When it comes to the needs of Greater Minnesota, there seems to be a misconception.
Republicans claim that they are the party of greater Minnesota and yes, they do have a large number of Minnesota legislators that represent those districts. But saying you are the champions of that area while failing, time after time to deliver anything that they deem critical to their economic needs….well, that is a different matter.
Democrats have been wrongly saddled with a Metro only label. While they do an excellent job of representing the seven county area (despite Republican obstruction), they have also proven to be the best Party at delivering basic infrastructure and final help to the outlying areas as well.
Let’s take some examples. In 2016, the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities urged the legislature to put more emphasis on LGA funding for their cities and towns. The need has been made more acute by the constant reduction in the same funds by GOP legislative majorities and during the years when Pawlenty was governor. But when the session ended, the CGMC summed it up this way:
Let’s not mince words: Minnesota’s 2016 legislative session was, by and large, a massive failure. Political posturing led to the demise of the transportation bill and bonding bill, while a typo that would have cost the state $100 million compelled Gov. Dayton to veto an otherwise good tax bill.
And when the Coalition discussed the GOP strategy for punishing the Metro in favor of Greater Minnesota, the Coalition had this to say:
This strategy of attempting to hurt the metro — by cutting state aid to Minneapolis and St. Paul and preventing construction of light rail transit even if it was paid for by metro-area dollars — proved to be counterproductive. Trying to poke holes in the metro’s bucket did nothing to actually improve Greater Minnesota. Instead, it only fueled more of the divisiveness that prevents progress and harms our entire state.
Strong words. This was their assessment of their supposed GOP allies.
And then, let’s take broadband. Economic development in greater Minnesota absolutely requires reliable (key word) internet services. A state task force looking into this very thing made a recommendation….
The push to enhance high-speed Internet access in rural areas of Minnesota got a boost when a state task force recommended that the state spend another $200 million on the effort.
Governor Dayton began the process in earnest by asking for $30 million in 2015. But Rep. Pat Garofalo argued that premium internet access was not worth the cost.
(Garofalo) said the current program subsidizes high-speed connections at too high a cost. “We’re burning through money to provide premier Internet service to a small number of people,” he said. “It’s fiscal insanity … it’s in the state’s best interest to get high-speed bandwidth to as many people at the lowest cost possible.”
Doesn’t everyone in Greater Minnesota deserve the same access, reliability and speed? Apparently House Republicans disagree. So Dayton’s proposal got slashed to $10 million by the GOP led House.
Incidentally, Tina Smith, who was then Lt. Governor, was the real champion when it came to promoting rural broadband during that year….
“Broadband Internet isn’t just nice,” Smith said in a statement. “We need the bandwidth for Minnesota’s regional centers and rural economies to support innovation and entrepreneurship. If we don’t do this, 244,000 Minnesotans and hundreds of communities will lack the basic infrastructure to connect to the 21st-century economy, and that’s not fair.”
And let’s not forget health care. With all the trashing of the ACA that is done by the Republicans, they seem to forget that rural Minnesota is most affected by health care cutbacks. Problems that occur in the metro are even more acute in rural Minnesota. Opioid abuse, mental health, and access to facilities are reaching crisis proportions. Sparse populations coupled with unsustainable business models serving those populations makes health care access a high priority issue. Some of the ideas floated around involve technology like interactive video technology or Certified Peer Specialists who act as a mental health bridge for a patient whose doctor may be miles away. The ACA is vitally important to rural hospitals as a means of guaranteeing insurance coverage for the poor and for those with pre-existing conditions. It would also benefit rural communities if Minnesota Care was broadened as an insurance alternative.
All of these things are talked about by Democrats but opposed by the GOP majority – none of it is acted upon. What Governor Dayton proposes for rural Minnesota – the Legislative GOP majority disposes. Does that sound like you are being represented properly, Greater Minnesota?
I sure don’t. Let’s dispense with this notion that GOP candidates benefit rural Minnesota and start electing the Party that acts – vote for Democrats.