Gazelka selfie
by Steve Timmer
Jan 20, 2020, 7:00 PM

Let’s test that proposition, Senator Gazelka

In a wide-ranging interview with a Colorado Christian faith healer and radio personality [just writing that cracks me up], and recounted in an article in the Minnesota Reformer by Ricardo Lopez, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka made a number of provocative remarks, including about gay conversion therapy. Those remarks have already been the subject of social media comment, but Gazelka said something else that deserves comment, too:

“Rural people like to take care of themselves,” said Gazelka, whose district is in the Brainerd Lakes region. “They’re not interested in government helping them. That’s their last resort. In the inner city, it’s definitely — there’s higher concentrations of people that are on welfare, that are used to that, and our welfare system has basically entrapped them.”

Jeepers, he sounds like Bill Clinton in 1996, when he signed the The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act. Joe Biden supported it, too.

I suppose, though, that a rural Minnesota farmer who received over $170,000 in subsidies and trade war bailouts is entitled to begrudge an urban single mom $120 a month in food stamps.

It seems a little small, though, don’t you think?

If Gazelka is suggesting that rural Minnesota is independent, he wrong about who pays the freight in the state. Greater Minnesota has been subsidized by those of us in Lesser Minnesota for a long time.

Surely he knows that. It is true every way you want to measure it.

I wrote about the issue four years ago in Dear rural friends, it’s not our fault.

There was also an idea of expanding the sales tax to include food and clothing in lieu of a gas tax floated in 2019. I pointed out in the link that Hennepin County alone provides about 7% of the entire general fund budget for the whole state, just from its sales tax collections (without taxing food or clothing).

The general sales tax collections do not include the sales tax on automobile sales, which go into the state highway trust fund which benefits, you guessed it, disproportionately rural highways.

Many people in the metro area have rural roots, including me; we want to see the rural parts of the states do well, too. We’re One Minnesota!, after all, as the governor is fond of saying. If you are like this Lesser Minnesotan, though, you tire of our rural legislators trumpeting their individualism while pocketing the metro cash.

So I propose a little experiment, Senator Gazelka: offer a bill in the upcoming session to delete local government aid payments to municipalities and other government units in your district. We’ll give you a credit for your district’s sales tax payments, but after that, you’re on your own.

You should embrace this gladly, Senator. It’s the first step in freedom for your district. Of course, it won’t be long before the sewers back up, but that smells like freedom. Throw off the entrapment of LGA welfare!

I asked the Office of Management and Budget for information about LGA payments in your district, Senator, but it hasn’t gotten back to me yet. I am sure you have this information, too; perhaps you can provide it directly.

I look forward to hearing from you, Senator.

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