Three bills in the Minnesota Legislature would divert a total of $8 million in taxpayer money to Somali programs over the next two fiscal years.
House File 985, for instance, would develop an “east African community economic development pilot program,” which would receive $2 million in both fiscal year 2020 and 2021.
“$2,000,000 in fiscal year 2020 and $2,000,000 in fiscal year 2021 are appropriated from the general fund to the commissioner of employment and economic development for a grant to Youthprise to give grants through a competitive process to community organizations to provide economic development services designed to enhance long-term economic self-sufficiency in communities with concentrated east African populations,” the text of the bill states.
Youthprise is a local nonprofit focused on supporting “youth-serving organizations and systems throughout Minnesota.”
The bill has 22 cosponsors in the House and four in the Senate, including Republican State Sen. Jerry Relph (R-St. Cloud) (pictured above, left).
A similar bill, House File 463, would provide a grant of $2 million for the African Economic Development Solutions program. The money would act as a “revolving loan fund” and provide “technical assistance services to support new and existing African immigrant entrepreneurs in order to address pervasive economic injustice.”
That bill is supported by Republican State Sen. Jason Rarick (R-Brook Park) (pictured above, left).
The final bill, House File 543, would send $2 million over the next two fiscal years to the Board of Directors of the Minnesota Humanities Center for grants for “statewide Somali-based collaborative programs for arts and cultural heritage.”
In total, the three bills would appropriate a combined total of $8 million over the course of the next biennium.
As Alpha News points out, the bills are similar to legislation introduced last session by Relph and Sen. Jim Abeler (R-Anoka), which would have created an $18 million Somali Community Development Program.
“Democrat legislators are the main muscle behind these bills. They often use identity politics in order to cater to blocks of potential voters. However, it’s a mystery why so many Republicans have signed on to bills that unequally send money to specific ethnic groups at the taxpayers’ expense,” Jake Duesenberg write at Alpha News. “These types of bills are usually rejected by conservatives.”
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