Last week the Minnesota legislature blew a billion-dollar unemployment fund deadline. I sat down to write a letter to the editor in response, and still continue to struggle with my sense of disbelief. Here is what I said – and would say again today.
"This politicking is unbelievable.
This week, since the Minnesota Legislature failed to make a deal to bring Minnesota’s Unemployment Trust Fund to solvency before the March 15 deadline, a $2.7 billion payroll tax increase went into effect for Minnesota employers.
The state has a $9.25 billion surplus, people. Resources are available.
The March 15 deadline (yes, this WAS the deadline) wasn’t a surprise.
Couldn’t get it done.
The governor committed to refunding the UI Fund by March 15. He included this as the first item in his supplemental budget proposal before the session started, and has maintained that “this needs to get done.” Almost a month ago the Senate approved a bill by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote (55-11) to achieve just that. The House leadership – who, at the Minnesota Chamber’s Annual Session Priorities Dinner back in January, committed to a productive session absent the “politicking” – wants to make the refunding contingent on another completely separate priority.
The merits of supporting frontline workers are not being debated here. There is nonpartisan support for this priority as well. Workers are the only beneficiaries of unemployment benefits – businesses pay in, but they don’t get any money out of the fund. Thousands of laid off workers were able to pay rent and put food on the table during the pandemic because of unemployment benefits.
I’m talking about getting one good thing done at a time, as promised, and according to set deadlines.
It’s that simple.
This politicking is maddening. It’s this approach that deadlocks state government, angers constituents, and makes politicians look bad. Because this kind of gamesmanship continues.
The House politicked – on what should be a nonpartisan issue.
And the business owners and workers are paying the price."
See you in the trenches.
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