More Things
A barn, obviously (shedsplanskits.com).
by Steve Timmer
Dec 10, 2014, 11:00 AM

In other words, Bob is full of doo-doo

Tim Pugmire has an article on the MPR News website about how the Republicans are going to kick some, well, fecal material, at the Capitol next session. With their muck boots, apparently. (We’re going with a scatalogical theme today.)

One of the new House committees is called the Greater Minnesota Economic and Workforce Development Policy. It’s a name that suggests an exclusively non-metro agenda. State Rep. Bob Gunther, the committee chairman, insists that he wants to help the entire state. But he said rural areas need some extra attention.

“We want to have some way to catch up. For 120 years, Greater Minnesota supported, financially and otherwise, the metro area,” said Gunther, R-Fairmont. “I think it’s time we try to help ourselves a little bit more.”

As a resident of Lesser Minnesota, which has been subsidizing the rural parts of the state for a long time, I was interested to read the next graph in the piece:

The latest numbers from the nonpartisan Minnesota House Research Department show the seven-county metro area pays 64 percent of the state’s taxes and gets back 53 percent of the major tax aids, credits and refunds. By comparison, the 80 non-metro counties pay 36 percent and get back 47 percent.

Gunther has been around the Capitol for a while, and it’s remarkable that these statistics have escaped him. Just remarkable. So the question arises, is the muck on the boots, or in them?

Although Gunter is from the southern part of the state, there is a story that circulates about a metro legislator who some years ago lamented on the House floor that the state’s motto, L’Étoile du Nord, did not mean Send the Money North. So it flows both ways, I guess.

Maybe Gunther is really just talking about the moral support the metro gets from the rural parts of the state for things like, oh, I don’t know, gay marriage. Or even efforts by the metro area to rein in the gun mayhem with reasonable controls.

Just as Mississippi is pretty substantially subsidized by the federal government, and Mississippi feels rode hard and put up wet anyway, the same dynamic exists in the rural/urban divide in Minnesota. Rep. Linda Runbeck accuses Minneapolis of being “dependent.” Now that’s funny, coming from a legislator from Circle Pines.

The Republicans used the rural sense of grievance and resentment to take control of the House in the recent election. Gunther’s committee, which in the end will probably accomplish little, because it won’t attract any meaningful additional revenue from the House Republican caucus, is just a sop to the rural voters.

I doubt that the metro area is interested in a range war, but it didn’t start it, either.

Update: An alert reader from Olmsted County says that the quote about the state motto was uttered by Gil Gutnecht when he was the Republican House Minority Leader years ago. Olmsted County is not the metro, but I suspect it is on the same side of the cost/benefit ledger as the metro area is.

Anyway, hat’s off to Gil for a pithy and descriptive remark.

Thanks for your feedback. If we like what you have to say, it may appear in a future post of reader reactions.