War of words over Southwest light-rail transit line grows

The following article by Janet Moore was posted on the Star Tribune website April 22, 2017:

In office just three months, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao has already received an earful from Minnesota officials about the controversial $1.9 billion light-rail line.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has heard from both sides about the $1.9 billion Southwest light-rail line project.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao has been in office just under three months, and she’s already received an earful from Minnesota legislators about the controversial $1.9 billion Southwest light-rail line. A new salvo in the transit saga was released this week.

On March 17, 84 Minnesota GOP legislators wrote Chao urging her to block $928 million in federal funding for the Southwest LRT project, which would connect downtown Minneapolis to Eden Prairie. They argued that the line “would recklessly consume scarce transit resources.” (more…)

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It was a sad day for public education

The following column by Sen. Steve Cwodzinski was posted on the Eden Prairie News website April 19, 2017:

One of the saddest days of my teaching career was having to walk through the doors of Eden Prairie High School the day after the community defeated a referendum. The defeat told me that as a teacher, I wasn’t valued. That feeling permeated the classrooms of the school that week.

And, recently, that feeling has come back after seeing the lack of investments in the Senate education bill. While there were a lot of good items in the bill, such as language on suicide prevention and streamlining teacher licensure, I still chose to vote no.

Minnesota has historically valued public education — and the Legislature has put its money where its mouth is by making important investments that have helped our state achieve great things. Even our state constitution explicitly states that it is the duty of the Legislature to establish a general and uniform system of public education.

(more…)

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Americans are proud to pay taxes — except when they think others are cheating.

The following article by Vanessa Williamson was posted on the Washington Post website April 18, 2017:

People think Americans hate taxes. They don’t, as I found while researching my new book; they see it as an important civic duty. What makes them angry is the idea that some people don’t pay their fair share.

Many Americans wrongly believe that while they are dutifully paying taxes, a lot of other people — especially lower-income people and immigrants — are not taxpayers.

And with tax reform back on the national agenda, those misperceptions matter. (more…)

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Reality Check: The Cost Of Subsidized Transit

The following article by Pat Kessler was posted on the WCCO TV website April 12, 2017:

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Legislature is preparing deep budget cuts to Twin Cities transit systems, especially light rail.

Critics say taxpayers pay millions of dollars a year to subsidize every passenger.

While it’s true that taxpayers subsidize every passenger on the light rail, it’s less than you think and less than other common transit systems, like suburban buses.

The Met Council crunched the numbers at the request of the House Transportation Policy Committee. It figured in the operating expenses, passenger fares, the number of passengers, and the hours of service. The results might stop you in your tracks. (more…)

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Sen. Cwodzinski pens bill mandating high school civics courses

The following article by Sean Miner was posted on the Sun-Current website April 15, 2017:

Each Minnesota state legislator brings a unique set of experiences and proficiencies to St. Paul, and it’s not uncommon for a lawmaker to focus on what they know best.

In keeping with that, District 48 State Sen. Steve Cwodzinski (DFL-Eden Prairie) introduced a bill very much in his wheelhouse. The measure, which came before the Education Policy Committee and sent back for revisions, would mandate that all state public schools students take a certain number of credits in classes that teach civics.

Before embarking on his freshman term in the Senate, Cwodzinski taught primarily American government courses at Eden Prairie High School for more than three decades. He gleaned from that experience how valuable civics courses can be for high school students – particularly juniors and seniors. (more…)

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Explaining the Health Payments That Trump Is Threatening to End

The following article by Reed Abelson and Margot Sanger-Katz was posted on the New York Times April 14, 2017:

Protesters at a “March for Health” in New York this month demanded equitable and affordable access to health care. Credit Kena Betancur/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Cost-sharing reductions seem like an arcane aspect of the Affordable Care Act, but they could now make or break the Obamacare insurance marketplaces. Even President Trump is talking about them, as a possible bargaining chip for a new health bill.

Mr. Trump this week repeatedly threatened to cut off the federal funding that makes the cost-sharing reductions work for insurers and patients. The idea, he told The Wall Street Journal, is that Democrats would be forced to negotiate with him over a replacement for the Affordable Care Act if they did not want the individual insurance market to collapse. The administration has been anything but clear about whether it wants that market to thrive or fail. (more…)

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They Marched, Now They’re Running

The following article by Susan Milligan was posted on the US News and World Report website April 14, 2017:

Democratic women across the country mobilize to take on President Donald Trump.

Brett Ziegler for USN&WR)

They got mad when Donald Trump was elected president, turning out in the millions worldwide to protest the ascension of a man who bragged about being able to use his fame to sexually assault women without consequence. They got madder when they saw Trump name cabinet officials opposed to some of the legal protections women’s groups fought for many years to achieve. They got madder still when they saw Trump – without the fanfare and camera flashes associated with his other regulatory changes – roll back protections for women in the workplace.

Now, female activists are trying to get even – or at least get to an America where opportunities and power-sharing between men and women is closer to even. After the shock of Trump’s election and the buoyant call-to-arms of the Women’s March on Washington, the women and girls who participated in the marches are mounting what Noreen Farrell, executive director of Equal Rights Advocates, defines as an epic and historic battle.

(more…)

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April 14, 2017 DFL Action Alert

Dear DFLer, 

Next Tuesday, April 18th, is Election Day in Georgia’s 6th district, where Democrats have an excellent opportunity to put a Democrat into the seat vacated by Tom Price. 

White House aides admit that the Trump Administration, specifically Steve Bannon, is paying close attention to this race. What better way to send Trump and his cronies a message than to help Georgia put a Democrat in the 6th Congressional District.  (more…)

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Why Americans Vote ‘Against Their Interest’: Partisanship

The following article by Amanda Taub was posted on the New York Times website April 12, 2017:

Kyle Lloyd, 40, wore a painted “Dump Trump” message at a protest in Philadelphia in January. Credit Mark Makela/Getty Images

Working-class Americans who voted for Donald J. Trump continue to approve of him as president, even though he supported a health care bill that would disproportionately hurt them.

Highly educated professionals tend to lean Democratic, even though Republican tax policies would probably leave more money in their pockets.

Why do people vote against their economic interests?

The answer, experts say, is partisanship. Party affiliation has become an all-encompassing identity that outweighs the details of specific policies.

“Partisan identification is bigger than anything the party does,” said Frances Lee, a professor at the University of Maryland who wrote a book on partisan polarization. Rather, it stems from something much more fundamental: people’s idea of who they are. (more…)

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Stop Cutting Taxes for Corporations and the Wealthy

The following article by Harry Stein was posted on the Center for American Progress website April 10, 2017:

Cartoon by Carol Simpson

President Donald Trump and House Republicans have championed massive tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations.1 They will likely try to enact these giveaways into law as part of what they call tax reform, as well as through other measures such as repeal of the Affordable Care Act and infrastructure legislation. While tax policy offers many complicated questions, one thing should be clear: The wealthiest Americans and big corporations do not need any more tax cuts.

Anyone can clearly see whether proposed legislation would cut taxes for the wealthy or corporations, thanks to high-quality, nonpartisan analysis from the independent Tax Policy Center and the legislative branch’s Joint Committee on Taxation. Trickle-down tax cuts have repeatedly failed to produce broad-based economic growth. A significant majority of Americans not only oppose such tax cuts but would support higher taxes on the wealthy and big corporations. (more…)

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