I attended the listening session held in Brainerd last Friday morning.
The Dispatch's article painted a picture of diverse opinions. Let me clarify: the room was loaded to the rafters with hand- picked public input, the vast majority of which were the head or director of some local agency or program. Mike O'Rourke's story in the Feb. 21 Dispatch confirms this.
Most pleaded to oppose proposed spending cuts by Pawlenty. Yet amazingly, the DFL has offered zero alternatives to the governor's budget proposal since the legislative session opened in early January.
Most of these ringers also mixed in a heavy does of job security for themselves.
I never got the chance to address the panel, even though I signed up in advance. Speakers were allotted two minutes each, and even though the meeting ran over two hours, only 5 or 6 citizens speaking against higher taxes and more spending were allowed to speak.
This was clearly a DFL partisan media event. A listening session? Absolutely not, unless you count listening to people who already agree with you.
Most, if not all, of this panel were incumbents, so they are not only aware of this budget crisis, they had a hand in creating it! They seemed to have all the answers last fall before the elections.
One final impression: this panel had no business being in Brainerd. Their jobs are in St. Paul, doing what we elected them to do, and not out on the road grandstanding for the public.
Shame on them for wasting our time and tax dollars on a phony Dog and Pony Show.
TONY BAUER was campaign manager for David Allan Pundt, a Republican candidate for Minnesota House District 12A in 2008.
We're all in this together
I would like to thank State Representative John Ward for hosting the bipartisan legislative town hall meeting in Brainerd last Friday. Over 200 concerned residents came to learn more about the state budget deficit, as well as share their concerns and suggestions regarding the governor's budget proposals. It was impossible not to be moved by the compelling testimony, and it brought home for all of us how much the decisions before us will affect Minnesotans.
Next week, we will receive the February budget forecast. It is anticipated our current $5 billion deficit could grow to as much as $7 billion - increasing greatly the financial challenges we face. As we begin to craft a new state budget, my colleagues in the House are committed to being practical, reasonable and fair. We will use a responsible balance of cuts and federal recovery dollars, as well as consider new sources of revenue to get us out of this hole. We will also be completely honest with Minnesotans about the tough choices we are making.
It is important that Minnesotans continue to be involved in the difficult decisions that must be made to balance the state budget. Please share your ideas for balancing our state budget with Rep. Ward. You can also log on to www.house.mn to provide feedback. We are all in this together, and with your help, we will work to restore economic security and prosperity to Minnesota.
State Rep. Margaret Anderson Kelliher
Speaker of the House
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.