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Crowned Sheriff Stanek1

Sheriff Stanek’s projected 2014 budget is $92 million, which is $43 million larger than Ramsey County’s projected 2014 budget of $49 million. Hennepin is way above every other urban county.


At the same time, Stanek has the smallest population of any urban Sheriff in Minnesota to directly police. Hennepin County is unique in that it is comprised of cities that all have their own police forces. Less than 1% of the population is directly policed by the Hennepin Sheriff Rich Stanek. The other urban counties have more population being directly policed by the Sheriff.


This graph shows the glaring the differences between Hennepin and other urban counties in 2012 numbers. In comparing urban county Sheriff Budgets, one would expect that the budget is high when the amount of direct policing and reported crimes is high. Hennepin county is the opposite. Given the numbers on direct policing, one could easily make a case that Hennepin’s budget should below Ramsey County’s budget.


Kelly Sheriff Budget Comparison


The disparity has been increasing since 2012. Next year the Stanek budget is projected to go up to $92 million. Stanek’s budget has been going up at the same time that other government budgets were being cut.



Dayton Minnesota Good for BusinessGovernor Dayton and the Democrats have brought Minnesota to a $1 billion surplus in state budget. In the great experiment of two similar states, Minnesota and Wisconsin, Minnesota wins using the Democratic way. In electing a Democratic governor and Democratic majorities in both houses of the legislature, Minnesota built a better place for business, a better place for jobs and thus resulted in a S1 billion surplus in state budget.


According to the state release figures, Minnesota has added 13,400 jobs since August and more than 122,000 since 2011, according to state figures. By comparison, Wisconsin added only half to 70 percent of Minnesota’s totals, depending on whose statistics you believe.


Minnesota was recently ranked eighth in the “Forbes 2013 List of the Best States for Business“. And this is Forbes, the ultra business magazine, saying this. Wisconsin was ranked 41, which is in the bottom 10 states.


Companies want to locate where they are going to thrive and make profits. Minnesota commitment to education means the best employees. Minnesota commitment to community means a place where employees want to live. Minnesota’s support of roads, utilities and environment is great for business. Who could sell beer made from polluted water? There is a reason why Minnesota businesses are known for great products. Indeed, even Minnesota’s success in better and more efficient health care means less costs to business.


While government in Wisconsin is going out of business, Minnesota has been doing great government. Thus Minnesota is the place where business and jobs thrive and grow.

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Who is Jeff Johnson?

by Eric Ferguson on May 7, 2013 · 0 comments

Hennepin County commissioner Jeff JohnsonWho is Jeff Johnson? From his Q&A with Minn Post, he seems to be a basic doctrinaire conservative who holds the positions conservatives have held for decades, experience notwithstanding. He refers to himself as a mainstream conservative, which is the same thing. He showed that doctrinaire side when he said some rotten things about the people participating in Occupy MN. Whatever anyone thinks of the Occupy movement, this much should bother you: on the first day, when they were just arriving, Johnson wasn’t there. He was speaking at a Republican event, so he had no idea who was showing up or who they were. There was at that point nothing to be judged, yet he said, “Because of you, I don’t have to spend my Friday afternoon with 1,000 or so clueless, obnoxious and frankly, very messy anarchists or socialists … or whatever they call themselves. Instead, I get to spend my Friday with 1,000 or so patriots.”
Since some time has passed, let me remind readers that the Occupy MN protest happened at the plaza in front of the Hennepin County Government Center, where Johnson works. He was absent the first day. He could have waited until he went back to work and saw the protesters before commenting. He could have asked them why they were there like I did. He could have asked them what they call themselves. Instead he used the dismissive phrase, “whatever they call themselves”, which is a phrase used to say people are so far beneath you, that you don’t even have to accord them the basic respect of finding out anything about them before running them down.


Read. Learn. Repeat.

by Joe Bodell on April 15, 2013 · 1 comment

I’ll have more thoughts on today’s events in my ancestral homeland of Boston tomorrow. But for now, more about the Obama/Chained CPI ragefest, from Politicus:


Proposal. Not law. Copyright Reuters.

Proposal. Not law. Copyright Reuters.

Many GOP operatives fear Obama’s embrace of chained consumer price index, a mechanism to slow the growth of Social Security benefits over time, is a trap — a means of getting Republicans to support the policy on the record only to see Democrats savage them for it down the line.”


The Republican strategists who suspect this are partially correct. President Obama is using Chained CPI to set up a win/win/win situation for Democrats. Republicans have to choose between raising taxes in order to get the Chained CPI, arguing for Chained CPI without the tax increase, or rejecting Chained CPI. If Republicans express any desire to cut Social Security, Democrats will savage them for it during next year’s election. If Republicans agree to raise taxes at all, the base of their party will erupt in rage. If Republicans split and some of them reject Chained CPI, it will never become law. (Chained CPI probably won’t become law anyway, because Harry Reid and many Senate Democrats have promised to oppose any changes to Social Security.)


While the activists on the left continue to completely ignore the political realities unfolding before them, it is looking more and more like Obama’s Chained CPI offer was designed to call the Republican bluff on Social Security.


The truth is that outside of the right wing ideologues, many Republicans see real political danger in messing with Social Security. In plain English, Republicans will get nothing on Social Security unless they agree to raise taxes. Since they will never raise taxes, Chained CPI is pretty much DOA.

It’s not about winning the news cycle, it’s about winning the war. And the Obama White House is staffed with people who know how to win the long fights against opponents who fight dirty. So let’s take a deep breath, avoid stepping closer to that cliff in the back yard, and wait for the GOP to step in this trap.  It’s looking increasingly like they don’t have a choice.

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I’ve been watching with a mixture of disdain and wonder the release and public flagellation of President Obama’s 2013 budget proposal. Disdain mostly because a Democratic President actually just proposed cutting benefits to current Social Security recipients (along with the rest of us, when we get there) through this Chained CPI bullpucky, and wonder because of what a brutally aggressive political gambit it represents.

Proposal. Not law. Copyright Reuters.

Proposal. Not law. Copyright Reuters.


I’ll explain. For one thing, Obama’s budget has zero chance of becoming law. We know this. He knows this. Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi know this. None whatsoever. Perhaps this is an optimistic reading of the circumstances here, but I think that’s part of the point of this exercise. The things that President Obama proposed in this budget are the very things the Republican Party demanded in return for additional tax revenue to close the budget deficit (despite Social Security contributing exactly zero dollars to the deficit. I digress). At the same time, Obama knows that McConnell and Boehner will never, ever, ever agree to any compromise at all, let alone one that involves additional tax revenue on top of what Obama already achieved in December. So by offering them exactly what they wanted with the foreknowledge that they will never accept it in any real way, he’s forcing them once again (and again, and again) to own their right-wing, reactionary agenda in front of a public that, if memory serves, recently rejected that crap by a pretty huge margin.


Is this proposal a good thing? No, of course not. It doesn’t do enough to push renewable energy production or rapid transit options or a host of other priorities, especially in light of a still-fragile economy. But with divided government, we really have two options: publicly moan about how mean and nasty the other side is, or beat the other side over the head with their own intransigence until they either submit, or the voting public turns them out on their ear and demands progress. John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are stuck with the first option, whether they like it or not. President Obama has apparently chosen the second option. The progressive movement must keep up the fight to protect Social Security and Medicare, and make sure public opinion stays on our side. At the same time, we need to help keep the focus where it needs to be through the 2014 elections: on a right-wing political party that has effectively broken our national political discourse, and does not deserve to be anywhere near the levers of power.

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classwarThis report is actually from late last year, but nothing’s changed. There are numerous rational, reasonable, legitimate plans out there for dealing with U.S. budget issues with a maximum of fairness and effectiveness, and without the crass, corrupt idiocy that currently dominates public discussion of these (and most other) issues. Conservatives from both parties, realizing (in the crude sort of way that they “realize” anything) what a threat such plans might pose to frenzied, heedless corporate profiteering and therefore their own political sinecures, are spurning them in terror, the way that stupid people do in general when their fundamental views are questioned, even a little bit.

This is the second edition of an Institute for Policy Studies study that debunks the premise that the United States of America is broke. We released the first one a year ago, shortly before the supercommittee — a congressional panel tasked with putting our nation on a sound fiscal path — fizzled into obscurity…

Our proposed reforms amount to $881 billion in potential new revenue and savings per year. These measures would eliminate most of the budget deficit, leave plenty of resources for jobs and for the nation’s pressing human and environmental needs, and stave off those…across-the-board cuts. We have not assembled an exhaustive list of rational budget-cutting alternatives. But we have demonstrated that there are sensible ways to achieve a more sustainable budget without shredding our already threadbare safety net. Together, these measures would generate more than enough savings to prevent a (further) harmful shift toward austerity.

(Institute for Policy Studies)


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Forum on the State of Our State

by Eric Ferguson on March 4, 2013 · 0 comments

capitol mazeThe DFL of Senate District 63 is hosting the State of Our State forum. How will federal sequestration affect the state’s finances? What’s going on with the legislative budget process, the health insurance exchange, marriage ban repeal, education finance reform, and whatever else the legislature is working on? Our speakers will be Rep. Jean Wagenius and Sen. Patricia Torres Ray,  so bring your questions.  The forum is Sunday March 10th, Lake Nokomis Community Center, 2401 Minnehaha Parkway (between Cedar Ave/28th Ave So), Minneapolis. MAP.

RSVP on or on Facebook. RSVPs aren’t required but are helpful for planning.

State Sen. Patricia Torres Ray SD63               State Rep. Jean Wagenius 63B


Dayton’s budget reduces cost of government

by The Big E on February 7, 2013 · 4 comments

… and makes Republicans heads explode.

Republicans across Minnesota are very very frightened that when Gov. Mark Dayton signs the new budget that will include tax increases on the 2% of earners, the cost of government. This goes along with the fear that increasing taxes on the magical job creators will somehow force them to not create more jobs or something.

Yet again, their fears have nothing to do with reality:

Despite all of the right wing groups’ handwringing about tax increases under Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget proposal, Minnesota’s price of government under the Dayton plan actually will be less over the next four years than during the previous four.

The price of government or POG measures total Minnesota state and local government taxes, fees and charges as a percentage of statewide personal income. According to the most recent POG report from Minnesota Management and Budget:
(Grand Forks Herald)

The best part is pretty much all of the conservative groups active at the State Capitol accept that the POG is an accurate reflection of reality.

Watch them try to deny since it doesn’t mesh with what they want.


In the last two legislative sessions, Republicans controlled both houses at the State Capitol. After promising to focus on the budget and creating jobs, they couldn’t manage it.

They just couldn’t manage to pass an entire budget, only parts of it. When Gov. Dayton rejected their piecemeal budget, they never negotiated in good faith and caused the 2011 government shutdown.

In 2012, they came through with a bonding bill at the last minute. It was the smallest bonding bill ever.

In the meantime, they’d considered myriad ballot measures and considered every single conservative pet issue known. Members were busy copy-pasting ALEC-written legislation.

They huffed and they puffed during hearings and they just couldn’t manage to actually do much at all.

Now that the DFL controls both Houses and is working in conjunction with the DFL Governor Mark Dayton, Republicans assume that the DFL is incompetent as they were at governing.

Republicans are currently kvetching about the DFL’s overreach and how the DFL is bringing up all their pet projects instead of creating jobs and working on the budget. They’re crowing about how the DFL is holding hearings on gun control this week instead of doing the budget or creating jobs.

Republicans forget that Democrats can walk and chew gum. At the same time even.


Dayton plan would stabilize Minnesota’s budget

by Jeff Rosenberg on January 23, 2013 · 1 comment

For the last decade, Minnesota’s finances have lurched from one disaster to another. With insufficient revenues, lawmakers have patched the budget together with different accounting gimmicks each biennium. When the recession hit, even those tricks weren’t enough to prevent painful spending cuts.

Mark Dayton’s budget would restore stability to both our revenues and our expenditures. On the revenue side, he would rebalance our tax system, reducing property taxes while increasing sales and income taxes, as the image to the right illustrates. The broader sales tax base will make the sales tax less variable and more reliable, and will allow us to increase revenues while lowering the tax rate. And under Dayton’s plan, the rich will finally pay their fair share in taxes.

Dayton’s budget will also restore spending to the minimal level needed to maintain state services. The chart below shows the amount of spending required to just keep pace with inflation and population growth. For the last two biennia, we’ve fallen below that minimal level of spending. Dayton’s budget restores stability to our state’s spending.

There’s a case to be made that we should go farther than merely restoring stability. As I said, expenditures under Dayton’s budget would be the minimum needed. Raising another billion or two would allow us to make much-needed investments in areas like higher education, transit, and social services, all of which have suffered from neglect over the past decade. But while it doesn’t go quite as far as I’d like, that’s really just a quibble. In the end, what’s important is that Dayton’s budget would finally restore fiscal responsibility to Minnesota.

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