At forums and in letters to the editor, endorsed Republican candidate for Minnesota House District 17A Tim Miller and his wife are complaining about independent expenditure mailings by Education Minnesota against Miller.
As an instructor at Ridgewater College, Mrs. Miller is represented by Education Minnesota.
In the Montevideo American News, she protests in a letter:
As an instructor at Ridgewater I am a member of the teacher’s union, and of course pay dues. I love teaching and understand this comes with the job. However, this past week there were multiple mailings attacking my husband, Tim Miller, who is running for the Minnesota House, as some uncaring ogre by my own union. I had to pay for the very mailers that are calling my husband horrible things. None of them are true. He is a caring man who wishes to serve his entire district and not just the people who make these attack ads. This isn’t right. Mr. Falk, if you and your associates want to go after my husband, do it on your own dime.
Contrary to Mrs. Miller's claims, union dues are not used by the union's PAC for political activities; rather, members are assessed donation which they can decline to pay, Education Minnesota spokesperson Chris Williams told Bluestem in a phone interview.
Miller himself writes in He really said that?:
. . . It is interesting and convenient that he did not mention the wealthy special interest groups attacking me including the union my wife belongs to. Cherie has had to endure the indignity of her own money being used by this PAC to attack me with lies. . . .
The $700 million "school shift" came as part of the agreement that ended the government shutdown in 2011, when a Republican-controlled legislature and Governor Dayton reached an impasse in budget negotiation.
In Decade of Minnesota budget cuts adding up, Politics on Minnesota's Paul Demko explained in August 2011:
But the brake on tax increases in Minnesota — applied first for eight years by Gov. Tim Pawlenty and now by a Republican-controlled Legislature — has meant a steady stream of cuts that have piled up over the course of 10 years. While the state’s general fund budget has grown from $28 billion to $35.7 billion over that period, projected spending contained in statute has risen much more quickly. The cumulative effect is that the state’s social safety net and physical infrastructure have steadily eroded even as the budget has remained structurally unbalanced. . . .
This year Minnesota stared down a $5 billion budget deficit, the largest in state history. While the bulk of the solution was ultimately jerry-rigged together by increasing the school funding shift by an additional $700 million and selling almost $700 million worth of bonds, that left cuts in the range of $2.2 billion.
As for the corporate tax breaks that the mailer claims Miller's "Republican allies" sought to maintain, Tom Scheck reported in DFLers push to pay back K12 shift with corporate tax hike:
Democrats in the Minnesota Legislature say they want to end a tax break for foreign operating corporations to help pay back recent payment delays to K-12 schools.
The Legislature and governor delayed $2.2 billion in payments to schools over the past four years to balance the state’s budget. Sen. Katie Sieben, RDFL-Newport, said closing what she calls corporate tax loopholes would generate $450 million a year. She said the plan would pay back the schools within six years. . . .
The Star Tribune reported in DFL floats plan to pay back school shift with corporate taxes:
House Republicans Tuesday batted down a DFL proposal to use corporate taxes to repay Minnesota schools.
Democrats say they could repay the $2.4 billion the state still owes from last year’s school shift by closing tax loopholes offered to foreign that do business in Minnesota. The DFL offered its proposal on the House floor Tuesday, but the majority, voted to set the minority's suggestion aside and send their education bill to the House Ways and Means Committee without it.
“It is a simple choice,” said House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, said in a press release. “We can be serious about paying back our kids -- and to fully pay them back -- or we can continue to protect tax breaks for corporations that park their profits overseas.”
GOP leadership was equally unreceptive to Gov. Mark Dayton’s suggestion Monday that closing corporate tax loopholes on foreign-owned corporations would free up $60 million for a budget supplement that could be used to restore slashed public health programs and fund tax credits for employers who hire out-of-work veterans and students.
Are the claims in the mailer "lies" as Miller writes? Since he simply calls them lies, without telling readers what they say, there's no way to assess his assertion, only register his anger.
Bluestem has asked Education Minnesota for copies of any other mailers that may have been mailed to members living in House District 17A to see if the other pieces attack Miller personally or depicted him as an "uncaring ogre."
So far, it appears as if the Millers are mostly just into angry drama.
Images: An ogre (top); one of the mailers (below).
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