Environment vs. Jobs and Republicans vs. Democrats

Controversy surrounds the passage of latest omnibus budget bill in the Minnesota House of Representatives.

As committee omnibus budgets continue to make their way to the floor for votes, the legislative session continues to become more and more controversial. On Wednesday, April 29th the Minnesota House of Representatives passed its jobs, economic development, housing, environment and agriculture supplemental omnibus bill (HF 3931) with the help of some DFL Representatives.  

This supplemental omnibus bill has left some Democrats feeling dissatisfied.  Rep. Rick Hansen (South St. Paul), DFL-Lead on the Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee, released a press release condemning the passage of the bill: “The entire House Republican jobs, economic development, housing, environment and agriculture bill is a major disappointment to Minnesota, and the Environment portion is abysmal.”

Hansen argues that Republicans failed to address the Emerald Ash Borer issue that plagues the state, “refused to accept an amendment that would provide requirements of reporting toxic chemicals in children’s products,” and “irresponsibly” took control of setting the water levels on state lakes.

DFL Rep. Tim Mahoney voiced his contempt for the jobs portion of the bill in a press release, asserting, “Despite having a $900 million budget surplus, the bill shifts and cuts funding from vital areas and only invests $13 million in our state, leaving the majority of the surplus for tax cuts.” Mahoney went on to argue “House Republicans have ignored workers and economic development,” to  appease to the state’s wealthiest individuals “who finance their [Republicans’] elections.”

House Republicans offer a starkly different view of the passage of the bill. GOP Rep. Pat Garofalo, Chair of the Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Committee, asserted in a press release, “This bill reduces corporate subsidies, promotes economic development throughout our state, and creates new opportunities for those individuals who are being left behind in the Obama economy.”

Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, Chairman of the Minnesota House Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee notes that the Republicans did compromise: “We’ve fully funded Governor Dayton’s request to prepare the State of Minnesota for potential lawsuits regarding PolyMet, and we’ve also provided supplemental funding for state parks.”

The bill passed 72-54 by the House of Representatives will now be considered by the Senate. The Senate is expected to pass one budget bill, that will be supplement to the budget passed in 2015.

Blake Kraussel