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Afternoon at the Minnesota Capitol | Steve Timmer photograph
by Steve Timmer
Dec 7, 2014, 11:00 AM

Lori’s $64,000 question

Will GOP find a way to repay voters in rural Minnesota?

The Republican House caucus and independent expenditure groups like, especially, the Minnesota Action Network, successfully exploited the rural sense of grievance and resentment against “the Cities” in engineering a takeover of the Minnesota House of Representatives.

Lesser Minnesota gets everything and we in Greater Minnesota never get nothing!

As Lori Sturdevant points out in a op-ed piece in the Strib on Sunday, December 7th, now the Republicans are going to have to deliver something.

But Republican belief that every tax ought to be cut and a co-existing and abiding belief in the Tooth Fairy as a funding source will make this difficult, even for a car salesman (really) like Kurt Daudt.

Sturdevant quotes some members of the Greater Minnesota Partnership who are hopeful about goodies from the 2015 Legislature. But sadly:

Chairing the new House Greater Minnesota Economic and Workforce Development Policy Committee will be Rep. Bob Gunther of Fairmont, a 20-year House veteran who also held the jobs committee gavel in 2011-12. Gunther is a grocery store owner who typifies what has in recent years been a small subset of the House GOP caucus — the outstate, small-business-minded pragmatists who aren’t rigid about the role of government. [Former House member] Dorman, who owns a tire store in Albert Lea, is of the same breed.

Gunther says he’s unafraid to take up new spending ideas for Greater Minnesota and send them along to committees with “finance” in their names. He acknowledges that the spending ideas coming from the Greater Minnesota Partnership might be too rich for Republican blood. [emphasis added]

The barking you can already hear in the background is for “returning” the surplus (which may, of course, evaporate anyway) to the taxpayers, and car salesman Daudt says that he doesn’t want to raise the gas tax.

“Rural people drive more,” says Daudt. In other words, they use the roads more. A gas tax would “hurt rural people more” according to Daudt, but it really would just be making them pay more for what they use. Whatever happened to personal responsibility, Kurt?

But okay, Kurt, you want to fix roads and bridges but you don’t want to raise the gas tax, and you undoubtedly want to lower other taxes. Where are you going to get the money?

It’s a simple question, really.

Perhaps you’d reduce funding the schools. Oh, wait, I have it! Just borrow money from the school aid formula. You can probably pick up a couple of billion bucks there. Kick the can down the road. That’s the traditional Republican game. Since you’re sort of a newbie, Kurt, perhaps you could ask Tim Pawlenty about that; he’s a master can kicker.

Or, you can take the money out of the Health and Human Services budget: kick the grandmas out of the rural nursing homes. Or cut funding to the veterans homes.

Perhaps you can close a prison, or even the sex offender facility at Moose Lake. That would be popular.

Here’s another good one: LGA. The evil Minneapolis gets LGA. But a lot of small towns in rural Minnesota do, too, and it makes up a bigger percentage of their budgets that it does of Minneapolis’.

In summary my friends, I suspect that Kurt Daudt and his caucus have painted themselves into a corner from which it will be difficult to escape.

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