Pre-2015 February Revenue Forecast

Legislative leaders receive the February Revenue forecast for 2015 shortly. The House Majority is getting there update at 9:30 am, staff at 10:00 am and the DFL minority at 10:15 am. There will be a public press conference at 11:00 am It is expected to show additional revenues for the 2015-16 Fiscal Year. All early indicators are good. Inflation is currently less than 1%, oil prices are at their lowest figures in more than 12 years and state revenues for November, December and January are up $297,000.

This means there will be more money on the bottom line. Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-31A, Crown) is anticipating more money and is discussing returning a portion of the increases in the form of tax reductions, while DFL Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL-03, Cook) is looking to increase spending for Higher Education and Nursing Homes.

We will hear later what Governor Mark Dayton’s (DFL) priorities are at his press conference.

Based on historical forecasts and economic trends we will not be surprised to see the surplus exceed 1.6 billion. Remember it was nearly 1.3 billion in November. This will mean more people looking to garner a pie of the pie.

It will also create an opportunity for funding items not set as high priority, but will significant long term gains such as infrastructure. Along with the Revenue Forecast we will learn the state’s Debt Service Capacity. As the Budget increases the state can meet higher amount of spending through General Obligation Bonds. This may set the stage for a larger Bonding Bill in the odd-year session.

Dayton Set for a Bonding Bill in the Odd-Year.

During his Budget Address Governor Mark Dayton (DFL) referred to a forthcoming Bonding Bill a number of times. He said he would be bring it forward in three weeks. This is an interesting variable in the Budget negotiations. Traditionally, Bonding Bills for capital investment occur in even numbered session years.

Earlier in the legisaltive session when we heard of the possiblity of no session in 2016 we thought it was an interesting idea, but not all that likely. If one thinks about Dayton’s unsession idea from last year, what would be a better type of unsession than no session at all.

If the legislature completes the bulk of its work for 2016 this year and the State Capitol being closed for repairs, it seems far more likely.

Minnesota Versus Wisconsin

Hashtag This. #MnvsWI

With Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) as a potential candidate for President in 2016 a comparison between Minnesota (MN) and Wisconsin (WI) is well warranted. Walker’s approach to government and Governor Mark Dayton (DFL) can not be more diametrically opposed.

Walker has stood against the state’s labor unions, while Dayton has embrace his. Walker has cut taxes in his state while Dayton pledged to raised them on high income earners in his campaign and did when elected to office. WI is experiencing a budget deficit while MN is experiencing its 2nd surplus and Walker is proposing significant cuts to the University of WI and even saying faculty should teach an additional class.

On paper the two states look like cousins. In spite of WI being older by ten years the two have traveled quite different paths. Currently, MN has a slightly smaller population, but simlar small levels of diversity. MN household income is $7,423 better, the Unemployment rate is 2.5% lower and part of this might be the fact MN has 5.8% more college graduates.

Wisconsin looks like MN did 10 years ago under Governor Tim Pawlenty (R), who shares a similar philosophy to Walker.  Then MN’s statisics looked similar to WI today, when the MN Unemployment rate was floating arount 4.5%.

Because of his close association with Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R-NY) the two served in the U.S. Senate together and she has attended fundraisers for Dayton.  Dayton would make a quintesential surrogate if Walker is the GOP nominee.

Statistic do not lie.

MN (Statehood 1858)

Population 5,420,380*

White 86.2%*

Black or African American alone 5.7%*

Hispanic or Latino 5.0% *

American Indian and Alaska Native alone 1.3% *

Bachelor’s degree or higher 32.6%*

Median household income $59,836*

GDP 2013  312,081 (million)**

MN Unemployment rate 3.9%



WI (Statehood 1848)

Population Estimate  5,742,713+

White 88.1%+

Black or African American alone 6.5%+

Hispanic or Latino 6.3%+

American Indian and Alaska Native alone 1.1%+

Bachelor’s degree or higher 26.8%+

Median household income $52,413+

GDP 2013 282,486 (million)++

WI Unemployment rate 5.4%



Sen. Tomassoni’s New Gig

There is a bit of bally hoo over Senator David Tomassoni (DFL-06, Chisholm) new position as Executive Director for the Range Association of Municipalities and Schools (RAMS), because of the organizations role in advocacy and petitioning government. The issue at hand is whether Tomassoni as a sitting legislator is able to fully provide the full capacity of the position as Executive Director without there existing a conflict of interest with his legislative duties.

To this end Tomassoni requested an opinion on the matter from the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board. His attorney for this being Michael Ahern. Lawyer and lobbyist for Dorsey & Whitney, LLP.

We understand Tomassoni is not operating in full capacity as his predessor former Senator Ron Dicklich (DFL) did. As you can see from this campaign finance report Dicklich was registered as a lobbyist for RAMS as well as other clients

Critics are beginning to argue Tomassoni may not be lobbying during the legislative session, but the rest of the year because of the nature of the position he will be expected to. We can see how those responibilities can be separated from the role as Executive Director during the session as well as throughout the year. Which means Tomassoni lacks a conflic as the CFPDB has stated.

Based on his new employment position it begs the question if Tomassoni will seek reelection in 2016. With this controversy settled we will not be surprised to see an opening  for District 6 in 2016. This will set in motion the game we like to call political dominos. If Tomassoni’s seat opens up we expect both  Reps. Carly Melin (DFL-06A, Hibbing) and  Jason Metsa (DFl-06B, Virginia) would take a look at the spot.

Check & Balances 2014 Predictions

We tend to stay away from prognostication, mainly because we do not like to be wrong. The 2014 election in Minnesota will not be like the 2010 mid-term election.  This go round Republicans will not have a lot to cheer about.

Let u be clear, as we have been since June of this year; no Republican will win a statewide office.

Now we feel confident enough to state our predictions by number.

US Senator Al Franken (D-MN) will win by 54-56%.

Congressman Collin Peterson (D-MN07) will carry his district easily.

The 8th Congressional District is a toss-up leaning Stewart Mills III (R-MN).

Governor Mark Dayton an Lt Governor candidate Tina Smith (DFL-MN) will win with 50-52%.

The Independence Party will have major party status thanks to Hannah Nicollet (IP-MN) being the only woman gubernatorial candidate.

Former Rep. Andy Dawkins (GR-MN) will carry the requisite 5% giving the Green Party major party status. He will be able to credit Duluth, St Paul and Minneapolis.

The DFL will hold a slight a majority in the House of 69 DFL to 65 Republicans.

How will Early Voting Affect the Results of the 2014 Elections?

This morning’s report from the Secretary of State’s office shows some interesting numbers for the 2014 election. There were 289,324 ballots requested as of 8:00 AM 221,059 or 76.41% have been returned.

If we compare this to a comparable off year election, with a US Senate race and Constitutional races we must go back to 2006. Then 2,202,772 voted for US Senate. If we apply the number of returned early vote ballots this accounts for 10.04%.

The change in the system authored by current Secretary of State candidate Rep. Steve Simon (DFL-46B, St Louis Park) of no excuse absentee voting will result in a significant increase in this type of participation.

Granted we are unclear who this advantages, but the DFL has made a strong push for people to vote early.

Traditionally, the DFL receives the bulk of its support from the 4th, 5th and 8th Congressional districts. If we look at the counties which make up those districts and remembering the 3rd and 5th Congressional Districts share Hennepin County we find the following:

4th-Ramsey County   Requested=25,134   Returned=19,209

5th-Henepin County   Requested= 67,712  Returned= 53,906

8th-St Louis County   Requested= 11,292  Returned= 8,076

These numbers will change during the day because of the mail and hand carried ballots are still arriving.

If you are interested in other areas of the state we have included the entire list for your edification.

County Total Transmitted Accepted
Aitkin County Totals: 1,594 1261
Anoka County Totals: 10,412 8763
Becker County Totals: 2,791 1945
Beltrami County Totals: 4,333 2812
Benton County Totals: 1,182 894
Big Stone County Totals: 1,398 853
Blue Earth County Totals: 5,145 3257
Brown County Totals: 770 695
Carlton County Totals: 3,253 2207
Carver County Totals: 3,902 3256
Cass County Totals: 5,858 3890
Chippewa County Totals: 473 388
Chisago County Totals: 1,874 1507
Clay County Totals: 2,692 1988
Clearwater County Totals: 415 292
Cook County Totals: 2,885 1885
Cottonwood County Totals: 398 284
Crow Wing County Totals: 5,063 4043
Dakota County Totals: 19,847 16160
Dodge County Totals: 467 401
Douglas County Totals: 2,150 1801
Faribault County Totals: 467 385
Fillmore County Totals: 549 475
Freeborn County Totals: 1,508 1200
Goodhue County Totals: 1,618 1270
Grant County Totals: 1,100 758
Hennepin County Totals: 67,712 53906
Houston County Totals: 609 529
Hubbard County Totals: 1,677 1389
Isanti County Totals: 1,241 1002
Itasca County Totals: 8,999 5772
Jackson County Totals: 473 369
Kanabec County Totals: 591 497
Kandiyohi County Totals: 2,173 1780
Kittson County Totals: 1,788 1134
Koochiching County Totals: 1,735 1216
Lac Qui Parle County Totals: 263 200
Lake County Totals: 656 533
Lake Of The Woods County Totals: 1,972 1312
Le Sueur County Totals: 789 583
Lincoln County Totals: 195 166
Lyon County Totals: 1,580 1060
Mcleod County Totals: 1,029 883
Mahnomen County Totals: 946 620
Marshall County Totals: 3,537 2517
Martin County Totals: 633 549
Meeker County Totals: 741 581
Mille Lacs County Totals: 1,256 875
Morrison County Totals: 3,700 2533
Mower County Totals: 1,205 1017
Murray County Totals: 1,610 1041
Nicollet County Totals: 1,110 828
Nobles County Totals: 674 581
Norman County Totals: 1,152 763
Olmsted County Totals: 6,081 4721
Otter Tail County Totals: 2,618 2304
Pennington County Totals: 731 602
Pine County Totals: 1,719 1245
Pipestone County Totals: 525 364
Polk County Totals: 3,650 2198
Pope County Totals: 709 528
Ramsey County Totals: 25,134 19209
Red Lake County Totals: 882 545
Redwood County Totals: 493 407
Renville County Totals: 431 362
Rice County Totals: 2,363 1798
Rock County Totals: 616 410
Roseau County Totals: 1,050 556
St. Louis County Totals: 11,292 8076
Scott County Totals: 3,655 3078
Sherburne County Totals: 2,659 2251
Sibley County Totals: 434 351
Stearns County Totals: 4,953 3632
Steele County Totals: 1,020 909
Stevens County Totals: 409 300
Swift County Totals: 2,065 1214
Todd County Totals: 743 631
Traverse County Totals: 1,004 683
Wabasha County Totals: 685 583
Wadena County Totals: 533 457
Waseca County Totals: 426 368
Washington County Totals: 12,039 10123
Watonwan County Totals: 2,125 1372
Wilkin County Totals: 265 225
Winona County Totals: 1,247 925
Wright County Totals: 3,942 3264
Yellow Medicine County Totals: 636 462
Statewide Totals: 289,324 221059

American Action Network Mails Pro-Green Party Candidate to Democratic Households

Former US Senator Norm Coleman’s (R) Independent Expenditure group American Action Network has sent last minute mailers to Democratic households in the 8th Congressional District. Under the guise of an anti-Ray “Skip” Sandman (GR) piece, it says Sandman is not one of us. He doesn’t support Copper Nickle mining, a $15.00/hour minimum wage or thinks the US should stop policing the world.

This approach is intent on siphoning of more liberal Democratic votes from Congressman Rick Nolan (D-MN08) and giving them to Sandman, which ultimately benefits Stewart Mills (R). It i a ham-handed attempt at reverse psychology.

It is proven over the course of nearly 100 years, third party efforts fail and only play a role as spoiler. Nationally, no third party candidate has ever been elected to the Presidency. History shows, Ralph Nader brought us George W. Bush rather than getting himself elected.

Regionally, only Bernie Sanders (I-VT) first as a Congressman and then as a Senator and Angus King (I-ME) first as a Governor and then as a Senator are some of the few successful third party candidates. Of course let us not forget about our own Governor Jesse Ventura (RP).

Green Party efforts to select Sandman, though laudable, are for not, and again will only aid Mills. If any person in the 8th district truly wants to protect some of the environmental their only choice is Nolan, because Sandman may be a nice guy, but has no chance of even receiving double digits let alone winning.

If Stewart Mills support from the US Chamber of Commerce doesn’t scare the hell out of people, it should because in addition to his own personal wealth, the Republican establishment is coming into this race and spending whatever it takes to elect him.

With all of the actors in this epic drama it will be hard to determine the cost/vote when all is said and done.