Monthly Archives

November 2011

Teacher of the Year

By | Education | No Comments

This past Wednesday at the American Education Week Northfield Staff Appreciation Breakfast, I was recognized as the 2011-12 Northfield Education Association Teacher of the Year. I am humbled and honored to receive such an award.
This award is not about being the best teacher. This district is full of outstanding teachers. This is about someone taking the time to say, “I appreciate what you do.”
True teacher appreciation begins with us. We don’t expect it. That’s exactly why we should pat ourselves on the back every once in awhile. We should appreciate our dedication. We should appreciate our professionalism. We should appreciate our diversity. We should appreciate ourselves for who we are and for what we bring to teaching.
We should appreciate our power. If knowledge is power, and we know that it is, we should all think of ourselves as super heroes. We should realize our potential power as spokespersons for the good that goes on each day in our classrooms and in public education. If we don’t tell it, who will?
While serving in the Minnesota legislature there was plenty of discussion about school budgets, school funding, curriculum, education policy, and the teaching profession ……a lot of voices from all kinds of people, politicians, experts, bureaucrats, lobbyists… but only one teacher. I was proud to be a voice for teachers.
This award is for all of us who choose to teach for a living. Thanks for what you do.

The Cost of a Shutdown

By | Economy | No Comments

The Office of Minnesota Management and Budget released a report on the effects of the State government shutdown this past summer. Some key provisions include:

* The break in government service lasted 20 days (July 1 - July 20) making it the longest and most expansive shutdown in the state’s history.
* 80% of state spending continued during the shutdown due to court order.
* Minnesota lost $49.7 million in unrecoverable revenues.
* Preparation costs for the shutdown were approximately $7.1 million with $3 million for recovery costs.
* Approximately $65 million in payroll went unpaid by Minnesota to 19,000 laid off state employees.

Say Good Bye to the Homestead Market Value Credit

By | Economy, Kevin Dahle MN Senate District 20 | No Comments

When Senator Al DeKruif voted this year to eliminate your homestead credit, he sided with Republicans representing wealthy suburban districts over our rural communities. Wealthy suburbs have never benefited much from homestead credit aid, and citizens in those communities can afford to pay higher property tax bills.

Under the law changes backed by Sen. DeKruif this year, the homestead credit is replaced with something called the Market Value Homestead Exclusion. There are various explanations about how this new system will work, but the bottom line is that cities and counties will lose state aid and local taxpayers will pay more.

When discussing these changes, Sen. DeKruif has said such things as the Homestead Credit was “unreliable” and its demise has been “a long time coming.” The truth is that the legislature needed to fix a big budget deficit, and the new system saves the state money by shifting more of the state’s tax burden onto local taxpayers. For instance, Northfield loses $701,000 in direct dollar-for-dollar property tax relief from the state. This means higher local tax levies that will have to be paid for by Northfield property owners, including businesses.

Recently, the GOP has been more vocal about defending the elimination of the Homestead Market Value Credit and the creation of the new Market Value Exclusion. Most opinion articles and fliers they’ve sent out would lead the reader to believe it was nothing more than a name change. They also falsely claim that they were just doing what local officials wanted. Both are incorrect and misleading.

The GOP claim that by boosting the Property Tax Refund program (PTR) last session they negated any bad effects associated with the Homestead Credit cut. However, the PTR only received $29 million in additional funds while the Homestead Credit elimination will result in a nearly $1 billion property tax increase over the next three years.

The Republican majorities had a clear choice this past session. They could have asked the very richest Minnesotans - those making more than one million dollars a year - to pay their fair share of taxes. Instead, they chose to saddle middle-class families and seniors with a nearly $1 billion property tax increase. Republicans got exactly what they asked for this session: the very richest Minnesotans continue to pay less, and middle-class families will pay even more.

There will be an effort at the legislature next year to reinstate the Homestead Credit. It will be interesting to see if Sen. DeKruif will decide to stand with his party’s leadership on maintaining the new tax system, or if instead he will work to restore the Homestead Credit on behalf of the people who elected him.

Thanks for supporting our Schools

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

I want to extend a big thank you to all of you who voted yesterday in the “off year” elections. I also want to thank you for voting Yes and Yes on the local ballot. Northfield passed two levy questions ensuring the Northfield school district will be in financial position to continue a tradition of quality education for its students and the community. It also sends a message to legislators like Representative Pat Garafolo, who spent much of the fall urging communities all over the state to defeat levy questions like ours. Local communities value their schools enough to pick up the slack when the state legislature fails to do its job. The fact is state funding, when adjusted for inflation, has decreased 13 percent since 2003 and the state spends 7.8 percent less per student now than it did just three years ago. The U.S. Dept. of Education reports that since 1970, Minnesota has sunk from 5th to 22nd in student spending. Local control still means that citizens can choose to pass or fail a levy referendum. The success rate of levy questions across the state (nearly 70%) makes a loud statement that people are willing to invest in those things that matter most. Unfortunately, many school districts were not able to pass their levy. They will be forced to make further cuts to faculty and staffs as school budgets are slashed. We know who suffers most from those types of cuts. The Minnesota State constitution requires that the state provide for public education. If the legislature continues to kick the can down the road with budget shifts and gimmicks, we will continue to do what’s right at the local level in spite of their efforts.

Let’s Reclaim Our Voice!

By | Kevin Dahle MN Senate District 20 | No Comments

Just about a year from now, we will cast votes for the President, a U.S. Senator, numerous county and city offices, and a new Minnesota legislature. I am announcing my plans to, once again, run for a seat in the Minnesota Senate. This election is not about getting my “old seat back.” This election is about reclaiming a voice for Senate District 25 and all Minnesotans. The current party in power in the Minnesota legislature fails to listen. This past summer’s government shutdown proved they are more concerned about their party platform than the constituents who elected them. I worry about the tone of today’s politics and our basic priorities.
We talk about recession…yet ignore the needy
We talk about test scores…while ignoring educational funding.
We talk about wanting quality health care, yet over 400,000 Minnesotans go without.
We talk about local control, yet we starve our cities and counties.
We talk about Republicans and Democrats yet we forget about Minnesotans
I believe the basics include a job, a quality education, affordable college, a clean and healthy environment, equality for all, and a right to grow old with dignity.
We are facing a critical time in Minnesota. We can no longer allow extreme political agendas to divide us — the success of our state and our communities depends on our ability to find common ground on many critical issues.
We can do this together. When we stop working together government ceases to work. Again, let’s make Minnesota proud!