As we rejoin the Emo Senator, star of Southern Minnesota's best-loved telenovela, our hero is appearing in the pages of the Waseca County News with a gaggle of local elected officials who are mistaken by a headline writer as legislators.
The Belle of Waseca County brags to area mayors and county board members concerned about rising property taxes that the Senate Caucus has rummaged through the adults' closets for footwear:
Parry said the Republicans “took a hit” by getting rid of the Market Value Homestead Credit. “We’re taking the blame but we can take it. We’ve got big boots and high heels. The governor accepted it and it’s time to quit playing games,” he said.
Kuntz said not everybody understood the ramifications of the change.
“No one did the homework on this. Outstate Minnesota took a bath,” Johnson said. Jasinski said the elimination of MVHC caused huge shifts, 15-20 percent higher values, and much more tax on businesses.
His own business saw an increase in taxes of 13.8 percent and the tax on his home increased by 10.2 percent, Parry said. The elimination of the credit came in during the last hours of budget negotiations and is what happens when there isn’t adequate time to do the research, he said. Still, Parry said the Republicans don’t want to revisit the issue.
“As you deal with LGA, remember MVHC,” Whiting said. Almost all the city officials told Parry their cities are not able to reduce their budgets any further; that they are at the bare minimum in revenue.
Meanwhile, those dirty hippies at MNPublius chastize the GOP for the bump in property taxes (though nothing about the fashion sense):
While they fought tooth and nail to protect millionaires from paying their fair share, the Republican legislature had no such qualms about hurting the middle class. Their cuts to local government aid and changes to the property tax system mean real pain for Minnesota families.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. Here’s what a nonpartisan House Research study concluded:
Statewide, property taxes would increase by $413 million, or 5.2%, if all local taxing jurisdictions were to adopt their proposed levies…. Increases on the largest property types are 4.9% on residential non-homestead property, 8% on regular apartments, 4.2% on commercial industrial property, 11.4% on agricultural property, 11% on low-income apartments, and 4.8% on seasonal-recreational property.
When you dig into the details, things looks even worse — especially in Greater Minnesota.
Don Davis's Capitol Chatter has more:
Property taxes outside of the Twin Cities are rising faster than for those in the state’s largest metropolitan area.
Taxes to be paid this year are up an average 3.1 percent in the Twin Cities, a Minnesota House report shows, but for others the increase is 8.7 percent.
Increases reach the double digits for rural townships, cities in taconite mining areas and Duluth.
Parry flounced down to the Waseca City Hall to talk about shoes following a rumored closed door meeting in his senate office with his key (and possibly only) campaign advisor Ben Golnik (our sources claim to recognize that voice anywhere). Bluestem will be curious to see how many meetings Parry has with members of his congressional campaign in his state senate office.
It's not illegal on the federal level, but such behavior may raise eyebrows about our beauty's behavior.
Parry is trying to position himself as a reformer ready to storm The Beltway, but than frame may simply be a signal that our hero is having another bout of amnesia equal to that suffered in last spring's episode, during which Emo claimed he needed all the per diem money he could snatch since he had no other source of income.
Fans cheered when he later remembered that he owns a Godfathers Pizza in Waseca and position himself as a small business owner.
As a reformer (he heads a state senate committee with the word "Reform" in it, right?) will Parry follow the high road taken by Dick Day, his predecessor in Senate District 26?
As the Rochester Post-Bulletin reported in 2008 when Day was running in the Republican primary for the honor of losing to Walz in November of that year:
Day said he raised about $25,000 for the first quarter but did not pursue donors aggressively because the state Senate is still in session. He said he was uncomfortable meeting with donors before adjournment in mid-May.
In 2000, Common Cause criticized DFLer Steve Novak,* then chair of the Minnesota Senate Jobs and Energy Committee, for taking over $40,000 in contributions for his congressional campaign from lobbyists, business executives and PACs for businesses that had issues coming before his state committee. Under state ethics rules, legislators can't collect contributions for state-level office from lobbyists while the legislature is convened.
Federal law doesn't forbid it, however; but if while the Senate meets, Parry chases contributions from companies that would benefit from the sort of outsourcing and privatization that Parry considers to be state government "reform," it will be curious to see how Golnik pitches that revenue stream to the media. Who defines reform this way? What fashion sense does tht show?
Bluestem wouldn't want to be in his shoes. We fear what sentiment that might foster in the people.
But the first FEC report that reveals a slice of fundraising during the session won't be due and public until mid-April. Until then, Emo Senator fans can speculate among themselves as to whether our hero will prove to be as ethical as Dick Day.
Image: The Emo Senator, by Tild
* (Update: An earnest Washington County Commissioner took it upon herself to write and tell me that the story below is 12 years old; yes, dear leader, the story about something that Common Cause objected to in 2000 is twelve years old, and it's reprinted here because it's no longer online at the Star Tribune--hence the need to document.
That little star thingie [*] is called an asterisk, and people who paid attention to basic conventions of reading and writing in junior high understand that it usually signals that another asterisk will appear below the main article and, following the second asterisk, an explanation or footnote will appear. It this case, it's an article that documents my statement about Common Cause's 2000 criticism of a Senate committee chair who took money for his congressional bid from interests appearing before his committee.)
Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)
May 6, 2000, Saturday, Metro Edition
Legislators' in-session fund-raising draws fire;
A watchdog group says that PAC and lobbyist donations to five state senators and representatives who are running for Congress, while legal, aren't right.
Conrad deFiebre; Staff Writer
SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 5B
LENGTH: 945 words
Five of six state legislators who are running for Congress have raised a total of more than $60,000 in campaign money from lobbyists or interest groups during the legislative session, a practice that drew criticism Friday from Common Cause Minnesota.
"This may be legal, but it doesn't make it right," said Bruce Miller, executive director of the political watchdog group. "No wonder people are cynical about government when things like this happen. It has all the appearances of a shakedown."
He called for the legislators to give the money back.
The biggest in-session fund-raisers didn't return calls for comment Friday. But Sen. Steve Kelley, DFL-Hopkins, said he had no intention of sending back the $3,750 he has received during the session from special interests.
"My current reaction is no," he said. "I think I've acted legally and appropriately." He also said the contributions had no effect on his votes in the Senate.
Rep. Mary Jo McGuire, DFL-Falcon Heights, who listed a single lobbyist donation of $250, also said she won't issue refunds to lobbyists. "I felt that to be a viable candidate I had to take their money," she said. "The rules are there, and I have to play by them until I can change them."
Since 1990, Minnesota legislators and party caucuses have been barred from raising money for their legislative campaigns from lobbyists and political action committees (PACs) during legislative sessions.
But a series of state and federal rulings has created exceptions for legislators running for other offices. That has allowed Kelley and Sen. Jerry Janezich to raise money legally from lobbyists and PACs for their U.S. Senate campaigns. Likewise, McGuire and Sens. Steve Novak and Linda Runbeck have accepted special-interest money for their campaigns to replace U.S. Rep. Bruce Vento.
Only Rep. Betty McCollum, also running for Vento's seat, has refused lobbyist and PAC money during the session.
The ban on in-session fund-raising is intended to avert the possibility or the appearance of special interests buying legislators' votes. But a Star Tribune review of the six candidates' federal campaign finance reports for the first three months of this year shows dozens of lobbyist and PAC donations since the legislative session started Feb. 1.
Chairmen cash in
By far, most of the cash has flowed to Novak and Janezich, the only two in the group who head legislative committees.
Novak, DFL-New Brighton, is chairman of the Senate Jobs, Energy and Community Development Committee, which wields influence over Minnesota utilities. The $37,900 he raised from lobbyists and PACs during the session largely came from lobbyists and PACs for utilities interests such as AT&T, MCI, Minnegasco, Northern States Power Co. and U S West Communications.
Novak's total does not include several thousand dollars more from executives of those and other utilities who are not registered lobbyists.
Janezich, DFL-Chisholm, is chairman of the Senate Economic Development Budget Committee. He raised $17,600 from lobbyists and PACs for a broad range of economic interests, plus $2,500 from three Minnesota Indian tribes that are not listed as PACs.
As a freshman state senator, Kelley does not head a committee. Runbeck, R-Circle Pines; McCollum, DFL-North St. Paul, and McGuire are members of minority caucuses and also do not head committees. Runbeck and McGuire each raised $1,000 or less from special interests.
McCollum said Friday that her refusal of money from lobbyists and PACs was only for the legislative session, which she hadn't expected to extend beyond today's DFL endorsing convention in the Fourth Congressional District.
"I unilaterally disarmed enough during the session," she said. "But I have raised all the money I needed to go after the endorsement, even though I knew I stood to be criticized for not raising a lot of money."
As it stands, McCollum goes into the convention having raised $12,875 through March 31 of this year, far behind Novak's total of $91,225. McGuire reported raising $15,900 overall.
Runbeck raised a total $34,886, including $1,000 from a PAC, en route to winning the Fourth District Republican endorsement last Saturday.
Kelley, meanwhile, noted that nonlegislators running for Congress face no complaints about the source of their funds and no drain on their campaign time from serving at the Capitol.
"Our competitors are out contacting delegates and raising money," he said. "We've been spending most of our time doing our jobs. It makes it nearly impossible for people in office now to run for federal office."
Five state legislators running for Congress have accepted campaign contributions from lobbyists and/or PACs during the legislative session, which began Feb. 1.
Legislator contributions contributions Total
DFL-New Brighton $18,900 $19,000 $37,900
Sen. Jerry Janezich,
DFL-Chisholm $3,405 $14,200 $17,605
Sen. Steve Kelley,
DFL-Hopkins $2,750 $1,000 $3,750
Sen. Linda Runbeck,
R-Circle Pines 0 $1,000 $1,000
Rep. Mary Jo McGuire,
DFL-Falcon Heights $250 0 $250
Rep. Betty McCollum,
DFL-North St. Paul 0 0 0
Source: Candidates' federal campaign finance reports for Jan. 1-March 31, 2000.