Our view: Stop the games and work together

January 8, 2019

A good number of issues face the 2019 Minnesota Legislature and new Gov. Tim Walz: health care, the gas tax, gun measures, bonding bill, and what to do with the budget surplus, for starters.

But we think there’s an overriding issue that this governor and this Legislature need to get right for the good of Minnesota: Work together to do the people’s business and to get it done on time.

Too many recent legislative sessions have ended with a train wreck of bills few members have even read before voting on them. There are acrimonious feelings all around. Nobody really “wins” these showdowns, and the people of Minnesota often lose.

All of this contributes to an erosion of confidence on the part of citizens in their elected officials and their state government. “Can’t these people do their job?” is a complaint we’ve heard all too frequently in recent years. And this is a state long regarded as having good government — a reputation that will be in jeopardy if this continues.

Compromise is not a dirty word. In fact, it’s one of the most handy tools in the governing workbox, allowing lawmakers to create and craft something-for-everybody, win-win solutions to problems.

Doing the opposite, constantly refusing to back away from a position and seek middle ground on an issue, is foolhardy and short-sighted. It eventually leads to gridlock on important issues, which is not in the best interests of Minnesota and its citizens.

Striking a bargain is not a sign of weakness. On the contrary, it’s a sign of strength and respect. It requires statesmanship and statecraft — two traits we’ve too often found to be lacking in our elected officials.

So now there’s a new group at the Capitol. Or at least a new governor and a new House of Representatives. They were elected to do the people’s business. We see opportunity, not just in their potentially fresh approaches and new personalities, but also in the nature of a closely divided Senate, where one vote in either direction can change an outcome.

In other words, the raw material to produce good legislation and conclude business on time without the mashup at the end, is there.

Now it’s up to individual legislators to recommit to doing the best work possible for the people of Minnesota.

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