Tag Archives: Jim Nash

Write-in fever breaking out across Carver County

Tomorrow is Election Day, and Carver County voters are seeing some unusual late-in-the cycle activity promoting the possibility of write-in candidates for State House District 47A and Waconia Mayor.

Some residents in the Waconia area have reported getting the flyer shown below at their door over the weekend.  In it, the author (who claims to be a local Republican), urges Republicans to drop their support of State Rep. Ernie Leidiger and to instead vote for DFLer Keith Pickering or, alternatively, to write-in Waconia Mayor Jim Nash.  The flyers do not carry a disclosure of who paid for them.  If more than $100 was spent on this effort, it would be a violation of state campaign finance rules.

When contacted about the flyers, Nash’s response was “I heard about it on Sunday, but have nothing to do with this at all.”


Meanwhile, Nash — who is running for re-election — is facing a write-in challenge of his own.  A group of Waconia residents have started an effort to encourage write-in votes for former Waconia fire chief (and current assistant fire chief) Randy Sorensen.  Sorensen, too (via a third party), asserts that he is not behind the effort.


Let’s Go To The Tape, Round 2

It’s time for another episode of Carver County’s new favorite game show, Let’s Go To The Tape.  In our first episode, we checked the claims of the Carver County Commissioner candidates who said that the League of Women Voters were conducting biased forums.  Believe it or not, we found those claims to be utterly without merit.

In today’s episode, we look at the mini-kerfuffle that has broken out within the Carver County GOP over some live-tweeting by Waconia City Council member Jim Sanborn and Waconia Mayor Jim Nash at last week’s candidate forum in Waconia.  If you go to the comments on the linked post as well as on the Carver County Current site, you see that there’s been some questioning of the accuracy of the tweets, and apparently Nash and Sanborn have been taking some heat for their quoting of Rep. Leidiger at the event.  The video of this event has been posted (you can watch it all at the bottom of this post).

So, Let’s Go To The Tape:

Leidiger’s answer to this question begins at the 23:45 mark in the video.  At 24:15 he says, “In terms of education, certainly, once again, the Republican-controlled House and Senate passed a bill that increased education spending by 8 percent over the last biennium.”

As was noted previously, this answer is not fully the truth.  Yes, the Legislature passed an increase to the basic per-pupil funding formula of $50 in each of the two years and chipped in some one-time money.  However, the school shift that Leidiger voted for resulted in most districts seeing a net decrease in state revenues for the biennium.  Leidiger ignores the impact of the shift in his comment.

And, yes, at 24:38, Leidiger does say “The problem is that under the current system with the union controls, we don’t get the ingenuity that we should in the system.”  That certainly qualifies as criticism of the union.  This Tweet is accurate.

At 30:54, Leidiger says “Well yes, we want our elected officials to really be held to a higher standard.”  You can review how Leidiger has performed here, and see if he meets the standard he sets up for himself.  These Tweets are accurate.

It’s also interesting to note Leidiger’s answer to the previous question regarding the role of government in promoting small business (starting at 27:20).  In that answer, Leidiger not only dodges his own history with small business loans, but criticizes the actions of the Carver County Board saying (at 28:00) “they don’t live by their own regulations”.  This coming from the guy with $144,000 in tax liens?  Pot, meet kettle.

At the 49:00 mark, Leidiger says “I’ve never gotten a job from a poor person, it’s always been from a rich person.”, and at 50:34, he says “There should be an environment where everyone has 2 or 3 jobs that they can go to.”  Yet again, the Tweet in question here is accurate.

At 50:50, Leidiger says “So thank you very much for having us here. I think this has been a great audience and I think its very important that we do these kinds of forums far more than what we have in the past.”  I suppose one could argue over what “these kinds of forums” refer to, but Sanborn and Nash’s inference here (and implicit criticism of Leidiger for skipping the LWV forum) is certainly reasonable.

Seems to me that Sanborn and Nash accurately reported what Leidiger said.  Maybe folks in the Carver County GOP who don’t like it should consider how what Leidiger says matches up with his actions instead of shooting the messenger.


Both Leidiger and State Senator Julianne Ortman refer to the fact that the top 10% of income earners in the state pay over 50% of the income taxes in the state.  This is used to buttress support for reducing taxes on upper-income people.  This is true, but it leaves out some additional context.   According the Department of Revenue’s 2011 Tax Incidence Study, the top 10% earn 42.1% of the state’s income.  They pay 56% of the state’s individual income tax.  However, the individual income tax is less than 50% of the state’s tax base.  When you take into account all state taxes, the top 10% only pay 41.6% of all state taxes.  If you factor local taxes into the mix (because local budgets are highly influenced by state taxes), the top 10% only pay 37.8% of all state and local taxes.  So, in reality, those high-income folks are well-protected in our existing tax code.

Whenever you hear a politician talk about tax burdens but only give you statistics that reference one kind of tax, watch out because it’s very likely they’re trying to avoid telling you the whole story.

Here’s the entire video of the event:

Ernie Leidiger uncorks some whoppers at the Waconia candidate forum

The only candidate forum in the State House 47A race occurred this morning.  I wasn’t able to attend due to a work commitment, but fortunately we have the Twitter streams of two local Republicans — Jim Sanborn (Waconia City Council member and campaign manager for State Sen. Julianne Ortman) and Jim Nash (Waconia Mayor) — to recap the event.  And, to no one’s great surprise, Rep. Ernie Leidiger said some things that defy explanation.

Like this:

Yes, that’s right.  Ernie Leidiger is calling for elected officials to be held to a higher standard.  This coming from the tax avoiding, government loan defaulting, campaign finance law violating, lawsuit losing guy.  It would be funny if Leidiger didn’t still stand a very good chance of being re-elected.  That just makes it sad.

But it doesn’t stop there:

Yes, that’s right.  Ernie Leidiger — the guy who started this regrettable trend of brawling with the League of Women Voters by acting the fool at a Voter ID forum — now wishes there would be more candidate forums.  He could have acted like an elected official is supposed to act and shown up at the LWV candidate forum last week.  Instead, he petulantly stayed home.  How much more contempt for voters does Leidiger need to demonstrate before he gets shown the door?

There’s still more:

The Legislature did increase the per-pupil formula by $50 per student and provide some additional one-time dollars in the most recent budget.  However, these funds were not sufficient to overcome the impact of the school funding shift that was also passed as part of that budget (and Leidiger voted for).  The impact in the Eastern Carver County School District alone for this biennium was a reduction in state funding of $3.6 million.  Leidiger’s statement is only correct if you ignore the impact of the shift.  As local school boards don’t have the luxury of ignoring the shift, we shouldn’t give Leidiger the ability to ignore it either.

And it goes on:

Leidiger is correct, I suppose, in pointing out that he’s never received a job from a poor person.  Pretty much everything he’s ever accomplished has been on the government dime.  The notion that a tax avoidinggovernment loan defaultingcampaign finance law violating, lawsuit losing guy like Leidiger is a source of wisdom on business issues is absurd on its face.

Every time he opens his mouth, Ernie Leidiger demonstrates why he shouldn’t be representing Carver County in the State Legislature.  It’s time to make a change.

Setting the Record Straight on Business Taxes

A common Minnesota GOP talking point is that Minnesota has an unfriendly tax environment for business.  It’s taken as an article of faith by Republicans, and many in the media and the general public just accept it as fact at this point.  Carver County Republicans, in particular, really love this talking point.  One just posted something on this very point the other day, and our representatives in the state legislature have all backed bills designed to help with this problem.

The reality, though, is quite different from the rhetoric.  In fact, significantly different.  The data shows that Minnesota — in most respects — has a tax climate that is better than the national average.

Let’s talk about some specific points as it relates to this.

Minnesota businesses pay less in state and local taxes than the national average

Republicans are correct that Minnesota does have a high base corporate tax rate — at 9.8%, it is the third-highest corporate income tax rate in the nation.  But it’s just one element in the overall state and local tax picture for Minnesota businesses.  Keep in mind that businesses here and in other states pay a wide variety of taxes: state and local property taxes, sales taxes, excise taxes, unemployment insurance, licensing fees, and for some types of businesses the income goes to the owner’s individual income tax return.

If you look at the picture in its totality — despite the high corporate income tax rate —  Minnesota business still pay less (as a percentage of gross state product (GSP), or the sum of private sector economic activity) in state and local taxes than the national average.

A study by the Council on State Taxation (a consortium of 600 major corporations) and the accounting firm Ernst & Young found that Minnesota businesses pay 4.3% of GSP in state and local taxes.  That’s less than the national average of 4.7%.

It’s also less than South Dakota — the place Minnesota Republicans and the Sioux Falls radio guy love to cite as a tax haven — which comes in at 4.9%.  It’s less than North Dakota (8.2%).  It’s less than Wisconsin (4.6%), and it’s less than Iowa (4.6%).  It’s less than Florida (5.3%), Texas (4.9%), and Nevada (4.9%).  The closest states where businesses pay a lower percentage of GSP in state and local taxes are Missouri at 4.0% and Indiana at 4.1%.

Business taxes in Minnesota are growing more slowly than taxes on individuals

The same study also looked at the five-year trend is business taxation by state (not adjusted for inflation).  In 2009, Minnesota businesses paid $900 million more in state and local taxes than they did in 2005, a 10% increase.  Again, this figure was lower than the national average, which saw a 15.5% increase in business taxes over that time. 

The 10% growth rate was also lower than that for individuals in Minnesota, who saw a 12% growth in their state and local taxes paid over that time.  So, the tax situation for Minnesota businesses isn’t getting worse compared to national average, nor are Minnesota businesses taking a larger hit than individuals in the state over recent years.

Republican plans to lower business property taxes will actually have the opposite effect

Legislative Republicans have touted their plans to cut state property taxes for businesses as part of their budget bills.  However, research by the state Department of Revenue shows that the other provisions in the bill — specifically the cuts to local government aid included in the bill — will result in Minnesota businesses paying $63 million per year more in property taxes.

A better path forward

A  factor that does make the tax situation in Minnesota problematic is that we’ve built a corporate tax code littered with the deductions and credits.  While this does lower the tax burden on business, it does increase costs of compliance and can — in some circumstances — cause a situation where government is favoring some businesses over another.  Instead of blanket cuts to corporate income or property tax rates, as Republicans have proposed, we should take a smarter look at business taxes.

We should look at removing the specialized credits and deductions instead.  This would allow the state to lower the rate across the board while maintaining the same level of revenue that state takes in today.  This would be a fairer — and more fiscally responsible — approach, given our current budget crisis.

The real consequences of elections

Waconia Mayor Jim Nash has a post up on the Carver County GOP website entitled “Elections Have Consequences”.  In it, Nash blasts the Democratic legislators in Wisconsin who have fled the state in order to prevent the Republican majority and Governor Scott Walker from shredding decades of labor law under the guise of repairing the budget deficit.

It’s an interesting argument.  Certainly, everyone would agree that the Wisconsin Democrats have taken an extreme measure in response to the proposed legislation, and reasonable people can argue whether or not it’s an appropriate one.  But Nash goes further:

While no party enjoys being in the minority, we all must realize that it is the job of elected officials to go about the work of the people.  You may not always like the outcome, you may not agree with the way things are going, but your job is to not hold up the will of the people by obstructing the work of the people, your job is to go about serving those whom you represent.

Of course, this wasn’t the story when Republicans were in the minority in the U.S. Senate.  Obstruction is exactly what they engaged in, at levels unprecedented in Senate history.  Over the last two completed Senate terms (2007-2010), Republicans filibustered 203 times.  That’s the same number of filibusters as the entire period from 1919-1982.  That’s double the number of filibusters that the Senate Democrats attempted during George W. Bush’s first term.

And, it’s not as if Congressional Republicans didn’t pull out every parliamentary trick in the book to try to derail health care reform in 2009-2010.  No one should be fooled by Nash’s rhetorical game here.  Yes, elections have consequences.  But no one has ever accepted the fact that the minority’s job following an election is to roll over and play dead.  As shown above, Republicans certainly didn’t. 

So we can sit here and play tit for tat all day long.  At some point, it devolves into an elementary school playground argument.  It’s noisy and doesn’t accomplish anything.  Instead, we need to understand the real argument here — the real consequences of our recent elections.

No single political party has held the Governor’s office and both houses of the State Legislature in this state since the Perpich Administration.  The message Minnesotans have sent is clear:  they want Democrats, Republicans, and IPers to work together to find the best solutions to the issues we face.  The voters want compromise.   They want the parties to take their best ideas and put them together.

What we can’t continue to do is play the games of political chicken that we have seen over the last decade.  We need leaders who understand that politics isn’t a zero-sum game.  The decisions made in St. Paul have real-life impacts on real people.  We can’t continue on the same path.

The contours of a compromise on our state’s $5 billion budget deficit are there — if Republicans are willing to accept some source of new revenue and Democrats are willing to accept some painful spending cuts.  Who is going to be the one to reach their hand across the aisle? 

My message to Jim Nash is this:  let’s ditch the slogans.  Let’s toss away the pandering to narrow special interests.  We can solve budget crises here, in Wisconsin, and in Washington D.C. without obstruction.  It requires a willingness to actually do the work of the people, not mouthing empty platitudes while putting partisan politics first.  Is Jim Nash willing to do that?  It seems not:

We must hold fast to our conservative principals [sic], and not allow them to be watered down. 

No one is going to get everything they want out of this budget battle.  What we don’t need, though, are people who aren’t willing to accept any compromise.

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