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Budget Woes
Published On: 9th December 2008 | Published By: Kevin Dahle For Senate

According to the state’s November fiscal forecast, Minnesota faces a projected $4.8 billion shortfall for 2010-11, and an additional $426 million for the current budget year.  The forecast, derived from numerous economic factors and trends, is a snapshot of the state’s fiscal landscape used by the Legislature and governor to help develop the state’s upcoming biennial budget.

The fiscal news came as no surprise, as unemployment rose to 6.0 percent and the state lost 7,500 jobs in October.  This year, Minnesota dropped 25,900 seasonally adjusted jobs from January through October.

Gov. Pawlenty and other governors met with President-elect Obama in early December to discuss a possible economic stimulus package that may include aid for states facing budget deficits.  It is estimated that 41 of the 50 states are expecting to face budget shortfalls next year.  Governor Pawlenty has reacted cautiously to the plan, despite the fact that Minnesota ranked 46th in terms of receiving federal tax dollars per tax dollar paid, according to the Tax Foundation.  Their report shows Minnesota received only 72 cents for every dollar sent to the federal government in 2005; however, neighboring North Dakota ranked 6th and received $1.68 for every dollar sent in.  Minnesota should be getting its fair share of the federal budget outlays.  Minnesotans also pay federal income tax..

State Economist Tom Stinson said Minnesota may take longer to come out of recession compared with the rest of the nation.  Much of the state’s budget deficit has been created by falling revenues, not by government overspending. Cutting spending will not replace absent revenue. Only business and trade growth can do that.  Some experts are projecting a loss of 77,000 additional jobs in 2009.  Various legislative working groups, such as the Green Jobs Task Force, already are meeting to discuss how to create jobs in Minnesota both in the short and long-term.

Governor Pawlenty, in his state budget deficit resolution proposal, will not only cut state budget items but will work to drive more service costs toward local government. Under the guise of conservative fiscal restraint, he’ll continue implementing a public policy vision that strangles communities.  In the short term, downward budget pressure may seem like a reasonable government limitation. The net result over time, however, is less than the sum of its parts. Our entire state becomes less safe and our quality of life declines precisely because aging communities have a lower property tax base and reduced capacity for public safety services. Fewer cops in one place eventually create crime problems in others.

The Minnesota Senate and House will need to work with the Governor to solve this crisis.  We need to find growth strategies that will help bring Minnesota out of a true economic collapse.  We ask all constituents to provide us with input on strategies and solutions that will maintain a quality of life we have come to expect in Minnesota.

One Year Ago… December 3
Published On: 2nd December 2008 | Published By: Kevin Dahle For Senate

One year ago, on December 3, I gave a speech at the DFL Endorsing Convention in New Prague hoping to land the endorsement for Senate District 25.  Senator Tom Neuville had announced his resignation from the seat several weeks prior, paving the way for a Special Election to be held January 3.  It was a night that I will not soon forget.

A few weeks prior to the endorsement, Ray Coudret, Earl Weinmann, Mark Thornton and I met to discuss the possibility of a Senate run.  It seemed like the perfect opportunity:  a short election with the incumbent out of the race?   Time was also our biggest challenge.  Would I have time to get my name out there?  Could we raise enough money?  Would people go to the polls for a special election?  Could we do this over a 30 day period while most people were gearing up for the holiday season?   I threw my hat in the ring.  Our first goal was to win the endorsement.

Tuesday night, December 3, New Prague:  Ray, Earl, and I arrived at the convention.  There were about 70  delegates in attendance.  I had been given a list of delegates the week before and I made a courtesy call to each asking for their support.  There were three other very qualified candidates seeking endorsement.  They had an obvious head start.  The other candidates had already printed signs and had already raised money.  Dozens of non-delegates were on hand to cheer them on.  My brother had helped me design a logo, “Dahle for Senate” and we had splashed it on a half sheet of paper atop a letter asking for support.  I pulled Earl and Ray aside and quietly suggested they hand out my “campaign literature.”

If I was going to win the endorsement, I was going to have to give a hell of a speech.  Earl, my “press secretary” helped me write that speech.  I used all 7 minutes to talk about education, health care, jobs, our environment, and quality of life. I talked about a common sense, bipartisan approach to government.  I talked about staying in touch with constituents, listening to their concerns, and representing their values and beliefs in St. Paul.  It was a heartfelt speech.  The delegates responded and I took the lead on the first ballot.

The Question and Answer session followed.  With Ray and Earl’s encouragement, I convinced a few more delegates that I could win in January.  Eventually, I was endorsed on the sixth ballot.

Later on, the three of us walked across the street to Miller’s Bar.  Our mood was of quiet excitement.  We were exhausted and more than once we asked ourselves, “What do we do now?”

But things fell into place.  December was a whirlwind.  Ray became my campaign manager, Earl wrote the press releases, and volunteers like Hoover, Dan, Libby and a host of supporters from all over the district and the State helped launch a winning campaign and an upset victory on January 3.

I have learned much in my first session as a Minnesota Senator.  As I look back, I am reminded of the importance of staying in touch, listening to concerns, reaching across the aisle, and representing this district with a common sense approach to governing.  My constituents would expect as much, especially the 70 delegates who took a chance on me one year ago.

Election Integrity
Published On: 20th November 2008 | Published By: Kevin Dahle For Senate

In light of the Franken and Coleman voter recount, many have called for a more stringent voter registration process, including requiring photo IDs to vote and eliminating same day voter registration. I believe the current system supports election integrity and ensures our citizens every opportunity to fully participate in our democracy.

Minnesota has had a long tradition of clean elections with very few instances of voter fraud. The requirement of photo identification could possibly disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of legally-registered voters in this state. The Secretary of State’s Office currently estimates that there are 135,000 senior citizens in the state that don’t have a state driver’s license or a Minnesota ID card. In addition, such a change could also have a negative impact on the voting rights of students and minorities.

The requirement to limit the time an individual has for registration could have an alarming effect on voter participation. Currently, Minnesota allows registration on Election Day if an individual can provide specific legal documentation of their residence in their precinct, or they may have an already qualified registered voter vouch for their residence. People who register on Election Day do so for a varying number of reasons, including recently moving to a new residence. I do not believe that anyone should be disenfranchised from their legal right to vote simply because of moving or economic hardship. Citizens should all be allowed to vote as long as they meet the state’s legal requirement to do so.

Under current Minnesota law any individual who commits voter fraud, such as voting more than once, misrepresenting their identity in applying for a ballot, or aiding someone who is not eligible to vote, is guilty of a felony. This represents a strong deterrent to individuals who attempt to subvert the election process.

In 2006, five non citizens were found to have voted in Minnesota. They were removed from the rolls, their votes were stricken, and three were referred to the county prosecutor’s office for prosecution. In the entire United States, the Department of Justice charged 89 individuals with voter fraud between October 2002 and August 2005. During that same time period, 196,139,871 voters cast a ballot. This amounts to a minuscule voter fraud percentage.

The laws are in place and being followed and enforced. The good news is that our election judges and others do a great deal of work to ensure there is no fraud and that every vote counts.

As a life-long Civics teacher, I have always supported initiatives to maintain verification of registration applications and integrity in the voting process. Minnesota has a long history of strong voter participation and a longer history of honest and clean elections. After this recount, I trust Minnesota’s reputation in that regard will remain untarnished.

Beyond the Speech
Published On: 16th November 2008 | Published By: Kevin Dahle For Senate

Last week we were discussing the elements of persuasion in my Social Psychology class at Northfield High School. A passage from the text written by Professor David Myers of Hope College reminds us how important it is to consider the many facets of a political or persuasive speech: the message, how it is said, to whom it is said, and the context by which it is delivered.

Imagine the following scene: I.M. Wright, a middle-aged American, is watching the evening news. In the first segment, a small group of radicals is shown burning an American flag. As they do, one shouts through a bullhorn that whenever any government becomes oppressive, “it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it… is their right, it their duty, to throw off such government!” Angered, Mr. Wright mutters to his wife. “It’s sickening to hear them spouting that Communist line.” In the next segment, a Congressional candidate speaking before an anti-tax rally declares, “Thrift should be the guiding principle in our government expenditure. It should be made clear to all government workers that corruption and waste are very great crimes.” An obviously pleased Mr. Wright relaxes and smiles: “Now that’s the kind of good sense we need. That’s my kind of guy.”

Now switch the scene. Imagine Mr. Wright hearing the same revolutionary line about “the right of the people” at a July 4 oration of the Declaration of Independence (from which the line comes) and hearing a Communist speaker read the thrift sentence from Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong (from which it comes). Would he react differently?

I hope that as we reflect on the long campaign season just completed and as we gear up for the next legislative session let’s remind ourselves of the importance of realizing just how much our preconceptions can guide our perceptions. Not everyone has a hidden agenda. Good, open, and honest discussion of the issues may be… just that.

Obama’s Message: Unity, Hope, & Taking Responsibility
Published On: 6th November 2008 | Published By: Kevin Dahle For Senate
  • “I ask you to believe – to believe in yourselves, in each other and in the future we can build together. Together, we cannot fail. Not now. Now when we have a crisis to solve and an economy to save…”
  • “We can do this. American’s have done this before…”
  • “Now it falls to us. Together we cannot fail. Together, we can overcome the broken policies and divided politics of the last eight years…”
  • “We can do this if we come together; if we have confidence in ourselves and each other; if we look beyond the darkness of the day to the bright light of hope that lies ahead. Together we can change this country and change this world.”
  • “It’s the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.”
  • “This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time – to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth – that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes We Can.” – Barack Obama, President-Elect

Vote Kevin Dahle 2012