Tag Archives: Jim Sanborn

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.

Carver County GOP: Not so hot at spelling

Come on fellas, it’s BARACK Obama.  You know, the President of the United States.


Carver County GOP doesn’t understand what’s good for business

On the Carver County GOP webpage, a new blog post is up that asks “Why does the DFL hate Minnesota business so much?”

Let’s talk about what the GOP budget bills do for business — the principle accomplishment pointed to is the reduction of business property taxes.   All three of Carver County’s legislators — Senator Julianne Ortman, Representative Joe Hoppe, and Representative Ernie Leidiger voted for these bills.

The problem with this “accomplishment” is that is just isn’t true:  business property taxes will go up, not down under the GOP budget.

The Department of Revenue analysis of the GOP tax bill shows that property taxes for all classes of property in the state will go up in this bill because of the significant cuts to local government aid.  Business property taxes will increase by $63 million statewide next year thanks to these changes.

What Republicans in this state seem to have forgotten is that for business to be successful in this state you need to have the right conditions for it.  Businesses don’t create jobs just because they have extra money lying around — they create jobs because there is increasing demand for their products or services.  They create jobs because they have educated workforces who create competitive advantage.  They create jobs because we as a state have an infrastructure that enables our companies to compete and win with other states.

And, on these counts, Republicans have utterly failed this session.  Their policies would raise the tax burden of lower-income taxpayers.  In fact, the lower 40% of income earners ($35,000 and under) in the state would see their total tax burden increase, per the DoR analysis.

And, please don’t forget these other impacts of just the tax portion of what the GOP has passed here.

An important one to discuss is:  38,000 renters will no longer receive property tax refunds, and for those who continue to receive refunds, the average refund will drop from $643 to $343.  Sen. Julianne Ortman has flip-flopped on this issue.  In 2009, she fought against her own party to keep the renter credit in place.  No more.

We’ve seen what Republican policies mean for the lives of working families in Minnesota.  Under the Pawlenty Administration, Minnesota achieved the following results:

  • Employment growth and change in unemployment rate lagged the national average
  • Our rank in income and wages slipped
  • Pupil-to-teacher ratio fell to 37th in the nation
  • Miles of roads in poor or mediocre condition more than doubled

We can’t continue down this destructive path that the Republicans are trying to lead us.  Their policies don’t work, period — for businesses or for working families.

Carver County GOP doesn’t understand sarcasm and lots of other things

On the Carver County GOP webpage, Waconia City Councilor Jim Sanborn mocks Rep. Tina Liebling’s (withdrawn) amendment to have the Health and Human Services Department purchase a lottery ticket for tonight’s $300+ million MegaMillions jackpot.  Well, of course, Liebling’s proposal wasn’t serious.  But there is something very serious about the budget chicanery going on in St. Paul right now.

In their desperation to produce an “all-cuts” budget, Republicans are engaging in the same sort of tricks, gimmicks and illegal activities that they’ve relied on in the last decade to avoid making hard decisions.

Liebling’s amendment was in response to a provision in the HHS bill that asserted that the state would earn a $300 million Medicaid waiver from the federal government.  Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton colorfully called such thinking “Fantasy Island”, for good reason.  The only such other waiver ever granted by the federal government — to Rhode Island — was largely funded by stimulus dollars and didn’t call for reductions in eligibility and services.  The MN GOP proposal calls for cuts in eligibility and services.  That’s not going to go over well with Federal officials, you can bet.

This isn’t the only area of the budget where Republicans are engaging in wishful thinking.  Republican Rep. Bob Gunther has sponsored a possibly unconstitutional bill that would raid the Douglas J. Johnson Development Trust Fund and apply those monies — $60 million — to the state’s General Fund.  The Johnson Trust Fund represents essentially a sales tax on taconite that is allocated to the six Iron Range counties where that activity takes place.  The fund was set up to compensate these counties for the fact that taconite mines are exempted from property taxes.  This move prompted conflict on the committee, as DFL Rep. Carly Melin proposed an amendment to cut all LGA from Gunther’s district as well as that of Rep. Ernie Leidiger (34A – Mayer).  As recounted by MinnPost:

Melin offered an amendment to the finance bill. In her amendment, she said that instead of “stealing our $60 million,” Local Government Aid funds should be cut from the district represented by the bill’s author, Gunther, and from LGA funds from the district represented by Ernie Leidiger of Mayer.

Leidiger had made the mistake of earlier saying he “enthusiastically supported” taking the Ranger money.

Melin said that she would have preferred taking property tax money from those districts but was prevented from doing so by state law. 

Leidiger’s face turned red at this suggestion. But then he made a rookie legislator’s mistake. He asked Melin a question he didn’t know the answer to.

“How much money,” he asked Melin, “does the trust fund receive from the state’s general fund?”

“Nothing, not a dollar,” said Melin.

Leidiger tried to dig out of that hole with another question.

“In the future, is the IRRRB (the Range board that oversees the Johnson Fund) expected to receive money from the general fund?”

“No,” said Melin. “Never has, never will.”

Leidiger decided to cut his losses and ask no more questions.

Leidiger also sits on the House Transportation Policy and Finance Committee that tried to take the unprecedented step of raiding metro counties’ transportation funding — $69 million — and applying that to the general fund.  Since 2008, five of the seven metro counties (Carver and Scott do not participate) have paid an additional quarter percent sales tax to fund transportation projects in those counties.  Not only would this be a bad move just from the impacts this is going to have just from a transportation perspective — it puts several projects (like the Central Corridor and Southwest Corridor LRT expansions) in jeopardy, it risks bond ratings for the impacted counties, and it hurts the ability to plan effectively for the long-term — but it also sets a disastrous precedent.  Any local-approved sales tax would effectively be subject to the whims of the Legislature, which could take that money back from the local authorities anytime they saw fit.

Republicans love to bray about “local control”, but they are governing like the big government autocrats they claim to despise.  Leidiger, for instance, has already backed bills that would freeze teacher pay (taking away local control from school districts) and would prohibit cities and counties from raising property taxes after the state slashes hundreds of millions in funding (more local control gone).

Say what you will about these approaches, but they are not conservative in the traditional sense, and they most certainly are not in line with our Minnesota values.

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