Session a failure for Greater Minn.

Published 9:24 am Friday, May 29, 2015

I recently read Rep. Peggy Bennett’s account of this legislative session. There are a few points that I’d like to address, starting with the “bipartisan budget” that she proudly mentioned.

The fact is, the House Republican majority, including Rep. Bennett, accomplished very little this legislative session. Despite a $2 billion budget surplus, their budget cut health and human services by $1 billion, eliminated MinnesotaCare, underfunded schools and provided a huge tax giveaway to the largest corporations in our state. When it came time to negotiate with the Senate and governor, Rep. Bennett and her legislative leaders were unwilling to compromise to increase education funding, and now we’re headed for a special session. This certainly doesn’t seem very bipartisan to me.

The House Republican budget, when fully implemented, would provide $29 in tax cuts — largely for big businesses and corporations — for every $1 toward our kids. And Rep. Bennett supported this plan every step of the way. As a teacher, I expected her to make kids her top priority, but unfortunately, she followed her party leaders instead.

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I was shocked to see Rep. Bennett touting her work to fix local roads. After campaigning on fixing our roads and bridges, the Republican majority was only able to pass a “lights-on” transportation bill that made no comprehensive investments in our infrastructure. Likewise, Rep. Bennett voted against multiple measures to improve rail safety for communities along oil train lines, and this pressing safety issue will still need to be addressed in the future.

Finally, I couldn’t believe that she mentioned broadband, because the Republican budget that Rep. Bennett supported invested only $8 million for broadband Internet development, $192 million short of what a nonpartisan task force recommended was needed to provide rural communities with quality broadband.

The truth is, this session was a failure for Greater Minnesota. With a $2 billion surplus, we could be investing in our rural communities through increased LGA, property tax relief for farmers and homeowners, school funding and more. But instead, we’re heading for a special session because Rep. Bennett and her legislative leaders are unwilling to compromise.


Rep. Paul Marquart