The citizens of Senate District 44 are represented by two very different Senators. The first is the Senator voters see during the campaign season, a consummate politician that portrays herself as pragmatic and moderate. The second is the Senator that goes to Saint Paul and reliably supports the tax, spend, and regulatory agenda of the DFL. Both are named Terri Bonoff.
Terri Bonoff is not a moderate. She is a liberal activist and leading Obama fundraiser that supports higher taxes, more government, and less individual freedom. We know this by looking at her voting record, and the bills she sponsored in the state Senate. It is easy to call yourself moderate. It costs nothing, and it is good politics in a swing district where moderate voters decide elections. But words are cheap unless followed up with action. When it came to action, when it came to casting her ballot to support real legislation, Senator Bonoff has sided again and again with big government and against Minnesota taxpayers.
Let’s examine just a few concrete examples of the Bonoff record.
On raising taxes – Bonoff has repeatedly voted to raise taxes on the people of Minnesota, including measures to raise gas taxes and sales taxes at a time when many Minnesotans are already paying too much for basic goods. In the last two sessions Bonoff authored two tax bills that are especially telling:
1. A bill making it harder to get rid of “temporary” tax increases passed to fund capital improvements. The bill works by allowing taxing districts to propose a new capital project as soon as an old project, which originally justified the tax increase, expires, and put it on the ballot as a “renewal” while representing to the voters that it is not a tax increase since it is the same as the previous (supposedly temporary) levy. This avoids having to propose a new referendum asking voters for a tax increase to support each new project.
2. A bill calling for a “Tax Expenditure Advisory Commission.” For those unversed in the Orwellian newspeak of the left, “tax expenditures” is what liberals call tax cuts. Bonoff’s commission, together with its taxpayer-funded professional staff, would review tax cuts and make recommendations each legislative session about which tax cuts ought to be abolished. The bill would also cause various tax cuts to automatically expire if they are not explicitly re-authorized by the legislature every ten years.
These two Bonoff-authored bills make it absolutely clear what her philosophy is on taxes. She thinks that tax increases should be easy and subject to less scrutiny. Tax cuts, by contrast, should be hard, jealousy scrutinized and automatically terminated.
On spending – While calling on citizens to tighten their belts to pay more to the government, Bonoff has steadfastly opposed efforts to reduce the state’s own bloated expenditures. Just in the last two sessions she voted against mild budget reductions for state bureaucracies, against small decreases in the government workforce, and against repealing unaffordable expansions to the state’s already unsustainable Medicare spending. Indeed, she’s authored bills to appropriate more government money to such vital projects as purchasing park land, creating more bike paths, and reimbursing filmmakers for making movies that contribute to “heritage.”
On Voter ID – Bonoff voted against requiring the same degree of security to prevent voter fraud that every state imposes to prevent 20-year-olds from drinking. She voted against even allowing the people of Minnesota to vote on a measure that would require people to show state-issued photo identification at the polls, even if such IDs are provided for free to anyone that can’t afford it.
On education – While Bonoff has shown some willingness to experiment around the margins, such as with alternative teacher licensing, her primary solution to our education challenges has been the same one offered perennially by every Democratic politician. Throw more money into the same 19th century education system and hope for a 21st century result.
Bonoff voted against a measure that would have prevented public Universities from raising tuition more than 3-5% per year. She also opposed any reduction in taxpayer subsidies to the same Universities. Republicans have realized that squeezing the taxpayer for University funding isn’t going to help Minnesota families so long as Universities have no incentive to cut costs. Bonoff has lined up to defend the status quo.
David Faith is Vice Chair At Large of the SD44 Republicans. This post is cross-posted from SD44gop.org.