DULUTH, MN (KDAL) - The 2012 legislative session convened this past Tuesday with a promise of civility and fairness from the new GOP Majority Leader, David Senjem. Senator Senjem spoke fondly of the legislature as a “family” and urged bipartisanship cooperation between lawmakers to tackle the state’s most pressing issues.
However, an hour later the Senate Republicans on the Senate Rules Committee approved an operating Senate budget that would eliminate nearly one-third of all Senate DFL staff while making no cuts to GOP staffing levels.
“This was the first official action taken by the Senate Majority and sets the completely wrong tone for the session this year,” said Duluth Senator Roger Reinert. “Minnesotans need a legislature that can put aside partisan differences and work together to get the job done. That is what the citizens of this state expect.”
Currently, the Senate employs 75 Republican staff members and 43 Democratic staff members. The approved budget would eliminate 12-14 DFL positions and likely change that ratio to 75 Republican staffers and 29 DFL staffers.
“I only have one staff person who helps me serve Duluthians when the legislature is not in session,” said Senator Reinert, who works full-time when not in session. “Losing my assistant will impact the ability of all Duluthians to access their state government. This is a fundamental issue of fairness, and partisan politics at its worst.”