2022 Minnesota Legislative session begins
(ABC 6 News) – The 2022 Minnesota legislative session is underway. The biggest question — what to do with the state’s record 7.7 billion dollar projected budget surplus.
Local republican legislators want to give it back to Minnesotans and say they’re going to focus on tax reform so that our surplus doesn’t ever get that high again.
"Some meaningful tax relief to the taxpayers," said Senator Gene Dornink.
Democrats want to use the money to invest in affordable healthcare and childcare, saying these lower costs will save money for working middle-class Minnesotans who need it most.
"I think that money should go into people’s pockets. Whether that’s through lower healthcare costs or lower childcare costs. As long as it goes to the people that need it and not to the super-wealthy," said Representative Tina Liebling.
When it comes to reaching an agreement on last year’s frontline worker bonus pay, some are suggesting we get preliminary bonus payout to people working with COVID first hand, hospital, and long-term care workers.
After that is completed, expand the bonus checks to other essential workers like grocery stores and gas stations.
Nelson: "I was disappointed that the bipartisan group could not come to an agreement. I believe we should get it out the door right away. That money has already been allocated," Senator Carla Nelson said.
"That certainly needs to be a focus and a priority. And quite honestly that should’ve already happened," said Representative Liz Boldon.
This year is a bonding or project year, which means each legislator has local infrastructure projects in mind that could use the funding.
In Austin, that means updating the wastewater treatment plant. Our local representatives also say they’re especially focused on expanding broadband to rural Minnesota.
Lastly, lawmakers will debate public safety. Republicans and Democrats agree that recent increases in crime need to be brought under control, however, they disagree on how to do it.
"Definitely help recruit and retain the police that we have. So public safety is probably our top priority," Dornink said.
"At the same time, I think we can have safety that also has accountability in it. We also maybe need to be smarter on crime instead of just tougher on crime," added Liebling.
For DFLers that may mean hiring more crisis management and social services first responders.