Hopkins Sen. Ron Latz (DFL-District 44) is once again condemning Republican cuts—this time to public safety programs.
“I think the public’s reaction is going to be very harsh,” Latz told Patch on Wednesday, the day after the measure passed 36-28.
The cuts are part of the $1.7 billion omnibus judiciary and public safety finance bill, a measure put together by the committee on which Latz is ranking minority member. The bill moves money from certain targeted accounts into the state’s general fund—including $2 million from the prison work program, $5.2 million from emergency radio and $8.5 million from fire safety.
The legislator said the radio shift even violates a federal mandate. A surcharge on phone bills was required to fund emergency radio upgrades, but the bill moves that money into the general fund instead.
The bill also includes:
- A more than one-third cut to gang and drug strike force funding,
- A 4 percent cut to probation and cuts to victims reparations,
- Cuts to the prison chemical dependency program,
- Cuts to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension that Latz said would affect investigations and crime lab turn-around times.
In all, Latz accuses the GOP of underfunding public safety plan by at least $60 million—because that’s how much Republican public safety funding falls short of the governor’s budget.
“Today the Senate Republicans choose to underfund public safety, security and protection of the people as the Constitution says so that the richest Minnesotans don’t have to pay one penny more,” Latz said just before the Senate passed.
The cuts came about because of Republicans’ aim to balance the budget without any tax increases.
"It's a choice between trusting Minnesotans to keep what they earn and what they own, to spend it to pursue their dreams, to fortify their dreams and to help their neighbors in need voluntarily; or to have government take it to disburse as they see fit," Eagan Rep. Doug Wardlow (R-District 38B) said on the House floor.
But Latz told his colleagues on the Senate floor that the public safety cuts are “another recognition that this budget can’t be balanced without revenues.”
“Why are we seeing it? Because they can’t balance their budget any other way,” he told Patch the following day.