(The Center Square) — The Minnesota Legislature kicked off its first day of the 2022 session Monday with plans to crack down on violent crime and spend a $7.7 billion surplus of taxpayer money.
Senate Republicans are targeting tax cuts, reducing crime, and empowering parents in education, Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller said in a press conference last week.
“We are hearing from folks across the state and people are concerned. Crime is up, kids are falling behind, and record inflation is eating away at family budgets. Things are moving in the wrong direction and Senate Republicans are focused on solutions to get Minnesota back on the Right Track,” Miller said in a statement. “We will fund more police officers and hold criminals accountable to reduce crime. We’ll empower parents to be partners in their kids’ education so they can catch up and meet expectations after nearly two years of disrupted learning. We will provide permanent, ongoing tax relief so people have more money in their pockets after every paycheck.”
Minnesota has seen rising violent crime in the last two years. Sen. Warren Limmer called for more police, higher penalties for some crimes, and claimed that a few prosecutors who use “loopholes” to let criminals out of jail quickly are driving violent crime.
“Auto theft appears to be out of control in the metro area,” Limmer said in a press conference last week. “We’ll increase penalties for stealing a car to then use it in the furtherance for committing an additional crime.”
Republicans also want kids back in schools to focus on math and reading to fight learning loss, Sen. Roger Chamberlain said.
“Parents, overnight, became teachers for their children,” Chamberlain said in a statement. “The stress of working from home, managing your kids’ distance learning, and trying to stay safe in a pandemic was exhausting for them.”
DFL priorities include legalizing marijuana, reducing crime via a $100 million plan, tax cuts for low-income families, and paid family leave.
“All Minnesotans deserve to be safe in their communities — no matter where we live or what we look like — and House DFLers are focused on addressing our public safety challenges,” House Speaker Melissa Hortman said in a statement. “We are focused on innovative, proven solutions that fund our law enforcement and invest in community-led crime prevention efforts. We will continue to work in partnership with Chiefs of Police, Sheriffs, rank and file officers, prosecutors, community advocates, and victims to ensure Minnesota has a public safety system that protects everyone.”
The $100 million proposal includes:
- $40 million to reduce community violence via juvenile diversion efforts, community violence interruption, and restorative justice programs
- $22 million to hire and retain investigatory personnel to analyze violent crime
- $10 million toward opiate abuse and addiction prevention
Gov. Tim Walz wants a record $2.7 billion bonding bill. He wants to send 2.7 million Minnesotans checks for up to $350 and spend $1 billion to give frontline workers bonus pay — something he hoped to get done last year.