Republicans won control of the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2014 in large part on the promise they would do more for greater Minnesota. Rural and small-town voters gave the nod to Republicans, wresting control of the House from the DFL.
The new majority Republicans have yet to deliver, and if the program they’ve outlined remains their primary agenda, the promise will not be realized. Despite a good start at the beginning of the legislative session, House Republicans now are setting budget priorities that can’t possibly fulfill the needs of their outstate constituents.
Early on, the House majority embraced bipartisan legislation on workforce housing, aid to cities, job training, broadband expansion and environmental regulatory reform – all priorities for greater Minnesota communities. But House GOP budget targets indicate that those priorities cannot be seriously addressed. A cut of as much as $20 million in an economic development budget and $2 billion in tax cuts almost guarantee they will be unable to fund greater Minnesota’s long-neglected needs.
The state has a $1.9 billion budget surplus. Lots of hands are reaching out to get part of it. But with wise stewardship of the surplus there is no compelling reason for House Republicans and Senate Democrats to shortchange initiatives vital to greater Minnesota. The House is on the hotter hot seat because Republicans won control with support from outstate voters. But Senate Democrats also must be part of bipartisan legislation.
Local governments across the state are paying attention. Organizations that represent greater Minnesota cities and counties – and the business leaders in those communities – are watching. Thus far, what they see, particularly in the Republican House, is not encouraging.
Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.