With every legislative seat up for election, the DFL campaign strategy will be to focus on tax reform — including property-tax reduction and closing loopholes on higher earners — as well as comprehensive education reform.
That is the view of Rep. Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, the leader of the House minority caucus.
“Our takeaway from the last two years is an unwillingness (by the Republican majorities) to compromise ... and gridlock — the longest government shutdown in history,” Thissen said.
He, Rep. Kathy Brynaert, DFL-Mankato, and Rep. Terry Morrow, DFL-St. Peter, stopped at The Free Press Wednesday to give their views on the recently concluded legislative session and the upcoming election.
They said two of the signature pieces of legislation passed — a new Vikings stadium and a bonding bill — received far greater support from the DFL than from the majority GOP party in the House and Senate. That, said Brynaert, is unprecedented and shows a split within the GOP that leaves it ineffective.
“It’s the responsibility of the majority party to govern,” she said.
She said the stadium and bonding bills will generate thousands of jobs, both short and long term. She said both parties have traditionally supported bonding — even if they argued about the proper amount — but said many in the GOP have begun to argue there should be very little if any bonding.
“Whether to bond has never been a partisan issue before,” Brynaert said.
Morrow said Republican claims they tried to protect taxpayers by passing property tax reduction legislation only to have it vetoed by DFL Gov. Mark Dayton is disingenuous.
He said the vetoed bills focused on corporate property tax relief while doing little or nothing for homeowners and farmers — particularly outstate property owners who saw significantly higher tax increases compared to the metropolitan area.
“The business (property tax) reform by the GOP did nothing for farmers, who saw up to 30 percent property-tax increases,” Morrow said.
Thissen said he’s “cautiously optimistic” the DFL can regain the majority in November, based on the GOP record, the popularity of Dayton and the popularity of U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar who will be on the ballot this fall. And, he said, the newly drawn political boundaries appear to favor Democrats a bit.
He said that if they regain control, they would focus on comprehensive tax reform that lowers business and home property taxes at all levels, closes many tax loopholes and asks for more from the wealthy.
The other priority, he said, would be education reform that gives more support to early childhood development, reinstates some of the cuts to higher education and sets up a process to pay back the money the state borrowed from K-12 to balance the state budget