Posted: 03/07/16 07:08
by Dave Mindeman
The unemployment benefit situation in northern Minnesota reached critical mass some time ago. Gov. Dayton recognized that and wanted to call a special session to address it. But House Republicans blocked the initiative saying that it could wait until the upcoming regular session. No urgency in their mind. They would address it immediately once the session starts.
Alright, the session begins and already the House GOP is playing games with the issue. Now they want to add a tax cut....
The House Job Growth & Energy Affordability Committee passed a bill extending unemployment benefits for Iron Range workers for 26 weeks but included language that would cut taxes for the employers who furnish the state's unemployment trust fund that carries a $1.6 billion surplus.
Is that really necessary? Apparently the House GOP doesn't think this tax cut proposal can stand on its own merits. They have decided that they need to link it to something that Democrats are anxious to support.
This bill is kind of a microcosm of how the two legislative parties think.
First, the Republicans think that the lives of Iron Rangers are a negotiating tool. Northern Minnesota is hurting, but apparently not hurting enough to avoid the partisan games that they love to play.
Democrats believe this is, plain and simple, an urgent matter that is the right thing to do. They have justified reluctance to take money out of the unemployment fund, particularly when the budget surplus has been reduced because of a slow down in economic activity. If another recession were to hit us in the near future, the extra money in the unemployment trust fund would be a valuable resource to keep our budgets strong.
Again, it is about fiscal responsibility. The legislature needs to address the specific needs of its citizens, but it must also look to the future and make sound budget decisions that account for future problems.
In this one bill, you see that the GOP fails the above test on just about every level.
It has become an ongoing manta....the House Republicans have boasted about helping Greater Minnesota. They are the champions for those outside the Metro.
But they have failed to live up to that promise time and again. And with this bill, we have one more example to add.