Daily Reformer: Republican senator says Walz is intentionally creating recession so he can hike gas tax

Sen. Paul Utke, R-Park Rapids. Nice 'stache.

State Sen. Paul Utke sent an email to his colleagues upon word that gas tax and other revenue had plummeted, which means a steep drop in money for future road projects: 

The longer the governor can keep the state shut down and keep travel to a minimum the more he can justify his gas tax increase to fund MNDOT!  Politics is being played in everything he does. We just need to reopen the state and get people back to work. 

For whatever the merits of keeping current economic restrictions in place, this idea that Walz is some kind of machiavellian monster is daft, to put it politely. 

The idea here (if you wanna call it that) is that Walz is so committed to a gas tax — an idea he walked away from just 11 months ago — that he is willing to crash the state’s economy to force lower gas tax revenues so then he can sell the idea of a gas tax hike during the steepest recession since the Great Depression?

What a dastardly plan! And he would have pulled it off if not for the brilliance of Paul Utke!

(For more on the gas tax revenue collapse, read Jessie Van Berkel in the Strib.)

Today on the Reformer, Rilyn Eischens with a scoop on how school districts are recording attendance during distance learning. Spoiler: Some of them just aren’t. (I tried to make a Ferris Bueller joke in our headline but was called off by our millennial age team who were like, uh, who?)

And in a column I put the Dorr brothers’ hucksterism in context of the long history of Republican grifters, which now includes the president of the United States. 

Republicans are growing nervous about President Donald Trump’s chances in November, fearing his response to the COVID-19 outbreak — and goofy daily news conferences — are threatening not just his reelection chances but also the Senate, Times’ Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman report. Both public and private polling show him sinking in battleground states and taking senators with him. 

The giant 2017 tax cut bill eliminated certain deductions to at least make it look like it was sorta being paid for. Guess what? The business lobby managed to get a lot of those deductions back in the CARES Act: Times. It amounts to $174 billion in temporary tax breaks but they can’t spare a nickel for state and local governments?

Ryan Faircloth with good reporting in the Strib on the financial reckoning that colleges and universities are already facing but will really confront in the fall. The rising cost of higher ed has been unsustainable for a long time, propped up by ridiculous tuition increases, and now the moment of ruin has arrived. 

Your long read is a must read: The New Yorker on how Seattle and New York reacted differently to the pandemic, with results that are now clear to see. 

Powerful photo

Correspond: [email protected] 

Have a great day all. JPC

J. Patrick Coolican
J. Patrick Coolican is Editor-in-Chief of Minnesota Reformer. Previously, he was a Capitol reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune for five years, after a Knight-Wallace Fellowship at the University of Michigan and time at the Las Vegas Sun, Seattle Times and a few other stops along the way. He lives in St. Paul with his wife and toddler son.