundreds of millions for local arenas, hockey rinks, parks and trails and the Central Corridor lightrail boondoggle… with no money for state priorities like road and bridge construction." Rating: 0.

2009: Benson 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; loan forgiveness for the city of St. Paul RiverCentre Arena totaling $32.75 million (vetoed by Gov. Pawlenty); and a $1 billion tax increase including the fourth tier tax increase, liquor tax increases, and cigarette tax (vetoed by Gov. Pawlenty; Benson voted to override the veto, which did not pass). Benson also voted in favor of the last-hour, end-of-session third attempt by the DFL leadership to pass a billion dollar tax increase. Rating: 7.

2010: At least Benson's score didn't go down this year, but in 2010 and 2009 he missed another zero score by only one vote. He voted against lowering the corporate tax rate (Minnesota has the third highest corporate income tax rate in the world!), in favor of adding a new fourth tier to the income tax, and voted to raise food, beverage, and lodging taxes for select cities as well as to authorize $34 million in additional debt for the Metropolitan Council. Rating: 7.

With another budget deficit looming, Minnesotans can ill-afford even more job-killing tax and spending increases. For more on John Benson's tax-and-spend voting record, and how you can help to restore fiscal sanity in the Minnesota Legislature, please visit the Brian Grogan for House web site (Twitter: @bwgrogan).

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Dillon to Chamber: government should live within its means

In its Minnesota Business Community 2010 Election Candidate Questionnaire, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce scored SD43 Republican endorsed candidate Norann Dillon 23 points higher than Sen. Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka), 92% to 69%. The most telling difference came from this key question: "If elected, what will be your top priority?"

Bonoff: "Implementing a strategic plan that re-engineers the way we deliver all government services, leveraging the power and efficiency that modern technology provides. In addition, I will be a leader in making the strong and strategic reforms needed in our educational system so that each and every Minnesota child has an outstanding and excellent education. Our youngest learners must leave our schools college and post secondary ready to succeed."

Dillon: "My top priority will be to hold state government accountable to its number one responsibility: passing a genuinely balanced budget. The Legislature should decide how to spend your money by the Constitutionality, efficiency and effectiveness of programs and agencies. We need to apply the common sense that Minnesota families and businesses use every day: needs come before wants, you can't spend money you don't have, and plan for the long run. Let's look beyond the next election to create sustainable solutions and return our economy to prosperity."

While education reform is needed, Bonoff's focus on government services belies her overall philosophy that government just needs to be "more efficient" in its current role.

In contrast, Dillon would focus on making government live within its means, just like families and private businesses do every day. For example, Dillon puts forth these ideas on her campaign web site:
  • long term thinking is required: no tricks, shifts, or borrowing that delay and compound the deficit problem.

  • the Legislature will lead by example: no per diem or year round housing allowance; reduce the number of committees and their budgets to 2006 levels; merge and/or eliminate the myriad of commissions, boards and councils.

  • stop the practice of passing omnibus bills; this is where pet projects and special interest items are snuck into legislation, usually to the benefit of a select few at the expense of the rest of us.
  • Friday, August 27, 2010

    New and improved

    North Star Liberty readers, I have been busy over the summer sprucing up the place for campaign season. I hope that these new tools will help our corner of cyberspace feel more like home, and help you to share North Star Liberty with your friends:
    • New comment system - my comment system is now powered by Disqus, which provides for authenticated comments (you have to sign in to comment) and other features to make it a more robust and meaningful exchange. Try it!
    • Wibya toolbar - the toolbar at the bottom of the screen now incorporates Facebook, Twitter, navigation, and even a very slick translation tool. Be sure to hit the Like button to recommend us to your Facebook friends, or hit the Recommend button to see what posts others have recommended.
    • Share buttons - there are now sharing buttons at the end of every post, to enable you to easily e-mail or share them on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Buzz, or your own Blogger blog.
    Y'all come back real soon now, ya hear?

    Thursday, August 26, 2010

    Dollars to donuts (to DFL)

    It's State Fair time, and once again those clever entrepreneurs at Grandstand DFL Mini Donuts will be fundraising for DFL BPOUs in Ramsey County. And judging from the 2009 report filed by the donut stand PAC with the Minnesota Campaign & Finance Disclosure Board, the amounts of money donated to the DFL amount to much more than (ahem) peanuts:

    SD50 DFL: $6,950
    SD51 DFL: $2,800
    SD53 DFL: $9,700
    SD54 DFL: $12,500
    SD55 DFL: $6,950
    HD66B DFL: $11,100

    2009 Total Contributions to Party Units: $50,000.00, up 4% from 2008. That's a lot of bread, man.

    The Tenth Ward & Rural Ramsey DFL PAC is not required by the State Fair or any law to disclose at the booth itself where the proceeds from the sale of their deep-fried guilty pleasures are going. I'm not sure whether their sales would increase or decrease if they did. I just thought that you, dear readers, would like to know. Or as Rep. Laura Brod (R-New Prague) was quoted last session:
    “If you go to the State Fair and buy doughnuts at this booth, you think you’re buying doughnuts when, in actuality, what you’re doing is making a contribution to a political party of which you have no idea. You don’t know if you are donating to Republicans. You don’t know if you are donating to Democrats. You don’t know if you’re donating to defeat a ballot initiative.

    “I want them to know that they’re just not buying a doughnut. They are buying a philosophy along with it."

    Monday, August 23, 2010

    SD43 picnic fundraiser

    Please join me this Wednesday for SD43's event of the season! Share a barbecue picnic with the Republican Party of Minnesota slate of candidates, from SD43 to the statewide offices and Congress:

    U.S. Congressman Erik Paulsen, Tom Emmer for Governor, Pat Anderson for State Auditor, Dan Severson for Secretary of State, Chris Barden for Attorney General, SD43 candidate Norann Dillon, HD43A Rep. Sarah Anderson, and HD43B candidate Brian Grogan

    Date: Wednesday, August 25

    Catering by Famous Dave's
    Time: 5:30pm - 7:30pm
    5:30 pm Food served
    7:00 pm Program begins

    Cost: $15 Adults, $6 Children 6 and up, 5 and under FREE

    Where: Carlson Cheshire Park
    14440 Cheshire Parkway
    Minnetonka, MN

    Sponsored by Senate District 43 Republicans, Larry Thompson, chair.

    View Larger Map

    UPDATE: We had great weather and turnout for the SD43 picnic! Here are my photos from this event:

    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.

    Thursday, August 12, 2010

    Norann Dillon knocks SD43 this Saturday

    SD43 challenger Norann Dillon will continue door knocking around SD43 this Saturday, with the assistance of members of the Minnesota Young Republicans. Dillon is such a tireless door-knocker, she must be on her second lap of the district by now.

    The YRs are working hard this election cycle across the state, particularly in CD3 where the "Blue to Red" campaign is targeting DFL incumbents, including SD43 Sen. Terri Bonoff. This year's YRs are party animals with a full event calendar, a snappy new web site, and abundant enthusiasm for commonsense and efficient government, lower taxes, and enjoying campaign activity with fellow Republicans.