Friday, October 1, 2010

LWV Closing Remarks

(At the request of those in the audience at the League of Women Voters/St. Cloud Times candidate forum last night, here is the full text of my closing remarks. The part in italics had already been cut out and used, but the last two paragraphs did not fit the one-minute limit either and were not delivered.)

I’d like to thank the League of Women Voters and the St. Cloud Times for organizing this important debate tonight. And I’d like to thank the audience for taking the time to learn about the issues and us candidates.

Two years ago many questioned the very core of our economic system. It was an election that brought many to seek solutions based on promises. Many of those promises now appear to be dust.

Our state struggled with how to finance its own budget, and in the strain we saw a system that no longer worked. Legislators fought with each other; a governor stepped in with a unique solution; both went to court to argue why the other couldn’t do its job. What got left behind was a mess for the next Legislature and governor to deal with.

Despite everything else you heard here tonight these facts are not in dispute: The current budget spends $30.5 billion in the biennium through the end of June next year. The next budget is expected to have $32.9 billion in revenues according to the state’s finance department. But the last Legislature agreed to spend $38.7 billion in the next biennium.

When you hear others say they want to have a “balanced approach,” it is your wallet they want to throw on the balance to pay for their spending.

I chose to run for this seat because I saw something was wrong with that process and think I have a plan to fix it.

Higher taxes do not create jobs; the dollar that pays for any public spending must first be taken from someone else. What was that dollar going to do before, did you think? Would it have bought a new shirt? A pizza? What of the jobs for the tailor or the cook?

I offer you a chance to do something different. We ask for – no, we demand as citizens – real accountability for our public resources. We demand that the regulations we face really work to solve problems that we agree are real and pressing. Regulations that inhibit job growth must be examined and, if not working well, removed.

Your life is more than a job, but meaningful work makes us not only wealthier but happier. A life has dreams; your dreams that should not be subject to confiscation or undue regulation. Your dreams should not be subject to someone’s desire to increase spending by 27%. If that makes my approach imbalanced, fine. There is no midpoint between right and wrong.

I’m King Banaian, and I offer to serve you as your representative for House District 15B, because your dreams deserve a chance to grow, because the growth of Minnesotans’ dreams was always what made this a great state. Thank you.

Friday, September 24, 2010

39 tomorrows

I want to thank everyone who came to our BPOU office tonight.  I got some nice compliments on my remarks.  I had written something down before giving this, and thought for those who missed it I would put my prepared remarks here.  (If you were there, it was a fair bit shorter.)

Tempus fugit.  The time is short. 
The people behind me know the time is short.  Many of them have been working for a year to get to this place.  They are counting the days.  I am counting them.  We have 39 days to get where we want to go. 
And of course we need your help.  We need you to call all your friends.  Even those who you know are strong DFLers.  We need you to come here and make calls to turn out our voters.  We have envelopes to stuff, doors to knock, signs to put up and repair, people to deliver to polls, polls to watch, absentee ballot counting to observe. 
We need you. 
We need you to help us today.  “Tomorrow” is often an answer we get.  But there are only 39 tomorrows until election day.  Time is flying.
But time is flying for more than an election.  Last weekend Peggy Noonan noted that one thing we believe is that time is short.  Something profound is happening in our state and in our country.  “If we don't get the size and cost of government in line now, we won't be able to. “  And in Minnesota we have a budget that is on autopilot to take us from spending $31 billion to $39 billion.  This is not a matter for green eyeshade-types, or even economists.  This is ruinous to the future we promised our children and grandchildren.  Once you get to $39 billion, they will not let you turn back. 
The time is short.  You know it; that’s why you’re here.
And we don’t need “balanced approaches.”  We can’t call stalling ruin a victory.  We know we are on our way there now.  We fear it may be too late.  We know in two more years if nothing changes, it probably will be.
What Minnesotans want is an accountable government that supports our aspirations to become better persons, to leave something for our families and for our communities. That has always been there for us; the Minnesota Miracle was always about free enterprise given a chance to grow in places that did not always have critical mass.
Small businesses create jobs, but who creates more?  New ones.  That idea, those dreams in each of our heads right now.   One that, if brought to fruition and successful, the new federal and Dayton tax rates would take 55% of, or more.
We are the ones who know, government can’t be a majority partner in our dreams.
The people here know, the time is short. 
You have the chance to change this.  You have 39 tomorrows.  What will you do with them? 
Thank you for being here, for knowing what time it is.  I look forward to working with each and every one of you, and watching together the wonderful Minnesota in which our families will thrive. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Quick update: doors; parades

There has been some very nice response at doors lately.  I have many people interested in holding down taxes and wanting government to live within its means.  With an expected revenue flow of about $33 billion for the next biennium, we have enough to meet our priorities.

What a happy bunch at parades!  We had a nice group for the St. Joseph Lions Parade on the 4th and saw many friends and neighbors there.  When I knocked a door earlier this evening the resident replied that she had seen our parade float in Sauk Rapids and remembered the K9s for King.  They are former neighbors of ours now living in a neighboring precinct.  They will end up with one of our yard signs.  ("When are they going up, King?" you ask.  Soon enough.)

If you want to see pictures of the parades, you can either visit our Facebook page for the campaign, or stop by the K9s for King page on Facebook.  (If that link fails, just search us.)  Just because parade season is over for us doesn't mean your dog won't have an event -- the K9 crew has plans for more.

If you can doorknock for us, that would be great, just drop a line to us. Would you consider hosting a coffee for me to visit with your neighbors?  We'll bring the coffee, you bring the neighbors.  (And if you don't want people to see your messy house, get them to a coffee shop and we'll see you there.)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Revised website now operational

We've tweaked the website for better readability and added some content to it.  Please visit and see for yourself.

Monday, June 21, 2010

What you learn in front of a door

We swung into doorknocking last Friday with a gang of eight (two of whom are my wife and daughter.)  Great to see the enthusiasm from them, and the impetus to make doorknocking a daily ritual.  And so it is now.

Tonight I was by St. Cloud Technical and Community College along one of the roads perpendicular to 15th St.  This neighborhood has been there for probably 30-40 years and a mix of old and new homes, old and new families.  I met one family who had just arrived in St. Cloud from out of state; their neighbor, another young family, joined in.  The new residents are here for jobs at our hospital (one has the job, the other hopeful.)  We talked a bit about the area and how the health care industry has grown so dramatically here.  I was lifted by that scene, a neighbor greeting a new family to town.

That is really what door knocking is about.  I'm not just a guy looking for a job, though that is what I am asking you for.  I'm a neighbor, I'm someone who calls St. Cloud home, and I am given the opportunity in this race to meet all my neighbors, new residents and old ones.

Also met a younger man tonight, perhaps 30, who has been told his job running a kitchen is in jeopardy because the restaurant needs to balance its books.  I told him that I wanted to balance the state's books with without* increasing the costs at his restaurant.  It turns out his family has other restaurants, one of whom my son cooks at!  I asked him to thank his family for me, because I know they treat my son well there.

But it is hard for restaurants to keep treating their workers well when government decides to disallow a young person from working for a restaurant for less than the minimum wage.  It is hard for a restaurant to keep treating its workers well when we raise taxes on liquor (already the highest-taxed good in Minnesota and taxed 20-80% higher than in surrounding states.)  It is hard to treat your workers well when the government decides your sole proprietorship making $300,000 in net revenue should pay higher taxes out of 'fairness'.

All that out of a 3-minute meeting with a voter in north St. Cloud.  And I get to do that every day between now and November.  I look forward to visiting more of you and hearing more about the lives and concerns of my neighbors.

* -- corrected for typo; thanks to Fred for catching it!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Two candidates, two positions, one commonality

The people of House District 15B awoke this morning to a news article about the two remaining DFL candidates who have entered the race to be their representative.  They have a choice between a candidate that wants to tax our purchases of clothing, and one that wants to tax small business owners who choose to take their business income on their individual income tax form:
Dorholt and Lewis both adhere to the DFL position that the state must raise taxes to resolve its deficit. Lewis says she’d consider eliminating state sales tax exemptions for clothing and other exemptions. Dorholt says an income tax hike on high earners would be the least onerous option for a tax increase.
Some choice.  The common feature is that both candidates from the DFL support a higher level of state spending and the intrusion of the state deeper into our lives.  One wants to tax the very same producers whose entrepreneurship is vital to our economic recovery.  The other wants to tell poor families that their children's blue jeans should cost an extra 7.375% at Crossroads Mall.

Regardless of the choice local DFL voters make in August, voters will have a clear choice in November.  I will vote against either of these tax increases should they come before me in 2011 as your representative from District 15B.  We can balance the next biennium's budget without a tax increase.  It only takes the will and a belief that government can perform its vital functions with the amount of money we are projected to have. 

In its last forecast, the Department of Finance projected revenues in the next biennium to rise to $32.9 billion from this biennium's $31.1 billion.  That's a 2.85% annual rate of growth.  Don't you think they have enough?  My opponents say no.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Press release on announcement of retirement of Rep. Haws

King Banaian, endorsed candidate for the Minnesota House of Representatives from District 15B, gave the following statement after the retirement of Representative Larry Haws.

"I thank Representative Haws for his five years of service in the Legislature to the people of St. Cloud," Banaian said.  "Rep. Haws will be remembered as a hard worker and leader in this community."

"We have much work to do now, to continue to talk to the people of St. Cloud about how we can hold state government accountable to its promises and to make it live within its means.  I look forward to hearing many good ideas from residents of our district, and to taking those ideas to St. Paul in January."

Banaian lives in St. Cloud with his wife, Barbara, and their daughter. House District 15B includes the northern and eastern portions of St. Cloud, and Haven Township.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Statement on DFL budget balancing bill

King Banaian, endorsed candidate for Minnesota House District 15B, issued this statement the day after the Minnesota Legislature passed H.F. 2037, a bill that includes tax increases to balance the 2010.

"Last night my opponent voted to increase taxes on small businesses and what he considers wealthy Minnesotans," Banaian said.  "The last Economic Update from the Finance Department cited consumer confidence and sentiment being 'mired' at low levels and 'lingering employment concerns, slow wage growth, and tight credit are likely to inhibit household spending until 2011.'  Even if you believe Minnesotans don't pay enough, this is a terrible time to raise taxes."

"But we do pay enough.  The DFL bill that Rep. Haws voted for would give Minnesota the 4th highest marginal tax rate in the country on incomes of $200,000.  Higher rates in California have done nothing to cure their budget problems.  Why does Larry Haws think this is a good example to emulate?"

"The answer to every DFL problem is to look at small businesses as an ATM from which they can cover their need for more money.  They have enough; the real need in Minnesota is to reduce spending, not raise taxes.  Rep. Haws had the opportunity to balance the budget by ratifying Governor Pawlenty's spending reductions but voted against that.  When I get to St. Paul, we will set priorities that do not ask already-generous Minnesotans for more," Banaian concluded.

King Banaian is an economist who is running to represent north and east St. Cloud and Haven Township in the Minnesota House of Representatives

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A response to a Larry Haws update

Rep. Haws on April 22 put out a legislative update to his work in our House.  Let's see what he has to say:
The legislative session is set to end on May 17. Our goal is to resolve our complicated budget issues by then.
How did it get so complicated, I wonder? According to the April Economic Update from MMB, revenues for FY 2010 (ending June 30) came in $40 million below what was expected. In a $10,000 million budget (for the period from 7/1/09 to 3/31/10) that is not so much money.  Most of the increase came from increases in costs associated with the recession.  While these need to be fixed, the need for entitlement reform has been known to the Legislature and Rep. Haws for quite some time.

Let's read on:
With the passage of the new federal health care bill we are currently awaiting information from the feds on what states can expect from new MA reimbursement funds. The numbers are quite large and, depending on the amount, will determine whether we horribly slash state health care services to the most vulnerable citizens or make smaller cuts impacting less people. Given that lots of disabled, dependent-care Minnesotans will be affected by our budget decisions, I believe it is wise for us to wait for further information from the federal government before we proceed to finalize our budget. Otherwise our only choice would be to deeply slash services to these vulnerable citizens.
For those of you unfamiliar with the ways of St. Paul, this is an activity known as "kicking the can down the road." Because they don't want to cut anyone (health and human services is scheduled to spend more than $4,200 million in fiscal year 2010) they are hoping that the U.S. government sends them some money to foot the bill. The 2009 federal stimulus bill only pays through December 2010.  A bill in Congress to extend the funding an additional six months is in trouble because Congress does not know how to pay for it.

And under current proposal made today in the Legislature, expansion of health care coverage could end up costing the state millions of dollars more.  It doesn't have those dollars...yet.  You do.  We have a fix in place for these individuals in the GAMC bill that passed.  DFLers want to raid other money to pay for switching them to Medicaid early.  It's expensive, and I oppose it.

Please, Representative Haws: Balance the budget and come home.  It's time to debate.
Laws Will Put Minnesotans Back to Work
We are on the homeward stretch with only a month remaining before we adjourn the 2010 Legislative Session. This session has been fast-paced and focused on pursuing job-creating legislation to jumpstart the state’s economic recovery and balance the budget.

Our job creation strategy paid off with the early passage of the Omnibus Capital Investment Bill and the Minnesota Jobs Stimulus Bill. These timely pieces of legislation have been signed into law – just in time to make the most of the upcoming construction season.

These laws will help promote job growth and economic development across the state by ensuring small businesses are more competitive and by creating employment opportunities in bioscience, manufacturing, high-tech industries, construction and infrastructure development.
Here's a graph of monthly, seasonally-adjusted data for construction since 2008.
Data in thousands. See any help from bonding there?
Even if I focus only on the employment in heavy and civil engineering construction -- the direct entry of most of those bonding dollars -- the gain in March 2010 versus March 2009 is 251 jobs.

Truth is, the DFL thinks a dollar taken from you and given to a construction worker creates a job.  What if your dollar was meant to hire someone else?  Or to buy something from a store owner who would have hired a helper with that dollar?

The value of bonding is not in job creation but in asset creation.  We bond to create public assets that generate more value than what we spend on them.  When the building is done, what will Minnesota have gotten for its money?
Looking for Minnesotan’s Ideas on Reform
Our unprecedented structural budget deficit is proving to be a catalyst for redesign and reform initiatives at the State Legislature. My colleagues and I are moving forward on many fronts with reforms that will benefit Minnesota taxpayers and help rebuild our state’s prosperity.

I assure you that as we go about restoring fiscal stability in our state budget, our state government can no longer afford to keep going about business as usual. Pursuing the status quo will only become increasingly unaffordable as we continue to absorb the impacts of the Great Recession, aging demographics, and high property tax burdens.

So, it is in our best interest to redesign and reform state government operations in a way that will deliver greater efficiency in government services at a lower cost.

Almost at the onset of the 2010 Legislative Session, a Redesign Caucus was formed and proceeded to launch a “Redesign Comment Line” asking citizens to share their ideas on how areas of state or local government can be reformed to increase results at a lower cost.

Minnesotans are encouraged to submit their ideas at or call the Redesign Hotline at 651-297-8391 or 1-800-551-5520. The best ideas will be put into a “Citizen Redesign Bill” in the 2011 Legislative Session.
A legislator who has been there more than two terms wants other ideas? Where are his?

I have a model for zero-based budgeting, a bill that has just passed the Georgia Legislature. It phases in zero-based budgeting over a set of years and a requirement of each department to offer alternative funding levels and outcomes of those levels. Georgia has an annual budget while Minnesota's is biennial, so we would modify this to do half of state government in the 2012-13 biennium and the other half in 2014-15, then repeat the process each four years. Every governor therefore would have an opportunity to review his or her departments and build them from scratch. This will be the first bill I will author when I go to St. Paul next January.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tax Freedom Day

King Banaian, Republican-endorsed candidate for Minnesota House from District 15B, expressed today his congratulations to the state of Minnesota on its marking of Tax Freedom Day.  Tax Freedom Day is marked by the Tax Foundation as the day when a resident of a state has earned enough money to pay her or his federal, state and local taxes.

"Congratulations, Minnesotans!" Banaian said.  "It took 102 days to reach this date.  Alas, 41 states previously have marked Tax Freedom Day, while workers in seven other states are still laboring to pay their taxes."

"Last year the DFL tried to pass a $1.5 billion tax increase that would have made this day even later," Banaian continued.  "This is one case where we should try not to be decidedly above average."

House District 15B includes the northern and eastern portions of St. Cloud and Haven Township.

For more information about Tax Freedom Day, see