A Minnesota senator said he is “deeply disturbed” by House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler’s (DFL-Golden Valley) threat to cut state aid from Beltrami County after it voted to opt out of refugee resettlement.
Winkler made the threat on Twitter this week after Beltrami County became the first county in the state to refuse refugee resettlement. The Beltrami County Board of Commissioners passed a motion in a 3-2 vote Tuesday night to reject refugees in response to an executive order from President Donald Trump, The Minnesota Sun reported.
Under President Trump’s September order, refugee resettlement now requires the explicit consent of both the state and the county.
“Minnesota counties that want state aid funded in part by taxes paid by immigrants and refugees should consider votes like these. Beltrami County received a state bailout in 2019 but three commissioners voted like they are an island,” Winkler said on Twitter in response.
He noted that the state “decides what the counties’ human services obligations are,” meaning the Minnesota Legislature is “free to add a refugee provision at any time.”
“If the Beltrami County board wants to withdraw from the state and not accept refugees, why should the rest of the state help them? It’s my home county, and this vote does not represent the values of the community that raised me,” he added.
State Sen. Justin Eichorn (R-Grand Rapids) said in a statement Thursday that he was “deeply disturbed” by Winkler’s “threat to cut off funding to Beltrami County simply because the county did not vote the way he wanted.”
“This hostile behavior from the Majority Leader has no place in government, and we should not move towards a society that requires quid pro quo or else. Rather than engaging in this destructive behavior, I encourage the Majority Leader to visit Beltrami to learn the importance of state aid for the area and why continued support will be critical in the future,” Eichorn continued.
The senator said “local control is one of the most important principles in our country” and praised President Trump for empowering local communities to “have a voice in the decision-making process for the federal refugee resettlement program.”
John Hinderaker, president of the Center of the American Experiment, called Winkler’s comments a “rare moment of honesty from one of the DFL’s most powerful state leaders.”
“The urban/rural divide is not only real, it’s driven by liberal politicians who look down on Minnesotans who don’t agree with them, and will punish them for their independence by any means necessary,” he said.
– – –