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LEGISLATIVE UPDATE FROM REP. STEVE DRAZKOWSKI - DISTRICT 21-B

Friday, June 4, 2021

Greetings, everyone. I wanted you to know about some of the news here in St. Paul.

Continued Budget Talks

As you may have heard, budget negotiations in St. Paul are not finished. I want to make sure you know where we are at in the process.

Back in May, Governor Tim Walz, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, and House Speaker Melissa Hortman announced they had reached an agreement on the state budget. This agreement would spend $52 billion over the next two fiscal years. However, the details of that agreement have yet to be worked out.

As a result, we still have not finalized or passed Minnesota’s next budget. If we fail to do so by the end of June, then state government will shut down.

Governor Walz is expected to call the Minnesota Legislature into a special session before June 14th. He will do this to renew his emergency powers for another month. If the details of the budget are worked out before June 14th, then the full biennial budget could be passed in the upcoming special session.

However, the governor’s emergency powers remain a major point of disagreement between Governor Walz and the Republicans in the Minnesota Legislature.

As you know, I have been calling on Governor Walz to give up his emergency powers for months. I believe that he has abused his authority as a leader, and he has committed unconstitutional actions.

Now, Governor Walz insists on keeping his emergency powers even though our society is returning to normal. Vaccination rates are up, transmission rates of COVID-19 in Minnesota are down, and almost every restriction has been lifted.

We are clearly coming to the end of this tunnel, yet Governor Walz refuses to relinquish the emergency powers. His desire to maintain total control has severely harmed relations with Republicans in the Minnesota Legislature. In turn, this could jeopardize the budget talks and force a government shutdown.

In my view, Governor Walz has demonstrated a failure of leadership, a disinterest in working together, and a dangerous desire to maintain absolute power.   

Minnesota’s Economy and Workforce 

We need Minnesota’s economy to get moving again. After months of shutdowns and restrictions, we are finally starting to get back to normal. This is good news for Minnesota businesses who are eager to resume normal operations.

Unfortunately, state government does not seem so eager to reenergize our economy.

For the past two months, the national jobs report has been disappointing. In April, many economists projected that the United States would add one million new jobs. Instead, April produced only 278,000 new jobs. In May, 559,000 new jobs were added to our economy, but this was still below what economists had forecast.

One of the major reasons for this lack of job growth is that government is still giving out lucrative unemployment checks. In Minnesota, Governor Tim Walz signed Executive Order 20-05 which waived strict enforcement of unemployment law. This made it easier for people to stay on unemployment rather than find a job.

Last week, several colleagues and I wrote to Governor Walz to address this problem. Minnesota needs a robust workforce, but if state government keeps giving out free money, then people have no incentive to go out and find work. As a result, our economy does not grow, and we all suffer. In Minnesota, this has harmed our economic recovery.

We received a response to our letter from Steve Grove, the commissioner of the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). Unfortunately, his response did not address our concerns about making sure Minnesota has a robust workforce. Therefore, we sent Commissioner Grove another letter.

A link to our most recent letter can be found here:

https://www.newhousegop.com/letter_to_commissioner_grove

State government needs to get out of the way and let Minnesota’s economy work. The increased and consistent unemployment payments are unsustainable. We need to encourage work and entrepreneurship. Instead, government is satisfied to continue distributing handouts and free lunches.

As your legislator, I will do everything I can to change this policy and reform state government.

Steve Drazkowski

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