Weeks after the regular 2021 Minnesota state legislative session ended, committees agreed to meet behind closed doors as ad hoc "working groups" to finalize their budget bills by Friday, May 28. But that didn't happen. While some working groups, like the Agriculture & Rural Development Working Group, are close to a deal, others are far away.
This means that, to avoid a state government shut down, legislative leadership and Governor Tim Walz have to step in to finalize budget and policy bills.
As Deena Winter and Ricardo Lopez report in the Minnesota Reformer: "Every two years, the budget debates that rage in public ultimately come down to just a handful of powerful people who typically work out how to spend billions of taxpayer dollars, leaving out of the process the public and even rank-and-file legislators who often are left to vote on budget bills with little input or much advance notice."
Our soil health legislation, included in the environment and legacy budget bills, is being held up in roadblocked committees and its fate is now held in the hands of a few: Governor Walz, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, and Speaker of the House Melissa Hortman.
What's the hold up? Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen (R-Alexandria) is threatening to shut down the Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) and its programs and payments farmers rely on, as well as the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), state parks, the Minnesota Zoo, and many other programs and institutions unless the state delays or stops the adoption of clean cars rules. The rules, adopted by about a dozen other states already, would increase access to hybrid and electric cars for Minnesotans and is supported by numerous groups within the industry.
Would you take just two minutes to urge Senator Ingebrigtsen, legislative leadership, and the Governor to transparently finalize a state budget that invests in people and the land?
They should be working with the public to finalize Minnesota's $52 billion budget, not making deals behind the scenes. Please, take just a few minutes demand transparency and voice your support for publicly investing in farming that provides public benefits.