The lead up to session was marred by Republican resistance to hold a special session to aid idled Iron Range Steelworkers, with Speaker Daudt telling families they could wait until the regular session to see a much needed extension of their unemployment benefits. Then, in a callous and political move, House Republicans attached millions in tax cuts for businesses onto the unemployment bill. Because of this, Rangers are still waiting for help.
Republicans are also promising to spend the $900 million surplus on tax cuts – mostly for big businesses. These are the same tax cuts they tried to pass last year that would benefit wealthy corporate property owners, seasonal property owners who don’t need to live in Minnesota, dead millionaires, and few others. The Republican plan would also blow a two billion dollar hole in Minnesota’s now stable budget.
Speaking of budgets, the House Speaker has been dealing with questions from Minnesotans about his own budget and the deal that was reached to settle his debts with the help of lobbyists. Apparently, to be a good fiscal steward for the state of Minnesota you don’t need to pay your own bills.
This year is the second year of the House Republicans’ term in the majority, and we can only hope they accomplish more than last year. In the first year, they refused to compromise on education, taxes, and transportation, forcing a special session to finalize the budget and passing a series of “lights on” bills to maintain the status quo.
With just nine weeks left of session, will Republicans move forward on the issues that will build a better future for all Minnesotans like education, student debt relief, transportation, and protecting our water? Or will they continue putting corporations and the wealthy first? Sadly, I think we already know the answer.