There is a heavy degree of dysfunctionality about this “new” legislature. The GOP control has favored a business friendly approach that helps the profit heavy business community, while blaming public and teacher unions for what they consider “bloated” government.
They legitamitely question some numbers that don’t add up…like, for instance the Vikings Stadium. But hold to this false axiom that somehow economic activity will improve if business gets more tax breaks. The premise has no evidence, no facts, and no numbers that give any sort of proof.
The leadership has been gradually losing a sense of order within their caucus. Loose cannons like Doug Wardlow in the House can produce odd tactics like pushing the Right to Work bill into committee without the author’s knowledge. The Senate seems to have multiple spokesmen right now with Sen. Dave Thompson speaking for the ultra conservative wing. Sen. David Hann for the “loyal” opposition (he lost the majority leader contest by one vote). And Sen. Senjem for the general mosaic he calls the rest of the Republican caucus.
Former rising star Amy Koch has been relegated to playing out the string. Clair Robling just got frustrated. Chris Gerlach decided not to defend himself on accepting mailers for Right to Work proponents, and ultimately leaned toward heading back to the lucrative private sector. Geoff Michell has an ethics cloud haning over his head.
Committee chairman have developed little kingdoms unto themselves. Pat Garofalo smirks his way through his “kids first” thematics….while education gets borrowed from, chopped up, and teachers get pilloried. And all the while, he keeps telling us that education is better off with him in charge.
Jim Abeler often means well, but in health and human services he simply accepts the narrow parameters demanded by his leadership and finds the easiest path for cuts, rather than looking for what is really needed. He gets points for at least trying to innovate.
The factions are what’s really in control. Racino pops up every 15 minutes. The Vikings control all of the legislative time. Social conservatives have flexed some muscle of late just to make sure the confused GOP legislators don’t stray too far off the reservation. Anti-union antics from the base get in the mix as well.
So what do the Republicans have to show for all of this? A couple of ballot amendments which have dubious Constitutional needs. And a host of vetos.
Divided government can still work if people really want it to. But when you have so many agendas involved, dysfunction is all you can get…..and dysfunction is what we have.
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