Our view: Don’t let politics foil needed helpLast summer we in Duluth and in the Northland were the ones watching from afar, flabbergasted, wondering if political squabbling and partisan gridlock would screw up the help we so desperately needed to recover from devastating flooding.
Last summer we in Duluth and in the Northland were the ones watching from afar, flabbergasted, wondering if political squabbling and partisan gridlock would screw up the help we so desperately needed to recover from devastating flooding.
This summer Minnesotans in the southeastern corner of the state decimated by storms of their own to the tune of $17.8 million in public damage are the ones wondering whether lawmakers and Gov. Mark Dayton will screw it up for them with their political gamesmanship or whether they’ll actually do what they all seem to agree has to be done: Call a special session to approve critically important disaster aid for 18 Minnesota counties.
The governor said after destructive June storms this year that he’d call a special session for the specific purpose of approving disaster relief. An emergency meeting to address a true emergency: that’s one of the best reasons for a special session.
But then, last week, the governor said he wanted to add a second item to the agenda for the one-day session: the repeal of a much-criticized — and rightly so, it seems — sales tax on farm equipment repairs.
The door open, Republicans, the Minnesota Chamber and others quickly argued to add to the agenda the repeal of other new business-to-business taxes that they said were just as harmful. At the top of their list: a new tax on warehousing services.
A stalemate has ensued. Republicans won’t agree to Dayton’s two-item agenda, and the governor has threatened to scrap the special session entirely unless they do. To the credit of both sides, there’s willingness to talk. A meeting is scheduled today.
Meanwhile, those of us in Northeastern Minnesota know well the anxious, hand-wringing frustration that has to be resonating across southeastern Minnesota. People are hurting, really hurting, but their pain has become just a pawn in yet another pitiful political game.
For a second straight year, the pollution of politics is jeopardizing what should be lawmakers’ and the governor’s No. 1 priority: to help. They found a way last summer. They owe it Minnesotans, especially those who need them now more than ever, to find a way this summer to put aside politics and do what’s right.