Mr. Dahle Goes to St. Paul


2010 Session Begins

February 04, 2010 By: Kevin Dahle Category: Kevin Dahle MN Senate District 25

Today was the start of the 2010 legislative session. The Minnesota Senate has laid out an ambitious agenda focused on balancing the state’s budget and growing new jobs in Minnesota.
In November, Minnesota finance officials released the state’s most recent economic forecast, which showed the state faces a projected $1.2 billion budget shortfall in the current two year budget cycle. The report states that lower than expected income tax revenue – caused by the sluggish economy and high unemployment – are responsible for 70 percent of the shortfall.
Even more troubling, the forecast showed the fiscal problems for the state will only worsen in the next biennium. During the 2011 Legislative Session, the state is expected to face a budget deficit of $5.4 billion, even before considering inflation. When inflation and other spending pressures are factored in, the projected deficit could top $8 billion.
The legislature will be moving quickly to pass a series of bills aimed at jump starting the state’s economy including:

• A bipartisan capital investment package that will make statewide investments in colleges and universities, transportation projects, and other public infrastructure. The bill would put thousands of Minnesotans back to work during the upcoming construction season, and support long-term economic development in every region of the state.
• A series of bills designed to spur private investment in the state, including an angel investment tax credit that would offer tax incentives to investors who provide capital to start-up companies in emerging industries, such as the biosciences and renewable energy.
• A broader jobs package, supported by labor and business organizations, designed to stimulate the state’s “vertical construction” industry, which includes construction and rehabilitation of residential, commercial, and industrial infrastructure.

Passing the capital investment bill, a jobs bill, and tackling the budget shortfall with an eye on the long term budget solutions will be the main focus of the session. It will be difficult but necessary work.

Setting the Tone

January 28, 2010 By: Kevin Dahle Category: Kevin Dahle MN Senate District 25

A recent Letter to the Editor to the Northfield News was harshly critical of the fact that sitting Secretary of State, Mark Ritchie spoke to my Advanced Placement Government & Politics class (he did not speak to a history class as erroneously stated in the attack). One of the most trying aspects of public service has been those instances when I have had to defend against unfounded accusations. These smears, which can easily be checked out with a simple phone call or email, are often perpetuated with intent to damage a professional reputation solely because one subscribes to a political position that differs from the writer.

Allow me to set the record straight; a record, I might add, that can easily be verified and substantiated.

As a political science teacher for the past 26 years, I have had numerous elected officials, on both sides of the aisle, speak to my Government and Civics classes. Furthermore, when doing so their party affiliation is irrelevant to my objective of having students come to understand the intricacies of their government at work. At no time do these speakers, regardless of their political views, ever attempt to “push their party’s agenda” as the writer assumes.

I take strong exception with any one’s assertion that I have – at any time - handed out partisan election materials in class that supports my own or anyone’s candidacy. Such a claim is an unmitigated lie. I exert extraordinary measures to make sure that my students receive the best education possible in an unbiased, open environment with respect to all viewpoints. I would never compromise my own ethical standards of professionalism by crossing a line between teacher and candidate.

I see no benefit to anyone from these types of tactics or ad hominem attacks. To cast aspersions on my professional integrity on the flimsy basis of what was “reported” to this writer and then treat it as fact, only serves to erode political discourse.

I am proud of my service to the Northfield School district and the constituents of District 25 and will continue to address all challengers and candidates – with respect and honest inquiry. In the future, it is my hope that they would uphold the same standard of decency.

50th Birthday Party & Fundraiser

January 21, 2010 By: Kevin Dahle Category: Event

Young KevinHey Gang! I turn 50 this weekend! That’s crazy in itself, but nevertheless, I have a few birthday wishes for this half century milestone.
1. A Viking victory over the New Orleans Saints
2. Spending time with friends and family
I could type a few other things like world peace or a budget miracle at the state capitol in the next few months but we will start small and work up from there. You can help by showing up at the party this Friday night, January 22, Upstairs at the Rueb-N-Stein in downtown Northfield (503 Division Street). My good friends in the band, Area 51, will be performing along with another good friend, Northfield’s own Chad Johnson. A cash bar and free hors d’oeuvres will be provided. No gifts, but I will accept a donation to my re-election campaign which begins in earnest this summer and fall. If you can’t make the party, please consider hitting the donate link at this site. I really appreciate your support.
Finally….yell real loud on Sunday. Let’s rally behind the Purple People Eaters on their way to Super Bowl XXIV. Who dat gonna beat those Saints? The Vikings, that’s who. Go Vikes!

Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 18, 2010 By: Kevin Dahle Category: Kevin Dahle MN Senate District 25

The following was written by James Reston, for the New York Times, on August 29, 1963, the day the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream…” speech.

Abraham Lincoln, who presided in his stone temple today above the children of the slaves he emancipated, may have used just the right words to sum up the general reaction to the Negro’s massive march on Washington. “I think,” he wrote to Gov. Andrew G. Curtin of Pennsylvania in 1861, “the necessity of being ready increases. Look to it.” Washington may not have changed a vote today, but it is a little more conscious tonight of the necessity of being ready for freedom. It may not “look to it” at once, since it is looking to so many things, but it will be a long time before It forgets the melodious and melancholy voice of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. crying out his dreams to the multitude.
It was Dr. King who, near the end of the day, touched the vast audience. Until then the pilgrimage was merely a great spectacle. Only those marchers from the embattled towns in the Old Confederacy had anything like the old crusading zeal. For many the day seemed an adventure, a long outing in the late summer sun – part liberation from home, part Sunday school picnic, part political convention, and part fish fry.
But Dr. King brought them alive in the late afternoon with a peroration that was an anguished echo from all the old American reformers. Roger Williams calling for religious liberty, Sam Adams calling for political liberty, old man Thoreau denouncing coercion, William Lloyd Garrison demanding emancipation and Eugene V. Debs crying for economic equality – Dr. King echoed them all.
“I have a dream,” he cried again and again. And each time the dream was a promise out of our ancient articles of faith” phrases from the Constitution, lines from the great anthem of the nation, guarantees from the Bill of Rights, all ending with a vision that they might one day all come true.

Listening in Montgomery

January 13, 2010 By: Kevin Dahle Category: Economy, Education, Rice County

This past Monday I had the opportunity to sit in on a joint session of the Montgomery city council and school board. Montgomery successfully passed a school bond referendum this past December. There’s no question the Montgomery Lonsdale school district was in need of a new facility and it was clear the Superintendent, Board, and Council members were excited about the city building a new high school. As we talked about the state budget crisis and the $1.2 billion shortfall facing the upcoming legislative session, one message was quite clear. Montgomery, both school and city, is not in a financial position to make significant budget cuts. Since 2003, Minnesota state investment in schools has dropped an inflation-adjusted 13 percent and schools like Montgomery Lonsdale has had difficulty making ends meet.
The city faces similar financial strain. In 2009, Montgomery lost $71,353 in Local Government Aid (LGA) though unallotment. The 2010 cuts will total $164,408. Needed improvements for streets and infrastructure may have to wait. The weak economy has dramatically softened the real estate market and as local assessments continue to catch up to the effects of the economy, property values will continue to adjust. Last year, residential homestead property values overall fell in cities. On top of that, commercial and industrial property values are on the decline. As a result, cities could see more of the burden of their property tax levy shifting to homeowners in the foreseeable future.
How much more can we cut LGA to cities like Montgomery? What kind of community do we want to live in? How can we ensure our students are getting the best education if we continue to slash budgets while schools are barely holding on with a funding stream that relies on operating referendums? While schools can be placed on a failing list for not making Average Yearly Progress (AYP), perhaps we should place an entire state on the failing list for not properly investing in our students, our schools, and our communities. When a school is not making AYP, everyone rallies to address the problem. When a community sees the need for a new school, local citizens step up and deliver. We need that same effort, in bipartisan fashion, at the State Capitol come February.

Education Forum

January 07, 2010 By: Kevin Dahle Category: Economy, Education

The following report was written by Rob Hardy, school board chair for Cannon River STEM School, for

About 75 people gathered in the big room at ARTech charter school on Tuesday, January 5, for an evening of conversation with State Senator Kevin Dahle and State Representative David Bly. The main topic of the evening was education funding, and the impact on Minnesota public schools, and charter schools in particular, of the state budget crisis and the 27.5% holdback of state general education funds.

What is the 27% holdback? By statute, 10% of state per pupil education funding is held back from public schools in the state of Minnesota until after final enrollment figures are available for the school year. The money is generally paid to the schools in the first half of the following school year. This year, in an effort to address the state budget shortfall without raising taxes, Gov. Pawlenty increased the holdback to 27%. This means that 27% of the amount that schools have budgeted, and to which they are entitled according to the per pupil funding formula, is held back—payment to the schools is deferred.

This has put charter schools into a bind. Because 27% of their general education funding is being held back, schools are finding it necessary to secure loans in order to meet their expenses—to pay teachers. The interest payments then have to be included the school’s general education budget. In effect, funds that should have gone into the classroom are going into interest payments to banks—if, that is, the schools can secure loans at a time when banks are tightening credit.

Both legislators expressed their strong support for charter schools. The hard reality is that the state budget is facing a projected $5 billion shortfall in the next biennium. To this point, the stategy of Gov. Pawlenty has been to make cuts and accounting shifts, rather than to raise additional revenue.

See the entire story at

Working for Downtown

December 31, 2009 By: Kevin Dahle Category: Economy, Kevin Dahle MN Senate District 25, Rice County

From the NDDC Website by Ross Currier: The Northfield Downtown Development Corportation E R Team (Economic Restructuring Committee) met with State Senator Kevin Dahle yesterday to talk about commercial property taxes. Our discussion focused on legislative action for 2010.

Commercial property taxes in downtown Northfield have risen over 300% in the past decade. At their current levels, they are literally threatening the economic viability of our historic commercial district as well as undermining small business retention, expansion, and recruitment.

Last year, working with Senator Dahle and Representative David Bly, the NDDC saw legislation to help address the commercial property tax issue in older commercial districts throughout Greater Minnesota introduced in both the Senate and House. With the challenge of balancing State revenues with expenditures during the session, the bills were not implemented.

There was another bill addressing commercial property taxes drafted in the Senate last year. This bill differed somewhat from our proposal, however, it would also have helped downtown Northfield.

At yesterday’s meeting, we decided to work with the other group of senators to draft and support a single bill to address commercial property taxes in both the Senate and House. Although the State continues to face financial challenges, we are hopeful that our unified efforts will achieve success in 2010.

Someday at Christmas

December 25, 2009 By: Kevin Dahle Category: Kevin Dahle MN Senate District 25

“Someday At Christmas”

Someday at Christmas men won’t be boys
Playing with bombs like kids play with toys
One warm December our hearts will see
A world where men are free

Someday at Christmas there’ll be no wars
When we have learned what Christmas is for
When we have found what life’s really worth
There’ll be peace on earth

Someday all our dreams will come to be
Someday in a world where men are free
Maybe not in time for you and me
But someday at Christmastime

Someday at Christmas we’ll see a land
With no hungry children, no empty hand
One happy morning people will share
Our world where people care

Someday at Christmas there’ll be no tears
All men are equal and no men have fears
One shinning moment my heart ran away
From our world today

Someday all our dreams will come to be
Someday in a world where men are free
Maybe not in time for you and me
But someday at Christmastime

Someday at Christmas man will not fail
Take hope because your love will prevail
Someday a new world that we can start
With hope in every heart

Someday all our dreams will come to be
Someday in a world where men are free
Maybe not in time for you and me
But someday at Christmastime
Someday at Christmastime

- Stevie Wonder

Compromising on Justice

December 22, 2009 By: Kevin Dahle Category: Sibley County

SibleyThe young man stood before the judge with his orange prison jump suit, looking uncomfortable in handcuffs and shackles. The prosecutor read off a list of 20 or so prior offenses including burglary, theft, assault, and an earlier escape. When bail was set at $20,000 cash the young man cried and pleaded with the judge and anyone else who would listen, obviously distressed at the prospect of spending Christmas in jail. The public defenders in that case, overworked and underpaid, spent the day with other defendants, facing a variety of issues including child custody, child support, and drug use. Juveniles faced restitution, treatment, probation, and community service.
Yesterday I spent the day at the Sibley County Court House. Less noticeable was the scrambling by the hard working Court Administrator and her staff, down several workers, due to last year’s budget cuts. Minnesota and the courts face another budget cutting year. The November 2009 State Budget forecast, released December 2, projects a further deterioration of general fund budget conditions despite the budget reductions made to the enacted budget for FY 2010-11, the governor’s unallotments, and other actions following session. Since the February 2008 state budget forecast – the last forecast to precede the change in budget trend lines due to the recession that began in December 2007 - revenue projections for FY 2010-11 have fallen $5.0 billion from $35.0 billion to $30.0 billion; spending has declined from $36.1 billion to $31.3 billion. The projected shortfall for FY 2010-11 is now $1.2 billion.
I worry about our ability as a state to provide a judicial system that meets our needs as a society. While criminal matters will eventually get processed, the courts will be left with fewer resources for rehabilitation, juvenile supervision, probation, social workers, and public defenders able to properly give time and attention to those who need representation. Civil matters will be pushed aside. If you plan on getting a divorce, you should plan to live with your future ex for years to come. Personal injury, probate, housing, and domestic relations cases become less of a priority.
I was impressed with the reforms already in place in this rural county courthouse, but like other counties across Minnesota, our justice system is at a tipping point. Do we really want to handcuff our court system with further cuts? The courts are pleading. Is anyone listening?

$10,000 Energy Saver Rebate available for Energy Improvements

December 15, 2009 By: Kevin Dahle Category: Energy

Last week, Minnesota Housing announced the creation of the Energy Saver Rebate program. These rebates are available for homeowners that do energy-saving home improvements using funds from a Minnesota Housing Fix-up loan. The rebates are funded with money given to Minnesota as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on 2009.
Interested homeowners should act quickly though, because these rebates are available on a first-come, first-served basis.”
Energy Saver Rebates can be used for:
• Replacement furnaces, boilers, and central air conditioners that are eligible for Federal Energy Tax Credit;
• Replacement exterior doors that are eligible for Federal Energy Tax Credit;
• Energy Star replacement windows;
• Energy Star light fixtures;
• Attic air sealing;
• Wall and attic insulation in conjunction with attic air sealing; and
• Water heaters if they are “orphaned” due to furnace replacement.
Energy Saver Rebates can be for up to $10,000 and can equal 35 percent of the cost of the improvements. Improvements must be done by a licensed contractor, and the homeowner must submit the Energy Saver Rebate Application for the completed improvements to their lender within 120 days of the Fix-up Fund loan’s closing. Fix-Up Fund loans are available to households with an income of less than $96,500. Homeowners should also check if they are eligible for the Federal Tax Credit for Energy Efficiency or a rebate from their utility company when doing energy efficiency improvements. The Energy Saver Rebate cannot be used in conjunction with the Builders Association of Minnesota’s Project ReEnergize rebate or Fix-up Fund Loans made prior to December 7, 2009.
For a list of authorized lenders, or for more information, go to