Nowhere are the differences between Republicans and Democrats more evident than in Minnesota, the only state in which both major parties hold legislative majorities. In St. Paul, Democrats hold the majority in the House, and Republicans hold the majority in the Senate.
You might think this partisan divide would lead DFL Gov. Tim Walz to want to work with both parties to better the future of this great state. But that does not seem to be the case.
As the legislative session has progressed, one thing has become clear: Gov. Walz likes to appear as though he is working with Republicans - but without actually working with Republicans.
Walz continues to dismiss the unanimous decisions of the nonpartisan Minnesota Public Utilities Commission with regard to allowing Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline replacement project to move forward. Not only has Walz, who was supportive of pipelines before he was against them, disregarded Republican pleas and the PUC’s recommendation; he also has refused to meet with many who are supportive of the project. Radical environmentalist groups, however, have had no issues getting meetings.
The stark contrast between Republicans and Democrats in St. Paul is especially evident when it comes to the budget. Here, Minnesota Democrats have taken a page from the typical liberal playbook: Throw more money at our problems with zero regard to how it will impact middle-class families.
Despite having a $1 billion surplus, Walz’s proposed budget would raise an additional $3 billion in taxes. As I have traveled the state as chairwoman of the Republican Party of Minnesota, I often hear, “The government takes too much of my money.” It’s true. According to a recent study, Minnesota ranks as the least tax-friendly state - in the entire country. Minnesota families are sick and tired of giving their hard-earned dollars to the government. And each year, the Democrats ask for more, and then more.
The biggest lie of them all is when Minnesota Democrats state they are not raising taxes on the middle class. To know that isn’t true, just look at Walz’s ridiculous gas tax hike proposal, one that House Democrats are happy to champion. Walz and House Democrats want to raise the gas tax in Minnesota a whopping 20 cents per gallon. If you add 20 cents to our current 28.6 cents per gallon gas tax, Minnesota would be home to the fourth-highest gas tax in the country. This will impact every Minnesotan, but especially the middle-class. It will hurt the parents who drive their children to school, tournaments, and practices; those who have long commutes; and anyone who would then have to pay more for goods and services because truck drivers would pay more for deliveries.
But the problem is not just taxes. Even Republicans understand some taxes are our reality. The real issue comes when we are taxing too much to pay for reckless and wasteful spending. And that’s exactly what Minnesota Democrats are planning.
Walz’s initial budget proposal would spend $49.5 billion, a 9 percent increase over the last biennium’s budget. This sort of increase, after the past eight years with a Democrat in the governor’s office, is unsustainable. Even after the updated February budget forecast showed a decrease of a half billion dollars in the surplus, Walz only reduced spending by $121 million. So, even with our incredible $1 billion surplus, Walz is still intent to take more from each and every Minnesotan.
As much as Democrats will try, the rest of us know we cannot tax and spend our way into prosperity.
At his first state-of-the-state address, Walz wanted to appear to be extending an olive branch to Republicans, and I am hopeful it was an earnest gesture. But his antics of delaying the Enbridge pipeline project, refusing to pare down his budget to a more responsible level, and being insistent on raising our gas tax by 70 percent show differently.
While Democrats are marching left to embrace radical liberalism in a rapid fashion, I am hopeful Gov. Walz and the Democrats in our Legislature will begin to listen to the voices of Republicans in this state. We are here, we are loud, and we are going to hold our elected officials accountable for their actions. November 2020 is not too far away, and voters will remember.
Jennifer Carnahan is chairwoman of the Republican Party of Minnesota. She wrote this exclusively for the News Tribune.