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The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

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Published June 12, 2024

Legislative bickering must end

Now they’ve really done it. Or rather, it’s what they’ve really failed to do. After the start of a special session on Monday, it is quite clear the Minnesota Legislature has pretty much failed to do its job over the past five months. The most unfortunate circumstance in of all this mess is that a true compromise on property taxes and education funding – the most dire issues facing Minnesota – still appears to be far away. Despite the daunting work facing the legislators right now, the oft-wielded finger of blame is being thrown all over the Capitol as procrastination reaches new levels. There are no real winners in this political snafu and the citizens of Minnesota could prove to be the ultimate losers.

The press, public, and some experts have been emphasizing the tri-partisan Capitol as a culprit. However, Gov. Jesse Ventura could have had a clear upper hand in the negotiations if he hadn’t called the special session before getting agreements on budget issues from both sides. Although the move clearly demonstrates Ventura’s contempt for the legislative bickering and stalling, it is still a risk, and could eventually backfire on him. Alternatively, Ventura could have taken another route. He could have waited and sat back as the child-like legislators argued into June and forced a government shutdown. Then, as citizens watched their government services cease, pressure from their complaints would perhaps motivate the bickering legislators. Instead, Ventura has relinquished some of his control, gambling that it will lead to a timely conclusion.

Discussions among legislative leaders to use a neutral mediator during budget talks to help the compromise process are a clear indicator that the two parties cannot productively work together. It is amazing that, not only is the legislature unable to come to a compromise, but they actually see themselves at such odds that outside help is needed. No citizen of a democracy wants to see his or her elected leaders acting like 2-year-olds in a stubborn battle over a box of candy. Unlike a game of tug of war, there is no one victorious side; instead, the two sides must stretch the rope just right to make sure no one falls in the mud. Realizing the basic need for compromise is a step in the right direction, but using a mediator could just be an easy way out for all sides by putting the blame on yet another party.

Focusing on the budget for property taxes and education should be top priority for each legislator as the special session drags on. Unbelievably, some Republicans still think there will be time to discuss an absolutely unnecessary Vikings stadium bill during the special session. To even suggest the bill as the state slowly slides toward a government shutdown is utterly unacceptable. Once they reach an agreement on important matters, such as property tax cuts for businesses, then they should feel free to move onto the minutiae of stadium bills.

If the legislators can’t figure out how to work out the $27.3 billion budget, all but absolutely essential state services will stop and thousands of state employees will lose their jobs. The Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Motor Vehicles and State Patrol officers will have to scale back their operations, hindering the safety and activities of Minnesotans. All three parties involved must remember that they are not doing a good job serving the people who elected them. Citizens deserve nothing less than a fully functioning government on July 1. Perhaps someday soon, our legislators will realize that too.

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