Monday, January 03, 2011

The Government Returns

We get a new governor today and a new legislature to go along with it. A few guesses about what's to come:
  • Wanting to be governor in the worst way. Mark Dayton bought the governorship and now he is about to find out the true cost. Although he did get the support of the DFL apparat after he won the primary, from here it appears that the support was grudging at best. He's facing a legislature that is not going to give him any political cover and it will be interesting to see if he actually has much command of the entrenched state bureaucracy. Dayton is not the sort of natural, glad-handing pol who can build consensus, as his long career amply demonstrates. He'll need to get every DFLer in his corner to have a chance. Will they support him, or will they stand off to the side when the conflicts heat up?
  • The lege vs. the media. Standing up to Mark Dayton won't be the largest challenge for the new Republican legislature. The challenge will be dealing with adverse publicity from the news media. The Lori Sturdevants of the world don't hold as much power as they once did, but the Pat Kesslers and John Cromans of the world can make life pretty miserable for politicians if they choose to. Count on a lot of sob stories about the victims of Republican policies, especially as we get closer to the end of the legislative session.
  • $3.50 gas. Or perhaps $4 gas. There's ample reason to believe that this year is going to be an expensive one at the pumps and the costs of fuel are going to be part of price increases in other goods and services. While the increasing cost of fuel won't necessarily put huge dents in the average Minnesotan's wallet, the psychological impact will be pretty big. Do you suppose that people who are feeling pinched by their day-to-day expenses will be ready to sign on to tax increases, especially in the form of a sales tax hike? I have my doubts.
  • $6.2 billion. You keep hearing that number. It does not mean what you think it means. There are a lot of assumptions about government funding built into the projected budget deficit of $6.2 billion. Some of the assumptions simply aren't sustainable right now. The primary job of Amy Koch, Kurt Zellars and the rest of the politicians on the Republican side is to provide an alternative vision of how a leaner state government might actually work. Doing so will require working around the Pat Kesslers and John Cromans of the world and getting the message directly to the citizenry.

That's the easy stuff to figure. More to come.


Brad Carlson said...

Count on a lot of sob stories about the victims of Republican policies

Like Mark Dayton himself? I'm sure he'll be painted as a hapless victim of the whims of the GOP obstructionists.

Dave Thul said...

I will be watching with keen interest to see how many 'moderate' DFL'ers will now either vote the party line or become persona non grata inside their own party.

Kermit said...

You missed a major factor in your $3.50 a gallon gas observation. As of Jan. 1st, the Imperial EPA has unilaterally mandated carbon limits on major industries. This will create a huge impact on Minnesota, as we are a huge consumer of energy products.

Brave Sir Mark's $6 billion deficit is going to soar, thanks to Emperor Obama and his extra-legislative mandates.

Mr. D said...


No doubt about that.


It's an interesting question -- a lot of the DFLers who survived the last election were pretty-hard core lefties, so my guess is they won't be the sort who are used to compromising.


Excellent point -- we don't yet know how the EPA's power grab will affect prices, but surely they will.