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McFeely: Big surplus turns Minnesota Republicans more sour than ever

GOP opposes Walz idea of giving money back to the state's citizens

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Gov. Tim Walz.
Dana Ferguson / Forum News Service
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MOORHEAD — It has to be tough being a Minnesota Republican. For two years since the start of the pandemic the party line has been that DFL Gov. Tim Walz was driving the state into the ground.

"He's killing businesses!"

"He's killing the economy!"

"He's killing jobs!"

"He signed Kirk Cousins!"

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OK, we made up the last one. But considering Republicans' loose relationship with the truth, maybe they should've gone for it.

The point remains: Republicans were sure Walz's policies since COVID entered our lives were going to doom the state.

Or at least they hoped so.

So imagine the disappointment the GOP must've felt last month when the state announced it is facing not a deficit or a crippled economy, but a projected budget surplus of $7.7 billion. It's the largest surplus in state history.

The Minnesota economy, instead of shriveling, showed strong growth in income, consumer spending and corporate profits. The state's top economist expects the growth to continue as the economic outlook keeps improving, although COVID's omicron variant might toss a wrench in that projection.

Yet Republicans were sure Real Americans tired of living under the thumb of tyrannical Emperor Walz and his Dumpster-fire economy were going to flee by the thousands, if not millions, to freedom-loving South Dakota.

South Dakota loves freedom so much you can be the state's highest-ranking law enforcement official, kill an innocent man with your car by distracted driving negligence, enlist another law enforcement official to help you flee the scene, lie about the incident, and still remain free. That is an unprecedented devotion to freedom.

But we digress.

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Republicans are so flustered by Minnesota's success they are now caterwauling about Walz trying to give some of the surplus money directly back to the state's citizens. The governor has proposed sending checks for $175 or $350 to lower- and middle-class Minnesotans.

"It's a cheap political trick!" they scream.

Yeah, but so are photo opportunities at bars flouting the law during a global pandemic and the GOP didn't have a problem with that.

It's tough when the only items on your party platform are "I love Donald Trump," "COVID is a hoax" and "corporate tax cuts."

Speaking as a middle-class Minnesotan, Governor, send the checks. And take care of the people who deserve it most: working families with children in child care and school, front-line workers, caregivers.

It seems Walz's policies are doing just fine. Republicans, unsure how to react, are complaining about putting money back into Minnesotans' pockets.

So now Republicans are opposed to that? Didn't they used to be in favor of it? It's all so confusing.

We should expect these shenanigans since it's an election year. Walz could announce he'd found the cure for cancer and Republicans would gripe because he didn't cure Alzheimer's, too.

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When a political party hasn't won a statewide office in 16 years, it's constitution must sour irreparably. It's the only way to explain the Minnesota GOP opposing checks in the pockets of its voters.

Mike McFeely is a columnist for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. He began working for The Forum in the 1980s while he was a student studying journalism at Minnesota State University Moorhead. He's been with The Forum full time since 1990, minus a six-year hiatus when he hosted a local radio talk-show.
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