While we may see tough talk between Republican and Democratic Party leaders during the last few weeks of the legislative session, members of the Minnesota Senate’s Purple Caucus have a different philosophy.
This week, the color purple reminds me more of the tragic loss of Prince, but the Purple Caucus has been working hard to find points of unity between our two parties outside of the shared loss of a Minnesota icon. As a representative of a very politically diverse district, I am proud to be a member of the Purple Caucus. The caucus includes both parties, with Senators Jeremy Miller (R-Winona) and Roger Reinert (DFL-Duluth) acting as co-chairs.
In the caucus, our strong Minnesota pride unites us, despite our occasional differences. The Purple Caucus meets regularly to talk about positions we have in common, and we have outlined four principles that we will speak up for as the session draws to a close.
First, Minnesotans expect the 2016 legislature to pass a Transportation Finance Bill, a Tax Bill, and a Bonding Bill. The transportation and tax bills are still pending from last year, when the session ended before either bill was passed. I believe that sustainable transportation funding is critical to our state’s economic development, and will save taxpayers money in the long run. A tax bill with carefully targeted middle-class and property tax relief will give some money back to Minnesotans, without busting the budget in future years.
The Purple Caucus also supports the passage of both a Bonding Bill and a Transportation Finance Bill, and that roads, bridges, and transit should not be funded through borrowing in the Bonding Bill. Bonding is an important tool that the state uses to upgrade, repair, or build new state infrastructure, and leaning on this borrowing to fund roads and bridges would crowd out needed investments in other areas. I am concerned that overly-politicizing the state’s bonding by including individual transportation projects would jeopardize their eventual completion and, furthermore, be bad for our long-term fiscal health.
Third, and perhaps most importantly, the Purple Caucus has called for increased transparency in the legislative process. The end of last year’s legislative session was disappointing to everyone, with closed-door meetings and negotiations often locking out the public and elected officials both. We believe that all legislators and the public should be included in the final decision-making process.
The Purple Caucus also encourages like-minded members of the Minnesota House to join our efforts, prioritizing our common ground as we finish this session. We may not always be successful, and there are still major differences between our parties, but acknowledging and fighting for our shared goals will make our state a better place for everyone.
The Purple Caucus adheres to the following principles, as developed by the Speak Your Peace Civility Project: pay attention; be inclusive; not gossip; show respect; be agreeable; apologize; give constructive criticism; and take responsibility.