I would like to start today’s email by saying happy Mother’s Day and I hope you are able to spend extra time with mothers in your family this weekend. Thanks for all you do.
At the Capitol this week, the governor announced he is easing up on some of the restrictions he placed on our state in response to COVID-19. The governor issued a press release with specific information on the timeline for changes, as shown below in italics:
A couple of things to note regarding the date for lifting the mask mandate. First, we should note the July 1 date is “no later than” and the 70-percent vaccination threshold is a goal, not a prerequisite for masks to be lifted. On the other hand, the mask mandate could be eliminated sooner if 70 percent is vaccinated earlier than July 1. According to reports, as of Wednesday, 59 percent of Minnesota adults had gotten a shot. At the current vaccination pace, the state would hit the 70 percent mark in the first week of June.
While time will tell how this plays out, the main thing is we continue heading in the right direction, with vaccines doing well and infection rates remaining low. It is good the governor shared a timeline with the public to lay out exactly how restrictions will be lifted. Now, it would be good to see the same thing with a transparent and concrete process for ending Minnesota’s peacetime emergency that has been in place for more than one year.
The governor even has indicated the State Fair will be pretty much back to normal this summer, so I encourage him to work with legislators on setting out a timeline based on data to fully reopen our state and get us back on track. The public deserves clear communication regarding our steps forward and information on how the governor plans to peel back his emergency powers that have been in place for around 14 months, especially since our state no longer faces an actual emergency.
Meanwhile, conference committees continue doing their work to hash out compromises on various aspects of the next two-year state budget. With the May 17 adjournment from the 2021 session rapidly approaching, the House majority could alleviate the largest obstacle to agreement by backing off its plan to raise taxes by billions of dollars amid a historic state surplus.
Not only are tax increases unnecessary to a balanced budget, the House majority’s insistence on raising taxes for gasoline, license tabs, Main Street businesses, and middle-class Minnesotans in general could threaten the Legislature’s ability to get our work on time. These provisions appear to have no chance of passing the Senate, where every budget bill in that body has earned bipartisan support and tax increases are not included.
Our state has more than enough revenue and it’s time to set aside the controversial tax increases, focus on areas where there is common ground and send a new budget to the governor for enactment before the deadline. That approach would be best for Minnesotans and I hope we get there in time.