Editorial: To lawmakers from your cranky northern constituents
As our Legislators, some new, some not, get ready to head back to St. Paul, they need to keep in mind one thing: Fight like hell for us back home!
It was disheartening during the recent League of Woman Voters candidate forums to hear how much clout the seven-county metro area has over "outstate" Minnesota.
Maybe we're a victim of our own moniker.
Legislators at those forums said there was a deeper divide between rural and urban lawmakers than between Democrats and Republicans.
Rural counties are getting short shrift in education spending, transportation funding, funding to keep our lakes clean, incentives to entice businesses.
State aid to small cities and counties is essential to keeping our rural areas alive. The Homestead Tax Credit, in the form of tax relief to lower valued homes, was abolished last session and is believed now to be the culprit in rising business taxes.
We need it back.
Funding for K-12 grades cannot continue at its present disparate level.
Give us more money.
While we have these natural amenities, we also have higher rates of unemployment, higher rates of poverty, lower per capita income, fewer services that support our workforce, lack of basic infrastructure, a pronounced deficit of communications, lower wages, a burgeoning and under-funded social services system and too many apples in one cart.
If our biggest business folds, there goes the town.
You need to quit treating us like the red-headed stepchild.
We need money to spur innovation, because currently rural areas could be brimming with small businesses with better mousetraps. After all, entrepreneurship must be the linchpin of a rural economic development strategy.
We have a growing small business assistance network that helps new entrepreneurs become business owners, and assists existing businesses to remain competitive, but we want more.
We need more information technology tools and infrastructure, better access to medical care, expanded housing opportunities, more research and outreach to public universities, more management training, a loan fund, funding for revitalizing neighborhoods, improvements to community facilities and services, the ability to acquiring property and buildings, and the funds to make improvements to those properties.
We need an amendment to our Legacy amendment so that we have ample resources to protect those natural amenities you folks covet so much.
Here's what we don't need: Another $1 billion stadium and state agencies buying up more of our land to take off the tax rolls.
If that makes us sound like the cranky northern neighbors, so be it.
Because as the old saying goes, well-behaved folks rarely make history.
That is your mandate, Legislators. Be cranky.