During times of crisis like the global COVID-19 outbreak, Minnesotans expect our leaders to put politics aside and do what’s right to help families across our state recover and rebuild.
Instead of taking that bipartisan approach, Minnesota House Republicans blocked our state legislature from passing an important jobs bill before it adjourned this past weekend. Republicans are refusing to act until Minnesota ends our peacetime state of emergency and the widely popular protective measures taken to slow the spread of COVID-19.
This misguided political stunt will cost families across our state dearly unless Republicans drop this political stunt.
The Republican demand that Minnesota prematurely ends our peacetime emergency is ridiculous. COVID-19 has killed over 90,000 Americans. For the first time in American history, all 50 states have states of peacetime emergency. To deny that we’re facing a state of emergency is to deny reality.
Governor Walz’s administration is working hard to protect the public health and economic well-being of Minnesotans across our state. Ending that work and prematurely forcing open our entire state, as Wisconsin has just done and as Minnesota Republicans are demanding, would be an economic and public health disaster.
In order to achieve this devastating outcome, Minnesota Republicans have blocked Governor Walz’s bonding proposal. This bonding proposal, also known as the Local Jobs and Projects Plan, would put thousands of Minnesotans to work building critical infrastructure across Minnesota.
The investments in Walz’s jobs bill range from building a crisis center in St. Louis county that would help those with urgent mental health and substance use problems to creating a flood mitigation system near Albert Lea to protect the thousands of vehicles that travel the U.S. Highway 65 from the regular flooding they currently experience. This spending would improve quality of life and public safety across Minnesota and get people back to work.
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Since COVID-19 arrived on our shores, over 650,000 Minnesotans have filed for unemployment. The outbreak has taken a tremendous toll on workers across our state and our nation. It’s our responsibility to do all we can to safely get Minnesotans back to work. Now is the time to invest in Minnesota’s future by passing a strong jobs bill. Interest rates are low, our state’s credit rating is strong, and as Minnesotans, we believe in offering a helping hand when our neighbors need it.
Given all the good this jobs bill would do for communities and working families, it’s extremely disappointing that Republican Minority Leader Kurt Daudt and his fellow House Republicans are using it as a political bargaining chip. To make matters even worse, the bargain Republicans want to strike is trading these jobs for a premature reopening of our entire state that will accelerate the spread of COVID-19.
Thanks to the extremist demands of Minnesota Republicans, our state legislative session ended without the passage of a jobs bill. Minnesotans suffering due to the COVID-19 outbreak deserve far better.
If Republicans still refuse to take action, they’ll face the unenviable task of explaining to their constituents why they blocked an important jobs bill during one of the worst economic crises to hit our country.
Martin is chairman of the Minnesota DFL.