William H. Macy as Jerry Lundegaard - screenshot from FARGO
by Steve Timmer
Jan 9, 2015, 9:00 PM

The car salesman from Crown gets his feelings hurt

Hey Kurt, where the hell is my road?

[See the updates below]

First, a story:

There was a small Baptist church in the south that got a new preacher. The parishioners were very interested in what he had to say, so the pews were packed on the preacher’s first Sunday. He rose to the pulpit.

“Brothers and Sisters, I want this church to walk in the spirit.”

Amen, Brother, let it walk, murmurs the congregation.

“Brothers and Sisters, I want this church to run in the spirit.”

A little more excited now, the congregation responds, Amen Brother, let it run.

Raising his voice, the preacher exclaims, “Brothers and Sisters, let this church fly in the spirit!”

There is scattered clapping and hoots of joy, and the congregation says, Amen, Brother, let it fly!

The preachers pauses for a moment, then says, “Brothers and Sisters, if this church is going to fly, it will need money.”

The congregation rises to its feet as one and shouts, Amen, Brother let it WALK!

That’s a story about churches, but it is also a story about Republicans, one that Kurt Daudt, the brand new Speaker of the Minnesota House, just learned.

You could hardly pick up a newspaper for weeks and not read about the rural messiah, Kurt Daudt, the car salesman from Crown, and how he was going to fix rural transportation. Hail Kurt!

Yeah, right.

But Kurt ran into members of his own party:

The GOP transportation plan relies on existing state money to repair roads and bridges. House Transportation Committee Chair Tim Kelly said $200 million would come from the surplus and the rest from the Department of Transportation’s budget.

“What we can do without raising taxes is fund transportation to the tune of $750 million,” said Kelly, R-Red Wing.

Really, Tim, we can’t. Kelly, and Speaker Daudt, too, are deep into Tooth Fairyism. Two hundred million dollars for one biennium isn’t even a drop in the bucket. MNDOT says that Minnesota will need $50 billion in new transportation funding in the next twenty years.

And the governor is not amused:

Gov. Mark Dayton sharply criticized state House Republicans Friday for putting forward a transportation proposal that Dayton says is living in “la la land.”

“It’s just pure fantasy,” Dayton said of the GOP proposal. “To pretend that this is even the beginning of a responsible solution is just fictitious.”

And the car salesman from Crown got his feelings hurt:

I am sure he is disappointed. It is always disappointing when you get called out as a naif.

Rural Minnesota, I fear you have brought into power a gang of charlatans and confidence men, led by a naif.

In two years, when the car salesman from Crown is out on the hustings for his caucus, I hope somebody asks him, “Hey Kurt, where the hell is my road?”

Update: Kurt Dault has also said that transportation fuel taxes fall more heavily on rural people because they “drive more,” so he’s opposed to an increase. It’s especially a problem when you drive a vintage Bronco, I suppose. But paying more for something you use more is supposed to be a touchstone of Republican governance.

Further update: I attended a town hall meeting convened by the three 49 legislators, Sen. Franzen and Reps. Erhardt and Rosenthal on Saturday morning, January 10th.

According to Rep. Erhardt, the funds that Rep. Kelly refers to in the MNDOT budget are not new money. It’s really two funds. The first one is for contingencies, such as the additional $70 million MNDOT spent last year for snow plowing. The other one is essentially a cash flow account that is spent and replenished; it isn’t extra money just lying around.

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