MN GOP Senate Leaders, DFL Sen. Tom Bakk Spar Over Today’s Events

Rep Kurt Zellers and Sen. Amy Koch talk about nuclear power

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Following today’s Senate Floor Session, Republican Majority Leader Amy Koch, Deputy Majority Leader Geoff Michel and Senator Dave Thompson held a news conference at the State Capitol to discuss today’s GOP legislative activity. DFL Sen. Minority Leader Tom Bakk followed them with words of his own. Bakk profoundly disagrees with the Republicans’ budget-cutting efforts and their moves to cut off debate and refusal to answer questions. The Democrat insinuated that the GOP freshmen in the Senate were amateurs who “didn’t even know what they were voting on.”

Bakk released these words earlier in the afternoon:

“Minnesota is facing a historic budget deficit, and we all know we are going to face many difficult choices in the months ahead. The decisions we make during this crisis will impact families, our communities, and the long-term competitiveness of our state. Unfortunately, rather than working to find a complete budget solution that works for everyone, Republican leaders are rushing through an incomplete proposal that works for no one.

This bill provides no plan, no leadership, and no solutions for Minnesotans. It recklessly cuts funding for veterans, our National Guard, and public safety. It takes millions of dollars out of the pockets of working Minnesotans with property tax increases and tuition hikes. This isn’t the way we get Minnesota back on track. The bill simply doubles down on the failed policies of Tim Pawlenty by unfairly forcing working families to shoulder the entire burden of this budget crisis. This bill will drive up property taxes by more than $300 million, and force deep cuts to police and fire protection, road maintenance, and snow plowing in our local communities.

It recklessly cuts funding used to investigate reports of abused and neglected children. It slashes investments in our colleges and universities, hurting our economic competitiveness while further squeezing the budgets of families trying to provide a better future for their children. The bill would also drain the existing budgets of our state agencies, including significant funding set aside to help our veterans. These cuts jeopardize our ability to provide counseling and mental health services for returning National Guard members, maintain our military training facilities, repair our Veterans Homes, or reimburse honor guard units for their service at military funerals.

Despite all of these consequences, Republican leaders in the Senate only gave this bill one 90-minute hearing, allowing only 15-minutes of public testimony. It’s not hard to figure out why: I can’t imagine any Minnesotan thinking this incomplete budget plan is a good deal for our state. We know we are going to face difficult choices, and many painful cuts will need to be made. But what we need is a strategic plan for fixing our short-term budget challenges while positioning our state for long-term economic success. This bill falls far short on both of those goals.”

Jacob Wheeler

In addition to shooting videos for The UpTake, Jacob Wheeler is a contributing editor at the progressive political magazine In These Times, publishes the Glen Arbor Sun in his native Michigan, and authored "Between Light and Shadow," a recent book about the Guatemalan adoption industry. Wheeler's stories have appeared in such magazines as the Utne Reader, Earth Island Journal, Rotarian and Teaching Tolerance magazine, and newspapers including the San Francisco Chronicle and Christian Science Monitor. He speaks fluent Spanish, German and Danish.

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