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Letter: Legislature had positive impact on rural Minnesota

I was disappointed when I read former Mayor Wilcox’s letter in last Saturday’s edition of the Sun Tribune. I didn’t mind that she was supporting her friend and neighbor in a Republican primary bid, but I was bothered by the suggestion that “the decision makers in St. Paul have forgotten there is life beyond the metropolitan area.” Here’s some information about a number of positive impacts of the 2013-2014 legislative session on rural Minnesota.

Looking back over the last decade, plenty of rural Minnesotans remember the cuts to Local Government Aid that Republicans in the legislature enacted again and again. In 2012, many wondered if they wouldn’t scrap the program that keeps property taxes low in greater Minnesota communities like Morris. Republicans also shifted financial burden to rural communities by cutting health care funds for the poor. Republicans borrowed billions from schools and cut nursing homes, while axing the homestead property tax credit in 2011-2012, causing property taxes to rise.

If someone is still under the impression that “St. Paul [has] forgotten there is life beyond the metropolitan area”, here’s a refresher about all of the good things our DFL legislature has done for Greater Minnesota in the last two years. They’ve paid back our schools, and cut property taxes for homeowners throughout the state. When many rural homeowners check their property tax statement, they see it’s gone down since the DFL took charge. They provided financial assistance to counties whose budgets were adversely affected by the skyrocketing farm land real estate market (a bill Jay McNamar chief-authored). The DFL passed $20 million of propane heating assistance on the first day of session this year to help rural Minnesotans. They helped young families get the best education for their kids by passing all-day Kindergarten and scholarship funds for early childhood education programs starting this fall (a huge cost savings to any family), and they froze college tuition.

Those are all pretty general comments, but here in Morris our representative, Jay McNamar, worked to get over $750,000 in funds for the ethanol plant, he passed a bonding bill to improve the UMM campus and build a fire hall in Cyrus, and he authored the repeal of business and farm sales taxes and voted to cut income taxes for working Minnesotans, not the corporate execs and millionaires.

Wow. When you lay it all out on paper like that, it’s been a pretty amazing couple of years for rural Minnesota. I think we’ll keep our current representative, Jay McNamar.