A Republican lawmaker put forward an amendment Thursday that would suspend Gov. Tim Walz’s salary during the course of his peacetime emergency declaration.
The move is the latest escalation in a battle between Republican and Democratic lawmakers over the best course of action in addressing the coronavirus pandemic. House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) announced last weekend that he would block a public works bill from being passed until Walz agreed to relinquish his emergency powers.
The governor’s peacetime emergency declaration is set to expire May 13, but he can extend the emergency for an additional 30 days.
Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa) introduced an amendment Thursday that would suspend the governor’s $127,629 salary until the peacetime emergency declaration is rescinded or terminated.
“The governor has unilaterally suspended the salaries of hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans, and it is only right that he feels the pain of the economic damage he has caused,” Drazkowski said in a statement.
“I look around the state and I see businesses which were supposed to temporarily close but are now permanently shut down. Workers who were supposed to be furloughed for a short time have now lost their jobs entirely. Gov. Walz’s decision to shut down our economy has ruined livelihoods throughout our state,” he added.
As of Thursday, more than 630,000 Minnesotans had filed for unemployment insurance since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. The economic shutdown has also turned Minnesota’s projected $1.5 billion budget surplus into a $2.4 billion deficit, state officials announced this week.
“Gov. Walz has been playing poker with the livelihoods of hard-working Minnesotans. South Dakota has less than half the number of COVID-19 deaths per million people than we do. Our neighbor to the west also has an unemployment rate less than half of our state’s unemployment rate. This is because South Dakota did not turn off their economy or shut down livelihoods,” Drazkowski added. “Tim Walz’s economy-killing shutdown is not helpful, it is not constitutional, and it remains economically destructive. It is time for him to put his wallet on the table.”
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