Editorial: Jury out on one-party rule
Minnesota’s legislative session is winding down and at this writing, it figures to be a few days yet before the dust settles and it can be determined what exactly was accomplished - and what wasn’t - in St. Paul over the last several months.
Democrats in the state have been downright gleeful about their “trifecta,” which as a result of the 2022 election put their party in control of the House, the Senate as well as the governor’s mansion.
Gridlock is gone and Democrats have rammed through plenty of bills on party-line votes.
Ultimately, it will be up to millions of Minnesotans to determine if that’s a good thing but from here the early returns look sketchy at best.
In the wake of an $18 billion surplus, lawmakers have ramped up state spending.
One report suggested that the cost of state government has increased by as much as 40 percent as a result of action this year.
The big question: Is that sustainable?
Will revenues continue to pour in to support such a massive increase and perhaps more importantly, what will happen if and when they don’t?
Media reports of tax bill negotiations Thursday morning revealed that the bill included $2.2 billion in tax increases along with $3 billion in tax cuts in other areas.
Together with increases approved in other bills, the state stands to collect $9 billion to $10 billion in new taxes and Gov. Tim Walz indicated Wednesday that he was open to hikes in the state gas tax.
It begs the question if tax increases are on the table, and to that amount in the midst of a massive surplus, how much more will St. Paul demand when there’s an inevitable downturn?
At one point, Walz touted tax rebate checks of as much as $2,000, but negotiations this week resulted in an agreement calling for a $260 per person rebate check.
Given where talks began, the amount is laughable if not downright insulting. The appearance is the majority party is offering some crumbs to the peasants after they feasted at the dinner table.
One might also recall that during the election season, it appeared the one thing both sides could agree on was ending the tax on social security benefits.
In the end, it appears that lawmakers will reduce the tax but not outright eliminate it. Another bait-and-switch.
Given these and other happenings in St. Paul, Walz and the Democrats are governing as if they ran up a massive victory.
While there’s no doubt that elections are winner-take-all, they may be best to remember that their “trifecta” is held together by a paper clip.
There’s a narrow one-vote majority in the Senate and a small one in the House, but Democrats are governing as if they have an overwhelming mandate.
Their test will come at the ballot box and after Minnesotans feel the impact and see the results of the agenda unleashed this year.
While reports through the years of gridlock in St. Paul have often resulted in anguish, it may be time to stop and ponder and consider if that’s not preferable. When one side or another has to compromise, the extremes are pulled toward the middle.
A few hundred votes here or a few hundred votes there in a couple of legislative elections, and the DFL agenda would face a giant-sized roadblock in the State Senate. Maybe that’s not a bad thing.