With just a little over one week left in the legislative session, Senate Republicans have failed to hunker down and take the conference committee process seriously. Conference committees are the tool the legislature uses to reconcile financial and policy differences between the Senate and House budget bills, and Senate Republicans have repeatedly limited meeting times and even publicly stated they don’t plan to participate when the House has the gavel.
Almost no same or similar language has been adopted in the numerous conference committees currently underway, and there’s been no movement on major disparities in supplemental spending, tax cut proposals, or an infrastructure bonding bill. Minnesotans deserve to have the opportunity to participate and observe the process of resolving omnibus bills through transparent and accessible conference committee negotiations. But without partners at the table, the DFL-led House has no alternative but to wait until the Senate is ready to negotiate in good faith.
This hasn’t happened, however, as Senate Republicans are spending their time debating who should be their next gubernatorial candidate instead of actually governing. There are only ten days left in the legislative session to determine how best to allocate the historic $9.2 billion budget surplus, which should be more urgent than haggling over which Republican candidate for governor most supports overturning Roe v. Wade.
If this inaction persists, Minnesota Republicans should be held accountable and must answer to why the unprecedented budget surplus was left on the table instead of used to help Minnesota families struggling with rising costs, address the student mental health crisis in our schools, or invest in local communities to ensure everyone feels safe and secure.