Tag Archives: Steve Drazkowski

Greg Boe: stripping away the moderate mask

A couple of weeks before the 2018 election, I made this remark about GOP House District 47B candidate (and eventual election winner) Greg Boe, who won his Republican primary and based his general election pitch on being a “moderate” choice:

Greg has always seemed like a pretty moderate guy — some may not know that he caucused with Democrats back in the late-2000s/early-2010s. So it’s fair to say that seeing Greg line up behind Donald Trump — a guy who is the antithesis of Greg’s “Reasonable. Thoughtful. Respectful” slogan — has been a bit of a shock.

Brick City Blog, Donzel Leggett for State House 47B

Boe ended up winning the election — by a slender 117 votes, or about one-half of one percent.

Well, we’re now one legislative session in the books. How did Rep. Boe do in his first few months around the State Capitol?

Sadly, I have to report that the results aren’t good.

Let’s start off by looking at some basic productivity metrics. Boe only chief-authored four bills during the session (and two of those were different versions of the same bill). Only one rank-and-file legislator (Rep. Nolan West) — excluding districts where a vacancy occurred mid-session — authored fewer bills. None of those four bills were passed into law or rolled into a larger omnibus bill.

But the most surprising — and disappointing — part of Boe’s performance this session was his hard right turn into extremism and bigotry on certain issues and incoherence and dishonesty on others.

Let’s start with abortion. Boe started off the session grandstanding with his fellow House and Senate Republicans in a photo-op designed to protest proposed laws in New York and Virginia. Unfortunately, Boe chose to lie about the content of those bills, claiming that they permitted infanticide. (They do not.)

Boe followed that up with legislative action, becoming a co-author on a version of the so-called “heartbeat bill”, which would ban all abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected (usually in the six- to eight-week range), with the only exception being to prevent the death of the mother or where there was “serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function” — a more restrictive definition of the health exception than exists in current state law.

The impact of this is remarkable — Boe is in favor of prohibiting abortions in all but the most threatening circumstances at a point in the pregnancy where some women may not even yet know they are pregnant. And if you’re a victim of rape or incest, Greg Boe would tell you to go pound sand.

Not only would you have to deal with the physical consequences of your attack, but you would be required to carry the baby to term — and under the policies Greg Boe advocates for, you wouldn’t have a right to health care, a right to take time off of work to handle your prenatal appointments, and no guarantee that you could keep your job or have paid leave after you gave birth to a child conceived because of a criminal act.

Reasonable, thoughtful, and respectful is not how I would describe that set of policies. But there’s more.

In March, Boe stepped into a pile of trouble when he tried to explain his vote against the Equal Rights Amendment. The focus of his explanation was around the point that using the word “gender” instead of “sex” would open up a world of complications citing his own personal internet search where he claims to have found 63 different gender definitions. But, in reality, “gender” is used 91 times in 68 separate state statutes without things turning into a free-for-all. When challenged by his constituents on that matter, he began illegally blocking them — by the dozens — from his Facebook page, eventually relenting after several hours and without an apology.

Boe has doubled down on that logic subsequently, using the scare tactic about transgender participation in athletics as a cloak for his vote. Note the snarky language and use of quotes around the bill’s name.

Greg Boe posting about the “so-called ‘Minnesota ERA'”
on a local conservative Facebook group

It should be pointed out — for the record — that the Minnesota State High School League has an established policy on transgender athletes that prevents the sort of fever dream that Boe and other conservatives seem to fear.

These sorts of positions are indistinguishable from the sort of nonsense that legislative radicals like Glenn Gruenhagen or Steve Drazkowski push (Gruenhagen, in fact, was Boe’s second-most common co-author on legislation this session, sharing authorship on over 20 bills.).

Despite representing a 50-50 district, Boe hasn’t even shown the courage to buck his own party from time to time the way that his Senate counterpart Scott Jensen has. The results our district has received from Greg Boe would be no different than if one programmed a robot to vote the default Republican position.

Boe has engaged in the usual sorts of political shenanigans, too, which I guess should be expected. Like many Republicans, he obfuscates on transportation funding, pretends to support increased education funding, and demagogues on taxes.

Beyond his performance at the Legislature, though, Boe missed some opportunities to provide leadership within the community. The Eastern Carver County School District has been rocked this year by a series of racial incidents. In April, the district held a community forum on equity in the district at a school literally kitty-corner from his house. While over 150 community members were inside the school working through tough problems, Boe and his wife were spotted walking on the sidewalk outside not knowing or not caring about what was happening on the inside.

Boe is already starting to try and build the coffers for his re-election campaign. It may be even harder this time around, though, because the mask has been stripped away. “Moderate” Greg Boe is no more.

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3 reasons to be wary of GOP attacks on local school boards

In recent days, we’ve seen Minnesota Republicans ramp up rhetoric against school boards who have put levy referendums on the ballot this November.  It’s expected that there will be over 130 such ballot questions this November, from all corners of the state.  This would be the largest number of school levy referendums in a single year in state history.

Unhappy with what such a spate of referendums would imply about state levels of funding for education, several of them have started to spout off.  For instance, Rep. Pat Garofalo, the chair of the House Education Finance Committee said “Unfortunately, we have some school boards that are using people’s generosity to engage in the fleecing of taxpayers, and that’s just not acceptable.”  He’s threatening — along with other members of the House Republican caucus — to publicly attack particular referendums they think are out-of-bounds.  Meanwhile, Rep. Steve Drazkowski recently urged voters in his district to oppose referendum votes in the Lewiston-Altura and St. Charles districts.

Garofalo and Drazkowski both cite changes in the recently-passed budget as making such referendums unnecessary — specifically a $50 increase in the per-pupil formula in each of the next two years and one-time increases in compensatory funds.  While I’m not here to pass judgment on any of the merits of a specific district’s referendum, what is clear is that such attacks by Republican politicians on locally-elected school boards are hypocritical on many levels.

First off, locally-elected school boards don’t have the variety of accounting tricks and gimmicks at their disposal the same way Republican politicians like Garofalo and Drazkowski do.  They don’t have the ability to shift when they pay expenses at their whim like the politicians in St. Paul have done each of the last two sessions.  And despite the happy talk from Garofalo and Drazkowski, the implementation of the additional school shift will do far more damage to school district finances than can be recouped through the changes to the funding formulas.  Here in Carver County, the Eastern Carver County School District will see a net loss in funding of $3.6 million over the next two years because of the Republican budget.  Total state borrowing from public schools now totals over $2 billion.

Second, Legislative Republicans who chafe under federal mandates are now passing that same treatment down to local officials.  Garofalo trumpets the need for local control of schools, but now threatens to stick his nose into the business of school districts outside of his home in Farmington.  Since when does he know better than the folks in, say, Thief River Falls about their local needs?  Drazkowski, meanwhile, has supported legislation that would stop implementation of the Affordable Care Act in Minnesota and a constitutional amendment that would allow state nullification of federal statutes.  Drazkowski and Carver County’s own Ernie Leidiger backed a bill that would have mandated a pay freeze on teachers.  Funny — Garofalo, Drazkowski, and Leidiger all bleat about their support for “local control” of schools on their websites.

Finally, the notion offered by Garofalo that most of these districts are looking for additional funds is just flat-out not factual.  If you look at the list complied by the Minnesota School Boards Association, most of the levy questions are actually renewals of existing levies, which would maintain existing tax levels, not increase them.

[NOTE:  I have not taken a position on the District 112 technology referendum as of yet and will not until I see additional information on specifically how the levy dollars are intended to be used.]


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