February 18, 2011 (ST. PAUL) â€” On Tuesday, February 15, Governor Dayton presented his budget with his proposal to close the stateâ€™s $6.2 billion deficit. I deeply appreciate the fact that he honored his campaign promises to support local government aid â€” thereby protecting property tax payers across our district â€” funding education and promoting tax fairness.
While Governor Daytonâ€™s budget does contain painful cuts, including a 6 percent cut to the state workforce, a 6 percent cut to higher education, and a 2 percent cut to nursing homes; itâ€™s a far cry from what any Republican all-cuts budget proposal would include. Their budget – when they offer it – will no doubt contain millions in cuts to health and human services throwing tens of thousands of vulnerable Minnesotans off public health insurance programs, significantly deeper cuts to higher education, driving up tuition right when students and families can least afford it, decimate our E-12 education system, all while raising property taxes by hundreds of millions of dollars so they can offer the wealthiest Minnesotans and corporations a tax cut.
We need to have an honest discussion about what direction we want to take as Minnesotans. We need to talk about what we value as Minnesotans, what services we believe government should provide, and then how we should pay for them. I look forward to a complete budget proposal from the Republican leadership and a vibrant discussion about the future of our state.
This week also saw the introduction of a bill by Rep. Steve Smith (Republican â€“ Mound) that would prohibit the state and counties from contracting with private prisons, with a specific clause prohibiting any contract renewal for the Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton.
I find this bill to be absolutely absurd. For a party that supposedly cares about job creation, this bill completely contradicts that philosophy. At its peak usage, the Prairie Correctional Facility employed nearly 400 full-time people, and those people in turn spent money in the local Appleton economy.
If you believe as I do that we need to help foster job growth, and that leaving the potential for this prison to be operational again would benefit Appleton and our district, please call Rep. Smith at 651-296-9188 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org and voice your objections to his bill.
Finally, on February 17, the House voted to pass the repeal of the nuclear moratorium. DFLers offer several amendments on the floor to protect ratepayers, prevent taxpayer bailouts, prevent the permanent storage of high-level radioactive waste in Minnesota, and ensure that a nuclear plant would not endanger the health of Minnesotans. Republicans chose to adopt none of these amendments.
I specifically offered an amendment that would require high-quality radiation-monitoring systems be installed to alert government officials and the citizens in the surrounding area when radioactive gases and liquids are discharged. I believe this is a common-sense measure that would ensure the citizens most likely to be affected by the harmful affects of radiation would at least be notified. Unfortunately, Republicans disagreed and the amendment did not pass.
In my personal opinion, lifting the nuclear moratorium is bad public policy. It is not only the most expensive form of energy (the only reason people think it is inexpensive is because it is the most subsidized), has the potential for devastating health risks, and has no solution for the waste that will continue to increase in volume and remain highly radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years.
As always, on these issues and the any others confronting us this legislative session, Iâ€™d appreciate your input. Please donâ€™t hesitate to send me your comments, concerns, suggestions, and questions. You can reach me by phone at 651-296-4228 or email at email@example.com.
Thank you again for the honor of serving you in the Legislature.