The following is an editorial from the Mankato Free Press.
We hope Minnesota legislators of good faith consider a self-evaluation and inward prayer-like contemplation to ask themselves if they’re doing everything they can for the people of Minnesota as soon as they can.
A legislative special session is one thing they can still do to fill the many unmet needs of seniors, schoolchildren, people with disabilities, farmers and workers.
Republicans have rejected Gov. Tim Walz’s offer of a special session that would at a minimum put more money in Minnesotans’ pockets as they deal with inflation and rising gas prices. GOP gubernatorial nominee Scott Jensen had, according to news reports, told GOP legislators to reject the Walz offer and wait for the election. Last week he announced a kind of pie-in-the sky offer to eliminate income tax in Minnesota, something that would empty state coffers to the tune of $30 billion.
We suspect he was trying to recover from the untenable GOP position of rejecting Walz’s proposed tax relief in the form of checks of $1,000 per individual and $2,000 per family.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Near the end of the session Republicans in the Senate, Walz and Democrats in the House had agreed in principle to a deal that called for $4 billion in tax relief, $4 billion in needed investments in things like special education and $4 billion in a rainy day fund.
But the deal fell apart with each side blaming the other. That delay is costing people of Minnesota dearly.
A Free Press story in Monday’s edition showed that programs for people with disabilities that have been decimated by the pandemic could return again if the Legislature approved funding for increased wages for people who work with those day service programs that give people with disabilities a sense of pride in earning their own money with dignity.
Another story showed an innovative environmental initiative to prevent pollution runoff into lakes where only a few small projects were funded. Again, supporters of the initiative point to the $9.3 billion surplus. Only a small share could fund hundreds of projects across the state.
Funding for upgrades to Mankato’s wastewater treatment plant that affects regional communities and many up and down the Minnesota River has also been a victim of political expediency as Republicans wait for election results instead of funding this efficient project at a lower cost.
Greater Mankato Growth and other groups like the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities have called for a special session. In a bold statement issued earlier this month GMG, the group that represents Republican and Democrat business constituents, urged the Legislature to finish their work for tax relief and business competitiveness.
“Facing a record budget surplus, the Legislature had the opportunity to provide meaningful tax relief and make strategic investments throughout the state. None of that happened and instead legislators simply went home without finishing their jobs,” the group said in a statement.
“Greater Mankato and the rest of our state cannot wait for next session. Our members are facing real challenges in a difficult economy. We cannot let partisan politics get in the way of economic growth in our state. Legislators need to get back to work.”
Walz has said he prefers not to call a special session unless Democrats and Republicans have agreed to a deal. That lets Republicans off the hook as they have said they are not interested in a special session.
Interest rates are rising. Everything the state does will cost more a year from now. It’s time to act.
We urge Walz to call a special session and see who shows up. That will tell Minnesotans who is serious about tax relief.