SEN. UTKE: House Majority owes Minnesotans an apology
Democrats in the Minnesota House of Representatives are set to break an agreement to fairly distribute federal COVID aid to counties, cities and townships across Minnesota. That compromise had previously been agreed to by all four legislative leaders after comprehensive negotiations. It passed the Senate 62-4 on Tuesday, but House Democrats on Thursday approved a last-minute amendment adding the governor’s supplemental budget to the bill.
Gov. Tim Walz currently has the sole authority over the federal coronavirus aid, and concerns have been raised about both transparency and accountability in aid distribution.
This legislation is no small matter, especially in Greater Minnesota. Our communities are in desperate need of help, as they spent significant amounts to even prepare for COVID-19 and have had no way to make it up since then. It’s imperative that we get this passed so our counties will be eligible by the June 22 deadline.
The fact that Speaker Hortman and House Democrats are willing to back out of an agreement made in a bipartisan, fair manner at the last minute to play politics is infuriating. They owe the people of Minnesota an apology.
Minnesota received more than $2 billion from the federal government to help local governments, health professionals, and businesses fight COVID. That money went into an account called the Federal Coronavirus Relief Fund, so it could be quickly deployed to places it is needed most.
The compromise agreement, authored by Senate Finance Chair Julie Rosen (R-Vernon Center), distributes the local government portion of that funding – about $841 million – fairly to Minnesota counties, cities, and towns based on a formula using their population.
Senate District 2 stands to gain significant recovery funds, should the Senate agreement pass. Below is a breakdown by county plus a sampling of some of the cities:
Becker County: $4,174,377
Beltrami County: $5,679,917
Clearwater County: $1,069,062
Hubbard County: $2,589,278
Lake of the Woods County: $460,976
Mahnomen County: $670,180
Otter Tail County: $7,123,243
Wadena County: $1,670,478
Park Rapids: $311,607
Detroit Lakes: $713,849