Local view: Minnesota Legislature failed its constituentsSince winning House and Senate majorities in the 2010 election, Republicans shut down government; passed a budget resulting in higher property taxes; starved our schools through irresponsible borrowing, and brought divisive national politics to our front doors.
By: Cynthia Moothart, for the News-Chronicle
Republican lawmakers, fresh off the 2012 session, are taking a victory lap around Minnesota. It’s a brazen move, given their legislative record over the last two years.
Since winning House and Senate majorities in the 2010 election, Republicans shut down government; passed a budget resulting in higher property taxes; starved our schools through irresponsible borrowing, and brought divisive national politics to our front doors.
And that represents only a partial list of damage done.
Republicans ran on a platform of jobs and the economy, yet they repeatedly rejected efforts by Gov. Mark Dayton and his party to invest in jobs creation, favoring, instead, even more tax breaks for giant corporations and the already wealthy.
A slight upswing in the national economy brought increased hiring, but the number of Minnesotans in need of full-time work still vastly outnumber openings. Here in northeast Minnesota, there remain six job-seekers for every one available position.
Independent analyses also show that if not for the governor’s veto, Republican measures would have dimmed Minnesota’s future economic prospects by ballooning deficits and shifting even more burdens to middle-income families.
But nothing illustrates their failure in leadership more than the $496 million bonding bill. It isn’t just its paltry size – about half of what Gov. Dayton proposed to take advantage of historically low interest rates – but that it was heralded as a near-miracle given even such minor investment received any Republican support at all.
The American Society of Civil Engineers, a nonpartisan organization that assesses our nation’s infrastructure, calculates that Minnesota should invest nearly $3 billion in improvements – and that’s just to fix structural problems with our wastewater systems.
The group goes on to state that securing the safety of Minnesota’s drinking water, hazardous waste, roads and highways, bridges, dams, ports, and recreation areas all require our immediate attention.
These and other much-needed investments are impossible when the majority party devotes itself to politics, not policy – wasting our time and money on constitutional amendments that divide us, rather than working with Gov. Dayton to solve the challenges we face together.
The real Republican record is one of failed leadership, of partisan politics and wrong priorities. Their high-fives aside, that’s a record wholly unworthy of celebration.
Cynthia Moothart is policy director of the League of Rural Voters, a Minnesota-based nonprofit seeking to strengthen rural communities nationwide.