Senate Republicans Propose Spending the Surplus!

Senate Republicans released their 2020 Legislative Priorities this morning announcing that they would be giving back a small portion of the $3 Billion of surplus, while holding onto the rest of it for government spending projects. A budget surplus occurs when taxpayers have been overcharged - revenues far exceeded current spending levels. The largest part of the surplus sits in a historically high reserve account.


If Republicans would give back the surplus, individual taxpayers could receive a refund of $1,250 each. At today's press conference, Gazelka stated they only wanted to give "some of it back". The "some" part was defined as farm relief and social security tax elimination. However, the largest part of the surplus, the reserve account, would remain in place under Gazelka's watch.


"We talked about ensuring that the reserves stay full" stated Gazelka when responding to a question from the media about what would be done with the surplus. This means that a record $2.5 Billion would remain in the government coffers earmarked for future wasteful government spending projects and not back in the hands of the private economy.


Action 4 Liberty calls for every penny of the surplus to be returned to the taxpayers! We were overcharged by our government and have a rightful claim to get it back. Sign our petition and send them a message!


Walz Wants Debt to Pay for Affordable Housing

Democrat Governor Tim Walz wants the taxpayers of Minnesota to go further into debt to pay for government subsidized housing. In one of his most radical ideas to date, the Governor proposed a massive $2 Billion bonding (debt) bill that spends $276 Million on affordable housing. 


Why is the state government involved in housing in the first place? Well, according to Walz' Housing Commissioner Jennifer Ho, "we believe the role of government is to produce housing where the private market won’t do it on its own." What's even more egregious about this proposal, however, is that Ho and Walz are asking for taxpayers to pay for this on the state credit card over the next decade. 


In a way, Walz wants Minnesota taxpayers to take out a mortgage for someone else's home. 


So far, Senate Republicans have signaled that Walz' bonding proposal is too big. But after the legislators in both parties embarked on a recent statewide debt tour, it's likely Senate Republicans will come out with a billion dollar proposal of their own. Which means, Minnesota taxpayers will likely get stuck with a massive debt bill somewhere in between.


Action 4 Liberty believes that its not the proper role of government to subsidize housing, especially when its financed on the government credit card. Republicans in St Paul should oppose debt, not propose it. Walz and Democrats' master goal is to grow government at the mercy of the taxpayer. This is what Republicans need to fight tooth and nail against.

Zerwas Breaks Rules - Registers as Lobbyist

Former Republican Rep Nick Zerwas, who resigned from office in December and immediately took a job in "government affairs" for a lobbying firm, has broken Minnesota House rules by registering as a lobbyist at the Capitol. A recent registration with the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board shows Zerwas is officially a registered lobbyist.


Minnesota House Rule 9.35 has a ban on lobbying for one year. According to the rule, "former state legislators must not register as lobbyists within one year from the date they leave office." It's unlikely Zerwas will be held accountable since Republican Minority Leader Kurt Daudt also recently took a job with a DC lobbying firm. 


Will this blatant disregard to the rules finally get members of the Old House Republican Caucus publicly condemning Zerwas? Up to this point there was a swampy tradition where legislators resign from office or don't seek re-election to go work for lobbying firms in their "public affairs" or "government affairs" divisions. Former Majority Leader Joyce Peppin did not seek re-election in 2018 because she was also taking on a new role in public affairs. However, Zerwas is the first to actually register as a lobbyist.


Even before Zerwas' registration, Rep Jim Nash, a fellow member of the Old House Republican Caucus, quickly took to twitter to joke about Zerwas' new lobbying gig. Nash tweeted, "so do I keep candy in my desk drawer in the SOB for meetings with you now?"; making fun of the newest legislator-turned-lobbyist scam at the Capitol. 

St Paul College Savings Program Accommodates Sharia Law

The task force that recommended how to use Minnesota taxpayer money to fund a socialistic-style college savings program for newborns in St Paul used islamic prohibitions on receiving interest in consideration of what type of accounts to set up. This program made headlines last week when it was reported that the new savings program would use low interest bearing savings accounts with Bremer Bank instead of accounts invested in stocks and bonds, like a Minnesota 529 plan.


Action 4 Liberty also reported this week how Minnesota taxpayers ended up on the hook for the program. It was part of a massive omnibus education bill in which all 67 Minnesota Senators voted for and all but 13 Republicans in the Minnesota House signed it into law. 


According to the publicly available task force report set up by St Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, Somali Muslim members in the community voiced their concern over their inability to use the publicly subsidized savings accounts due to religious prohibitions on receiving interest. Although the task force didn't appear to fully adopt their concerns in the overall policy, they did suggest that accommodations be made by the financial institution.

The main reason behind low-yielding interest savings accounts, according to the report, is to accommodate low income households who do not have current bank accounts and would be unable to transfer funds into a brokerage account. 


Action 4 Liberty believes this program is not a proper role of government. In a free society, money is not taken from one group of individuals and redistributed to benefit a selected group of recipients. Socialistic-style public policy-making is riddled with problems like the ones addressed above: religious accommodations, family income considerations, etc. 

Refugee Resettlement Halted in Beltrami Co

Hundreds of Beltrami County citizens filled the County Board chambers last night to halt the refugee resettlement program. The Trump administration passed an executive order last year allowing state and local governments to make the final determination if they want to accept new populations of refugees.


Several rural areas in Minnesota like Willmar and Waite Park have encountered numerous problems with the influx of refugees unable to assimilate into the culture. Growing tensions amongst the populations of those areas has led to a political rallying cry to change the resettlement policies in the state.


Beltrami County was the first county in Minnesota to vote to stop new refugee resettlement in a 3-2 vote. The law requires counties to "opt in" to the resettlement program. No action is the same as a no vote. Other counties like Kandiyohi, Blue Earth, and Nicollet have already voted to accept new refugees. 


Reaction to the news was heard immediately in the St Paul Swamp. DFL Majority Leader Ryan Winkler posted on Facebook an emotionally charged response that some may assume amounts to a "Quid Pro Quo" --- the same charge Congressional Democrats used against Trump in the impeachment proceedings.

A left-wing 501c3 charity based in St Cloud, an area all too familiar with the problems of assimilation, went a step further late last night accusing Beltrami County residents as racist and xenophobic.


(Cover photo credit: MPR)

Gazelka's Pride Resolution

An interesting piece came across our desk this week. Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka attached his name to a Senate resolution promoting a liberal grassroots environmental and diversity group. The resolution recognizes HeightsNEXT, a Columbia Heights organization promoting the local PRIDE celebration for the LGTBQIA+ community.


According to their website, HeightsNEXT is the local organizer behind the infamous global warming protests that were the brainchild of 15-year old Greta Thunberg. One of their big initiatives is green energy in the Columbia Heights area.


The image shows a signed resolution by Gazelka that states "the Senate of the State of Minnesota congratulates and honors HeightsNEXT for their service in initiating and leading the creation of the first PRIDE Festival in Columbia Heights."

(Source: HeightsNEXT FB page)


Here's the question, while Paul Gazelka is busy recognizing far left organizations, where is his recognition of the 2.4 million Minnesota taxpayers who have been massively overtaxed by the state. Where's the resolution stating that the Senate of the State of Minnesota recognizes $3 Billion was overcollected and will be returned to the taxpayers immediately? In fact, where's the bill that directs the state to refund that money?


With a resolution like this, Gazelka's name is being used to promote and advance the identity politics strategy commonly employed by the left which has led to civil disruption in our country and state. People should be judged by their own merits and character, not by their sexual orientation or group identity. 

Legislator Turned Lobbyist - It's All a Big Laugh to Them

A lucrative deal for legislators who want to cash out on their time in the St Paul Swamp is to explore the grey areas of legal lobbying on the Minnesota books. MPR recently published an article about these troublesome areas and how the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board's proposed changes to current law face an uphill battle.


Kurt Daudt, House Minority Leader of the Old House Republican Caucus, made headlines in November when he announced that he was taking a new position with an infamous DC lobbying firm as the Director of Public Affairs. In the firm's press release, they stated that Daudt was hired because he enables the firm "access to elected and appointed leaders in all 50 states” and Daudt has a “deep knowledge of the legislative process.”


What's most troubling about Daudt's move is that he will remain an elected legislator while also serving in his new lobbying capacity. How that is not a conflict of interest in the minds' of most of his Republican colleagues in St Paul is troubling to small government advocates like us.


Perhaps the silence from members in his caucus is due in part to a swampy tradition that precedes Daudt and continues on to this day. Keep in mind that former Majority Leader Joyce Peppin did not seek re-election in 2018 because she was also taking on a new role in public affairs.


Shortly after Daudt's announcement, Nick Zerwas (R-Big Lake/Elk River) announced his resignation from office which forced a special election to fill his vacant seat this February. During the Christmas break, Zerwas snuck a tweet in declaring that he also would be going to work in the public affairs realm for a lobbying firm. 


Rep Jim Nash, a fellow member of the Old House Republican Caucus, quickly took to twitter to joke about Zerwas' new lobbying gig. Nash tweeted, "so do I keep candy in my desk drawer in the SOB for meetings with you now?"; making fun of the newest legislator-turned-lobbyist scam at the Capitol. 


Action 4 Liberty advocates for reducing government control, while expanding individual freedoms. Is it any mystery why we continue to see government grow even while Republicans are in positions of power? Most of these legislators, Republicans and Democrats alike, have no interest in limiting government. Instead, they are just part of the swamp that continues to grow its power and erode our freedoms. Meanwhile, it's all one big joke to them.

Your Senator Spent Your Money for the St Paul College Savings Plan

A popular story covered by the local media emerged in the New Year about a brand new program in St Paul that gives all newborns born in St Paul $50 in a college savings plan. The program on its merits is ridiculous considering how it's another classic socialistic redistribution program spawned from the heads of metro Democrats. On top of that, the money gets put into a low yielding savings account by Bremer Bank, instead of invested in the stock market where it may stand a chance to grow to $200 by the time the kid is 18. Will that even buy a book?


We were shocked to learn that the program was not just funded by St Paul taxpayers. The media reported it was part of legislation that passed in May of 2019 and that all state taxpayers are on the hook. So we decided to investigate.


Turns out, the pilot program that is now being used by liberal Mayor Melvin Carter, passed in the Omnibus Education bill (HF1) during the Special Session on Memorial Day weekend. The bill appropriates $500,000 of your money in the next two years to redistribute to newborns in St Paul. 

Here's the interesting part. Debate over this omnibus bill occurred in the middle of the night during the Special Session. It was brought to a vote by Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and voted by all 67 Senators. That's right, Republicans and Democrats all voted for this program which takes your money and funds this program.

The bill passed the Minnesota House by a vote of 112 to 13

What You Haven't Heard About the Surplus

It's the New Year and the 2020 legislative session is a month away. Since this year is also an important election year, you can imagine that every move by Republicans and Democrats will be measured based on how they will be perceived by voters in November. High amongst their evaluation is what they do with the massive budget surplus. 


What is a budget surplus? When politicians in St Paul set a budget of how government is going to collect and spend your money, they are suppose to make sure there is a budgetary balance. In other words, the amount collected = the amount spent. Anything more means they overtaxed you.


Similar to a waiter overcharging you for dinner, the remedy is to immediately return the money to you. Of course greedy politicians look at surpluses in a completely different way. They look at the money as more opportunity to waste your money on pointless government spending projects.


If you pay attention to the media or your local rep, you've probably heard there is a projected $1.3 Billion surplus in the current biennium. But that number is completely understated. The hidden secret your media and legislators aren't telling you is that the number is much larger.


(Source: Minnesota Management & Budget)


Our state government is sitting on an unprecedented, massive budget reserves of your money. While it may be prudent for a family to have rainy day funds in case of an emergency, government should not extract large sums of money out of our private economy to hold for future spending. If you add the $2.358 Billion of budget reserves to the available balance of $1.332 Billion, we actually have over a $3 Billion budget surplus. 


Action 4 Liberty calls for every penny of that surplus to be returned immediately to the taxpayers. Minnesota is one of the worst tax states in the country and we lag behind the national average in employment statistics. Putting that money back in the hands of taxpayers and jobs creators will give a significant boost to our economy. 


Giving the surplus back is unfortunately a partisan issue. Modern Democrats seem hell bent on taxing and spending with no regard to reducing the heavy tax burden on job creators in our state. The only hope for us is that Republicans stop following the Democrats' lead of taxing and spending, and instead side with Minnesota taxpayers for once. Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka would be wise to spend his energy writing and promoting a $3 Billion tax cut this session and not agree to work with Democrats on anything else unless the money is returned to its rightful owners. Voters in November would likely reward him and his caucus for that move.

How Fairness is Lost on Socialists Bernie and Omar

(Photo credit: MPR)

From the king of the “fair share” community, came one of the most atrocious ideas in modern politics. Bernie Sanders and Ilhan Omar led a coalition of socialist legislators to push for eliminating student loan debt yesterday. Their plan would institute a “tax on Wall Street” to pay for the program that aims to retire college debt and publicly fund future college students.

There’s an initial attraction to the idea of paying down the massive $1.6 Trillion of student debt that has accumulated over the last couple decades. Young workers are entering the workforce with mountains of debt that makes a big impact on their personal budgets. It’s understandable why people with college debt would gravitate towards such a plan.

But if one peels back the layers of this rotten onion of a plan, it’s quite evident that fairness is not at the core of Bernie and Omar's belief systems. The plan is paid for by a tax on stock and bond transactions. People have this idea that only the wealthiest Americans would be affected by such a tax, but the vast majority of securities are actually owned by regular folks. We all invest using popular investment vehicles like 401ks, IRAs and insurance products like annuities.

How many of the small investors hit by Bernie and Omar’s new tax worked hard and paid off their student loan debt previously? They get hit twice as hard. Not only did they get no relief for their debt, but now they are the providers of the relief to the new generations of indebted college grads.

In the press conference, Bernie mentioned how the debt has accumulated to these college kids at “no fault” to themselves. But how does that resonate with the millions of blue-collar workers out earning a living for themselves who didn’t waste 5 years and tens of thousands of dollars chasing a college degree?

Bernie and Omar seem to think the solution to out-of-control education costs is to double down on government's involvement in that sector of our economy. But that is the precise cause of the mess we're in. Similar to the housing market bubble, government has steadily increased its role in the marketplace by financing college education grants, backing student loans, and encouraging more kids to attend universities. This government distortion of the marketplace has led to rising costs due to lack of price controls and has sent more kids to college who would have been better off entering the workforce earlier.

The Bernie/Omar plan is an awful idea and leads this country more towards the failed socialist states that our country must avoid. We here at Action 4 Liberty will fight tooth and nail to stop socialist ideas from being implemented in this country and Minnesota.