When I joined the Minnesota Senate in 2013, I found it to be a place of collegiality — a new wave of leaders full of purpose ushered into our government’s upper chamber. Seven years later, I have witnessed a shift in a more deliberate chamber.
Minnesotans are seeing the counterproductive, obstructive games that have plagued Washington, D.C., on full display at our state Capitol in St. Paul. It is a culture we should not accept in our state, let alone our country.
Our state is in a moment of great transformative opportunity. A moment that demands not divisive politics and inaction, but transparent, proactive action from our leaders — all for a better future.
For too long I have seen my GOP colleagues who currently hold the majority in the Senate play politics with the lives of Minnesotans. Strong-arming positions that block infrastructure bonding and education, even holding political-campaign-style hearings after the civil unrest caused by George Floyd’s killing, instead of passing meaningful criminal justice reform.
It didn’t stop there. Instead of leading with purpose or conviction, we saw the majority begin to oust members of Gov. Tim Walz’s cabinet —starting with Nancy Lippinik, the commissioner of Labor and Industry — in response to the governor’s actions to try to keep Minnesotans safe from COVID-19.
Thanks to the pandemic, Minnesota faces a deficit in the billions come January when the new Senate reconvenes and we set the budget for the next two years. It is going to take serious leadership to build Minnesota back stronger. Whom do Minnesotans want on their side to take care of their jobs, safety, and prosperity? Proactive leaders, or political gamesmen?
We all have seen what the current approach has brought for the nation. Now the latest stunt is to terminate the payroll tax, which is the only dedicated revenue for Social Security. We cannot let those who subscribe to the failed leadership and games of this White House lead the effort to rid Minnesota of the health and economic turmoil the pandemic has caused.
Minnesotans have a choice this November — inaction from the current majority, or a new direction. We cannot accept leaders who would rather choke off all air left in government so it becomes irrelevant, unusable, and untrustworthy, while countless hard-working public servants worry about the fate of their pay and collective bargaining rights.
Minnesota needs honest brokers. We need a new Minnesota Senate DFL majority, with committed public servants at the helm who are ready to get to work instead of wasting valuable time while small businesses and our kids are suffering unrecoverable costs. Our mental health and our entire economy are in jeopardy if we continue on a path of erratic decision-making — or a lack of decision-making, for that matter. Neither extremes nor denial solves problems. Purposeful dialogue, rooted in our fundamental values of decency and decorum, can.
Senate DFLers have proved that in times of need, we find solutions. We don’t waste time pointing fingers or holding political hearings while a bonding bill collects dust. When in charge, we pass marriage equality, all-day kindergarten, minimum-wage increases, and the expansion of Medicaid. When we get back to business in our regular 2021 session, we will lead.
It is time to give the people back their government and elect a Senate majority that puts the people first and restores trust in our most sacred democratic institutions. The next generation is counting on us this November, and we are ready to lead. Will civility win?
Melisa Lopez Franzen is a DFL state senator representing District 49.
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