January 30, 2023
Gov. Tim Walz not infrequently invokes his slogan of “One Minnesota.” As this legislative session moves forward, we now have more clarity on what he must really mean: One Political Party Minnesota, in which the extremes of one single party dictate the most far-reaching and radical policies in Minnesota history.
Last week the governor rolled out his budget. He proposed increasing state spending by an almost unbelievable 30%. In a time in which the average Minnesota family is trying to cut spending amidst extraordinary inflation, there is no new spending fad the governor doesn’t seem to embrace. Among them is the governor’s idea to spend millions marketing Minnesota to disaffected Floridians. If the governor believes slick marketing — rather than, say, policies that deliver safe and healthy communities and opportunities for families — will lure Floridians to Minnesota, I have a bridge to sell him in Ada.
Essentially ignored in the budget? Key priorities like public safety and increases to local government aid, each of which received infinitesimal portions of the budget.
Despite having a budget surplus larger than the entire budget of the state of North Dakota, Walz can’t seem to help himself with additional tax hikes that could make Minnesota the highest-taxed state in the nation. Priority No. 1 seems to be a payroll tax hike that would take even more money from every Minnesota worker and serve as yet another burden on already struggling Minnesota families and small businesses.
Gov. Walz no doubt will argue that the regressive tax is in the service of a paid family leave plan, but most Minnesotans would prefer plans that don’t add to their financial burdens.
There are better alternatives. For example, a bipartisan plan passed nearly unanimously in Virginia’s split government through which employers can provide paid leave by buying into an insurance marketplace. A similar plan was introduced in Minnesota last session by Senate Republicans. But in today’s progressive left, new taxes, even those that hit the working class the hardest, always seem to be the first tool grabbed from the toolbox.
On the environment, the governor is ramming through a mandate requiring 80% wind and solar energy by 2030 (something that is probably impossible) and a mandate for 100% by 2040. One could embrace the direst predictions for climate change and still believe that such a policy — certain to have almost no impact on climate change while resulting in devastating increases in the price of energy for every Minnesota family — is a terrible idea. For those concerned about a changing climate, the lesson of the past 30 years has been that incentives for businesses to reduce carbon emissions, rather than one-size-fits-all mandates, are the path forward. One legislator commented recently that Gov. Walz’s coercive and costly energy mandate is an opportunity for Minnesota to lead. It should be noted that it is not advisable to be the first lemming off a cliff.
Changes to voting laws are also a priority for our governor, of course. Walz has proclaimed he will “put up a firewall” for democracy in our state. But it is not entirely clear how democracy is threatened in Minnesota, where we already have very lenient voting standards and where we often boast the highest voter turnout in the nation. Nor is it clear on what basis Gov. Walz is flip-flopping on his previously stated position (and one honored by both political parties for decades) that changes to voting laws must be bipartisan.
Perhaps the most radical legislation put forth by DFL legislative leaders is their new extreme abortion proposal. A strong majority of Americans support limitations on late-term abortions — for example, limitations after 15 or 20 weeks — even if support for limitations earlier in pregnancy is less firm. But the DFL extremists in the Legislature, emboldened by hard-left special-interest groups, are working now to legislate once-and-for-all abortion-on-demand through all nine months of pregnancy. Their proposal would end policies previously passed on a bipartisan basis, removing parental notification for minors (a key anti-child trafficking measure), removing funding for alternatives to abortion, and even repealing care for babies born alive following a botched abortion.
There are many things you could call this. “Far left.” “Inconsistent with Minnesota values.” I prefer “immoral.”
Minnesotans sent a message last November, and Republicans like me should reflect on it. But that message was not for the kooky policies Gov. Walz and the far left of the DFL have championed this session. The governor and the DFL Legislature should reflect on the fact that the opposing party received just under 50% of the vote in the last election and that the policies they now advocate were strangely absent from the campaign trail.
There is still time for them to change course. Minnesotans should demand they do so.
Jim Schultz of Plymouth, Minnesota, was the Republican candidate for attorney general in 2022. He wrote this exclusively for the News Tribune.
Read Jim’s commentary on Duluth News Tribune.