donatedonate_on

Greater Minnesota deserves more than Republican lip service

 Article by: Paul Thissen, in the Post Bulletin

Dividing Minnesotans from one another was a successful strategy for the Republicans this past campaign season — especially an argument pitting Greater Minnesota against the Twin Cities. Yet, for all the campaign rhetoric, the Republicans offered few specifics about how they plan to deliver for Greater Minnesota. Now is the time for answers.

As House Democrats, we welcome the debate about how best to create a stronger economy and even brighter future for every part of Minnesota. And we believe Minnesotans have reason for concern about whether the new House Republican majority will deliver on their campaign promises. Like you, I tend to value actions more than words.

The last time Republicans held the majority in 2011-12, both the incoming Speaker Kurt Daudt and new Majority Leader Joyce Peppin voted to eliminate the Homestead Credit, which led to property tax increases eight times higher in Greater Minnesota than in the metro area. They voted to cut education and borrow billions from schools. And they voted to cut nursing homes by $133 million.

After voters put Republicans back in the minority, Daudt and Peppin continued to vote against Greater Minnesota initiatives that our DFL-led Legislature passed in 2013-14. While Democrats worked to narrow the funding gap between rural and metro school districts, Daudt and Peppin voted against our investments in rural schools and against freezing tuition at public colleges and universities. They voted against the Homestead Credit Refund that provided $120 million in direct property tax relief to 450,000 homeowners, helping reduce statewide property taxes for the first time in 12 years. They voted against the first increase in funding for our nursing homes in four years. They voted against economic development incentives targeted at Greater Minnesota and against funding to increase high-speed Internet access in rural areas. They failed to support our farmers, voting against grants to help family farms start up and expand, against livestock disease research and against the new Farm-to-Foodshelf program. And they voted against hundreds of millions in funding for road and bridge projects.

On the campaign trail, Republicans like Daudt attacked these accomplishments as inadequate — attacks ironically financed by enormous contributions from big Twin Cities corporate special interests. So it seems fair to ask: Will Republicans be willing to stand up to their big Twin Cities corporate donors and make sure to continue DFL investments in education that are closing the funding gap between rural and suburban school districts rather than handing out corporate tax breaks?

Will a Republican legislature respond to the unique economic challenges that have made it harder for our economic recovery to be felt from border to border?

Will a Republican legislature solve the health-care challenges that face an aging population in Minnesota?

Republican rhetoric and action has been antagonistic to local government aid and direct property tax relief, claiming the state has no role in reducing property taxes — will that continue?

I look forward to hearing the Republicans' answers to these questions and more in the coming weeks. More importantly, I hope to hear the Republicans move on to governing and discuss how the entire state can prosper together as one. Because while dividing Minnesotans from one another may be a successful campaign strategy, it is never a successful strategy for governing.

 

Read the original article at Post Bulletin.