For the second time in the past week, hundreds of laid off state workers rallied in the hot sun on the steps of Minnesota’s closed State Capitol to protest the state government shutdown.
Wednesday’s rally again took aim at familiar theme: Taxing the state's wealthiest residents to help solve the state’s $5 billion budget deficit. One man held a sign that took his frustration a step further – he had changed it from “Tax the Rich” to “Eat the Rich.”
Organizers also went after specific Republican legislators, reminding Minnesotans of what they think the state will look like if the Republicans are successful with their budget-cutting plans. One sign read “Gazelka Gulch”, a reference to Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Brainerd. Another read “Hann Circle”, a reference to Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, who chairs the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
“We stand at a point in this state’s history of either standing strong for the common good, or allowing extreme special interests with a radical social agenda to destroy our middle class,” Jim Monroe, executive director of the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees, told the crowd.
"Senator Koch and Speaker Zellers, how do you sleep at night?" he added, referring to Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch and House Speaker Kurt Zellers, the legislature's top Republican leaders.
But Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, one of several DFL legislators who attended the rally, said he was surprised the shutdown did not yet seem to be resonating with many Minnesotans. “I thought there would be a lot more tension on July 4th,” Hornstein said of the many Fourth of July parades across the state. “I’m surprised.
“But I think the longer this would go on, the public would get concerned,” he said.
A state judicial panel has recommended Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson and three others to Gov. Mark Dayton as he looks to fill two vacancies on the Minnesota Court of Appeals.