FARMINGTON, MINN. – Minnesota House candidate Marla Vagts today criticized Rep. Pat Garofalo for adding controversial legislative language to the Iron Range unemployment insurance extension bill.
Garofalo’s amendment would tack on $256 million in tax cuts for businesses, which drastically increases the cost of the bill and, Vagts said, will decreases its chance of passage. The original unemployment extension bill would help about 6,000 families.
Vagts announced back in July that she is running against Garofalo for the District 58B seat.
“We can certainly debate the merits of the $258 million handout to the business community that he wanted,” Vagts said of the move. “But he obviously didn’t think he could muster the House Ways and Means Committee members’ support for such a measure on its own merit. Instead, he chose to hold the extension of unemployment benefits to working families hostage in order to get his rich supporters their own pay-day. Then he had the gall to insist “there’s no opposition to it.”
Garofalo was quoted in a March 14 WCCO news story as saying: “There’s nothing controversial in this bill. It’s clean. It’s safe to say that both the provisions you see right now, are clean and that there’s no opposition to it.”
“Yes, there is opposition to it,” Vagts said. “I’m opposed to it. And so are many, many other people who don’t think that the livelihoods of middle-class, rural families in Minnesota should be a political football for Rep. Garofalo to play his legislative games.”
Vagts also called into question Garofalo’s claim that the bill is “clean.”
“It’s kind of a ridiculous statement that ‘both provisions’ of the bill are clean,” she explained. “A clean bill wouldn’t have the second provision in the first place. The fact that, thanks to Rep. Garofalo, the bill now has a rider on it means that, by definition, the bill isn’t clean.”
A rider, in legislative lingo, is an amendment about a completely different topic than the original bill. It is often a controversial topic that legislators try to attach to popular bills in order to get the controversial language passed. This is usually used when the legislator assumes that the topic of the amendment probably won’t easily pass on its own merits.
“It’s bad enough to use the system for your own benefit, but it’s worse when he uses the system to intentionally slow down a bill that would benefit struggling families in such a vulnerable financial position,” Vagts said. “The fact that Rep. Garofalo would play this heartless game with people’s lives shows how out of touch he is with the day-to-day challenges of being a middle class, working Minnesotan family.”