The timeline is straightforward. The legislative session ended without deals on bills that would have sent hundreds of millions of dollars to rural Minnesota for both infrastructure and COVID-19 relief. The Governor quickly called a special session in order to give the legislature more time. The session would begin Friday, June 12th and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka stated they would only stay in session one week. When the Senate adjourned on the 19th, there was still no agreement on these bills. This is unacceptable.

Northwest Minnesota needs those resources. Our roads and bridges deserve improvement, and without that federal COVID-19 relief funds properly distributed, our small businesses and communities are going to suffer more than they already have. All of this could have been avoided, but our Senators seemed more interested in playing politics than getting work done.

Focusing on the infrastructure bonding bill, at the end of the regular session, the Democrats had a plan that would invest $2 billion in our communities and the Republicans countered with a plan that spent $998 million. In the special session, the Democrats offered a compromise of $1.3 billion, and the Republicans walked away from the table, so we get nothing.

For most of us, the work week starts on Monday, but our Senate decided those norms didn’t apply to them. I was hoping there would be some sort of statement from our local Senator Mark Johnson explaining his decision. He has had over 72 hours since the close of the session to communicate to us why northwest Minnesota is sitting here with no help coming, but instead he’s been silent while his summer vacation has started.

I’m left with two possibilities. Either he’s totally fine with our towns missing out on much needed funding or he’s comfortable gambling our well being on Governor Walz calling a second special session. I don’t like other people playing roulette with my future and I especially dislike being left in the dark about what’s happening.

I hope the Governor does call another special session, because if he doesn’t then we’ve really been left out to dry on this one. A full year without those funds being distributed will have devastating consequences locally. No matter what happens though, there are many senators who have proven they’d rather be anywhere else than working for us in the capitol, and in November we should grant them that wish by electing new people who understand how serious this is.

I’m Reed Perkins. I’m running for State Senate because I think we deserve someone who is able to make deals that help rural Minnesota and is willing to work until the job is done. If you want to know more about me, please visit my website www.PerkinsForMN1.com. Together we can make certain our voices are heard.