Omnibus finance bill shadows were seen in the House this week, which can only mean six more weeks of Democrat taxing and spending before this session ends.
Increasing state spending by 40 percent, as Democrats propose, isn’t free to anybody – regardless of the DFL’s “eat the rich” narrative. We’re soon going to have a clear picture of how all Minnesotans are going to pay for this recklessness and those details should be rather revealing.
For now, here is a roundup of this week’s notes – starting with a tip of the cap to local athletes:
Local athletes score big
With numerous successes during the recently finished winter sports season, special congratulations are in order for:
- The STMA girls basketball team, which won the state Class AAAA championship with a one-point victory over Hopkins in the title game! With the win, the Knights became the first school in MSHSL girls basketball history to win a championship in three different enrollment classes: Class AA (2001), Class AAA (2009) and now the big-school class.
- The STMA wrestling team, which earned second place in the state Class AAA team competition and had 19 individual state qualifiers – including 13 place-winners.
I enjoyed attending a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Dakota Supply Group as it conducted its grand opening in Otsego this week. This employee-owned company was founded more than 100 years ago and will be an asset locally. DGS specializes in electrical, plumbing; HVAC, refrigeration, communications, utility, automation, waterworks, on-site sewer, water and well, filtration and metering technology industries. Congratulations to DGS for its continued success.
Minnesota’s elections have come under increased scrutiny in recent years. Whether these questions are themselves causing voters to feel disenfranchised, or if the disenfranchised are the ones asking these questions is, in itself, a bit of a chicken-and-egg conundrum.
Regardless, our state must focus on ensuring citizens have meaningful ballot access so that rightful voters not only are able to participate in our elections, but also know their single vote carries its full weight, undiluted by fraud of other bad actors or machines.
Unfortunately, legislation House Democrats approved on Thursday, H.F. 3, will do the opposite by further disenfranchising voters in an even sloppier process. House Democrats claim to be protecting democracy, but their legislation will have the opposite effect – and it’s not just one bill. The bill which passed on a party-line vote Thursday fits hand-in-glove with a different bill (H.F. 4) which Democrats approved earlier this session.
That bill, H.F. 4, is the Universal Driver’s License Bill, which fails to include “not for voting purposes” language on the new license. This could create scores of potential new, and illegal, voters with an estimated 81,000 undocumented immigrants eligible for this driver’s license. House Republicans offered numerous amendments to H.F. 4 that would uphold the integrity of our elections and foster confidence in our system. They were not included and neither was a simple indicator noting this ID is not for voting purposes, a safeguard that previously was agreed upon.
I have heard from people firsthand who say a lack of trust in our electoral system has left them not wanting to vote anymore – literally relinquishing the quintessential rite in our constitutional republic. These bills, H.F. 3 and H.F. 4, will only serve to exacerbate that problem.
Omnibus budget bills
Packages related to higher education and appropriating Legacy Amendment funds were the first omnibus finance packages to reach the House floor this year, both receiving approval this week. The Legacy bill spends $821 million in revenue generated by the additional sales tax Minnesota voters passed for this purpuse in 2008.
Meanwhile, the $4.2 billion higher education package provides a $650 million (18.5%) increase in the next biennium at a time universities across the state are experiencing an average 6-7% drop in enrollment. This can only mean that we are funding administrative bloat, not students. It’s as government-y as it gets: Enrollment declines, so the state spends more taxpayer money. We need to prioritize funding students’ education and keeping them safe, not paying executives.
Should be interesting as the bigger budget bills start making their way to the floor starting next week. I’m sure I’ll have a whole lot more to say.
As always, your input is welcome.