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MRLF plans post-session meetings with legislators — please join us!

From the Minneapolis Labor Review, May 27, 2011

By Bill McCarthy, President, Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation

Nothing is more powerful than a roomful of union members meeting with their state legislators in their home districts. Union members can share how the issues debated at the legislature impact them directly. And legislators can see that union issues are not a so-called special interest, but are in fact the issues important to working families who live in their district.

Last month, the Labor Review reported about four in-district meetings the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation organized with legislators in April.

The MRLF plans to organize eight more in-district meetings with state legislators in the coming weeks. And if you live in one of those eight districts, we invite you to participate and share your concerns with your elected representatives.

Call your state legislators

Tell them to
stand up for the middle class
by taxing the
richest 2 percent

These meetings with lawmakers will take place whether or not the legislature completes its business by the scheduled Monday, May 23 adjournment date.

The Labor Review went to press Friday, May 20 with the increasing likelihood that the legislature and governor would not be able to reach a compromise and approve a state budget by May 23.

“It’s only Thursday,” House Speaker Kurt Zellers said May 19 on Minnesota Public Radio. “Thursday to Monday is an eternity at the Capitol.”

Indeed. But what’s been missing so far from the dynamics of this year’s session is any willingness by the leaders of the House and Senate majorities to reach any meaningful compromises with Governor Mark Dayton on the budget.

“Their budget is so extreme and their unwillingness to compromise is unfathomable,” Dayton said two days earlier, also on Minnesota Public Radio.

Three days before May 23, a special session appeared all but certain.

Last month in this space I called for both sides to compromise in order to pass a budget that offers a balanced approach to the state budget deficit, by raising revenues and making cuts.

Governor Dayton did offer a compromise — giving up about one-half of the tax increase he sought on the state’s richest citizens. He asked, in turn, for the Republicans to meet him halfway. He would trim his projected $3.6 billion tax hike on the richest to $1.8 billion if the Republicans would drop $1.8 billion of the $3.6 billion in cuts they propose. On a party line vote May 17, they rejected his offer.

This stalemate is where you come in. A recent Minnesota Poll showed that 63 percent of the people surveyed support a balanced approach to the state budget.

But what’s most persuasive to lawmakers is a roomful of their constituents.

They need to hear directly from constituents what people expect the state to do:

• Raise revenues fairly so that the richest pay their fair share of taxes;
• Maintain vital services;
• Make investments in the state’s future to support education and put people to work.

What’s not reasonable: Taking a hard-line, ideological approach to oppose seeking any new revenue from the top two percent of earners. (While middle income families pay about 12 percent of their income for all state and local taxes, the top one percent of taxpayers — those earning more than $429,354 — pay only 9.7 percent of their income in state and local taxes).

Protecting the richest from a reasonable tax hike will cost everyone else dearly. That’s the message legislators need to hear. But most important, they need to hear it from you at one of our upcoming post-session meetings.

These meetings will be non-partisan. Union members are Democrats, Republicans, independents. But we all care about good jobs, a good education for our kids, and strong, healthy communities.

Please join us to voice your concerns!


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