Sunday, November 02, 2008

In MN, House more important than US Senate vote

Last year when I wrote a Vote 60 commentary, my assessment that Minnesota will not be a factor in the Electoral College this time is proven to be correct.
However, I have come to change what part of this year’s ballot is most important.
It's not the US Senate, but the House.

Although I am still concerned with the rules of the Senate that allow for Holds and Filibusters, I believe the next Senate will be more bi-partisan. The 2008 elections put a number of Senators, like Norm Coleman, in a position of trying to work with the Democrats and the 2010 class looks like the Republicans will be in a similar position. Of the seats up for election, 19 are held by Republicans and 15 by Democrats. Of the Democrat seats, none may be lost while Arizona (McCain), Iowa (Grassley), Kentucky (Bunning), Louisana (Vitter), and Ohio (Voinovich) could have challenges. Of those, McCain, Grassley and Voinovich are most likely to join Maine’s Senators Collins and Snowe on select issues (job creation, climate change, etc.)

No, the most important choice Minnesota voters will make on Tuesday is who will represent you in the House.
The critical issue is the economy and what will government do to improve it?
What tax policy will be put in place?
Will some be asked to pay more or will services be cut?

These are critical questions with unemployment hovering in the 6% range, consumers not spending resulting in lower sales tax revenues, and a housing and stock market collapse. The result is a budget shortfall approaching $2 billion dollars (although some project it could be $4 billion.)

Obviously, I am referring to the Minnesota House.

Who does your next representative want to support ?
Being in southern Minnesota, my focus has been on the 24B (Tony Cornish and John Branstad) although the candidates in the 21B (Paul Torkelson and Bob Skillings) and 24A (Bob Gunther and Dale Hansen) seem to have the same approach to the issue.

Cornish approach is clear.
"What it is, is a problem when - if the state has less money coming in - we have to find some place to cut," Cornish told the Fairmont Sentinel. "Just like the county is going to have less money coming in. They're going to have to disappoint people. In the lack of the state's ability to print money, when we get shorted in our revenue ... what other choice do we have to cut? As far as transportation, we just passed a gas tax. The last thing in the world we're going to look at is more revenue for transportation."

Branstad, agrees that finding a funding solution will be difficult but has a more realistic, long-term view telling the Mankato Free Press Cuts aren’t made without repercussions. It is going to be a very challenging environment. When you have limited pie, any increase or decrease for one piece has an impact on another piece.”

Well said, Mr. Branstad … it’s how the pie will be cut.
And Mr. Cornish, what a cavalier attitude that embraces "going to have to disappoint people" instead of how to serve people.

Governor Pawlenty has tipped his hand as to how he wants the pie cut when he established the 21st Century Tax Reform Commission which is reviewing how to improve Minnesota business competitiveness. Pawlenty has already asked all state agencies to submit budgets cutting expense 5% which equates to $2 billion.
Anyone willing to take the bet that Representatives Cornish, Torkelson and Gunther would follow the party line and give tax cuts for business and cut existing state programs ?
[I wish the slogan “Country First” was more evident in Minnesota where it appears to be “Party First”.]

As Minnesota faces the implications of this financial crisis, the next Congress will be asked to support the states. In fact, even though this is campaign season, the US House of Representatives has held a number of hearings and may bring forward a $100 billion economic stimulus package to the floor during a lame-duck session the week of Nov. 17. Democratic leadership indicate that it might include "federal matching funds for state Medicaid programs, an extension of unemployment benefits, expanded food stamp spending and money for infrastructure projects" in the package.
An October 2008 survey of public transportation agencies by the American Public Transportation Association identified 559 ready-to-go transit projects at a total cost of $8.03 billion meaning construction jobs starting within 90 to 120 days.

That’s the key. The federal government will want the states to participate.
When I heard Congressman Tim Walz on the radio endorsing John Branstad for 24-B, it was evident that Congressman Walz knows the problems facing Minnesotans and wants members in the state legislature that will work with Congress.

A vote for Branstad and Walz is not a vote for party politics, but for progress for Minnesota.

(Note: The next US House of Representatives will have a dominate Democrat slant including the possibility of an increase in Minnesota delegation. Voters in Minnesota’s Second District and Sixth District have a choice of embracing Republicans John Kline and Michele Bachmann who have not supported the earmark process that determine those ready-to-go transit projects or Democrats Steve Sarvi and El Tinklenberg who will address jobs and infrastructure improvents.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A vote for Branstad is a vote for the Minneapolis-St. Paul DFL bloc. A vote for Branstad is a vote to send more money to Minneapolis and St. Paul school districts (which get almost double the amount of money per pupil than schools in rural Minnesota). A vote for Branstad is a vote for more light rail and mass transit in Minneapolis and St. Paul instead of roads and bridges in rural Minnesota. A vote for Branstad is a vote for someone who gets a "C" from the NRA and caucuses with people who get "F"s from the NRA. Cornish gets "A"s from the NRA. A vote for Branstad is a vote for higher taxes and more spending. And if you don't think we spend enough, here are some stats: When Pawlenty became Governor, the state budget was $26.6 billion. The current state budget is $36.1 billion. In just six years, the budget has increased by almost $10 billion. It's not about more money, it's about the priorities and Branstad and his party's leaders have the wrong priorities for Minnesota