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Saturday, March 4, 2017

$1.6 BILLION 2017 Bonding Bill. Legislators Say They Refuse to Cut Any Pork. Call to Action.

Part I: List of Tens of Millions in Pork in 2017 Bonding Bill

3/11/17: Completely out of touch response from Senator Ingebrigtsen "Down with the Orange line. I get it.

Here's my testimony for March 7th hearing. This is the fourth testimony I've made asking to cut only the wasteful spending. The author of the bill Senator Senjem kindly explained his perspective and refusal to cut one cent of spending; which, to me, flies in the face of common sense and why we elected them to legislate responsibly:
Dear Legislators,

we've been in an informative email exchange with Senator Senjem who we thank for answering some questions about his 2017 $1.6 BILLION dollar bonding bill SF210. From previous testimony you are likely aware of the lengthy list of ridiculous projects that are being funded in this bill (some listed below).  List of Tens of Millions in Pork in 2017 Bonding Bill

Senator Senjem responded: "I appreciate your perspective.  There are projects in this bill that wish were not part of it."

we responded: Great than please use your legislative power in committee and take these terrible project you agree are bad out! If not, can you explain why you can't say in committee: the voters elected us to cut spending... so we're going to take out pork barrel spending in SF210:
-the nightmare transit lines (orange line); 
-cut the spending to build TV stations, walking paths, pedestrian bridges, a garden at the zoo, and dentist office, etc. 
-funding of hundreds of millions to for profit colleges with massive sports franchises and refuse to lower tuition 
-spending for highly localized projects the State should have no business funding. 

Of highest concern is funding for the Met Council and funding to start new transit corridors like the Orange Line and build a ridiculous $8.7 million dollar train stop at the Mall of America. This is outrageous when we know the failure that these white elephants are costing State tax payer billions collectively. We have four transit corridors built already and none of them take more than 1% of traffic off the highway they parallel. Plus the Orange line is being built just north of the Red Line with the same failed mode of transit of BRT. The Red Line is the corridor with the WORST PERFORMANCE IN THE COUNTRY as I can find, with just 6% of operating cost being paid for by the riders according to the MNDOT Guideways Status Report!

Senator Senjem Responded: 
"If I take out one project out of it, and especially the one you cite [the orange line], the whole bill falls apart and we have nothing. I understand that some Rs want nothing because it is good personal politics.  As chair I have institutional responsibilities towards the good and welfare of our state's infrastructure and it would be totally irresponsible for me to let our state's infrastructure go without repair."  

Lastly, I responded:
1.) No one is asking that everything be removed.
2.) I'm not a politician, I work in medicine, so I have no personal political gain other than to escape oppressive taxes because of reckless spending
3.) Taking pork out of the $1.6 billion dollar bill would make it MORE popular not less wouldn't it? Especially with the GOP majority who was elected by voters like myself who thought this spending could stop. 
4.) I agree with you that your bill has dozens of much needed road projects and other infrastructure spending; however, I deeply disagree that a bill with hundreds of millions in waste should be passed because half of it has good projects.

If you could answer about why taking Pork out or even one $12 million dollar Orange line, would make it "fall apart" when there's a GOP majority in the House and Senate I'd appreciate it.

Thanks again so much for your time and your service to see the passage of a responsible bonding bill. I'd hate for a repeat of the 2011 session when the GOP controlled the House and Senate and DID NOTHING about Met Council and funded many transit projects including money for the Gold Line and the Red Rock Corridor. Ironically that was the last year (GOP control) that these two corridors got direct funding from the MNLeg. The following year the DFL took over the house AND senate because the GOP let the public down on wasteful spending:(

we find it shocking that when the GOP is in power they fail to act on their political promises and lose the following election because of it. However, it sounds like this is not so easily done. I await your explanation before jumping to conclusions.

Representative Senjem never responded. 
Representative Matt Dean responded with a great constitutional idea:
"Our constitution demands extra votes than a simple majority to borrow money.  I think we should do this for omnibus spending bills as well." (referring to SF210)

Legislators, please do what we elected you to office to do. Stop making excuses and do your job and stop the wasteful spending you promised you were going to defeat. Saying you are just one legislator or worry that the Governor won't sign the bill are terrible myths. Because rolls reversed, the democrats always immediately roll out bonding budgets that are double this bill initially. They know ridiculous will never pass, but they offer it knowing they will cut it down to what they actually wanted (plain irresponsible). Afterwards, like a child with a 14th place trophy, Republicans leave the table honestly thinking they won. But in actuality they just got schooled.

We elected you to exercise the same winning strategy back on them... Slash the hell out of this bill... if Dayton Complains than listen to what few things he wants to get him to sign it and put a couple projects back and say that's the best you can do. But please for the love of the 2018 election do not put the Orange Line back in!

GOP Senate Passes $5.8 Billion Transportation Bill with $180 Million to Met Council & Mass Transit a Huge Raise