A controversial State Government Omnibus Budget Bill passed the Senate this week. The bill cuts various agency budgets, ignores the need for operating increases at most state agencies, and imposes provisional balloting in the state, which would suppress voting and create a ‘maybe’ pile of ballots.
Minnesota has a strong reputation of promoting access to the polls and expanding the freedom to vote, with the state once again leading the nation in voter turnout in the 2020 election. We should be building on this success by making it more convenient to vote, engaging more voters in the democratic process, and providing sufficient resources to our local election officials.
Instead, Senate Republicans have refused to debunk election conspiracy theories and misinformation to the detriment of our democracy and public confidence in our elections. Republicans across the country have spread the big lie that the 2020 election was not fair, which led to the January 6insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Compounding these false claims, Senate Republicans are doubling down on proposals in this omnibus to make it more difficult to vote by creating a system of second-class ballots that are less likely to be counted. The effect of these proposals would disenfranchise thousands of Minnesotans, waste taxpayer dollars, and take away local control.
The bill also cuts the Department of Revenue, Minnesota Management and Budget, Minnesota IT Services, and Administration operating budgets. Most notable is a $16.5 million biennial cut to the Dept. of Revenue. $10 million in annual state aid payments to the Public Employee Retirement Association (PERA) for the dissolution of the Minneapolis Employee Retirement Fund (MERF) are discontinued, to be disproportionally subsidized by Minneapolis employers and taxpayers, in violation of a decades-only agreement to ensure retirees’ pensions remain solvent.
The bill includes numerous other controversial policy provisions and fails to provide sufficient funding to provide the high level of services Minnesotans have come to expect from their state government. (HF 1952)