Sen. Bakk: GOP breaking promise to stay ‘laser focused’ on budget

Below is a statement from Senate DFL Caucus leader Tom Bakk:

“Back in December, before the Legislative Session began, the new Republican majority made a promise to Minnesotans: they would maintain a “laser focus” on fixing the state’s budget deficit.

In February, the line from Republican leaders was that they’d “focus very specifically and almost without any other distractions, solely on the budget.”

In March, Republican leaders reminded us they were still “focused on the budget.”

Just two days ago, one member of the Senate Republican Caucus said we needed to be focused on the budget, and not on sending bills Gov. Dayton is likely to veto.

Yet here we are today, just a few short weeks away from our budget deadline, and we still don’t have balanced budget plan from the Republican majority. We still don’t have any sign that the Republican majority is seriously willing to compromise with Gov. Dayton to ensure we get our work done on time.

And now, rather than working to balance the budget, we’re spending time debating a controversial, partisan bill that is not only terrible policy, but which also adds millions of dollars to the state’s deficit.

Don’t be fooled. This bill has nothing to do with election integrity. Minnesota leads the nation in voter participation and election integrity. Our elections system has been crafted through bipartisan legislation and has withstood the test of three statewide recounts. No cases of voter impersonation have ever been identified in Minnesota, which is the only kind of fraud this bill would prevent.

In fact, the bill’s own author could not identify a single problem the bill would solve.

No, this bill is not about election integrity. It’s about throwing up roadblocks to the ballot box.

This bill will keep seniors from voting. It will keep students and young people from voting. It will keep low-income Minnesotans from voting.

This bill will keep law-abiding, perfectly-eligible voters from being able to cast a ballot on Election Day. And it will cost us millions of dollars to implement.

Republicans in the Minnesota Senate have already voted to cut funding to our schools. To cut funding for our colleges and universities. To take health care away from 200,000 Minnesotans. How can Republicans support making those cuts, and then justify spending millions of dollars just to keep law-abiding citizens away from the polls?

This bill is costly solution in search of a problem. It’s time for us to get back to the real work of this session: solving the state’s budget crisis.”

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Senator Tom Bakk
Tom Bakk is the Senate DFL Leader and represents District 3, which includes portions of Cook, Koochiching, Lake and St. Louis counties in the northeastern part of Minnesota.

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