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SENATE DISTRICT 48
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

State Spending
     • 08/10/2011: Peter Bozanich
     • 08/04/2011: Ken Powaga
     • 08/04/2011: John and Kathy Tyler
     • 08/04/2011: Matthew S. Carpenter
     • 07/26/2011: Rep. Sarah Anderson
     • 07/21/2011: Peter Bozanich
     • 07/21/2011: Donna Azarian
     • 07/14/2011: Pat Poisson
     • 07/14/2011: Marc Papineau
     • 07/14/2011: Scott Rickhoff
     • 07/14/2011: David Johnson
     • 07/14/2011: Fred Koppelman
     • 07/13/2011: Chris Grace
     • 07/13/2011: Candace Oathout
     • 07/12/2011: Sen. Julianne Ortman
     • 07/07/2011: Krisla Bereth
     • 07/07/2011: John Iverson
     • 07/07/2011: Kevin Schultz
     • 06/29/2011: Jerry Pitmon
     • 06/28/2011: Randy Gilbert
     • 06/27/2011: Lisa Christian
     • 06/27/2011: Dan Morin
     • 06/17/2011: Dennis Schminke
     • 06/16/2011: Nancy Axelson
     • 06/16/2011: Richard Proops
     • 06/16/2011: David Johnson
     • 06/16/2011: Ken Powaga
     • 06/09/2011: Crystal Kelley
     • 06/09/2011: Krisla Bereth
     • 05/19/2011: Stacey Bozanich
     • 05/19/2011: David Johnson
     • 05/12/2011: Rep. Kirk Stensrud
     • 05/12/2011: John Tyler
     • 05/05/2011: Marc Papineau
     • 05/05/2011: Fred Koppelman
     • 04/14/2011: Ken Powaga
     • 02/08/2011: Kirk Stensrud

Eden Prairie City Spending
     • 08/18/2011: Richard Proops
     • 05/12/2011: Richard Proops

Big Government
     • 08/31/2011: Bob Gorski

Obamacare
     • 11/16/2011: John Tyler

Unionizing Private Daycare
     • 11/28/2011: Reps. Kirk Stensrud and Jenifer Loon
     • 11/28/2011: Rep. Sarah Anderson

Schools
     • 09/17/2011: Mike Beer
     • 08/18/2011: Pat Poisson
     • 08/04/2011: Nancy Frishmon, Amy Jore, Kelly Scott Schwantz
     • 08/04/2011: Ann Yonamine
     • 07/13/2011: Dan Kitrell
     • 06/30/2011: Ann Simon
     • 06/09/2011: Jessie Score
     • 05/18/2011: Paul Groessel
     • 05/05/2011: Cindy Hoaglund
     • 04/14/2011: Kirk Stensrud

Eden Prairie School Board Election
     • 11/03/2011: Bev Aho
     • 11/03/2011: Karen Norton
     • 11/03/2011: Brenda Tonjes
     • 11/03/2011: Karla Bratrud
     • 11/03/2011: Bill Hoag
     • 11/03/2011: Kris and Dale Kerber
     • 11/02/2011: Donna Azarian
     • 11/02/2011: John McCarthy
     • 10/27/2011: Lee Prinkkila
     • 10/27/2011: Shawn and Christy Schively
     • 10/27/2011: John McCarthy
     • 10/26/2011: Debbie Brandt
     • 10/26/2011: Butch Cavello
     • 10/26/2011: Desiree and Gary Griffith
     • 10/20/2011: Sheila Kihne
     • 10/20/2011: Greg Bode
     • 10/13/2011: Deb Brandt
     • 10/13/2011: Alexa Smith
     • 10/06/2011: Jill Swenson Van Fossan
     • 10/05/2011: Dan Kitrell
     • 10/05/2011: Ann Hansen
     • 10/05/2011: Mary Kubicek
     • 09/22/2011: Karla Bratrud

Federal Spending
     • 08/31/2011: U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen
     • 08/11/2011: Scott Rickhoff

Photo ID
     • 04/14/2011: Denny Vinar
     • 03/31/2011: David Johnson
     • 03/31/2011: Fred Koppelman

Defense of Marriage
     • 06/16/2011: Robert Lawrenz
     • 05/19/2011: Bonnie Gasper

Kirk Stensrud
     • 06/16/2011: Andy Cilek
     • 06/09/2011: Patrick Poisson
     • 06/07/2011: Kurt Zellers

Erik Paulsen
     • 10/20/2011: Tom Styczinski

Legislative Updates
     • 12/09/2011: Rep. Kirk Stensrud
     • 11/09/2011: Rep. Kirk Stensrud
     • 08/01/2011: Rep. Kirk Stensrud
     • 07/21/2011: Rep. Kirk Stensrud
     • 07/07/2011: Rep. Kirk Stensrud
     • 06/30/2011: Rep. Kirk Stensrud

06/23/2011:  Rep. Kirk Stensrud
Rep. Jenifer Loon
Sen. David Hann
2011 Legislative Survey Results

     • 06/22/2011: Rep. Kirk Stensrud
     • 06/17/2011: Rep. Kirk Stensrud
     • 06/07/2011: Rep. Kirk Stensrud
     • 05/23/2011: Rep. Kirk Stensrud
     • 05/20/2011: Rep. Kirk Stensrud

Archives
     • 2010 Letters to the Editor

The following is an e-mail update from Rep. Kirk Stensrud, December 09, 2011:

Kirk Stensrud (48A) - Email Newsletter

Dear Neighbor,

We have had a streak of good news lately, starting with a projected state budget surplus of nearly $900 million and continuing with a judge suspending a daycare unionization vote.

Word of our $876 million surplus for the 2012-13 biennium was especially surprising. The consensus among prognosticators was the new Minnesota Management & Budget report would call for a shortfall of up to $1 billion. But the fiscally responsible budget we put in place last summer is performing beyond initial projections, outpacing the national economy.

This is refreshingly welcome news after a series of shortfalls the last four years. New majorities in the House and Senate took office in January and focused on putting our state on a more sustainable fiscal course. It is rewarding to see the measures we put in place just a few months ago already producing results and getting our state pointed in the right direction.

State law requires the surplus revenue be used to restore the state's cash-flow account ($255 million) and the budget reserve ($621 million). These are basically savings accounts which were depleted during the shortfall years. It will be interesting to see what the next forecast indicates in February. The hope is for even more good news so we can look at, among other things, accelerating repayment of delayed K-12 funding.

We still have significant work to do in improving our state’s budget practices, but this sudden surplus should inspire us as we develop another package of reform bills for the 2012 session.

JUDGE'S RESTRAINING ORDER HALTS DAYCARE UNIONIZATION VOTE

The daycare ruling pertains to an executive order issued by Gov. Mark Dayton, calling for a vote that could unionize private, in-home child-care providers. A judge's temporary restraining order included concerns many of us have shared. It will allow for more discussion on the issue before a vote takes place.

In his ruling, the judge said this issue would be better served in the Legislature, where public hearings will fully vet the matter. Regardless of your position on unions and organized labor, this initiative deserves to receive due process and transparency.

The judge also shares our concern that only around 40 percent of the state's 11,000 providers would be allowed to vote on the issue even though 100 percent would be impacted one way or another.

A recent KSTP poll shows more than 80 percent of respondents oppose this union initiative. Among their reasons: Parents would face higher daycare fees, providers would face additional layers of bureaucracy and there has been no demonstrated need that industry working conditions are substandard or that Minnesota daycare subsidies are inferior. So far none of the daycare providers in our district that I have contacted are interested in joining a union.

Our focus should be on containing government growth, finding efficiencies and cost savings where possible, growing our economy and increasing jobs. If unionization can be thrust upon self-employed daycare providers, who will be targeted next? Foster parents? Anyone who cares for people receiving state assistance? What other private-business owners will be targeted?

I continue to welcome your input on this issue and encourage parents and daycare providers to contact Governor Dayton to let him know where you stand on this issue as well. You can call his office 651-201-3400 at or email him by clicking on this link.

Sincerely,

Kirk

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, December 8, 2011:

“Wonderful Life” analogy flawed
By: Bob Gorski, Eden Prairie

Dan Daniels' letter using the classic holiday movie “It's a Wonderful Life” as an allegory for the Occupy Wall Street crowd and “big banks” is at best a good laugh and at worst a shameful tarnishing of that great American classic.

I, for one, would not even consider using that movie in such a way, but if I did I would use Potter as the surrogate for our current federal government, George Bailey representative of free enterprise and the common man, and Bedford Falls as our country.

Potter, in reality, trying to gain control of the town (country) and gobbling up small businesses (private capital and freedom) in the process. George Bailey (private enterprise and freedom loving citizens) trying to succeed under the growing and expanding reach of Potter, finally needs the help of his friends (the American voter perhaps?) to throw off the shackle of tyranny.

At one point, Potter tempts Bailey with a nice cushy job just to remove him from the battle. This, in my view, is a great parallel to the federal government expanding the use of entitlements and security to seduce the voter into complacency on its surrendering of liberty.

In the fantasy portion of the film, we see what would happen if Potter had total control of the town in the absence of Bailey. Corruption, chaos, restraint and control are the elements of the day. In other words, lack of liberty and freedom.

And the Occupy Wall Street crowd? I see them as the rabble in the fantasy tavern renamed “Nick's,” getting what they want but not realizing all of their true freedom has vanished like Zuzu's petals.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, December 8, 2011:

Unionization vote raises concerns
By: Reps. Kirk Stensrud and Jenifer Loon, Eden Prairie

Last week, the House Commerce Committee held a hearing to examine the recent decision by Governor Dayton to hold an election allowing the unionization of home daycare providers. As members of the committee we participated in this hearing, posing questions to the witnesses to determine how the unionization vote will be conducted, who will be allowed to vote, and what the outcome will mean. The answers provided left us deeply concerned and of the opinion that this voting process is flawed and unfair.

Since then, a Ramsey County judge issued a restraining order to suspend the election. This is a huge victory for small businesses in our state.

The causes for concern are numerous, starting with the simple fact that unionization likely would increase daycare costs for parents. In Illinois childcare rates have jumped as much as 35 percent since the first year of its contract unionizing home daycare providers in 2006.

Significant childcare rate increases have occurred in at least seven of the unionized daycare states. At a time when families' budgets are already stretched thin, higher daycare costs will only add to the economic struggles of Minnesota families.

Furthermore, finding childcare could become more difficult as providers close to avoid being subject to union representation and intervention in their businesses. Both Maryland and Illinois saw a drop in the number of licensed childcare providers after they unionized.

Red flags should be raised when our governor is pushing to unionize independent small-business owners. If unionization can be thrust upon self-employed daycare providers because they provide care for children whose families receive government subsidies, who will be targeted next? Foster parents? Anyone who cares for people receiving state assistance? This added red tape and intervention between customer and caregiver does not encourage job growth and entrepreneurial activity.

The voting process to determine whether home daycares are unionized also is severely flawed. The governor called for the election to occur in December but is only allowing 4,287 daycare providers out of more than 11,000 to vote. That means 7,000 daycare providers will not have a say in what will impact an entire industry. Members of the House Commerce Committee, on a bipartisan basis, decried this decision as unfair. All providers will be affected and should be allowed to vote.

Even if your daycare provider does not join a union, nothing prohibits the union from instituting “fair share fees” on non-union provider, forcing them to pay union dues. A simple rulemaking procedure in existence at the Department of Human Services could also extend unionization to the entire industry. The precedent already has been set in Michigan, where the governor classified that state's daycare providers as public employees after they unionized.

Our providers do an outstanding job and should retain the latitude to operate their businesses as they and parents see fit, especially during these tough economic times. As we continue to closely monitor this situation, we welcome your input and encourage parents and daycare providers to contact Dayton to let him know where you stand on this issue as well.

----------------------------
Rep. Kirk Stensrud represents House District 48A and Rep. Jenifer Loon represents House District 48B

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, November 28, 2011:

Daycare
By: Rep. Sarah Anderson, Plymouth

Like many families where both parents work, my son goes to daycare. We are blessed to have great daycare close to home. However, the cost of daycare for any working family is no small matter. That is why I am so alarmed by Gov. Dayton's efforts to push unionization on daycare providers. It will increase the cost of daycare.

In Illinois alone, child care rates jumped as much as 35 percent since the first year of its contract in 2006. Substantial child care rate increases occurred in at least seven of the unionized daycare states.

Even if your daycare provider does not join the union, nothing prohibits the union from instituting fair share fees on non-union providers. A simple rulemaking procedure in existence at the Department of Human Services could also extend unionization to the entire industry.

All the while, your daycare costs will increase as dues and fees cut into the provider's bottom line.

Another alarming trend of the unionization of these privately-owned businesses is the decline in daycares. Both Maryland and Illinois saw a drop in the number of licensed child care providers. Finding child care will be made more difficult as your choices dwindle -- especially in greater Minnesota.

In addition, the election to unionize is flawed in itself. Gov. Dayton called for the election to occur in December but is only allowing 4,287 daycare providers out of more than 11,000 to vote. That means 7,000 daycare providers are banned from voting. Out of fairness alone, all providers should be allowed to vote.

The House Commerce Committee, on which I serve, heard testimony recently from child care providers telling us unionization will lead to higher costs and fewer providers. It was clear from their comments that Gov. Dayton's Executive Order is a solution in search of a problem. Given our struggling economy, working families can't afford another ill-conceived government experiment.

----------------------------
Rep. Sarah Anderson represents House District 43A

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie Sun-Current, November 16, 2011:

Defending Erik Paulsen on Obamacare
By: John Tyler, Eden Prairie

A reader recently wrote in castigating Congressman Erik Paulsen on his vote to repeal Obamacare (“Obamacare criticism not valid” Oct. 20). The reader indicated it wasn't such a bad law and that it really was health care “reform.”

I'm afraid the reader hasn't been paying attention to the reality of the impact of this oppressive law upon America. Has the reader noticed we are in the middle of a national and statewide recession?

A recent front page of the Sun-Current announced that Minnesota has lost yet another 7,400 jobs. Obamacare is one of the primary causes blocking economic recovery, and presents the greatest threat to job creation and our future state and national fiscal sustainability. This estimated $2.6 trillion legislation, with its far-reaching regulations and government mandates, is causing havoc and uncertainty for states, businesses and American families.

So far, 28 states are suing the federal government, challenging the law's constitutionality. This administration continues to spend billions of dollars implementing a law that may be struck down by the Supreme Court.

Businesses are still experiencing unprecedented premium increases due to Obamacare's mandate-compliance rules.

As a result of this law, all Minnesota individual health insurance carriers have stopped writing stand-alone individual coverage for children. Only the Minnesota Comprehensive Health Association, the state's high-risk pool, is willing to write these policies, and it has only a limited menu of very expensive plans to offer. A study by McKinsey & Co. estimates one in three businesses will drop their employee health insurance and opt to pay the law's fines, forcing their employees to find “government-approved” insurance on their own.

To date more than 6,000 pages of new regulations have been issued by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services to implement Obamacare “reform.” An estimated $500 billion in new taxes on premiums, and medical supplies and services are included in this law.

It should be no surprise that the more people see of Obamacare, the less they like it, including Congressman Erik Paulsen. Congressman Paulsen was certainly right, along with his GOP colleagues, to pass legislation to repeal this terrible law before the damage and cost to America are beyond repair.

MORE INFORMATION ON OBAMACARE


List of 28 states suing to stop Obamacare:

Florida, Virginia, South Carolina, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Louisiana, Alabama, Michigan, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Washington, Idaho, South Dakota, North Dakota, Arizona, Georgia, Alaska, Nevada, Indiana, Mississippi Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Ohio, Kansas, Maine, Iowa


Major Obamacare waiver recipients and their membership:

• Carpenters Health and Welfare Fund (20,500)
• Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 25 (31,000)
• Darden Restaurants (34,000)
• Aetna (209,423)
• CIGNA (265,000)
• United Federation of Teachers (351,000)

Union members represent 43.1 percent of the 2,443,047 enrollees included in these waivers.


Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla: “Obamacare was sold as all benefit — no downside.And now 2.5 million people literally need to be protected from the devastating effects of Obamacare.”


Betsy McCaughey, president of Defend Your Healthcare: “The very interests who supported this law and helped ram it through Congress are now applying for waivers. If government has the power to grant waivers, it has the power to deny them and destroy any business. Americans never should have to slink and slither to the White House for exemptions, like supplicants.”

The following is an e-mail update from Rep. Kirk Stensrud, November 09, 2011:

Kirk Stensrud (48A) - Email Newsletter

Dear Neighbor,

Thank you to all the people who attended the recent Reform 2.0 co-hosted by area legislators and chambers of commerce. We appreciate all the valuable input we received from local business people and local government representatives.

We are in the process of putting together a package of bills for the 2012 session that is designed to help our state government operate more efficiently and spur growth in the private sector. Here is some of what we heard at the meeting:

Eden Prairie officials talked about how the state has heaped layer after layer of restrictive mandates on them. Local governments are asking us to re-examine these mandates and eliminate any that are obsolete, ineffective or have brought unintended consequences. Legislation we enacted last spring created the Sunset Commission, which could be a significant help in cleaning up this area.

Local business owners explained how they want to expand and hire more workers but are handcuffed by the tax code and other restrictions that are disincentives. Some of this is a federal issue, but we really need to look at our state’s regulatory code and see which requirements are unnecessary.

I was particularly intrigued by the perspective provided by one meeting attendee who has worked both in government and in the private sector. The key difference, he said, is this: The private sector defines success and then figures out how to achieve it. Meantime, government defines a problem, puts money toward it and hopes for the best. He wants to see incentive for agencies to abandon that backward thinking and increase the effectiveness of our tax dollars. I expect that objective to gain momentum in St. Paul and look forward to further investigating it.

It is quite clear we need changes to put our state on a better fiscal course and I continue to welcome ideas from local citizens. You can reach me by emailing rep.kirk.stensrud@house.mn or by calling my legislative office at (651) 296-3964.

Sincerely,

Kirk

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, November 03, 2011:

Supports Bratrud, Espe, Estall, Parker
By: Bev Aho, Eden Prairie

The recent changes in Eden Prairie schools underscore the importance of this year's School Board election. Whether your kids have already completed school as have ours, or haven't yet started their formal education, each of us must take time to ensure that our schools are well run as part of maintaining our strong and vital community.

This year, we can vote for four candidates for School Board, and I encourage you to join me in remembering the acronym “BEEP” and vote for Karla Bratrud, Dave Espe, John Estall, and Holly Parker. All four of these candidates have shown a deep understanding of our current situation and are committed to making Eden Prairie schools among the best in the state. They are all tremendous advocates for a strong school system, have excellent communication skills with residents, students, faculty and staff, and will bring the energy and expertise necessary to resolving the current situation and prepare Eden Prairie schools for the next decade.

I have every confidence that Eden Prairie schools will be in great hands by adding Karla Bratrud and Dave Espe to join incumbents John Estall and Holly Parker as our leadership team of “BEEP” to our School Board.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, November 03, 2011:

Supports Estall, Parker
By: Karen Norton, Eden Prairie

Three incumbent School Board members are seeking re-election, two of whom are deserving of your votes: Holly Parker and John Estall. Holly and John have been diligent in their efforts to bring accountability and transparency to Eden Prairie Schools for the last several years; not like the feel-good reports with “accountability” in the title that district administration provides, but REAL accountability and transparency that the community expects and deserves.

These two have never been afraid of asking the hard questions of the district administration to seek clarity and understanding before putting issues to a vote. They understand that this is part of building community trust and partnering with parents to make the best decisions for all Eden Prairie students. John and Holly are respectful of fellow board members who hold differing views and treat citizens with that same kind of respect. They answer their emails honestly and respectfully. They have worked to the benefit of all Eden Prairie students without showing favoritism to their own children's school, as reflected in their voting record.

The results of recent School Board decisions have left Eden Prairie Schools with a diminished reputation, reduced home values, hundreds of students leaving our schools with a loss of millions of dollars in district revenue, angry citizens, less financial stability, and failed transformation results. If you review the School Board meeting discussions and the voting record of the three incumbents, as I have done, you will know that Holly and John have struggled for better communication, better planning, and more collaboration with the community before invoking sweeping changes to our schools.

Two of the three incumbents, Holly Parker and John Estall, have demonstrated strong willingness to collaborate. They have worked to bring transparency and accountability that citizens crave. They have worked tirelessly on behalf of ALL Eden Prairie students. They are strong positive leaders in this community. Please join me in voting for Holly “P”arker and John “E”stall for Eden Prairie School Board on November 8. Visit www.beep4ep.com


The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, November 03, 2011:

Vote Bratrud, Espe, Estall, Parker
By: Brenda Tonjes, Eden Prairie

I urge Eden Prairie voters to vote for BEEP on November 8! The BEEP candidates are Karla Bratrud, Dave Espe, John Estall, and Holly Parker. These are the candidates in whom I believe we can place our trust to do what is best for all Eden Prairie kids!

My husband and I, along with our four children, grades 5, 7, 10 and 11, have lived in Eden Prairie for over 17 years. From September 2000 when our oldest child started kindergarten, until January 2009, our children attended Eden Prairie schools. In the middle of the 2008-2009 school year, my husband and I began moving our children out of the district. We moved our children out of the district because we lost faith in the ability and willingness of the Eden Prairie School Board member and the administration to listen to the community and do what is best for all children.

Once we started looking around, we found that there are a lot of other schools with a lot to offer, and we realized that we didn't have to keep our children in a school district where the School Board members that were elected by the public, and the administration who were paid with our tax dollars didn't value us or our opinions and didn't truly believe that we are partners in our children's education.

Now in 2011, I am actively involved in the Eden Prairie School Board election because I believe that our district needs to get back to a time where School Board members listen and do what is best for all kids, where they examine the information objectively and not with a blind eye to the desires of the administration or with their own subjective desires. We need to have a School Board that will review the decisions and plans that have been made and make changes if those decisions and plans aren't achieving the desired outcomes. The BEEP candidates are the people who will do this. Vote for BEEP on November 8.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, November 03, 2011:

Candidate Bratrud outlines values
By: Karla Bratrud, Eden Prairie

During the 16 years I've lived in Eden Prairie and over the 13 years my kids have been in our schools, I've learned many things about our district.

First, our dedicated teachers and staff work hard to provide a great education to our children. In addition, our community is well-educated and has high expectations for student results. Parents are extremely generous and, when the district treats them like valued partners, they are willing to contribute enormous amounts of volunteer time and financial resources to support our schools.

During these last few tumultuous years, however, teachers and staff were left out of decisions that affected them. Parents wanted to be listened to and given access to accurate data about the many proposed changes. We wanted the School Board to ask tougher questions about the research, short and long-term planning, and cost projections for major initiatives. Some families made the difficult decision to take their kids out of the district.

Going forward, what should the board's role be in all of this? The new board must hire a superintendent with a proven track record of raising student achievement, excellent communication skills, and a desire to collaborate with stakeholders. The board must ensure that the information the district provides is reliable. As we consider programs and innovation the community values -- foreign languages, STEM/STEAM programs for GT students, enrichment for middle and high achievers, and tutoring for struggling students for example -- the board must ask the necessary questions: What feedback was gathered? What research was relied upon? What are the short and long-term plans? How much does it cost?

In addition, most people agree that the facilities transformation and boundary decisions were poorly done and hastily implemented. If the new board determines that the goals of this plan aren't being achieved and/or the plan is too costly, we may need to make modifications. However, I have a full appreciation of the fact that many students were just relocated to new schools this year and that any future facilities or boundary changes could create additional anxiety for families. I would not enter into those discussions lightly.

The values I chose to emphasize during my campaign are transparency, trust, academic focus, and fiscal conservatism. If elected to the School Board, I will work hard to promote those values. I ask for your vote on November 8!

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, November 03, 2011:

Supports Espe
By: Bill Hoag, Eden Prairie

I would like to encourage people to support Dave Espe for School Board. I support Dave because he has many experiences that will prove to have value to the board:

(1) COMMITMENT TO CHILDREN -- Dave has five children that have attended EP schools. He and his wife have been very active for many years

(2) EXPERIENCE -- Dave has teaching, athletics, music and technology experience. Dave is well versed and knowledgeable in many areas of the current curriculum.

(3) CHARACTER -- In my experience with Dave, he has been willing and able to hear my point of view and articulate his position with honesty.

I believe Dave is an outstanding choice for Eden Prairie School Board.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, November 03, 2011:

Supports Karla Bratrud
By: Kris and Dale Kerber, Eden Prairie

For anyone who has followed recent events in the Eden Prairie school district, it is widely understood that many families feel disappointed by the process that was followed in making several controversial decisions affecting our schools, whether the decisions made were perceived to be in their favor or not.

In order to move forward in a productive way, we must focus on the fact that we live in an amazing community of caring parents and exceptional teachers who work very hard to help our students succeed. When channeled effectively, this passionate dedication will create opportunities for even greater academic success.

Karla Bratrud is the School Board candidate who will help bring proper focus back to our district's efforts by collaborating with parents and teachers in an open and honest way, and by insisting that the district administration and School Board do its homework before proceeding with future initiatives.

We have known Karla for 15 years and during that time she has proven herself to be a logical decision-maker as well as an avid and informed proponent of policies and curricula that support high achievement for all learners. Karla can be counted on to be thorough in her research before making critical decisions and she will be committed to calling for that same level of accountability from her peers on the board and from our district administration and new superintendent. She will also be mindful of our taxpayer dollars, ensuring that the board has a thorough understanding of the impact of various decisions on the budget. Our district's governance policies and other high level functions are quite complex, but because of Karla's tireless involvement in our schools over the years she is well-educated on these topics and will hit the ground running after she's elected.

Please join us in casting your vote for Karla Bratrud so our community can once again unite on behalf of our students!

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie Sun-Current, November 02, 2011:

BEEP for all Eden Prairie students
By: Donna Azarian, Eden Prairie

A letter to the editor in Oct. 20's newspaper (“History repeats?” October 20) stated that there are some candidates who will “continue to isolate children” in the African American community in order to “keep them distant.”

The comments made in this letter were way out of line by suggesting something as egregiously outrageous as this. Vitriolic and venomous accusations like this are causing divisiveness within our community.

And it is because of incorrect assumptions and accusations like this one that the B.E.E.P. candidates (Karla Bratrud, Dave Espe, John Estall and Holly Parker) are gaining strong support in the community.

These candidates want great results for all children in Eden Prairie. Currently, children are being bussed across town from their neighborhood schools to facilities, in some cases, that are not adequate for their size and needs. Award-winning programs like music have been dismantled and spread across the district, diluting this once great program.

Obviously the new changes were not well thought out, were expensive to execute and caused a set of new problems for all students. I can assure you, from what I have heard from the B.E.E.P. candidates, they want all students to thrive and succeed in our schools.

These candidates also want transparency and accountability in our school district, something that has been lacking in the Eden Prairie for quite some time.

I agree with the writer that it is a critical time for Eden Prairie. A BEEP vote is for the success of all Eden Prairie children.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie Sun-Current, November 02, 2011:

Dave Espe for Eden Prairie School Board
By: John McCarthy, Eden Prairie

In the next few weeks, we will have the opportunity to participate in a very important school board election. The choices we make will affect thousands of Eden Prairie students and families for many years to come -- it's truly an important moment of our Eden Prairie citizenship.

As citizens within the Eden Prairie school district, we are fortunate to have many quality choices. Let me tell you who will receive one of my votes: Dave Espe.

I have been acquainted with Dave Espe for over 10 years and can attest to his strong moral character and abilities. Dave's background in education and strong business acumen will be an effective combination to solve the many challenges our education community is facing. I've always found Dave to be extremely committed to his family, faith and community. Over the years, I've had the opportunity to be on many youth playing fields with Dave and see him in action. Fair, organized, fiscally responsible and one of the best communicators I've ever been associated with are just a few of the attributes he will bring to the school board.

The election of Dave Espe will “raise the bar” of the education system in our community and will preserve the values we've come to appreciate about living and learning in Eden Prairie. I encourage you to join me in voting for Dave Espe on November 8.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, October 27, 2011:

Supports Dave Espe
By: Lee Prinkkila, Eden Prairie

Equity is defined in many ways. One is assets greater than liabilities. We need more assets than liabilities in our school system. I am a numbers guy so I had only two questions about redistricting:

1. What is this going to cost?

2. How is this going to produce smarter students?

Both questions were unanswered but the majority of the board proceeded. It is time for new equity on the board-- vote Dave Espe, who is a guy who can answer the tough questions. I will be BEEPing on Election Day and I encourage you to do the same.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, October 27, 2011:

Supports Karla Bratrud
By: Shawn and Christy Schively, Eden Prairie

Last January we made the difficult decision to move our youngest child out of the Eden Prairie School system. This was done after many tears and painful conversations. We did not make this decision because of the boundary map or because of race. In fact, we are a bi-racial family ourselves. We made this decision because of a flawed process.

As a member of the Five Year Facilities Task Force, I saw firsthand how the district manipulated data and numbers to benefit their desired outcome. I was told I was “showing resistance” whenever I questioned something or advocated for another model. We decided to not let our child be a pawn in their game.

The games still continue. At the last board meeting when it was announced that over 300 children were attending other schools, Kim Ross said she thought it was premature to reach conclusions about why families left. Really?

We now have hope to someday bring our child back to the district that we have loved and spent endless hours volunteering for. The reason we have hope is because of Karla Bratrud.

From the day Karla is sworn in, she will be ready to serve. She has attended numerous board meetings, knows the governance model, and has volunteered for over 13 years in each of her children's schools and activities. She will be fiscally responsible with our money and will ask the tough questions and search hard for the answers. She will work hard for transparency and be an advocate for teachers and stakeholders. She will lead in bringing this community back together and make this school district the great district the great district it once was.

After attending the past two debates, it has become very evident that we need someone like Karla who understands the complex issues. There are many decisions that need to be made in the coming year and we cannot afford the time it takes for the much talked about “learning curve” to get uninformed candidates up to speed on the history of our district.

We ask that you join us at the polls on November 8 and vote for Karla Bratrud!

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, October 27, 2011:

Supports Dave Espe
By: John McCarthy, Eden Prairie

In the next few weeks, we will have the opportunity to participate in a very important School Board election. The choices we make will affect thousands of Eden Prairie students and families for many years to come. It's truly an important moment of our Eden Prairie citizenship.

As citizens within the Eden Prairie School District, we are fortunate to have many quality choices. Let me tell you who will receive one of my votes: Dave Espe.

I have been acquainted with Dave Espe for over 10 years and can attest to his strong moral character and abilities. Dave's background in education and strong business acumen will be an effective combination to solve the many challenges our education community is facing. I've always found Dave to be extremely committed to his family, faith and community. Over the years, I've had the opportunity to be on many youth playing fields with Dave and see him in action. Fair, organized, fiscally responsible, and one of the best communicators I've ever been associated with are just a few of the attributes he will bring to the School Board.

The election of Dave Espe will “raise the bar” of the education system in our community and will preserve the values we've come to appreciate about living and learning in Eden Prairie. I encourage you to join me in voting for Dave Espe on November 8.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie Sun-Current, October 26, 2011:

Pivotal school board election
By: Debbie Brandt, Eden Prairie

The importance of the school board elections this November cannot be overstated. The recent admission by the Eden Prairie School District that over 300 students left the district just last year stands as a wake-up call for citizens of Eden Prairie. This large loss of students from the district represents a loss of millions of dollars in revenue for the district. Furthermore, it ensures that the district will be pushing for higher referendums in the future to make up for lost revenues.

Why did so many students leave the district? I speculate that many, like my family, left not because they don't value diversity, but because they aren't willing to let their kids bear the brunt of ill-planned, imposed, experimental, unpredictable changes. Yet, if you listen to the district, the K-6 transformation is well-planned, fiscally responsible, and solves all district problems. If only “racist” parents wouldn't stand in the way. If you believe the district, perhaps I have a bridge I could sell you.

Look, I understand the desire to believe the district's actions are all aboveboard and in the best interests of all kids, but this unfortunately is not the case. I, and others, have been collecting documentation for several years about how the administration operates. I created the Eden Prairie School Board Accountability Facebook page to give people a voice, and it is an information-sharing vehicle. I will post a report on collected documentation. Please check it out on Facebook. Knowledge is power.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie Sun-Current, October 26, 2011:

Dave Espe for Eden Prairie School Board
By: Butch Cavello, Eden Prairie

In a crowded field of folks seeking the opportunity serve on the school board, one candidate has the “right stuff” for our children and our schools. Dave Espe is an outstanding choice for our Eden Prairie School Board.

I have had the pleasure of knowing Dave for several years, being introduced to him in our youth sports programs. Dave is a committed and passionate individual who has been dedicated to our kids for the entire time he has lived in Eden Prairie.

Dave is an excellent problem solver; he seeks to understand the facts and data around situations and always provides options and solutions to resolve issues. I know Dave to be fair, passionate and understanding. He has always demonstrated commitment to his family, friends and his faith.

Over the years, Dave and I have often discussed the education systems, the opportunities within it and what improvements could he made. I was very pleased when I heard Dave had decided to take action and make the commitment to run for the school board.

With his degree in education, his passion and energy for the youth of our community and his desire to help the schools of Eden Prairie, I couldn't think of anyone I'd rather see representing my family on the school board.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie Sun-Current, October 26, 2011:

Karla Bratrud for Eden Prairie School Board
By: Desiree and Gary Griffith, Eden Prairie

Two weeks ago, we visited our freshman son at St. Olaf College and attended homecoming and family weekend celebrations. One of the most remarkable events was the president's address.

President David Anderson spoke with brilliant vision, humor and vibrancy. His transparency was the most astounding, especially coming from a private college president. He was wonderfully open and frank when discussing fiscal affairs, and I was left longing for that same transparency in Eden Prairie Schools. As parents of four children, we would wholeheartedly embrace greater transparency rather than simply more frequent email communications from the district.

We would appreciate legitimate parent committees and focus groups that sincerely value and implement parental consensus. In addition, we would especially appreciate a school board and administration that considers stakeholder feedback.

We have known Karla Bratrud for 13 years and she is a candidate that will be not only transparent but also straightforward, smart and well informed.

Karla has been highly involved in Eden Prairie Schools for many years, she knows the issues well, and she will hit the ground running!

Karla is efficient, pragmatic and she believes in spending less time discussing policies and more time discussing education, while still delivering a superior education to all students. Finally, Karla believes in fiscal responsibility and careful use of taxpayer dollars, a concept that resonates well with us.

Please join us in voting for Karla Bratrud and bringing Eden Prairie Schools back to a better balance with greater transparency, efficiency and fiscal responsibility.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, October 20, 2011:

Karla Bratrud for Eden Prairie School Board
By: Sheila Kihne, Eden Prairie

I've never met a person in Eden Prairie who doesn't take an interest in educating kids for success. That's simply the baseline attitude in this community.

The Eden Prairie School District manages a $95 Million annual budget, which equates to over $10,000 worth of tax funding per pupil. It's absolutely critical that we elect people who will look out for the kids, but at the same time look out for the taxpayers who foot the bill. In these precarious economic times, we can no longer afford to make rash decisions based on unfounded claims.

On November 8, we have the opportunity to elect a board who will bring back transparency in decision-making, accountability for our tax dollars, and the goodwill of the community.

Karla Bratrud is the right leader for the job. She's been a tireless volunteer in the schools and has also participated in many citizen study groups on the issues affecting the district. She has the institutional knowledge to hit the ground running in January. Karla has a positive, patient and respectful disposition with a strong business background. But most importantly, she leads with the opinion that education in Eden Prairie should be focused on excellence.

It will take extraordinarily dedicated people to lead this district back to its rightful place as a top-tier Minnesota school system. I hope you will join me in voting for Karla Bratrud on November 8 so that we can begin to take the next steps down that road.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, October 20, 2011:

BEEP for Bratrud
By: Greg Bode, Eden Prairie

Karla Bratrud has my vote for Eden Prairie School Board. I favor her commitment to closing the achievement gap while promoting transparency and accountability of decisions made by administration.

While recent changes made by the district administration have been dubbed as being “for the good of the children,” the outcomes of these actions have yet to be measured. Board candidates and incumbents alike imply that “what is done is done” and time is required to analyze the impact of these decisions. Conspicuously absent will be the resigned superintendent.

As we wait for outcomes, two facts are immediately clear: First is the loss of 303 students to competing educational programs. Second is the board decision not to run a referendum in 2012. I assert that both are attributable to the lack of community trust in the administration and board governance.

I agree with Karla's premise: A flawed board governance model permitted administration to make long-term strategic decisions without presenting coherent facts or well-laid plans leading to non-contiguous boundary changes, a K-12 Spanish immersion program (yes, K-12), a redesigned K-6 facilities program and many less publicized changes.

If you are as dizzied as I am in interpreting the facts and rationale leading to these sweeping changes, you are not alone. That is why I am casting my vote for “B”ratrud with the expectation for improved transparency and accountability on measurable educational excellence for all. Visit www.beep4ep.com

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, October 20, 2011:

Questions letter
By: Tom Styczinski, Eden Prairie

I read Ann Berne-Rannow's letter to the editor in the September 22 Eden Prairie News. I thought it was really strange the way she criticized Congressman Erik Paulsen for something I wish more representatives would do, that is listen to the voters. She takes particular issue with his tele-town hall meetings, his regular in-person meetings, and his “Congress On Your Corner” events, and each of these provide an excellent opportunity for voters to have their voices heard.

I think the tele-town hall meetings are particularly important. On one meeting I heard an elderly woman thank Congressman Paulsen for having the tele-town hall option. She said she would not have physically been able to attend an in-person meeting.

Later in the letter, Ms. Berne-Rannow's real reason for writing becomes clear: She wants to defend Obamacare.

She does this by taking issue with Congressman Paulsen's statement that the recent healthcare legislation will likely make the problem of healthcare affordability worse. I strongly agree with Congressman Paulsen. His statement reassures me that he has listened to and understands the concerns of others in similar situations.

I work for a very large company with more than 250,000 employees. I was recently notified by my employer that they will be discontinuing my current health plan, and I will have to switch to a high deductable plan. They said the reason for the change was to allow them to better manage the effects of the new healthcare reform legislation. This change will hit me particularly hard because I have a special needs child that requires extensive therapy. It breaks my heart, but I will likely have to take my little girl off my health insurance, and put her in a state health plan. It's a state plan that existed long before Obamacare, but will no doubt be further stressed by Obama's “reform” legislation. The net result of all this will likely be more health care costs for me and more costs for the taxpayer.

I feel really fortunate that I have a Congressman that will listen to, understand, and care about me, my family, and especially my daughter and others like her. I cannot help but think that if we had more representatives like Erik Paulsen, who care enough to provide multiple ways to hear from voters, we would not have the mess we have in Congress. We certainly wouldn't have Obamacare.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, October 13, 2011:

Voter Beware: School Board 2011
By: Deb Brandt Eden Prairie

On October 3, I attended the Eden Prairie School Board candidate's debate. I thank the candidates for their time. However, I noticed that some answers didn't reflect an understanding of the complex issues facing the district.

Kim Ross said that governance allows the board to decide to be more involved in operations of the district, yet she has consistently voted against expanding board oversight. Compare her board votes to those of Holly Parker and John Estall.

Derek Gunderson talked at length about his kids, how young he is, and how today's preschoolers need to be well-educated, as they will be caregivers presumably for the audience members. Bill Lapidat waxed poetic about Minnesota in the 1970's. Interesting perspectives, yet what about the here and now?

By contrast, Karla Bratrud is clearly ready to go. Having been very engaged as a volunteer in the schools and as a citizen, Karla understands the board's governance model. She knows the strain put on the citizens of Eden Prairie by the ambitious, yet experimental, K-6 transformation and boundary changes. She pledges to support proven methods to close the achievement gap. She believes in transparency, honest communication, and true engagement with the community. She will dig into the details of the district's finances before supporting a future referendum. Karla demonstrated an understanding of the complexities of the decisions the School Board will face, and is ready to roll up her sleeves and work for all citizens of Eden Prairie.

Dave Espe also understands the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. As a father of a child with special needs, he has successfully worked with the district to maximize their learning. As a longtime coach, he has challenged kids to strive annd nurtured their love for sports. Dave recognized the recent accomplishment of EPHS winning the Challenge Cup. He issued another challenge to the district : to get back on top of the charts, winning academic awards too. He believes that district money belongs in classrooms and that the district needs to stop bleeding students.

Please take your vote seriously. Ask questions. Vote wisely.

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For more background on the controversies surrounding the current EP School Board majority, check out this interesting blog post by Sheila Kihne

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, October 13, 2011:

Supports Bratrud
By: Alexa Smith, Eden Prairie

We moved to Eden Prairie eight years ago because of the schools. At first, they did seem wonderful. Then, when they were less wonderful, I assumed that those nice people who take care of these things would straighten it out. Shame on me for taking my community privileges for granted!

This district is in worse financial shape than it should be. The quality of general education suffers while special interest initiatives are expanded. The leadership is careless about the community it is supposed to serve. Eden Lake has an arbitrary and unproven no-grading/no-homework policy, despite objections from hundreds of parents. Oak Point appears to be moving in the same direction, with parents being told that policies are under review and the grading portal access suspended -- even for the 6th graders who were promised continuity. And the same schools that were overcrowded before the "transformation" are still overcrowded and the schools with extra capacity still have empty space.

We need our district to focus on the highest academic standards for ALL students and to improve financial management. We must elect the right School Board to do this. Karla Bratrud has long been an advocate for quality education in Eden Prairie, as well as a dedicated parent and volunteer. Well before last year's headlines. Karla was attending board meetings, sitting on focus groups, building community awareness and doing everything a citizen should do to keep our district on track. Karla will be a responsible and caring voice, helping the Board to restore balance and excellence to our schools.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, October 06, 2011:

Vote Parker, Espe, Bratrud
By: Jill Swenson Van Fossan, Eden Prairie

There is more that unites than separates our values in Eden Prairie but it is the arrogance of a couple of School Board members that has been so destructive. The process leading up to the musical chairs exercise of nearly 1,000 kids changing schools was never supported by the community.

Have we moved on? In truth, we're trying to make the experience of a new school a positive one for our child though this was not ideal.

Most of the parents who opposed this change believe:

• Diversity is a good thing -- our children learn from each other.

• Disrupting 1,000 kids friendships and their current school was not a good thing.

These are not mutually exclusive values. My neighborhood is carved up with kids who left for Minnetonka, kids who remained in Prairie View, and a couple of kids that now go to Forest Hills. It is sad.

Nearly all of my daughter's closest friends remain in the Prairie View boundary except her. There were many more gradual options proposed with less disruption. These were ignored. The lack of clear community support for the Spanish Immersion School to take over Oak Point was widely discussed but ignored.

We have committed to make this year as positive as possible.

We fully support the election of Holly Parker, John Estall, and Karla Bratrud as they have community supported leadership which is needed to sort out the district funding challenges that are left as a result of this debacle.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie Sun-Current, October 05, 2011:

BEEP! BEEP!
By: Dan Kitrell, Eden Prairie

Every voter in Eden Prairie may vote for up to four candidates for Eden Prairie School Board on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

I encourage each of you to vote for BEEP!

"BEEP" is an acronym for four candidates: Karla Bratrud, David Espe, John Estall and Holly Parker. Each of these four candidates has a distinguished background and a clear and positive vision for the future.

To help you remember "BEEP," you may recall the "Roadrunner" cartoons of your childhood. In these cartoons, Wile E. Coyote fully committed to one bad idea after another in an effort to catch the Roadrunner, each time ending in a predictably bad outcome.

Although viewers could see the looming disaster of jet-powered roller skates, rocket-propelled sleds, bat-winged flight suits and other poorly conceived plans, the coyote would fully commit to each attempt that would end in a spectacular failure every time.

Although the objectives of closing the achievement gap and improving results for all of our students are shared by all candidates, the BEEP candidates realize that you do not need to figuratively blow up the existing system with ACME dynamite to achieve better outcomes.

The majority on the current school board committed to the right objectives but had the wrong plan. Let's take a moment to come up with a better plan and make sure that we have the right people in place to make it work.

Our schools have already lost hundreds of students and millions of dollars in funding because of the current Eden Prairie School Board's full commitment to a bad idea.

I encourage each of you to consider voting for all four BEEP candidates: Bratrud, Espe, Estall and Parker.

Remember the Roadrunner on November 8 and vote for "BEEP! BEEP!"

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie Sun-Current, October 05, 2011:

Karla Bratrud for Eden Prairie School Board
By: Ann Hansen, Eden Prairie

As a mother of three children who have all attended public school in Eden Prairie, I am passionate about our community and the success of its schools.

I see this same passion in Karla Bratrud. I came to know Karla while our sons participated in cross country, Nordic skiing and track together at the high school. During those four years I have seen her in action as a captain's parent for two sports and watched her volunteer her time and talents to the schools in many capacities.

Not only am I amazed at her boundless energy but also her integrity and steadfast commitment to academics.

One thing that bothered me this last year regarding the actions of the superintendent and school board were the lack of transparency. I couldn't imagine a business being successful with this same lack of transparency, nor can I fathom a business treating its customers the way our district leadership has treated theirs.

Karla will provide this transparency and dedicated commitment to academic focus. She will concentrate on helping our students be successful and through her sense of fiscal responsibility. She will help our schools direct funding to the right places.

Karla's beliefs and values truly emulate the kind of person I want on the school board. The board will face many important decisions this next year, but I know Karla is up to the challenge. She has my vote and I ask that you also give her yours.

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To learn more about Karla Bratrud, you can visit her website

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie Sun-Current, October 05, 2011:

Dave Espe for Eden Prairie School Board
By: Mary Kubicek, Eden Prairie

On Nov. 8, we will elect four Eden Prairie School Board members. I would like to tell you why I will cast one of my four votes for Dave Espe.

Eden Prairie has a long history of supporting our children in attaining an excellent education. In order for our next generation to be effective and compete in the 21st century, we need to make sure we are educating every student who enters our school system, whether he or she is struggling academically, or is gifted and needing to be challenged while still remembering to focus on the majority of children who are somewhere in the middle of that spectrum.

As a parent of five children who attend or have graduated from Eden Prairie Schools, Dave understands that each child is unique and that our schools must meet the needs of all children in Eden Prairie.

He firmly believes that parents deserve to live in a community that has strong schools. Dave's background in education and experience in business will be an asset to our district. He has the skills set to be an effective board member while representing Eden Prairie stakeholders including our children, parents and educators.

He is fiscally responsible and expects our school administration to be the same. He will be a wise steward of our children's education dollars ensuring money is spent in the classrooms where it most affects students.

He will rebuild our community's trust through true collaboration with the community and other board members while also demanding transparency and real accountability from administration.

Dave's rich background as a parent, spouse of a Bloomington teacher and fiscally responsible businessman who was trained as a math teacher will help him work with the new board to hire our district's next superintendent.

Please join me in casting one of our four votes for Dave. To learn more about Dave, please go to his website, Espe4schoolboard.com.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, September 22, 2011:

Restore common sense
By: Karla Bratrud, Eden Prairie

My name is Karla Bratrud and I'm running for a seat on the Eden Prairie School Board.

As a 16-year resident and parent of three children who've been educated in Eden Prairie since their first day of kindergarten. I'm proud of our schools. We have phenomenal teachers and staff committed to providing our kids a superior education. We have parents who generously donate time and money to improve our schools. We have exceptional kids who work hard.

I believe, however, that our district has squandered those resources. They've created an environment where teachers have been stifled and their input ignored. Parents were called “dissenting noise,” and it's been implied that our community is racist.

Additionally, the district has repeatedly contradicted itself. Parents were told for years that looping wasn't for everyone and then suddenly it was to be mandated at Oak Point. Creating socio-economic diversity became a requirement at every school, but Eagle Heights Spanish Immersion was allowed to increase its enrollment with no such requirement. We've recently been told that the achievement gap in our district is narrowing, which is great news, but if we've been able to accomplish that with curriculum changes and dedicated teaching, was it necessary to relocate 1,000 students to new schools.

Our superintendent has chosen to leave at the end of this month. Those who opposed her initiatives might be tempted to think our problems are now solved. I'd like to encourage a different way of thinking.

The reality is that a superintendent's authority is determined by School Board. Our board chose the coherent governance model, which gives considerable freedom to the superintendent, but they also chose on numerous occasions not to demand accountability. The current board could have put the facilities transformation on hold, and listened to the legitimate concerns of teachers and community, but they forged ahead.

Prospective board members should not be motivated by a personal agenda, but by the desire to restore common sense, fiscal responsibility, transparency and excellence to our school system. They should require the district to address the achievement gap through academic solutions, instead of placing blame on the community. And they must insist that proposals for major initiatives be accompanied by research, long-term plans, detailed budget projections, and stakeholder feedback.

If elected, I am committed to being that kind of board member. To learn more about my campaign, please visit www.bratrud4schoolboard.com. Thank you!
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Editor's note: Bratrud is a candidate for Eden Prairie School Board

The following letter appeared in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, September 17, 2011:

Paying too much to oust school superintendent
By: Mike Beer, Minneapolis

It just keeps getting more outrageous. Eden Prairie's school board is paying its superintendent $100,000 to leave with several months still on her contract.

I hope the residents remember this the next time the school floats a referendum for more money. Employment contracts that allow taxpayer dollars to be used like this should be made illegal statewide.

The following letter appeared in the Minnetonka Sun-Sailor, August 31, 2011:

Washington needs to support entrepreneurs
By: U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen - Guest Columnist

During the past few weeks, I've visited several local businesses in the Minnetonka and Hopkins area, meeting with their employees to find new ways to breathe life into our stagnant economy.

For 29 consecutive months, our national unemployment rate has been at or above 8 percent. While Minnesota fairs slightly better, we still have a long way to go.

Take for example the challenge our new college graduates face. Every year, the Minnesota's State Colleges and University system graduates approximately 38,000 students. For this year's graduates, there isn't that much to celebrate.

In June, when these graduates entered the workforce, our entire national economy created a paltry 18,000 jobs.

While new graduates are trying to enter the workforce, Washington is busy churning out new regulations that choke the life out of the small businesses that power our economy.

According to a 2010 report from the Small Business Administration, total regulatory costs amount to $1.75 trillion a year - money that would be better spent expanding these businesses and hiring millions of American workers.

It seems antithetical that our government would over-regulate at a time when Minnesota's public colleges graduate twice as many students into the workforce as there are jobs being created nationwide.

But that's exactly what's happening in Washington. Adding insult to injury is the fact that partisan gridlock and the prospect of massive, job-crushing tax hikes are adding to the sense of uncertainty among America's job creators.

The simple truth is that, with our economy barely sputtering along, we should not raise taxes on job creators. This is not just a Republican value, it's a viewpoint that's been shared by President Barack Obama.

However, the current tax code is menacing enough the way it is. According to a report by the National Taxpayer Advocate, in 2008 alone, taxpayers spent $163 billion complying with the individual and corporate income tax rules.

This complexity is hurting our ability to compete on a global scale. In fact, if tax compliance were an industry, it would be one of the largest in the United States, employing 3 million full time workers.

For the sake of our economy, we need tax reform to spur innovation and promote sustainable job growth in all sectors of our economy.

Putting America back to work must be job one for Congress. The best way to create more jobs is to start up more businesses. Washington needs to cut the red tape, create conditions for companies to expand and hire and get behind America's entrepreneurs with policies that ignite new businesses.

U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen, R-Eden Prairie, represents Minnesota's Third Congressional District.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, August 18, 2011:

Why approve another $4 million
By: Patrick Poisson, Eden Prairie

Let us know why we should approve borrowing another $4,000,000 for the School District's operations.

The School District debt balance as of a year ago was $83,600,00. The proposed referendum is to add another $4,000,000 to this balance. Does the School Board really want to add another $4,000,000 to the debt without an understanding of why it is required?

A current EP School Board organization chart shows 26 staff positions above the level of principal. Supporting this staff is a significant cost. Before pursuing a $4,000,000 referendum, the public has a right to know, and the School Board has the responsibility to show, that this cost is justified. The Board can accomplish this by publishing, in the next few weeks, job descriptions and salaries of the 26 staff positions.

The job descriptions should include current title, salary, months in the position, as well as previous position and longevity. Responsibilities should be described in 2 or 3 paragraphs, defining principal duties, as well as secondary duties.

Transparency is its own reward.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, August 18, 2011:

It's your money...
By: Richard Proops, Eden Prairi
e

The Eden Prairie Fire Chief recent presentation of the advantages of a "duty crew" schedule for volunteer firefighters spelled out the real advantages in improving response time.

Under "costs" the chief only told part of the story. The 2011 budget includes $340,000 wages for volunteer firefighters. The additional $260,000 requested brings the total to $600,000.

The $340,000 (before duty crew) equals $3,700 average per year for each of the 92 volunteers (four stations, 23 people per station; why not 20?) This bears little correlation to the number of fire or 911 calls. How exactly is this time utilized?

The $600,000, if the additional $260,000 is approved, works out to about $6,000 for each of the firefighters, depending on how many additional are hired. This kind of income simplifies recruiting; applicants for the recent increase to staff the fourth fire station were numerous.

A problem with additional hiring is the long-term cost of retirement benefits; the most generous in the state based on the State Auditor's report dated December 31, 2008.

The volunteers, mandated by the state, have their own retirement system. The contribution budgeted by Eden Prairie in 2011 is $1,421,000, one of the most expensive budget items, after wages.

The system in place is a Defined Benefit Plan which requires the city to pay fixed retirement benefits, regardless of the accrued funding available. Many organizations have gotten away from this plan in favor of a Defined Contribution Plan in conjunction with a 401k plan, which requires only an established annual contribution.

Recommendations:

Hire an experienced professional to design a transition to a different retirement plan.

Appoint a committee to review the details of just how $600,000 will be spent on volunteer wages, before approving the $260,000 request.

It's your money!

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, August 11, 2011:

Don't trust “10-year” numbers
By: Scott Rickoff, Eden Prairie

Neighbors: Have you noticed how most political groups tabulate and present their budget numbers these days?

Every night on the news we see another politician screaming with false bravado. “Vote for my plan and save $2.5 trillion over 10 years!”

Of course, my broad generalization includes the talking heads in the media (with their agendas) who also exaggerate their numbers to better fit their narrative.

Have you also noticed that almost everyone is puffing the savings by using a 10-year budget number this cycle? Since when has Congress ever limited its spending activities to a 10-year budget? As political junkies and activists, we need to call this out every time we see it because it happens with such regularity and no one appears to understand the consequences.

You can also hear this from the “compromising” Republicans side too. That is such a phony number. Everyone should know that there is nothing to restrict the next Congress from increasing the spending 100 times from current amounts on the same programs. Historically, we have yet to see any 10-year savings number actualized and as taxpayers, we should be demanding real numbers from the media, special interests, elected Democrats and Republicans.

Have you also noticed with most so-called political “compromises” the taxpayers get nailed with front-loaded fees, tax increases or increased spending, which all seem to start in Year One but those agreed “savings” from pseudo cuts never occur?

This puffing has top stop and it stops by taxpayers demanding honesty in discussing the numbers. You can find more accurate information regarding nutrition facts on a can of soup than can be found in competing budget proposals.

Any claims of savings should be limited to the current-year budget. They are preparing next year's budget, and any savings should be limited to that specific year. A billion dollar cut for that year is $1 billion, not $20 billion for the next $20 years.  Because the next elected Congress in 2012 will appropriate future budget funds by their own discretion. That is why these estimates are completely worthless and are only gimmicks to provide a wow factor to an imaginary return on investment.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie Sun-Current, August 10, 2011:

It's not the whole truth
By: Peter Bozanich, Eden Prairie

A recent letter writer (“The whole truth, and nothing but the truth,” printed July 21) falsely accuses the state legislature of raising property taxes. He even calls his false accusation “The Whole Truth.” Well, let's get to the truth.

First, let's start with a basic fact: Property taxes are raised by local governments. Period. The Legislature cannot raise your property taxes.

Second, Local Government Aid for the cities of Eden Prairie and Minnetonka is zero. It has been zero for many, many years. It will remain zero under the new state budget.

The people of Eden Prairie and Minnetonka pay into the Local Government Aid program but they get zero in return. You can look it up for yourself right here: xr.com/localaid.

If you are living in Eden Prairie or Minnetonka, you should be doing everything in your power to end this rip off.

Finally, the recently passed agreement between Governor Dayton and the Legislature keeps Local Government Aid payments for other cities at exactly the same level as the last biennium. So, there are no cuts to LGA anywhere.

The letter writer promised us “the whole truth.” but, instead, delivers a falsehood. As President Reagan used to say: “It isn't that they don't know anything, it is that so much of what they know is wrong.”

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, August 04, 2011:

Thanks Hann, Loon, Stensrud
By: Ken Powaga, Eden Prairie

All across the nation, states are deciding to raise taxes the old fashioned way -- by creating jobs, creating more employers, and creating more taxpayers. They are rejecting years of failed tax and spend politics. They are learning what many Minnesota DFLers have yet to understand, that big government and out-of-control spending is the road to ruin.

California's liberal Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a balanced budget that doesn't raise income taxes. Imagine that, California, a state that faced a budget deficit five times larger than Minnesota's did the right thing. They are living within their means.

Wisconsin cut their budget and adopted new bargaining rules for public sector unions. The results have been dramatic. School districts, once strapped for cash, are suddenly experiencing surpluses. They are using the money to hire more teachers and lower class sizes. The economy is booming. Wisconsin recently announced their biggest job gains since 2003. Half of the job increase in the United States in June came from Wisconsin.

New York solved its budget crisis by cutting its budget. In fact, liberal governor Andrew Cuomo demanded a repeal of New York's “millionaire's tax.” The tax primarily targets small business. If you recall that is exactly the kind of tax that Minnesota's governor Mark Dayton tried to force our state Legislature to accept. Cuomo correctly identifies the tax as a jobs killer.

Republican Governor Mitch Daniels decided to force Indiana to live within its means. His state is now enjoying a boost in school funding and a $1.2 billion budget surplus.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie says that once they get in your pockets all they want is more. It's the same on the local, state, and federal level. It's always “don't tax you, don't tax me, tax that man behind the tree” rhetoric until the man behind the tree says, “I'm leaving.” States that once adopted “tax the rich” policies have learned the hard way that ultimately it is everyone who ends up paying.

Our shutdown is another reminder to all of us that there is a political party in Minnesota who wants to punish the earners and the job producers, no matter what the cost to our economy. This will continue until Democrats understand that the spending train is over.

Thank you, Senator David Hann, Representative Jenifer Loon, and Representative Kirk Stensrud, for keeping your promise on taxes. I hate the new spending. I hate the new borrowing. But I also know that if you weren't there, our state would be in a world of hurt right now. Thank you for standing up to Mark Dayton. Please keep standing up for Minnesota families.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, August 04, 2011:

Is it moral to promote immorality?
By: John and Kathy Tyler, Eden Prairie

Ms. Hoerle's guest commentary in the July 7 Eden Prairie News indicating she was “appalled” that our Senator David Hann would write a letter to the archbishop rebutting his letter to Governor Dayton. The Archbishop's letter urged Dayton to maintain huge taxpayer sums to various welfare programs.

Senator Hann very articulately challenged the archbishop's letter which indicated it is moral and good to transfer money from hard working people to those that choose not to. Good for Senator Hann. At the time he wrote that letter, he was in the midst of a major budget battle at the Capitol as the Health Policy and Finance Committee chairman. Much of the financial over-runs were due to exploding costs for Medical Assistance and various welfare plans to more than 650,000 Minnesotans. He was doing his best to clean up the financial mess from the previous majority party which promised welfare benefits we taxpayers are forced to deliver.

Let me share two recent life occurrences within my own family to help explain reasons for Senator Hann's well-stated objections.

My nephew's wife “Pam” teaches at a local public school in the suburbs. Toward the end of a recent school year, three senior girls came to meet with her asking about “how to sign up for welfare.” Her reply tot he girls was that the main reason for getting a good education was to prevent the need to go on welfare. Their reply was that “it was better to go on welfare because they received an income and free medical care. This was better than a job because you didn't need to work and they pay you to have babies. The more babies you have, the more they pay you. And you didn't even need to be married!”

The second occurrence was that of my niece's husband “Bill” who works in West Saint Paul, just off of downtown. A gentleman who lived across the street asked if he could borrow their grill so he and his friends might cook out that afternoon. Their party was right across the street from Bill's place of employment, so Bill was able to watch. The same gentleman became a regular at borrowing the grill, so obviously he and his friends were not on vacation. Upon inquiring as to how this gentleman and his friends had so much time on their hands during the middle of the week, their reply was that “they were on welfare and didn't need to work.”

Bill works 60-70 hours a week to keep his wife at home with their kids. His comment was “something is very wrong with this situation. I really object to being forced to help support their leisurely lifestyle. My family needs the tax dollars I earn more.”

Both of these situations underscore Senator Hann's points exactly, that “government dependency is not charity.” Is it moral to induce people into poverty and keep them there with the wealth redistributions from hard-working families? The Archbishop seems to be forgetting that helping the poor is one of the primary responsibilities of the church, where people give voluntarily. When churches abdicate that responsibility to government, government is sure to try to twist it to its own political advantage. In this case, it is to create a voting block to vote in more government dependency and maintain a regular base of voter support at the same time. This has become an advantage to many politicians to entice people into poverty and keep them there and pass the financial burden on to hard-working families like Bill's who have no choice but to pay their taxes. This is anything but moral, is absolutely not charity, an d Senator Hann is both right and courageous for saying so -- yes, even to the archbishop. This has needed to be said for a long time. Thank you, Senator Hann, for stepping up and saying so.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, August 04, 2011:

Disagrees with commentary
By: Matthew S. Carpenter, Eden Prairie

I disagree with Ms. Hoerle's passionate July 7, 2011 commentary about Senator David Hann's June 10, 2011 letter to Archbishop Nienstedt. Her perception that Senator Hann expressed arrogance is not my interpretation of his letter. Rather, it seems respectfully written while at the same time being very direct in outlining the senator's disagreements with the archbishop's positions on taxes and spending.

I understand that the archbishop's letter was forwarded to Senator Hann from Governor Mark Dayton's office. Thus, it appears that the governor used the archbishop's letter as a political tool to support the governor's own social and economic philosophy, with which the senator has disagreements. This is the context in which Senator Hann wrote his letter, and therefore it should not be considered an unprovoked attack on Archbishop Nienstedt, as Ms Hoerle contends.

Regarding economic policy, despite the good intentions of those that promote them, socialistic economies appear in the long run to manifest turmoil and suffering. Examples abound. Right now the Greek economy is failing and social unrest is occurring. Other European countries are also in great economic distress. All appear to have followed the path of a more socialistic type of economic order. It appears that our own country's anemic economic state, unprecedented since the Great Depression, is also an example of socialistic overreach. F.A. Hayek wrote critically about socialism in his 1944 book “The Road to Serfdom” More recently, in the July 8, 2011 Wall Street Journal, Fouad Ajami addressed the issue in his commentary entitled The Road to Serfdom and the Arab Revolt.” and Michael J. Boskin addressed it in his July 18, 2011 Wall Street Journal commentary where he states “Large increases in tax rat es are a recipe for economic stagnation, socioeconomic ossification, and the loss of American global competitiveness and leadership.”

Compassion for the suffering of people is just hand wringing unless there is resolve to address the problems with effective strategies that actually improve the situation. The current redistribution policies, which are so in vogue today, fail to do this. Obviously there is a need for regulation, as is clearly demonstrated by the example of reckless behavior of the country's major financial institutions over the past years. However, it seems that the complexity of our regulations and the tax system makes it almost impossible to prevent manipulation and malfeasance while it discourages productive investment and job creation.

Unfortunately with so many people having a vested interest in preserving the status quo, a lot more pain will likely be experienced before enough officials are elected who will likely be experienced before enough officials are elected who will implement more effective policy. What is necessary to reinvigorate our economy, among other things, is a straightforward and much less complex tax code and to streamline regulations in order to free individuals to use their genius to solve the problems that today appear so intractable. Adhering to failed socialistic policies that have been tried over and over again and expecting a different result is, putting it mildly, unrealistic.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, August 04, 2011:

Group favors reasonable map
By: Nancy Frischmon, Amy Jore, and Kelly Scott Schwantz, Eden Prairie

In light of Superintendent Krull's recent announcement to resign from her position, Yes For Neighborhood Schools has decided to change their strategy. With one of its goals now accomplished, the nonprofit organization has decided to postpone a legal challenge in hope that a new administration and School Board will draw a new, reasonable boundary map and create innovative and community supported programs to close the achievement gap and provide the best education for all students.

We strongly encourage the School Board to require a typical and legally sound boundary map-setting process similar to the Bloomington School District's recent process. The boundary task force meetings were open to the public, multiple map options consistent with School Board boundary setting policy were developed and reviewed by the public and the School Board approved the final boundary map.

A large majority of parents and teachers believe equity is a false hope to close the achievement gap. Learning is not driven by classroom socio-economics. Instead, the driving factors behind closing the achievement gap are high quality teachers with specialized training, innovative programs that provide additional help with homework, and community involvement.

Thus, as the upcoming School Board election nears, Yes For Neighborhood Schools will encourage supporters to vote for candidates who will:

• Replace the superintendent's busing map with a new, reasonable boundary map using a typical and legally sound map-setting process.

• Create innovative, community supported programs to close the achievement gap and provide the best education for all students.

On behalf of all individuals who are still opposed to the superintendent's housing plan, we urge the School Board majority , the Star Tribune and other supporters of the superintendent's plans to formally retract your support for these plans and apologize for the insulting, inaccurate labels used for the opposition. We ask instead that you support the national trends of going back to neighborhood elementary schools and work to create innovative, community supported strategies to close the achievement gap.

While the superintendent's resignation is a start, our work is far from over. The current status of our district, with hundreds of students fleeing to more stable districts, overwhelming budget shortfalls and a community divided, requires much repair. However our mission remains the same and that is to provide the best education for ALL Eden Prairie students.

------------------------
Editor's Note: Frishman, Jore amd Schonz are writing on behalf of Yes for Neighborhood Schools

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, August 04, 2011:

Time to reclaim district
By: Ann Yonamine, Eden Prairie

With the news that the superintendent will not have a new contract, I hope that parents who are planning/considering taking their children out of Eden Prairie Schools will reconsider. We now have the opportunity to work together toward a common goal of reclaiming the direction of our school district. With the prospect of a new School Board and a new superintendent, we can once again channel our collective energies into educational programs, policies, and philosophies that we can support, rather than fighting against those we oppose.

As the district looks ahead to the transition, I also hope that the School Board will involve itself with all personnel decisions at the principal level and higher. I hope that a new superintendent will come in with a different style and with a different educational philosophy. They deserve a team that will be supportive of change, not adherence or loyalty to the decisions and direction of the outgoing superintendent.

The following is an e-mail update from Rep. Kirk Stensrud, August 01, 2011:

Kirk Stensrud (48A) - Email Newsletter

Dear Neighbor,

I hope you can attend the town hall meeting I will be hosting with Sen. Hann and Rep. Loon this Wednesday evening. The meeting will be 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Eden Prairie Library’s large meeting room, 565 Prairie Center Drive.

This will be a great chance for us to recap what took place during the 2011 session(s) and preview what is on tap for 2012. We plan for this to be a casual exchange of opinions and ideas and I hope you can participate.

Feel free to bring family and friends!

Sincerely,

Kirk

The following letter appeared in the Lakeshore Weekly News, July 26, 2011:

Budget
By: Rep. Sarah Anderson, HD 43A, Plymouth

The Legislature passed a final budget agreement with Gov. Dayton. As with any negotiation and compromise, both sides had to give and take on certain policy goals. While the Legislature made short term concessions to the governor, we were able to accomplish significant longer term gains for spending restraint, government reform and no new taxes.

The final budget spends $34 billion, representing an overall increase of 2 percent from 2010-11 levels. More importantly we enacted many reforms that led to a reduction of $2.5 billion in projected spending in the next biennium. Rather than continuing an unsustainable status quo, the budget takes spending off of auto-pilot and puts state finance on a more stable trajectory.

Beyond the budget numbers, the most important figure in this work is the number of jobs we want to create in Minnesota. The budget includes several policies to boost job growth in Minnesota. First and foremost, it does not raise taxes. During this fragile economic recovery, we held strong to ensure families and businesses keep more of the money they earn to help lead our economic comeback.

The budget also features grant program to generate more jobs through workforce development programs to meet the needs of job providers, invests in key economic development funds that help Minnesota compete with other states when attracting new businesses, establishes tax incentives for job creation, and provides property tax relief. All of these provisions are aimed at giving Minnesotans the tools to recreate this state's economy and renew our longstanding economic strength.

I also recognize for Minnesota to have a leading economy, we must also have a leading education system. These tight fiscal times posed a challenge, but we used it as an opportunity to drive reform and focus limited resources where they will deliver the best results.

The education budget increases total school funding by 14 percent, as well as adds $50 to the per pupil funding formula to cover the cost of the shift. The budget also funds early childhood education scholarships for needy families; increases special education funding 9 percent; institutes teacher and principal evaluations; prohibits the state from tapping into school district reserves; prioritizes funding for literacy; and repeals the contract negotiation penalty and saves school districts thousands.

In sum, this budget represents a compromise agreement that does not raise taxes, aids job growth and focuses on Minnesota priorities like education. It takes state spending off of auto-pilot and makes government finances more sustainable. While it was not easy to reach the budget agreement, it forced all sides to look at what is most important to Minnesotans and leave political promises to the side.

The work does not end here, however, and there remains more we can do to fix state government and boost our economy. Throughout the legislative interim and into the next session, I encourage my constituents continued feedback and involvement. Together we will bring responsibility to government, job growth to Minnesota and create the stronger Minnesota we all deserve.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, July 21, 2011:

Response to DFL talking points
By: Peter Bozanich, Eden Prairie

Last week's letters to the editor brought forth a lollapalooza of DFL talking points. It's time to expose some horrifically indefensible thinking.

(1) Things are better under Obama.

The devastation caused by three years of Barack Obama is now undeniable. We have lost over 2.5 million jobs since Obama has taken office. Of those 2.5 million people, almost half have been out of work for six months or more. These numbers rival the Great Depression. According to the U.S. Census, poverty is higher. The income gap between rich and poor is higher. There are 40 percent more Americans living on food stamps.

The National Debt has grown by 40 percent since Obama took office. Obama is now on pace to saddle America's children and grandchildren with more debt than the previous 43 presidents -- combined. In almost every conceivable way, Americans are worse off today than they were under President Bush.

(2) Republicans are raising property taxes.

First, let's start with a basic fact: Property taxes are raised by local governments. Period. The Legislature cannot raise your property taxes.

Second, Local Government Aid (LGA) for the cities of Eden Prairie and Minnetonka is zero. It has been zero for many, many years. It will remain zero under the new state budget. The people of Eden Prairie and Minnetonka pay into the LGA program but they get zero in return. If you are living in Eden Prairie or Minnetonka, you should be doing everything in your power to end this ripoff.

(3) Taxes are lower in 2011 than they were in 1950.

As previous letter have pointed out, taxes today are about six times higher in real dollars than they were in 1950.

The writer is quoting from a USA Today article but, unfortunately, they didn’t read the article very carefully. Tax receipts are indeed falling, but as the article points out, it is because the economy under Obama has fallen apart. People are out of work. Businesses are struggling. Unemployed people don't pay taxes. Using the writer's own logic, Obama should kill all the remaining jobs, then we can get our taxes down to zero.

Well there you have it. Another week of letters, another week of DFL misinformation. As President Reagan used to say: “It isn't that they don't know anything, it is that so much of what they know is wrong.”

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, July 21, 2011:

Stop spending money we don't have
By: Donna Azarian, Eden Prairie

I was searching the web to see what the public union websites were saying about the state government shutdown. I came across a page on the AFSCME website titled: “Personal Financial Preparation” The page was filled with advice for union members on how they can survive during tough economic times. Among the advice: Stop discretionary spending. Prioritize. Budget your bills.

I also saw interviews with union members on the local news. Union members were asked about how they plan to get by without a state paycheck. “You've just got to prioritize,” one of them suggested.

Dear public sector unions -- and I ask this with all due respect -- what the heck do you think the rest of us in the private sector have been doing?

Prioritize. Live within your means. Don't spend money you don't have. This sounds like stuff we've been hearing from the Tea Party for over a year now!

I mean, I'm sorry you are out of work, public sector unions, I really am. Welcome to our world. People in the private sector have been suffering with unemployment and depressed wages for a long time now. Real unemployment -- the number of people out of work or underemployed -- is close to 20 percent now. Unemployment among college graduates is the highest since 1970. Teen unemployment is 24 percent. Among African American teens, unemployment is 36 percent.

Life isn't good, public sector unions! Our economy is suffering. Your family, my family, we all have to prioritize. That is why we need to get the private sector moving again.

Cut taxes, cut spending, trim government where we can and get rid of programs that we don't need. Stop spending money we don't have. Prioritize. Just like it says on your website.

The following is an e-mail update from Rep. Kirk Stensrud, July 21, 2011:

Kirk Stensrud (48A) - Email Newsletter

Dear Neighbor,

The state budget we put in place during this week's special session is not a perfect one, but we did eliminate our $5 billion shortfall, end the state shutdown and pass reforms that will greatly improve our fiscal future.

In fact, I was pleasantly surprised with the number of reforms we were able to include in the final budget. Take health and human services, for example. We were headed for a 22-percent spending increase in this portion of the budget, but the improvements we made allow us to whittle that down to a far more responsible and sustainable 4.8 percent. The once-in-a-generation improvements we made will save Minnesota taxpayers an estimated $10 billion over the next decade.

In addition to reducing spending growth, we also moved further in the direction of a patient-centered system so we can uphold our responsibility to provide assistance to those who need it most. The new budget also does not cut funding for nursing homes, boosts rural pharmacies and minimizes reductions to the disabled. We also have measures in place to reduce welfare fraud to maximize the effectiveness of our tax dollars.

That $10 billion in HHS savings might even be a conservative figure because of the low-ball calculations we were forced to use in estimating the savings our reform will bring. Even with those bare-minimum numbers, our budget knocks out 60 percent of the shortfall we face in the next biennium. I am optimistic budget forecasts we receive in November and again in February will paint an even brighter picture as these reforms we enacted take root.

The most important thing for us to accomplish this year was to get a grip on state spending and we did that. Our General Fund budget will be $34 billion, a modest increase from the previous biennium but a sharp reduction from the unaffordable $39 billion we were set to spend.

The $34 billion is still more than I felt we should spend in the General Fund, but it does take time to reverse decades of ill-advised spending habits. Spending in Minnesota has grown by roughly 500 percent since 1960, per capita and adjusted for inflation. Our job is far from over and I look forward to passing even more government redesign in 2012.

We all can find areas of the new budget where we disagree, but that is what happens when compromise is reached between two distinctly different fiscal philosophies. I am not thrilled with the K-12 funding shift we enacted, but at least we lessened the total from what the governor was proposing. This was far better than a straight cut and, in fact, we added $50 per pupil to the education funding formula.

I am pleased we reduced the rate of government growth and did not raise taxes. We still need much more government redesign/reform and I look forward to making even more strides in 2012.

Thank you to all the folks who continue to offer me support throughout these challenging times at the Capitol. I will remain in contact with local residents as we prepare for the 2012 session and I welcome your input. I think we all are curious to see the net savings of the reforms we enacted.

For now, you can find complete details of all 12 special session bills at: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/ss2011/.

Thank you!

Kirk

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, July 14, 2011:

Governor, please!
By: Pat Poisson, Eden Prairie

This Minnesota constituent would like to ask Gov. Dayton to please keep your word. You, Governor, in order to convince people that you would be a reasonable and responsible person, in order to get their votes, promised Minnesotans that you would not shut down the government in order to raise taxes. The legislature has done its job and presented a balanced budget, the largest in state history, at a 6 percent increase. But you, for who knows what political reasons, want to make us suffer across the board. I suppose in your thinking, if you make us hurt long enough, we'll blame the Legislature. Sir, you are to blame. The budget for highways and construction is done, but you, instead of at least working with the legislature to pass that portion of the bill, or a partial “lights on” budget, in order to keep people working, answer in a petulant “NO.”

Governor, be a leader, come together with the Legislature and propose steps to fix Minnesota's economy, so that the people you say you want to help can get good jobs and be able to take care of themselves. Because Governor, if the Legislature were to raise taxes, we wouldn't get much from the “top 2 percent.” Because, like you, Governor Dayton, many of the very wealthy have their money sheltered in trust funds out of state to avoid taxes. Pretty smart, raise taxes and it won't affect you one dime. But the average pig farmer in this state with an income of $250,000 per year; he'll have to pay more and perhaps layoff a work hand or two or three...

Governor Dayton, keep your word and sign this reasonable, responsible budget presented to you. Be a partner in governing and leading this great state to a better more prosperous future and not a perpetual needy society always looking to government to provide what we once had pride in providing for ourselves. Unless of course, that is the aim of liberal/progressives (if we keep them needy and we keep finding people to take from to give to them, they'll keep voting for us.)

We can take care of ourselves Governor. My family as one of many families in Minnesota who look to take care of ourselves for example. My daughter just graduated from college this past December. She did it in a number of ways. First she applied herself in high school to get good grades which helped her get some scholarships. We took out some school loans. She worked while she went to school and maintained good grades. I paid some as I could. She took some classes at a community college to lower tuition costs. Now that she's done, I will help her make loan repayments as I'm able. Oh, did I mention I make about $50,000 per year and that she was able to buy her own home in Minneapolis during all this.

We could go so much further if we'd inculcate our children the concepts of freedom, liberty and independence; with charity coming from our hearts to those truly in need.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, July 14, 2011:

Big government is immoral
By: Marc Papineau, Eden Prairie

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office just released its updated long-term budget projections and they are worse than anyone ever imagined. In last year's document, the CBO projected that the national debt would be 91 percent of GDP in 2021. Now they say it will be 101 percent of GDP. In other words, in just 10 years our national debt will be larger than our economy.

It gets worse. By the year 2037 the debt will be twice as large as our economy. I cannot even imagine what our country will look like when our debt is twice the size of our economy.

Most people have heard of the troubles they are having in countries like Greece and Spain and Italy. In Greece, they are being forced to cut their budget. They have no choice; their nation is broke. Their government's severe austerity measures have led to months of non-stop rioting. Some speculate that Greece may never recover. The Greek debt is only 1.25 times the size of their economy.

There is, of course, an important difference between Greece and the United States. Greece is being bailed out by other European countries and by the United States. But, ask yourself this: When the most powerful nation on earth goes down, who will rescue us? Who will bail us out?

When I see liberals writing this paper refusing to concede the point that our nation spends too much, taxes too much, promises too much, I begin to wonder: Do these people not have children? Do they not have grandchildren? What are they going to say to the next generation when the bill comes due?

The progressive left has sold us a lie that government can give us everything and do it forever. Greece, Spain, Portugal and the other failed states are proof that it's a lie.

What are they going to say to the college graduates? USA Today recently cited government sources to show that Minnesota's high taxes make it one of the worst states in the nation for new jobs. While low tax states like South Dakota, North Dakota and Texas move ahead economically, Minnesota continues to lag behind.

What are they going to say to senior citizens? Kiplinger Magazine just came out with their list of the most tax unfriendly states for retirees. Minnesota is number two. So, if you are a senior, there are 48 other states that would be better for you to live than Minnesota.

Runaway government spending is immoral. It is killing our state and killing our nation. It is robbing the future from our children and grandchildren. It is destroying opportunity for our next generation of workers. It is creating hardship for our nation’s older adults.

We don't need to wait until our economy collapses. We can do something about it now, on our terms, but we must stop this madness that we can still pay for everything that everyone wants. Be sure to hold Gov. Dayton's feet to the fire and not allow a tax increase. We have already agreed to increase the budget by over $4 billion..

If you agree, then please let your elected representatives know. And if they are holding the line against higher taxes and higher government spending, let them know you stand with them. Don't let America become another Greece. Your grandchildren will thank you.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, July 14, 2011:

Dayton's approach is harmful
By: Scott Rickhoff, Eden Prairie

With state government shut down, some people feel the Legislature is at fault. But the truth is that Gov. Mark Dayton is so bent on raising taxes that he is willing to hold the entire state hostage to get his way. His plan will cause damage to our economy that will far outweigh any perceived benefits from a tax increase.

What is especially disappointing is that Dayton promised this would never happen.

KSTP recently played a clip from the gubernatorial debate where Dayton said explicitly that he would not shut down the state government to raise taxes:

Tom Hauser: “If you can't get the tax increases you want and you can't get the legislature to go along with the vision that you have, how far would you be willing to go? Would you be willing to allow government to shut down in order to get things the way you see them?”

Candidate Mark Dayton: “No, I wouldn't shut government down, Tom.”

During his State of the State address Dayton again promised there would be no government shutdown:

“So I ask you legislators, I invite you, I implore you, to join with me now right here in our capitol, and pledge to the people of Minnesota that we will not shut down their government, our government, not next July 1st, not any July 1st, not any day ever.”

Got that? Not any day ever.

And yet, on July 1st, he broke his promise to the people of Minnesota. He shut the government down and he didn’t have to.

The Pioneer Press reported this:

“Much of the state budget could have been passed, but the governor chose not to get those parts of the deal done. At midnight the lights went out unnecessarily on lots of state workers and government functions tied to parts of the budget that could have been passed. At the 11th hour legislators proposed a lights-on measure that would have kept the government running for a few more days. The governor dismissed it as a gimmick. In other words, bring on the pain -- an unnecessary infliction of pain.”

Most of the pain could have been avoided, but Dayton and the DFL chose to hold the state hostage to get everything they wanted. All or none is the DFL way.

All the media attention makes the situation stressful enough for most, but what of the personal impact of the shutdown? How does this affect your family and friends?

Several people I know will be affected by the shutdown. For example, a family member who loves his job for a state agency will lose an income for an indefinite period of time. Some friends were adopting a child who needed a loving home. They can't proceed.

There are many more examples, but the point remains the same: Dayton, in a stubborn and futile attempt to blackmail the Legislature into raising taxes, is causing economic damage and hurting many of the people.

In such fragile economic times as ours, this selfish, immature move will seriously hinder our state's progress all because Mark Dayton and the DFL want more of your money and they don’t care how it hurts you or your family.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, July 14, 2011:

High taxes hurt jobs
By: David Johnson, Eden Prairie

Several recent letters have discussed how Minnesota's business climate ranks in relation to other states. Most studies seem to rank Minnesota at or near the bottom.

For example, the Tax Foundation ranks Minnesota number 43 in business climate and the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council ranks Minnesota number 50. The US Census ranks Minnesota #7 in tax burden and Kiplinger says high taxes make Minnesota the second worst state for retirees. CEO Magazine, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University -- they all rank Minnesota near the bottom. Articles in the Wall Street Journal and elsewhere have concluded that high tax states generally do worse economically than low tax states.

That is why I was interested in the Forbes Magazine study that was cited by David Snyder that ranked Minnesota #15. That ranking seemed to be an outlier, especially when compared to all the other studies. So I looked up the categories they included in their ranking.

It turns out they mix a whole bunch of things together to come up with that ranking. Categories include quality of life and labor supply which, I agree, are important factors for business. The problem is: These are not the issues in dispute at the state capitol. The three categories that government can directly influence are: business costs, regulatory environment, and economic climate. And in all three of these categories Forbes ranks Minnesota near the bottom.

Mr. Snyder ignores this for some reason.

Interestingly, Snyder also ignores another Forbes study that ranked the top 10 worst states for tax burden. Minnesota is one of worst -- number 10. Remember: That is what Mark Dayton wants to change. Dayton and the DFL say taxes are not high enough.

It seems to me that the best measure of a state's economic health would to measure the number of jobs actually created. That is where we see which economies are growing and which ones are shrinking. Texas leads the nation in job creation. Minnesota is number 37 -- near the bottom. How can that be? Snyder assures us that higher taxes mean more jobs.

The reality is higher taxes don't create jobs and opportunity. They don't cause businesses hire more workers. They don't encourage businesses to move here. Higher taxes force painful choices. Businesses have to choose between raising prices, laying off workers, or shutting their doors and moving elsewhere. Those are the choices Dayton and the DFL want to force upon us.

Wisconsin, New Jersey, Ohio, even liberal states like New York and California have finally gotten the message that we are broke and can't keep chasing businesses away.

I have news for the DFL: Raising taxes doesn't qualify as a new idea. It's been tried and it's a proven failure. It's time to get Minnesota's bloated government under control.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, July 14, 2011:

Minnesota has a spending problem
By: Fred Koppelman, Eden Prairie

A letter to the editor of this paper appeared in the June 23 edition from Rep. Paul Thissen urging Republicans to “compromise” by breaking their word about growing jobs and not raising taxes on Minnesota families.

I wondered who this Paul Thissen is and why some liberal from Minneapolis needs to lecture the people of Eden Prairie and Minnetonka about taxes. So I looked up his voting record. I was pretty shocked by what I found.

According to the Taxpayer's League, Thissen scored a 0 out of 100 in 2010. And this wasn't his only visit to the “Hall of Shame.” In his eight years in the Minnesota House, he has scored a zero in three of those years. This is the guy who is now using words like “compromise?”

Over the years, Thissen has voted for higher income taxes, gas taxes, cigarette taxes, vehicle excise taxes, and sales taxes. He voted to impose unfunded mandates on local governments, he voted for cap and trade and the renewable energy mandates which raised the cost of energy for Minnesota families. Thissen voted for a $6.6 billion transportation tax in 2007 which, at the time, represented one of the largest tax increases in Minnesota history. One of his votes would have given Minnesota the third highest tax bracket in the nation.

Thissen's contempt for taxpayers is breathtaking. Almost every time Thissen is given a choice between taxpayers and bigger government, he chooses bigger government. In eight years in the House, Thissen voted 89 times to increase government's burden on Minnesota taxpayers.

Thissen's record is not one of compromise. It is a record of someone who is uncompromisingly committed to bigger government, no matter what the cost to the rest of us.

My advice to Mr. Thissen is to stay in Minnespolis and take care of the problems in Minneapolis. The people of Eden Prairie and Minnetonka need no lectures about fiscal responsibility from someone with that kind of record!

Thanks to Rep. Kirk Stensrud, Rep. Jenifer Loon, and Sen. David Hann for keeping their word and holding the line against the DFL's job-killing tax increases. Please do not compromise on Minnesota's future. Minnesota's problems, like the rest of the nation's, will not be solved by more taxation. Minnesota, like the rest of the nation, has a spending problem.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie Sun-Current, July 13, 2011:

Insist on accountability before voting in favor of school referendum
By: Dan Kitrell, Eden Prairie

Eden Prairie students have achieved success with the support of dedicated teachers and involved parents. We should recognize these achievements, but we must also openly discuss the issues that are impacting our school district.

Recently, the Eden Prairie school administration spent $20,000 on a survey to rank various “talking points” on their ability to convince taxpayers to support a proposed referendum. This is in addition to the $50,000 the administration is spending for a consultant to tell taxpayers what to “think, feel, and do” as described by one school board member.

These talking points present only one side of the story. Before you vote on the referendum this fall, do your research, ask your board members questions and do not accept “non-answers.”

Ask what has contributed to the multi-million dollar budget shortfall? Is it a tough economy or is it discretionary spending on boundary changes, excessive spending on non-education related programs or lost funding due to students fleeing our district?

Certainly, students leaving our district are a significant factor. Each lost student represents more than $5,000 in lost funding per year. Each student that starts kindergarten in another district may represent $60,000 in lost funding during her K-12 education career. Although the administration has not confirmed the number of students that will be leaving our district this fall, it is estimated to be more than 300 students representing more than $1.5 million annually in lost funding.

One referendum proposal would increase taxes on a median priced home by $172 per year. For perspective, it would take 29 taxpayers paying $172 more per year to make up for the $5,000 in lost funding associated with just one lost student and 8,700 taxpayers to compensate for 300 lost students. Is it the responsibility of taxpayers to compensate for this administration's inability to retain students in our district?

For three decades I have paid property taxes and have generally supported school referendums. However, taxpayers should insist on greater transparency, accountability and responsiveness before entrusting this administration with increased tax funding. Let's set the right course before we spend more money.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie Sun-Current, July 13, 2011:

Open letter to Ann Rest
By: Chris Grace, New Hope

Sen. Rest, I am ashamed to be represented by you. In my opinion, you are a liar and a hypocrite. You make statements that are not factual. In your recent email you stated that “The GOP legislative majority failed to offer a fair and balanced budget that could win bipartisan support and that the Governor could sign.”

This statement is not true and you know it. The budget may not have been one you agreed with in full or even in part, but they did offer a balanced budget during the regular session.

The proposed budget even grows government when we really should be reducing it. Conveniently, you left that out of your letter.

You and your party were in control of our state legislature for decades and we have decaying roads, a costly and bloated school system and a falling labor market to show for it, combined with some of the highest taxes in the country.

Why don't you stop whining and let those of us who feel government has grown too big shrink it for a few years? It needs it.

I'd like to start by downsizing your personal office. I hold Gov. Dayton 100 percent at fault for this shutdown.

The good news is this shutdown won't affect most of us good old-fashioned self-reliant Americans. At least not as much as you and the governor wish.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie Sun-Current, July 13, 2011:

Response to Senator Rest
By: Candace Oathout, Crystal

I am very distressed by her latest email. I know that we do not agree on many issues. While I have challenged her on occasion about perspective and proposed solutions, I have always believed she would take a position that reflects concern for the residents of your district. She has failed.

I never thought that she would directly punish constituents by supporting Governor Dayton's plan to force a government shutdown. He chose to veto a balanced budget delivered to him two weeks before end of session. He had a balanced budget in front of him and rejected it.

He said, “They have known for two months, I have said consistently, that I would not agree to anything until I agree to everything.” Apparently that includes roughly $4 billion in additional spending, because he must “tax the rich.” That means turning down $4 billion to demand a tax increase that would net $700 million at best estimates.

I cannot understand how Rest believes this benefits folks in our district. You know, those of us who tighten our belts to pay increased taxes have lost jobs, taken cuts in pay or lost homes in this recession.

Your voters cannot continue to pay for double-digit increases in government spending. It is time for the government to tighten its belt and stop spending on expensive wishful projects like regional light rail. Legislators must prioritize spending just like we voters must. We are depending on you.

The following letter appeared in the Lakeshore Weekly News, July 12, 2011:

Shutdown
By: Sen. Julianne Ortman, SD32, Chanhassen

Like all Minnesotans, I am concerned about the great cost and impact to our state during this current government shutdown. However, there is a very real disagreement between the governor and the legislature regarding both the philosophy and the practical side of the role of government in our state.

The legislature timely acted to pass a $34.2 billion balanced budget that increased state government spending by 6 percent for the next biennium. Spending increases were included in both our K-12 Budget and our Health & Human Services Budgets; Courts, Public Safety and Transportation Budgets were held harmless, and cuts were made in the State Government Budget and the Tax Aids & Credits Budget.

The legislature passed its budget days before the constitutional deadline. The governor waited until after we had gone home to veto our budget bills, and he has since refused to agree to a temporary funding measure or to call a special session to resolve our differences. The governor claims he needs more money. Before I could even consider helping him to raise taxes or new sources of revenue (both of which I believe would be a setback in our perilous economic situation), the governor must clearly demonstrate that the spending he wants is not already funded in our generous budget and that it represents a need and not a want.

I continue to work at finding a solution with the governor, his staff and his commissioner of the Department of Revenue, as well as my colleagues in the senate, to find common ground. There is a great deal at stake, it is a constitutional crisis of the governor's making, one that can no longer be resolved easily. In my view the legislature (and its $34.2 billion budget) directly represents the intentions of the people of the state of Minnesota acting through the legislative branch in our three branches of constitutional government. The residents of the state should not be overlooked or disregarded by the governor or the courts.

---------------------
Julianne Ortman is a Republican State Senator for Senate District 32

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, July 07, 2011:

Raising taxes is not the answer
By: Krisla Berreth, Eden Prairie

A letter to the editor recently made false claim that taxes are at the lowest rate since the 1950’s.

Total government spending (federal, state and local) in 1950 was about $99 billion. This year we are spending $6.163 trillion. That's lower?

If government had grown only at the rate of inflation over the last 60 years, we would have only spent $887 billion this year (86 percent less). To put it another way, government spending over the past 60 years has grown six times the rate of inflation. Does that still sound lower?

That letter proves, once again, that conservatives understand compassion a lot better than liberals understand economics.

Despite the fact that our economy under Obama has fallen off a cliff, Democrats continue to demand more tax revenue. When someone is out of work, they don’t pay taxes. If you really want to increase tax receipts, get people to start paying more taxes by employing them! Create jobs by creating a business-friendly climate -- something the tax-and-spend crowd clearly refuses to do.

Our federal government cannot continue to spend on a pace like they have for the past several years. Federal taxes would have to go up 40 percent to pay for all of Mr. Obama's spending.

Perhaps you've read some of the recent news articles about how a modest rise in gas prices has been squeezing family budgets and has adversely affected consumer spending? Just try adding a 40 percent tax increase to everyone's household budgets and see what that does to our economy!

The American people don't support higher taxes. According to a recent CBS poll, 77 percent say cut spending. Only 9 percent say raise taxes. A recent KSTP/Survey USA poll in Minnesota had similar results: Only 8 percent wanted higher taxes.

So why won't our politicians listen? And why do Democrats write local newspapers spreading fairy tales that taxes today are lower than in 1950? It is simply not true. Fact's are funny things.

Minnesotans, and in turn our elected leaders, need to start thinking long term. If we want our children and grandchildren to have the same opportunities for success in Minnesota as previous generations, we cannot rely on the policies of the past. Raising taxes is not the answer. Please urge your elected leaders to hold the line on spending and reform the way we spend taxpayer money.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, July 07, 2011:

GOP budget is true compromise
By: John Iverson, Eden Prairie

The DFL continues their steady assault of letters to the editor calling for higher taxes, more spending and bigger government as the solution to our current budget crisis. For example, a letter from Representative Debra Hilstrom (the DFL deputy minority leader) from Brooklyn Center says our priority ought to be to “grow our state and move Minnesota forward.” By “grow our state,” she means grow government. Representative Paul Thissen (the DFL minority leader) from Minneapolis suggests Republicans need to raise taxes and grow government.

So now we know what the DFL leaders from Brooklyn Center and Minneapolis think about the budget battle. But what do the people of Minnesota think?

According to a just-released KSTP/Survey USA poll, Minnesotans don’t agree with these Democrats. In fact, it isn't even close. 60 percent want the budget cut. Another 27 percent think we should leave the budget about the same. Only 8 percent think we should raise taxes and grow government.

So, in other words, 87 percent of Minnesotans think taxes should either be cut or stay about the same. Only 8 percent agree with the DFL and Mark Dayton that state government is too small.

A recent legislative survey by Senator David Hann, Representative Jenifer Loon and Representative Kirk Stensrud backs up those results. 80 percent of respondents urged our legislators to cut spending and government programs while 83 percent agreed that future state spending should be limited to actual revenue to prevent future deficits. So our neighbors here in Eden Prairie and Minnetonka agree with the majority of the state (by even larger margins) that Mark Dayton and the DFL are wrong and our representatives and the GOP are right.

Yet you hear the Left claiming our representatives are “out of touch” and should “compromise” with the extreme minority of liberals who more of our money no matter how much it hurts our families. Thank God our representatives haven't fallen for that trick and neither should our friends and neighbors. The legislature gave Dayton a balanced, responsible budget. They sent it to him six weeks early and made it publicly available for everyone to see.

The Republican budget is the true compromise. It grows spending but does not raise taxes. The Republican budget actually increases spending on health and human services and gives the governor 100 percent of the funds he requested for education. It is now up to the governor to just sign it.

Remember, only the governor can shut down government. Only the governor can throw thousands of state employees out of work.

It’s time for Mark Dayton and his DFL pals to listen to the majority. The voice of the people is clear. Cut spending. Cut taxes. Shrink government.

The Legislature did it's job and passed a balanced budget without raising taxes. It's now time for Dayton to do his job and sign it. That's true compromise.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, July 07, 2011:

Taxes not low
By: Kevin Schultz, Eden Prairie

A recent letter to the editor tried to make the claim that taxes today are lowest level since 1950. This is false.

Taxes are often called “the cost of a civilized society” and yet, when the first significant taxation was introduced, the total federal, state and local taxes (as measured in days of income and percent of income) were roughly 30 days and 10 percent respectively.

The 1930's brought the New Deal and the first big wave of government spending. The tax burden increased to 60 days and 20 percent. Apparently the cost of a civilized society had doubled.

The cost of government continued to increase. The Kennedy tax cut of 1961 took us back to 99 days and 27 percent. But after Lyndon Johnson's Great Society, the numbers increased to 112 days and 31 percent. Apparently the cost of a civilized society had increased by another 50 percent.

Despite the liberal dogma that Reagan and Bush were cruel and heartless, they brought taxes down to only about 108 days and 30 percent. Boy that Kennedy guy sure was cruel -- a tool of the rich guy -- to only tax at 99 days and 27 percent!

Just prior to the 2008 economic collapse, driven mostly by bracket creep, higher social security taxes, and higher property taxes, the numbers reached 120 days and 33 percent.

The truth is that the tax burden has been steadily increasing for 90 years with occasional spurts during every new episode of government spending.

We have a spending problem, not a tax problem. These claims that we are paying record low taxes are just another DFL fraud -- a thinly veiled attempt to fool people into supporting another round of increases in the tax burden. Don't fall for it.

Tell Governor Dayton: Minnesota families need jobs and opportunity, not another tax increase.

The following is an e-mail update from Rep. Kirk Stensrud, July 07, 2011:

Waiting for Governor to call a special session

Dear Neighbor,

We have been waiting since July 1 for the governor to call a special session so we can pass a state budget and end our shutdown.

Budget meetings continue at the Capitol, but the governor is the only person who can call a special session and we are unable to approve a budget until he brings us to the Capitol. One of the most important parts of my job as a legislator is to stay in close contact with local residents, so that is where I have put my energy as we await the call for a special session. The Fourth of July weekend provided me with great opportunities to attend area events and meet with people on a personal level.

The more input I can receive the better and I wholeheartedly agree with the citizens who tell me they want a budget resolution in short order. In fact, I presented Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders with a letter urging them to break this impasse. Below is full text of my message.

Sincerely

Kirk

Kirk Stensrud
State Representative
District 48A
Eden Prairie/Minnetonka

July 7, 2011

The Honorable Mark Dayton
Governor of Minnesota
130 State Capitol Building
75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, Minnesota 55155

The Honorable Amy Koch
Majority Leader of the Senate
208 State Capitol Building
75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, Minnesota 55155

The Honorable Kurt Zellers
Speaker of the House of Representatives
463 State Capitol Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, Minnesota 55155

Dear Gov. Dayton, Sen, Koch, and Rep. Zellers,

I implore our state's leaders to fins a budget solution that will end our state government shutdown. The consequences of a state shutdown are impacting Minnesotans on numerous levels and this must be brought to a rapid conclusion.

It is disappointing that our fine state has shuttered its operations, with many thousands of Minnesotans sidelined from work and others unable to receive the services upon which they rely. Minnesota taxpayers are counting on our leaders to fulfill their duties and it is time for us to conduct a special session to either enact light-on legislation or to approve a full budget.

I remain optimistic our strong leadership will find a way to resolve our budget matters and alleviate the pain of a shutdown so our Minnesota can begin moving forward again. Our state's proud citizens are counting on it, including my legislative colleagues and me.

Sincerely,

Kirk Stensrud
State Representative
Distcit 48A
Email: rep.kirk.stensrud@house.mn

The following editorial appeared in the Eden Prairie News, June 30, 2011:

Eligible voters should have a say in school decision
By: Ann Simon, Eden Prairie

I am a senior resident of Eden Prairie. I did teach school, and worked at Hennepin County in social services. My reasons against busing have an already been made by other and printed in this paper: They include evidence that busing has miniscule effect on the educational value to the children we are trying to reach and that good students tend to have a downturn. Children are torn from neighborhoods, siblings, friends, their comfort zone, spending precious time commuting. Busing is costly. The tax base, which affords Eden Prairie the lifestyle we enjoy, is eroded by families moving and taking with them their money and their children, who are students who have brought accolades to Eden Prairie for both intellectual and athletic excellence.

Busing cannot change the disparity in achievement. There needs to be a change in the way these children are socialized in their homes. There has to be a desire and expectation in the home for achievement and help finding a path to this. This is where the focus should be.

My suggestion is that the effort and budget of the school administrator be put working directly with the families of the children they are trying to reach, who according to the study done by the board, have been identified. There is no need to disrupt so many children and families by commuting, which overwhelmingly has not produced results for the effort.

If language is a barrier, for example, work on the problem. Make sure the little ones are in a daycare center where they can hone their language skills. Work with these families to make good choices for child care, whether on assistance or private pay.

If the problem is behavior; work with the parent on that. Include the family of the children in every step. There can be no success without the family supporting what the school goals for the children are. We know statistically it is a rare child who can achieve without this.

I feel strongly that each child in our city should have the opportunity to get the best education we can present to them. I believe that engaging families and creating there the desire for learning and means to achieve this is imperative. A change in geography has been shown to not be the answer. The parent group has made a strong case for this. I would add here that busing did not work in Minneapolis or our northern suburbs to meet the goals the superintendent is seeking.

The following statement was made by the parent group in the Eden Prairie paper on May 26, “we have decided to pursue a lawsuit to try and stop the superintendent's plans which are headed in the opposite direction of the rest of the country,” and they have a right to do so, our Constitution says so.

It appears, however that Dan Shulman, the attorney for the district, does not feel that. He said that the parent group wanting to use the court system was a waste of resources, time and energy. Disagreeing with the board he said is “nonsense.” (May 11, Eden Prairie News). Could he be more dismissive?

I found Shulman's comments as reported to the Eden Prairie paper to be particularly arrogant. Many of the statements he made about the parent group were divisive in my opinion and calculated to be dismissive of the parent group, denigrating the attempt at a lawsuit being a part of his tactic. I particularly found it offensive, personally, to make statements intended to make this community feel it was promoting segregation and that somehow, we as a community did not want these children to succeed if we did not agree with busing. He could not be more out of tune with this community. Since he represents the superintendent and the board, perhaps they are as well.

In response to the letter writer of “lawsuit would be a waste,” don't be embarrassed by a group of parents who have a different opinion than you do. It is irresponsible to throw race into this. It is an assumption on your part. It is the right of anyone in this country to use the court as a means to present our views, and we are vigilant in our fight to maintain the right. That's all these parents are doing, not so complex.

So the question is who does this attorney represent? Why are we, the taxpayers of Eden Prairie, paying his fee if he does not represent the majority? Which begs the question, what does the majority want?

I believe that the question of whether or not Eden Prairie buses children should be brought to the people of Eden Prairie. We should have an opportunity to vote on this issue based on the debates we have heard. Each eligible voter should have a say.

The following is an e-mail update from Rep. Kirk Stensrud, June 30, 2011:

Kirk Stensrud (48A) - Email Newsletter

Dear Neighbor,

It would be helpful to have the governor understand our position on the budget.  Somehow he thinks that he should continue to spend more money than we have.

I will be at the capitol today hoping that the Governor will meet with our leadership and find some way to prevent shutting down our state government.

Call the Governor at:

651-201-3400

Email the Governor at:

http://mn.gov/governor/contact-us/form/  (If you click here, the form will pop up)

Ask Governor Dayton to: 

(1) Agree to the reasonable and responsible $34.2 Billion dollar budget (largest in Minnesota history) passed by the legislature in May.

(2) Agree to a “light's on” bill, which would fund state government and prevent a shutdown.

(3) Sign the specific bills which the Minnesota legislature has agreed to meet his targets (K-12 education, public safety, and judiciary for example).

Thank you!

Kirk

The following letter appeared in the Minnetonka Sun-Sailor, June 29, 2011:

Tax hike affects business
By: Jerry Pitmon, Minnetonka

A fact that rarely seems to surface these days is that the current unemployment rate in Minnesota is 6.6 percent, well below the national average of 9.1 percent. Let's give credit where credit is due.

Former Governor Tim Pawlenty's prudent fiscal policies during his two terms had a positive effect. Now we are in danger of undermining our entire business climate.

Our present governor insists on raising taxes. He says it only affects the top 2 percent of income earners in the state, but ultimately it will affect all of us. “Tax the Rich” is a nice slogan, but raising taxes on the wealthiest 2 percent would affect about two-thirds of the small business owners in Minnesota.

These are the primary job creators. They then have a few choices -- they can charge us more for the goods and services they provide, they can cut back on expenses, such as the number of employees and their benefits, or they can move to another state.

At a time when the national economy is foundering, we should help the private sector create new jobs, not force businesses to move to other states. Let's keep Minnesota in the column of healthy states where businesses can thrive.

Sadly, our state is facing a shutdown. Republicans have agreed to increase state spending from $31 billion in the current biennium to $34 billion, a figure that matches the available revenue. This isn't enough for Governor Dayton, who is demanding a budget of $36 billion, which we cannot afford. It's time to live within our means.

The following letter appeared in the Lakeshore Weekly News, June 28, 2011:

Budget
By: Randy Gilbert, Long Lake

The latest round of television ads regarding the budget stalemate in St. Paul has done little more than insult my intelligence.

Those who support raising taxes and growing government claim that if state government shuts down on July 1, convicts will be freed from our prisons because guards will be laid off, we will see hundreds of car accidents because MnDOT workers will be furloughed, no one will have access to health care, and the list goes on and on.

I wish the budget debate was based on facts rather than scare tactics.

Governor Dayton falsely claims that House Republicans have not been willing to negotiate and compromise. I asked State Representative Connie Doepke about that. Representative Doepke told me that she does not want a state government shutdown, and that she and her colleagues have worked consistently with the governor and his staff. In the past two weeks, they have offered the governor two compromise common sense solutions for our budget challenges.

I agree with Representative Doepke when she says a 6 percent increase in the budget ought to be enough. After all, these are tough economic times, and government should learn to live within its means, just like any Minnesota family.

The following letter appeared in the Minnetonka Sun-Sailor, June 27, 2011:

Budget Battle
By: Lisa Christian, Greenwood

During a recent conversation I had with her, State Representative Connie Doepke cleared up a lot of the things you hear and read in the media.

In the midst of this potential budget shutdown, the press has reported that only Governor Dayton has been willing to sit down and negotiate. They also tell us that Republicans plan to cut education funding.

Neither claim is true.

I learned that the current general fund budget -- without the federal stimulus money we received -- stands at $31 billion. The budget passed by the House would raise that to $34 billion. Dayton wants to raise taxes "on the rich" so he can increase the budget to $36 billion.

Our governor further claims that House Republicans are cutting funding to our schools. Since Doepke serves on both the House Tax Committee and Education Committee, I thought I would ask her about it. She says that House budget, for the next two years, actually increases K-12 funding by $500 million.

A healthy debate is one thing -- and it should be encouraged. But, it should be based on facts. The fact is, House Republicans have made numerous attempts to compromise and negotiate with Dayton. The notion that the House will cut funding to our schools is simply not true.

The following letter appeared in the Minnetonka Sun-Sailor, June 27, 2011:

Doepke hits nail on head with budget debate
By: Dan Morin, Shorewood

I must say, State Representative Connie Doepke has hit the nail on the head in this budget debate.

She believes that now is the worst time to raise taxes on hard-working Minnesotans as Gov. Mark Dayton has proposed.

The current state general fund budget stands at about $31 billion. House Republicans support raising the budget to $34 billion. Dayton wants to raise taxes to support $36 billion in spending.

Connie Doepke says that $34 billion ought to be enough. And, she is right. It's time for Dayton to stop treating taxpayers like they are ATMs.

The following article appeared in the Eden Prairie News, June 23, 2011:

Survey: Budget shortfall is top issue
By: Representative Kirk Stensrud (48A), Representative Jenifer Loon (48B) and Senator David Hann (SD48)

Thank you to all those who participated in this year's legislative survey we conducted throughout District 48. We have tabulated the results and the overall message local citizens communicated is they want us to rein in state spending, spur the private sector, and limit taxes.

More than 2,000 people participated in the survey, which was mailed throughout the district and also made available online. The responses to the nine questions and additional comments participants provided help us continue doing our best to represent our area at the State Capitol.

The first four questions pertained to jobs, the state budget, and the economy in general. The Legislature is working to erase a $5 billion state budget deficit shortfall and 45 percent of survey respondents rank this as our most important issue. Another 22 percent of the participants list limiting tax increases as the top priority and the same percentage say job creation is most important.

A 69-percent majority of local citizens indicate state government could most effectively improve the economy by reducing business taxes to encourage entrepreneurs to create new jobs, followed by 62 percent who favor reducing income taxes on individuals and families.

Favored by 80 percent, the top choice for balancing the budget is cutting spending and government programs. Furthermore, 83 percent say we should limit state spending to actual revenue in order to prevent future shortfalls.

Respondents also favor a photo ID requirement for voters (81 percent), leaving the smoking ban in place (73 percent) and oppose using state dollars for the construction of a new Minnesota Vikings stadium (58 percent); 42 percent of those who favor state money being used favor user taxes applied specifically to goods and services purchased by football fans. A 69-percent majority either “strongly support” or “support” considering nuclear power as an option for meeting future energy needs.

Thanks again to everyone who took the time to weigh in on some critical issues by participating in this survey. Certainly there are many issues of interest and concern to the thousands of people we represent, and no survey can address them all. Therefore, we encourage all citizens to stay in touch, sending questions and comments on issues of most importance to you.

1. What is the most important issue Minnesota faces?
Percentage of respondents who ranked each category as priority Number 1. Some respondents entered “Number 1” multiple times, pushing the total past 100 percent.

45 percent
Budget shortfall
22 percent
Limiting tax increases
8 percent
Cost and accessibility of health care
11 percent
Improving education for Minnesota students
22 percent
Job creation

2. What should state government do to most effectively improve the economy?
Percentage who selected “yes” for each

22 percent
Borrow money to fund construction projects
69 percent
Reduce business taxes to encourage entrepreneurs to create jobs
22 percent
Raise taxes to fund state government programs
62 percent
Reduce income taxes on individuals and families

3. What should Minnesota government do to balance the budget?
Percentage who selected “yes” for each

80 percent
Cut spending and government programs
26 percent
Raise taxes
56 percent
Restructure government to spend only what we receive in revenue.

4. Do you support limiting state spending to actual revenue in order to prevent future deficits?

83 percent
Yes
17 percent
No

5. Should Minnesota require voters to present photo ID at the polls?

81 percent
Yes
19 percent
No

6. Should we reconsider the ban on smoking in Minnesota bars?

73 percent
No, leave the ban in place
17 percent
Modifications should be considered
10 percent
Repeal the ban altogether

7. Should the state provide any funding for the construction of a new Minnesota Vikings stadium?

42 percent
Yes
58 percent
No

8. If you answered “Yes” in the previous question, what funding option do you favor most?
Some respondents entered “Number 1” multiple times pushing the total past 100 percent.

9 percent
Statewide sales tax
3 percent
Local sales tax
42 percent
User tax applied specifically to goods and services purchased by football fans
33 percent
Authorize racino gambling and use those proceeds
12 percent
Transfer Minneapolis Convention Center tax revenue once that facility debt is paid

9. Should Minnesota consider nuclear power as an option for meeting future energy needs?

36 percent
Strongly support
33 percent
Support
9 percent
Oppose
9 percent
Strongly oppose
13 percent
Not sure

-----------------

Senator David Hann represents District 48, Representative Jenifer Loon represents District 48B, and Representative Kirk Stensrud represents District 48A. All are Eden Prairie residents.

The following is an e-mail update from Rep. Kirk Stensrud, June 22, 2011:

Kirk Stensrud (48A) - Email Newsletter

Dear Neighbor,

I thank those who attended the town hall meeting Monday night at Minnetonka High School. The range of opinions made for an interesting discussion and I value the input I received.

Much of our focus was on the importance of jobs and, as a small-business owner, I can empathize with the concern folks are having in today's economy. We all are working to emerge from this recession together, regardless of where or how we are employed.

We also addressed the state shutdown we may face if our state budget remains unresolved at the end of the month. I strongly support passing a “lights-on bill” to keep our state operating if we encounter a shutdown July 1. Such a bill would be a short-term extension to mitigate the impact for tens of thousands of Minnesotans on the verge of being laid off from work and others on the brink of being unable to receive the services upon which they rely.

We are very near agreement on roughly half of the budget, so I encourage our leaders to iron out those details to break the ice toward a global solution. At the very least, I encourage the governor to call a brief special session very soon so we can put a lights-on bill in place as a last-resort safety net.

I remain hopeful we will find a way to resolve our budget matters by the end of June because the last thing I want to see is a state shutdown.

Thanks again to all the people who joined in the discussion Monday night and I hope to hear from you again soon.

Sincerely,

Kirk

P.S. Join my e-mail updates list to get the latest updates.

The following is an e-mail update from Rep. Kirk Stensrud, June 17, 2011:

Kirk Stensrud (48A) - Email Newsletter

Dear Neighbor,

Local citizens sent me to the Capitol for my commitments to getting state spending under control and protecting taxpayers.

It is my job to finish the job the people of District 48A sent me to do, even though Gov. Dayton’s P.R. machine is in overdrive trying to bully legislators into rolling over and accepting his tax-and-spend increases. But we should acknowledge fewer than 40 percent of District 48A voters backed Dayton last November. Local families, workers and business owners are the people I represent and they do not support his tax-and-spend budget proposal.

It is disappointing how the governor is willing to shut the state down July 1 in order to keep pushing for tax increases. We continue to offer compromise after compromise, but the governor seems more interested in establishing a shutdown plan than finding a budget solution.

In the last two weeks alone we made two significant compromise offers. We first reached out to Dayton with an offer that meets his spending totals on almost 50 percent of his proposed budget (K-12 education, public safety and judicial spending). We also reluctantly conceded the spending cuts and tax relief in our initial plan.

Meantime, the governor will not back down from raising taxes to help support another double-digit spending increase. Yet, he continues to say legislators are the ones stuck in a “rigid ideology.”

The $34 billion budget the Legislature passed in May is the largest in state history. It provides a 6-percent increase in state spending, funds priorities and reforms government, education and health care.

Our proposal puts the state budget on a stable, sustainable path for the future, yet Dayton vetoed it because it did not include tax increases. But more than 60 percent of District 48A voters “vetoed” Dayton last fall and my responsibility is to stay on the side of local citizens.

Sincerely,

Kirk

P.S. Join my e-mail updates list to get the latest updates.

The following letter appeared in the Austin Daily Herald, June 17, 2011:

Even with cuts, budget remains generous
By: Dennis Schminke, Austin

Minnesota DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and the Republican-controlled legislature are at loggerheads. The legislature has passed a balanced budget requiring no tax increases. The governor has vetoed it. Negotiations have not been fruitful — yet — and a June 30 shutdown of non-essential government services looms.

Budget development is a delicate and ever-changing process. During the legislative session, the Republican legislative leadership was not able to say much — other than to reaffirm their commitment to having state government live within its means, and achieving a balanced budget without a tax increase. That was the platform they ran on, and the job they believe they were elected to do. Details are now available and here are some facts Minnesota citizens and taxpayers should know before deciding the best way forward on this issue.

First, the $34 billion-plus budget is not a cut — in fact, it is the largest budget, and largest tax burden, ever presented to Minnesota citizens and taxpayers. It is significantly larger than the previous budget of $30 billion, which included over $2 billion in federal stimulus money. Gov. Dayton has proposed $37 billion — a figure based on budget forecasts on auto-pilot, containing all sorts of automatic increases. This is not a realistic approach to budgeting in today’s struggling economy.

Second, contrary to opponent’s claims, the legislature’s budget increases state spending on education, and includes important reforms for improving education in Minnesota. Having vetoed the spending bill, the governor is also standing in the way of these important reforms. In addition, during subsequent negotiations, legislative leaders have agreed to a 100 percent match with Gov. Dayton’s requests for Education, Public Safety and the Judiciary. This compromise reflects Republican commitment to Minnesota’s legislative priorities within available resources.

Finally, the longer-term historical context should not be overlooked: If, as an example, we were to do a roll-forward of the state’s 1992 budget ($13.5 billion), adjusting for inflation and population increase, we would be talking today about a $25.2 billion dollar budget rather than arguing whether to spend $34 billion or $39 billion — a $9 billion surplus instead of a $5 billion shortfall. Citizens and taxpayers of the state face some very important questions: How did we come to this point? How big do we want this state government to be? How much of the state’s income should our state government expect to consume?

The governor is using a common budget-negotiating tactic — to ask for an unrealistically high number, and then calling everything below that number a cut. The $7 billion (23 percent) increase requested by the governor is neither prudent nor sustainable. The budget passed by the legislature represents a 12 percent increase in spending. It is responsible, fair, and in some areas even generous. How many Minnesota families enjoyed even a 12 percent income increase last year? What Gov. Dayton and the DFL are calling “cuts” are not cuts at all. Rather, this is a much-needed effort at slowing the runaway growth of state government spending.

Minnesota consistently ranks in the top 10 of high-tax states. The tax increase proposed by Gov. Dayton would saddle Minnesotans with the highest marginal state income tax rate in the nation. It would further inhibit job creation by increasing corporate tax rates. In this economic environment, we desperately need economic growth and job creation—the true solutions to all the state’s budget problems. Tax increases get in the way of these important priorities. Republicans know that for the long term, the prosperity of the state’s middle class will be far better served by policies that encourage economic growth and job creation in the private sector.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, June 16, 2011:

Taxes matter
By: Nancy Axelson, Eden Prairie

In his recent letter to the editor, Greg Olson argues that he never heard of any business leaving the state because of taxes. He obviously hasn't been paying attention.

Last March, 3M head George Buckley was pretty frank about the impact of Minnesota's tax climate on his company's business. He warned that if the cost of doing business continues to skyrocket, their company will have no choice but to move to a place that is more business friendly.

Remember, “3M” stand for “Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing.” How embarrassing it will be for MINNESOTA Mining and Manufacturing to move out of our state in order to stay in business. And yet, if Olson and Democrats have their way, that is exactly what will happen.

To the extent that they are hiring, companies like General Mills and 3M are already adding more jobs in other states and even in other countries to escape Minnesota's hostile business climate. Marvin Windows has expanded in North Dakota where, as they said, they found a “positive business environment.” Delta Airlines, the Saint Paul Ford plant, Lockheed Martin, Hutchinson Technologies. The list goes on and on.

It hasn't always been this way. In 1985, Minnesota was a leader in innovation and technology. The top 5 employers in Minnesota were all private businesses: Honeywell, 3M, General Mills, Pillsbury and Control Data.

What has happened since 1985? Well, government has grown -- a lot. Do you know who employs more people than anyone else today? State government. In fact, of the top 5 employers today in the state of Minnesota, only one of the five is a private. The Mayo Clinic (which relies heavily on public dollars) is number 2, the federal government is number 3, and the University of Minnesota is number 5. Discount retailer Target is the only private business in the top 5.

Top Employers in Minnesota 25 Years Ago... ...and Today.

1. Honeywell
2. 3M
3. General Mills
4. Pillsbury
5. Control Data

1. State Government
2. Mayo Foundation
3. Federal Government
4. Target Corporation
5.
University of Minnesota

Source: Corporate Report Fact Book Source: Twin Cities Book of Business

Fred Zimmerman, University of Saint Thomas professor and a leading expert on Minnesota’s manufacturing sector, said: “Minnesota has had a very anemic and ineffective economic development program for the last two or three decades.” He said the fact that businesses are leaving doesn't surprise him and it is now up to the state legislature to “completely rework the economic development program, because we have been ineffective for far too long.”

Taxes matter. We know they matter, otherwise South Dakota would have stopped advertising their tax advantage long ago. They know that message resonates and yields results with some businesses that are able to move.

As a local DFL leader, Olson is burdened by having to defend a philosophy that is harming our state and our country. From Saint Paul to Washington DC, Democrats continue to overspend and overtax and then, to add insult to injury, they tell us that it's good for us. If taxes could solve all of Minnesota's problems, we'd be far ahead of the other states. But we're not because they don't.

There's nothing pro-growth about tax increases. Through these tough economic times, Minnesotans have been struggling to live within our means. Isn't it time government does the same?

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, June 16, 2011:

Stensrud's values are the right ones
By: Andy Cilek, Eden Prairie

A recent letter to this newspaper by Matt Erickson provides a nice illustration of the differences between Democrats and Republicans on two levels, policy and politics.

Writer Erickson complains that Kirk Stensrud, one of the best new legislators sent to Saint Paul in last November's election, is wrong to stand for Republican values of taxing less, cutting state spending, requiring a photo ID to vote (which has an 80 percent approval rating in nearly every poll), and letting voters decide on the definition of marriage. Thank God someone is standing in the way of Erickson's preferences for raising taxes, increasing spending, turning a blind eye to the integrity of our elections, and preventing voters from having their say on marriage.

With regard to politics, Erickson asserts that Stensrud is “divisive,” operates from a “religious ideology,” and does “as he pleases.” There you have it, classic Democrat personal smears swaddling every comment.

Republicans, in contrast, prefer polite debate, and with that in mind, I would like to thank Mr. Erickson for his illuminating letter.
---------------------
Editor's note: Cilek is President of the Minnesota Voter's Alliance

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, June 16, 2011:

State hostile to business
By: Richard Proops, Eden Prairie

Greg Olson's recent piece puts forth his theory that higher taxes will actually improve Minnesota's business climate. Olson doesn't “think” higher taxes will hurt jobs, he expects us to accept his opinion as fact. Some research shows how Minnesota compares to other states when it comes to business climate.

The US Census says that Minnesota's tax burden ranks #7 overall. This is a good thing, at least according to Greg Olson. If Dayton and the DFL have their way, Minnesota will move even higher.

According to the nonprofit group, the Tax Foundation, Minnesota ranks number 43 in business tax climate. That means only 7 other states are more hostile to business than Minnesota. If you owned a business, would you come to a state that is hostile to business?

The Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council ranked Minnesota number 50 on their business tax index. Minnesota is dead last. That was a real shocker because Mark Dayton thinks Minnesota businesses pay too little taxes in Minnesota. The only good news is that if Olson and the DFL get their way, we can't fall any further back than number 50.

CEO magazine surveyed top business leaders, asking them to subjectively rank the states about their business climate. Again, Minnesota ranks in the bottom half. Interestingly, Wisconsin, which recently elected a conservative governor and conservative legislature, moved up 17 spots compared to last year's ranking -- more than any other state.

The Mercatus Center at George Mason University has an interesting annual ranking called “The Freedom Index.” They ranked which states are the freest -- and least free -- from taxes and government regulation. Once again, Minnesota is in the bottom half.

Does it matter? Well, according to people that have studied it, yes it does. A recent Harvard study found that businesses are highly responsive to local tax policies and can reasonably expect to move where they can make the most profit. John Boyd, president of Boyd Company Inc, a leading consultant who advises companies on where to move, has stated that costs absolutely factor into a company's decision on where to move.

Taxes aren't the only factor, but they matter. And in an increasingly competitive global economy, the tax burden is becoming one of the few factors that state lawmakers have direct control over.

Olson and the DFL want you to believe that taxes in Minnesota are too low. I don't agree. And neither do a lot of other folks that have studied the situation. President Ronald Reagan famously said: “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

Please support Representative Loon, Representative Stensrud, and Senator Hann in their efforts to get Minnesota spending under control.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, June 16, 2011:

Let's be civil
By: Robert Lawrenz, Eden Prairie

The people of Minnesota will soon have the opportunity to reaffirm the state law defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. It is important because, if the people do not make it a constitutional provision, the courts could possibly make the decision and define marriage for them. This issue deserves honest dialog.

The family is the foundation of society and marriage is the foundation of family. Family members are persons related by birth, adoption or marriage. Family is the culture's means for loving, caring, supporting and encouraging those closest to us. Families give us roots.

The primary purpose of marriage is to produce the next generation of children who can build their lives benefiting from the modeling of a loving masculine father and a feminine mother. While there are exceptions, history has established that it is in society's best interest to promote this ideal.

So while the differing sides on this matter butt heads and we see proponents of the traditional definition labeled as “haters,” let's be wise, calm and civil and not giving hateful talk a place where it can be destructive. Some view this issue as a matter of principle and it is an emotional matter for others. Arbitrarily labeling those who see it as a matter of principle as “haters” is not conducive to honest dialog and makes people wonder who the haters really are.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, June 16, 2011:

Higher taxes don't bring jobs
By: David Johnson, Eden Prairie

For the second time, Greg Olson has written this paper, making the case for higher taxes. This time, he makes the thoroughly discredited argument that higher taxes will actually bring more jobs and business to Minnesota, not less. According to Olson, raising the costs of Minnesota's 500,000 small businesses is actually a good thing.

You have to wonder who is advising the Democrats these days. With the economy stuck in a two-year Obama-created recession, their only economic growth idea is to raise taxes and hike state and federal spending. Of course, this makes perfect sense to liberals because their priority is funding an ever-increasing government and the bloated public unions it employs.

According to the Hill, the Democrats in Washington are so frustrated with Obama's “passivity on the economy” that they are actually (right now as you are reading this!) putting together another stimulus package that will include significant new spending and -- you guessed it -- massive tax increases.

Taxes are such an insatiable priority for Democrats that Governor Dayton is preparing to shut down our state government if he doesn't get them. Are you planning on going to a state park this July Fourth? Better guess again. Thanks to Mark Dayton, thanks to the DFL, the parks will be closed.

Few ideas have been so debunked as the liberal belief that more taxes and more government spending will result in more jobs. For example, at the federal level, spending has been skyrocketing. Between 2006 and 2011 federal spending jumped 40 percent. If Olson's theory is correct, then we should be swimming in jobs. In fact the opposite is true. Not only have we passed a horrendous debt to our children and our grandchildren, our economy has actually lost over 7 million jobs. That's actual jobs, not the fictitious ones Democrats claim to have “saved or created.”

As was stated in an earlier letter, the US census says Minnesota is number seven in taxes. But, according to Olson, that is not nearly high enough. Or how about a recent study by Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council which ranked Minnesota number 50 on their business tax index. In other words, if you want to start a business, you would be better off going absolutely anywhere other than Minnesota.

Enough of the liberal lies, fuzzy math and arguments that don't even pass the smell test. Minnesota returned our State Legislature to the adults last election for good reason, to end the orgy of spending. And were it not for dubious ballots and county club Republicans voting for yet another RINO, we'd have an adult as governor, too. Thankfully, we sent three strong and knowledgeable people to represent us in Saint Paul who have stood up for what's right against the wave of hate and lies being delivered to our doorsteps almost weekly by corrupt public unions and their liberal cronies.

Thank you Representatives Stensrud and Loon and Senator Hann for keeping your word and addressing our issues like adults.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, June 16, 2011:

Thanks Loon, Stensrud, Hann
By: Ken Powaga, Eden Prairie

Greg Olson in his June 9 editorial put forth a shocking assertion: Higher actually mean MORE jobs! And that most economists have it all wrong when they say that higher taxes and more government hurts job growth.

I read that and thought: Do Mr. Olson and Governor Dayton really think we're that stupid? It would seem so.

Olson looks to Minnesota's unemployment rate to bolster his belief that Minnesota is not losing jobs. A much more accurate indicator, however, is to look at the actual number of jobs being created. Study after study shows that higher tax states are losing jobs and lower tax states are gaining them. That is how you tell which states are growing and which ones are losing ground economically.

In the last 10 years, Texas led the way in job creation, adding 732,800 jobs. Our neighbor to the northwest, North Dakota, was number six in job creation. A total of 19 states posted gains in jobs. Minnesota was not so good. We were a net loser, shedding 56,800 jobs, placing it 37th out of 50 in the nation in job creation.

What happened? Bigger government fueled by higher taxes were supposed to give us more jobs! Minnesota state government grew at twice the rate of inflation during the past decade. Where are the jobs?

Look at the states at the bottom: California, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, New Jersey. All of these (at least until very recently) have been liberal strongholds. Every one of these states has been burdened with high taxes, high public spending, and a state government that feels it needs to regulate every part of people's lives.

When a business looks to expand, they look at a state like Minnesota and they say: “No thanks!”

Not only are jobs leaving high tax, anti-business states, but recent US census data also confirms that people are leaving as well. High tax states are losing population, while business friendly states like Texas and Florida have grown. A new Marist poll in New York State shows that more than a third of young people there are planning to leave. Americans are voting with their feet and they won't live in places that tax people to death.

At the end of the day, it is really about what kind of state we want to live in and what kind of opportunity we want to leave for our children. Do we want to a place that offers growth and opportunity and keeps and attracts productive people who want to prosper and enjoy the fruits of a vibrant economy? If so, we need to put up a big sign on our door that says: “Open For Business?” Or do we want to be a Detroit, Illinois or California and be burdened by huge public spending and stifle growth and opportunity? We have a choice.

Kicking the can down the road, burdening future generations with layer upon layer of unsustainable government growth, is not the answer. $34 billion is more than enough. In fact, it is still more than we should spend.

I want to personally thank Representatives Jenifer Loon and Kirk Stensrud and Senator David Hann for standing up for my family and for all Minnesotans. Enough is enough. It's time to get government spending under control

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, June 09, 2011:

Questions Dayton's Vetoes
By: Crystal Kelley, Eden Prairie

Mark Dayton issued a flurry of vetoes this week, making it the biggest snowstorm of 2011. Among the things he vetoed:

• Tax relief for Minnesota's 506,000 married joint filers who now have to pay the marriage penalty tax,

• Tax relief for Military veterans,

• Property tax relief for disabled veterans and surviving spouses,

• Property tax refunds for homeowners and

• Property tax relief for businesses statewide.

Republicans gave him a $34.2 billion budget. -- much larger than I would have liked. After subtracting the one-time stimulus money Minnesota received last year, this budget actually represents an increase of $3.5 billion. It raises spending without raising taxes. But for Dayton, this is not enough. Why isn't it enough for Dayton -- a 9 percent spending increase -- when so many people are getting little to no increase in income?

Dayton also vetoed Senator Daley's bill to require basic skills testing for teachers. This bill was not controversial. It passed 87-41 in the House and 52-0 in Senate. Dayton is revealing himself to be even more radical than his own party.

Finally Dayton vetoed the voter ID bill. He said it was because the bill “lacks broad bipartisan support.” But, according to two recent polls (Minneapolis Star Tribune and Survey USA), Minnesotans overwhelmingly support voter ID. For example, according to the Star Tribune poll, 80% of Minnesotans support voter ID (including 64 percent of Democrats) and only 18 percent opposed. That sounds pretty bipartisan to me.

Thank you David Hann, Jenifer Loon and Kirk Stensrud. Please keep fighting for Minnesota.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, June 09, 2011:

Kirk Stensrud Speaks for the Majority
By: Krisla Bereth, Eden Prairie

A recent letter to the editor fraudulently claims that Representative Kirk Stensrud is outside the mainstream of his district because he opposes the Dayton/DFL agenda of higher spending and higher tax increases. Yet I received the results of Kirk's most recent voter survey and it shows that Kirk's positions are very much in the mainstream.

For example, when voters were asked to identify ways that government can most effectively improve our economy, 70 percent said we should reduce business taxes to encourage entrepreneurs to create new jobs and 62 percent said we should reduce income taxes on individuals and families. Only 22 percent agreed with Mark Dayton and the “spend spend spend” DFL that we should raise taxes to fund state programs.

When asked if Minnesota should require voters to present a photo ID at the polls, 81 percent agreed that this is a sensible measure to help prevent voter fraud. Only 19 percent supported Mark Dayton's veto of the bill. That's four in favor and one against. Far from being a divisive vote, Representative Stensrud's actions clearly support the wishes of the vast majority of his constituents.

Eden Prairie obviously has a very radical and noisy liberal minority who understand little about economics, advocate an extreme agenda of social engineering and irresponsible fiscal priorities, and has only a tenuous grasp on reality. But they do not represent the majority. Far from it. While they are welcome to their opinion, they are not entitled to their own truth. The truth is Kirk is representing the views of his district extremely well. He is a businessman, not a career politician, and understands that Minnesota will not move forward with another round of job killing tax increases, bloated government with out-of-control budgets, and liberal elites who ignore the truth that the people of Minnesota don't support their extreme progressive agenda.

Only five states have proposed tax increases in 2011. Mark Dayton and the DFL want Minnesota to be the sixth. Well, the people of House District 48A are saying an emphatic NO. Government spends far too much already and the people know it, even if the DFL doesn't.

Thank you, Kirk Stensrud, for being a voice of reason in Saint Paul. Continue to stand strong and keep representing the majority voice of your district.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, June 09, 2011:

Questions Letter Writer
By: Patrick Poisson, Eden Prairie

Matt Erickson’s recent letter about Kirk Stensrud’s work as our new representative was rife with false implications.

Erickson says that Stensrud has “accomplished little in his first year.” It seems someone needs to remind him that a standard year is 12 months long, not just the five months Stensrud has been in office. So to pronounce his “first year” as without accomplishment is at best, premature, and at worst, simply dishonest.

Erickson claims that Kirk won by “less than 50 votes” (for the record the number was actually 107) and therefore his election was somehow not legitimate. By Erickson's own logic, Kirk's predecessor, Maria Ruud, who also won her first election by an extremely slim margin (239 votes), was illegitimate. Using that same logic, isn't Mark Dayton (who won his election last year by an smaller percentage than Kirk) also illegitimate?

It's apparent that it is not the size of Kirk's victory that troubles Erickson, but the fact that he is keeping his promises. Kirk promised to reduce the burden of government on Minnesota families. Our state already ranks among the highest in the nation in taxes. Higher taxes will not bring jobs and prosperity to Minnesota. It is clear that when Ruud and the DFL had to stand on their own, without the coat tails of a national election to ride on, that she hemorrhaged votes each election as Eden Prairie saw through her rhetoric and realized that she and the “spend like drunken sailors” DFL were in lockstep - and out of step with the “moderate” Eden Prairie and Minnetonka voters.

Speaking of lockstep, Mr. Erickson accuses Kirk of being tied at the hip to the GOP, implying that this shows a lack of “independence.” Yet, not one word about Maria Ruud’s six years of lockstep voting with the liberal DFL who spent decades putting our children in debt in order to spend our money on their political friends. Where were the calls from the Left for Maria Ruud to vote against her party to show her “independent” credentials? No. And the DFL wouldn't make this demand of Mark Dayton either, who won the governorship by a smaller percentage than Kirk won his seat (0.42 percent vs. 62 percent).

Therefore, by the DFL’s own twisted logic, everything Maria Ruud did and everything Mark Dayton does is illegitimate and not in line with the majority of voters. Is this something on which we should agree?

So the implication that Stensrud’s election does not reflect the will of the majority of voters in HD48A is false. The calls for him to be “independent” are disingenuous and, once more, put the hypocrisy of the DFL on full display

Thank you, Rep. Stensrud, for doing something all-too rare in government these days – Keeping your word.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, June 09, 2011:

Future School Board Candidates
By: Jessie Score, Eden Prairie

The Eden Prairie School District is in trouble. For students this means their education is at risk, for property owners this means their home values have and will continue to decline, and for parents this means little or no representation from our current School Board due to the lack of oversight and accountability on those who are making the decisions.

I am a concerned parent and taxpayer who has kids past the elementary level. I have been paying close attention to the operations between our board and administration and how decisions have been made and have multiple concerns about the direction we are headed as a district. I have been involved with other individuals who are also knowledgeable about the issues at hand and we are passionate about returning focus to the fundamentals for ALL students.

We are looking for people who are interested in running for a seat on the Eden Prairie School Board. We are dedicated to finding individuals who will be committed to creating transparency in our district. We need educated people who understand what it means to serve in an elected official position and know the importance of representing those they were elected to serve.

We seek engaged individuals who will take back our schools, our children's education and our rights as parents, taxpayers, and community members by exercising the oversight and review authority that a responsible School Board should provide.

If you have had enough of your concerns being dismissed as “noise” by the current administration and are ready to act to save our schools, then please contact Jessie Score at: sscore27@msn.com

The following is an e-mail update from Rep. Kirk Stensrud, June 07, 2011:

Kirk Stensrud (48A) - Email Newsletter

Dear Neighbor,

The Legislature has offered another compromise with Gov. Dayton in an attempt to get our budget resolved by June 30 and avoid a state shutdown.

We have once again shown we can balance the budget and fund our priorities without outspending our revenue and raising taxes.

Our latest offer increases spending by $110 million in three crucial areas: K-12 education, public safety and judiciary. The new K-12 proposal we put forth provides an additional $80 million in education funding, matching Gov. Dayton’s request. In the true spirit of compromise, our education budget provides all the spending the governor wants, along with key reforms the Legislature wants.

This compromise also provides $30 million more for public safety and judiciary budgets, and emergency bonding with a FEMA match.

These three areas account for roughly 50 percent of the state’s General Fund budget, so an agreement here could be key to finding a full budget solution. The ball is now in the governor’s court and I encourage him to accept our latest offer so we can begin putting the other budget pieces in place.

Sincerely,

Kirk

P.S. Join my e-mail updates list to get the latest updates.

The following letter appeared in the Lakeshore Weekly News, June 07, 2011:

Supports Stensrud
By: Representative Kurt Zellers, (R - Maple Grove)
Speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives

Representative Kirk Stensrud came to the Capitol on a mission to help make better use of the taxpayers' money so we can get a grip on state spending.

Rep. Stensrud's common-sense, bottom-line approach is a valuable asset to the House and I thank him for all the hard work he put in at the Capitol during the 2011 session. He has authored a number of bills to help Minnesota operate more efficiently by eliminating outdated practices, precisely the reason District 48A residents sent Rep. Stensrud to Saint Paul.

As a small-business owner, Rep. Stensrud knows what it takes to live within a budget and understands how damaging tax increases are to Main Street Minnesota.

As a father, he realizes decisions we make today will have a significant impact on future generations.

As a Christian, Rep. Stensrud knows what it means to stick to his principles. His votes show he has accomplished all of the above by containing government spending, protecting taxpayers and spurring private-sector growth.

I am honored to be serving with Rep. Stensrud and the people of District 48A should remain proud of their State Representative's strong leadership in St. Paul.

The following is an e-mail update from Rep. Kirk Stensrud, May 23, 2011:

Kirk Stensrud (48A) - Email Newsletter

Dear Neighbor,

The session is set to adjourn at midnight, just a few short hours from now. We still are waiting for official word from Gov. Dayton regarding whether he will approve or veto the budget we sent him.

One thing that indicates he will force a special session is that even today he has been using the media to paint a picture of our budget negotiations that just isn't true. The Legislature has offered significant compromise on the size of our budget and even House Minority Leader Paul Thissen agrees. Click here to hear his comments on the House floor.

Let's hope we find a solution asap. It would help if the governor would acknowledge the Legislature has indeed offered compromise. Even today he was quoted in the StarTribune, saying "Here I am in the middle and they haven't moved."

In addition to Thissen's comment, this graphic tells a different story. Click here for more.

As always, I will keep you posted as things develop.

Sincerely,

Kirk

P.S. Join my e-mail updates list to get the latest updates.

The following is an e-mail update from Rep. Kirk Stensrud, May 20, 2011:

Kirk Stensrud (48A) - Email Newsletter

Dear Neighbor,

I am happy to say we have presented Gov. Dayton with a balanced budget plan which erases our $5 billion shortfall without raising taxes and sets spending at a sustainable level.

Our proposal is for a $34 billion budget in the upcoming biennium. This budget has an increase in spending of 6 percent over the current cycle, and it fits within the revenue we expect to receive. Our budget package is full of reform measures, helping us to fund our priorities while also putting the brakes on the spending increases of the past.

Now we are awaiting the governor’s action on our bills. He has proposed increasing spending $2 billion beyond the $34 billion threshold, going up to $36 billion and simply raising taxes to get there.

Our mission is to find places of agreement to overcome those differences in approach and put a solution in place before Monday’s constitutional deadline to adjourn. We will be meeting at the Capitol throughout the weekend to help make that happen and there are a few promising signs of progress, including an increased number of meetings between the governor and legislative leaders.

I remain confident we will find a breakthrough with the budget and will send email updates over the weekend as developments warrant. Until then, please keep providing me with input by emailing rep.kirk.stensrud@house.mn.

Sincerely,

Kirk

P.S. Join my e-mail updates list to get the latest updates.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, May 19, 2011:

Higher taxes kill jobs
By: Stacey Bozanich, Eden Prairie

Greg Olson's May 12 letter makes the case for increasing taxes by claiming that government tax receipts in Minnesota have fallen since 2002. That is absolutely true. But it isn't because our tax rates have dropped. It's because businesses are leaving Minnesota. According to the US Census, Minnesota ranked #10 in per capita taxes in 2002. But in 2009, Minnesota jumped up to #7. The truth is: Contrary to Olson's misleading statistic, Minnesota's taxes have gone up in relation to other states.

After ignoring this basic fact, Olson goes on to wonder why Minnesota lags behind other states in job creation and income growth. The answer is: higher taxes kill jobs.

Democrats in Illinois recently hiked income taxes there by a mind boggling 66 percent. Now major companies -- Motorola, Caterpillar, Sears -- are all threatening to leave. In 2008, Maryland implemented a special millionaire's tax. Within a year, a third of the state's top income earners had vanished and state tax revenue actually fell. Oregon raised taxes on their top earners to 11 percent to help deal with their state's budget issues. A year later, tax revenues fell by over 25 percent. When businesses leave, so do jobs. When jobs leave, so do productive workers.

Let me put it another way that even a liberal can understand: When jobs leave Minnesota, tax revenues go down, not up. That means that all the things liberals claim to care about -- good schools, police protection, and lavish public sector pensions -- go unfunded.

Finally, Olson claims that Republicans have proposed an “all cuts budget.” Only in the mind of a liberal is a 9 percent increase considered a cut.
Most Minnesota families would be happy to get a 9 percent raise in today's conditions, and I believe government should be, too.

The last thing struggling Minnesota families need is another tax increase. Higher taxes will not bring jobs to Minnesota. Getting government spending under control will. Please urge Governor Dayton to work with the legislature to find a way to balance the budget without raising taxes.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, May 19, 2011:

Marriage Letter Misleading
By: Bonnie Gasper, Eden Prairie

Minnesotans have been denied the right chance to vote on a marriage amendment to the Minnesota Constitution for years. I'm grateful that Senator David Hann and Representative Kirk Stensrud are working to change that. Americans overwhelmingly affirm marriage is a union between one man and one woman . . . even those in the famously progressive state of California.

If marriage is merely a “right,” then any combination of “unions” are possible. Marriage “rights” activists could not deny “marriage” between men (or women) and 17 others, or children . . . even pets. It's the only logical outcome.

Two weeks ago, John Mallo wrote a misleading letter. He distorted scripture to posit King David as a homosexual. Had he read a little further in the Bible, he would have learned King David took multiple wives. Should Mallo instead have concluded King David was bisexual.

Obviously King David was neither . . . and David gravely sinned in taking multiple wives. However, Mallo demonstrates how activists twist scriptures to further agendas.

The Bible must be read and understood in its entirety to receive the whole, consistent coherent and magnificent message God has revealed to mankind for eternity. God's design for marriage is beautiful and clearly defined and he makes no accommodation for homosexual “marriage.” (Genesis 2:18-25, Leviticus 18:22, Mark 10:6, Romans 1:26-2:1, I Corinthians 6:9-11, I Timothy 1:9-10 are just a few references). The reader must remember God condemns ALL sinful behavior and we are ALL sinners in need of forgiveness. Homosexuals are not unfairly singled out.

I understand the high emotion around this issue, but truth is still truth even if someone does not agree with it. If two beliefs directly oppose wach other, both cannot be true. It's impossible. Readers curious to know God's plan for marriage and all other matters of life should join a Bible believing church and Bible study. His word does not return to void. (Isaiah 55:11)

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, May 19, 2011:

Questions Paulsen letter
By: David Johnson, Eden Prairie

A recent letter on Paulsen's vote and alleged GOP actions cried out to be fact checked:

Paulsen Voted for death panels: I thought the Left assured us there was no such thing a “death panels” when Sarah Palin first named them? Verdict: A “guess there are death panels after all” lie.

War profiteering: A quick Google search for this whopper finds a list of personal blogs, far-left conspiracy advocates and unsubstantiated allegations. Making a profit from selling goods and services to the military is not “war profiteering” which connotes illegality the Left must prove, not simply assume. And perhaps we wouldn't have the world's largest defense spending if liberals didn't demand that we be the world's police force.

Verdict: a “get yer tinfoil hat, we're the world police” lie.

GOP ran up debt and cut programs for middle class: Whatever one thinks of Ryan's budget plan, the facts show that it's spending, not revenue, which is the problem. A look at the actual spending habits of our government over the last 15 years shows that it is the unconstitutional entitlement programs (58 percent of 2010 budget) that are bankrupting the country, not defense (20 percent) or tax breaks for “the rich.”

Entitlement spending (read welfare and handouts) has increased 11-fold in the last 45 years compared to only a tree-fold increase in GDP (the nation's growth). So it has been spending on the “middle class” (45 percent of which Yahoo reported recently don't actually pay any federal income taxes) that is bankrupting us. Reasonable people can debate how much to spend on defense, but (unlike entitlements) at least it's a constitutional expenditure. We can also see that in his first two years Obama has created more debt than all presidents combined through Reagan and his budget would add twice as much debt as Bush over the same number of years. Verdict: A “great Society and even greater debt” lie.

And it wouldn't be a truly knee-jerk liberal diatribe without the obligatory “fascist state” claim. Encyclopedia Britannica defines fascism as, "A philosophy of government that stresses the primacy and glory of the state, unquestioning obedience to its leader (remember the schools teaching songs about Obama to the kids like they do in China?), subordination of the individual will to the state's authority (ObamaCare), and harsh suppression of dissent." (Slandering of the Tea Party, claiming Fox News was not a legitimate media outlet and demanding that we inform on our neighbors to flag@whitehouse.gov). Verdict: A “Joseph Goebbels would be proud” lie.

And, a psychiatrist would diagnose, a textbook case of “projection” (a psychological defense mechanism where a person unconsciously denies his own attributes, thoughts and emotions, which are then ascribed to other people).

One would have thought the Left's “Bush Derangement Syndrome“ would have abated by now. But it seems ObamaCare doesn't cover the cost of treatment.

The following editorial appeared in the Eden Prairie Sun-Current, May 18, 2011:

The Eden Prairie School Board and administration need relationship help
By: Paul Groessel - Sun Newspapers

The last straw landed last week During the May 9 Eden Prairie School Board meeting, toward the end of an already long night for board members and administrators, a board member asked a pretty simple question and didn't get a response.

Holly Parker asked why school board videos could no longer be downloaded from the school district website. They could only be viewed online, streaming.

She had been asking the administration for a month, she said, and she hasn't gotten a response.

She didn't get one during the meeting, either.

Administrators and the superintendent just didn't answer. Supt. Melissa Krull said she wasn't going to answer; she wasn't prepared.

Parker kept asking questions politely, but the discussion became about what could be causing the video problem, how the administration should report back and so forth.

Then, Board member John Estall, bless his heart, chimed in and said, “I'd like to suggest that there's another issue going on here, and that other issue is the responsiveness of the administration to Holly's requests,” he said.

Thank you.

Estall even said there should be a response from administration that night, at the board table. He thought that would be reasonable.

Still nothing.

I understand there is a lot going on in the school district. Plates are full. Everyone probably needs more, bigger plates. And, I'm not trying to single people out, and any relational problems aren't purely the fault of one group or another.

I mean, these are not the only board members who have publicly voiced a concern. Some individual board members probably have concerns they can't publicly voice. That's a whole separate column. Or book.

Anyway, back to the straw.

The school board, essentially, is the administration's boss. I hate making it that black and white, but I think the reminder is warranted.

Put simply, the school board votes on what should happen in the school district and the administration determines how to do it.

Under the governance policy, the school board creates policies, and then the administration does its work under those policies and comes back to the school board later with what's called a monitoring report.

The report is a body of evidence and reasons the administrators feel they are in or out of compliance with a policy. Then, the school board (sometimes painfully) agrees or disagrees.

So, I ask, can the school board create policies to basically go see for themselves how things are going?

Rather than having the administration be the only group that provides evidence, couldn't the school board form their own criteria and compare it to the administration reports?

There have been many times, last Tuesday included, when a board member will ask for an update, and the administration essentially says, “we're looking into that” or “we're not ready.”

During the K-6 process, it was hard to get a sense of how decisions were made, and it seemed some school board members interested in getting a solid pulse on the process couldn't find the right vein.

For instance, when a task force is made (and we have seen many) couldn't the school board get involved? Usually, administrators have created these task forces, and school board members aren't on them.

If the school board can form a task force, there's a better chance it's open to the public, and the board members can stay informed. They don't have to micromanage; they could just sit in, read detailed notes - know what's going on.

Board updates don't seem to be enough.

I'm not an educator, and I'm not an administrator. But it just seems roles of the school board and administration need some clarifying. Lines of communication need re-routing.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, May 12, 2011:

Proposed Increases Out Of Touch
By: Representative Kirk Stensrud, 48A

One thing is abundantly clear at the Capitol: No matter how much we spend, someone in St. Paul always wants to spend some more.

Minnesota expects to receive an additional $3 Billion in revenue during the 2012-13, enough for a 9 percent increase in spending.  That should be plenty to make ends meet, yet our governor proposes raising taxes by billions more to pay for a 22 percent spending increase over the next two years.

The good news is our governor cannot spend money; he can only make reductions.  The House offered his budget proposal during a tax committee hearing recently, but it was resoundingly voted down by members of both parties.

Our state spending habits do not match the economic realities of today.  I am a small-business owner, so I know the financial slumps and have struggled right alongside my customers.  I also am a father who is concerned about tuition costs and I worry whether my son will find a job when he graduates from college next year.  Families are struggling to pay for gas and pay the mortgage.

We have all adjusted our family budgets and it is time for our state to follow suit instead of insisting on spending more.  We must quit the old habit of assuming spending more money will fix any given problem, while failing to scrutinize the outcomes and returns on our investments.

I have authored a number of proposals to help our state run more efficiently and will continue working on new ideas.  We need to stick with our priorities and live within our means.  Tax hikes and spending increases will not help our business climate.

It may require difficult decisions, but we must remain disciplined to shape a sustainable future for Minnesota.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, May 12, 2011:

It's Your Money
By: Richard Proops, Eden Prairie

The City Council, with its recently returning members, has wasted no time in trying to identify how to raise $100,000,000 to $200,000,000 to spend on maintenance and capital improvements! (The title now emphasizes maintenance; who can object to maintenance?)

The Budget Advisory Commission has been asked to identify sources for funding the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). My analysis of the CIP for 2011-2015 shows expenditures of $25,000,000 and income of $12,500. Before deciding on how to raise $100,000,000-$200,000,000, it would be useful to know how much is required, what are the priorities, and what passes a "need" test as opposed to “nice to have.”

The main sources of funding include state, county and federal agencies, and increases in taxation. Taxation takes many forms, special assessments, street light charges, selling bonds, a tax levy ... it's your money.

Considering the importance of financial management, it seems incumbent on council members to become aware of what expenditures are for and how to fund them.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, May 12, 2011:

Reform, Not Rationing
By: John Tyler, Eden Prairie

Ellen Hoerle's guest commentary is not accurate in depicting Sen. David Hann's efforts at health-care reform as rationing care to the working poor. I have worked with Sen. Hann on his Real Reform Working Group, a team of financial and insurance professionals directed to evaluate and recommend potential financial solutions to the Legislature on health\-care issues. I am an Eden Prairie resident and Eden Prairie business owner who have worked in the individual and group health insurance business since 1981.

Current MNCare and MA programs are HMO plans that tightly manage the care of the enrollees - ration care you might say. The current and projected cost per adult is over $600 per month and $300 per child and rising. There are 150,000 individuals on MNCare and over 500,000 on non-disability MA in Minnesota, 275,000 or which are children. There is a $10,000 hospital expense cap. What happens when the MNCare benefits run out and you are still in the hospital? The patient pays the balance. With the increasing costs and number of people using these public programs, public program costs are becoming unsustainable.

On top of this, the levels of reimbursement for these programs to health-care professionals are so low that medical clinics can no longer afford to see patients that use public programs.

The solution Sen. Hann and others are working on is a health coverage plan that would maintain the financial integrity of MNCare and MA while keeping enrollees covered but alter the design of the programs. The plan allows enrollees a defined monthly financial amount determined by age, health and income. Enrollees would receive a subsidy to help pay for portable policies that would allow enrollees access to the provider networks of Blue Cross, Medica, HealthPartners and PreferredOne based on the plan of the enrollee's choosing. This is not rationing and the average standard reimbursement cost per month for an adult is $278 and for a child $150 per month for solid basic coverage with an unlimited major medical limit.

These types of creative, affordable, common-sense reforms create long-term solutions to critical problems faced by our state and county. I also wish to thank Rep. Jenifer Loon and Rep. Kirk Stensrud for their votes in support of the Minnesota House version of these bills. Along with Sen. Hann, we should be proud to have this type of representation that is not shy about working for real healthcare reform.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, May 05, 2011:

Government Should Sacrifice
By: Marc Papineau, Eden Prairie

The DFL wants to lecture us that the only way to solve the problems in DC and in Saint Paul is through “shared sacrifice.” But if you actually look at their proposals, you quickly discover that everyone shares the sacrifice . . . except the group that caused the problem – the government.

In the DFL fantasy world, Minnesota families are the only ones who get to suffer. Minnesota families get the higher taxes, higher gas prices, higher food prices, frozen salaries and even layoffs. But don't you dare ever suggest doing anything to government spending. In fact, in our times of “shared sacrifice,”our DFL governor is proposing a $6 billion increase in spending – a hike of nearly 20 percent.

If you suggest that government needs to share in the sacrifice, if you suggest that a 20 percent hike in the burden of government is a jobs killer, well, then you’re just greedy and heartless.

The latest attack in the EP paper came from Rep. Debra Hilstrom, the DFL minority leader from Brooklyn Center. Since she holds herself as the standard for fiscal responsibility, I decided to check out Rep. Hilstrom's voting record and I discovered that her lifetime score with the Taxpayer’s League is a paltry 16 out of 100. In fact, last year she scored a big fat zero.

Her first action in 2010 was to vote for an increase to Minnesota’s debt by $1.2 billion (HF2700). She says she supports higher education, but in 2007 she sponsored a bill to give in-state college tuition to illegal aliens (HF682). And back when our state budgets had a surplus (remember those days?) she voted – in a series of eight consecutive votes – to pad her own salary by increasing her per diem pay.

This is what the DFL and Rep. Hilstrom call “shared sacrifice.” They'll share your tax dollars and your family will sacrifice to accommodate them.

The DFL wants to lecture the people of Eden Prairie and Minnetonka about what it means to be fiscally responsible? I say to Rep. Hilstrom and the rest of the DFL, “Go back to Brooklyn Center and solve your own problems.” Thankfully, we have a representative that actually cares about Minnesota jobs and Minnesota's future.

Thank you Kirk Stensrud and keep up the good work!

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, May 05, 2011:

Questions Hilstrom Letter
By: Fred Koppelman, Eden Prairie

This is a letter that I wrote to Rep. Debra Hilstrom. I was pretty disgusted with her letter to our paper a couple of weeks ago and I wanted to respond to it. It's not easy to curb spending when out state and local government is used to overspending like we've been doing for such a long time. The governor wants to spend something like $5 to $8 billion more than we're taking in and the federal government is over $14 trillion in debt. How crazy is all of this anyway? If you and I handled our finances that way, we would proba-bly be in jail. Margaret Thatcher once said, “The trouble with Socialism is, after awhile you run out of other people's money.”

Dear Rep. Hilstrom:

Who do you think you are, trying to speak for the people of Eden Prairie? Your letter that appeared in the April 21 edition of the Eden Prairie News criticizing Representative Kirk Stensrud was inappropriate and in very poor taste. We are very supportive of his voting record and, after all, we are the people who elected him. At least he is making an effort to curb the spending spree that you and your DFL buddies have been on for lo these many years.

With the economy as tight as it is, the people on your side of the aisle and your leader are still trying to spend billions of dollars more than the state is taking in. What kind of responsible legislating is that? And your kindred spirits in the federal government are doing the same thing. I suggest that you concentrate on representing the people of Brooklyn Center and leave us alone.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, May 05, 2011:

Don’t shortchange majority of students
By: Cindy Hoaglund, Eden Prairie

The fact that we have a “private academy” type Spanish immersion school in Eden Prairie within a public school system isn't going to be successful if the majority of the district’s students are getting shortchanged. This is how I see it. Oak Point Intermediate School was an important school, every bit as important as the Central Middle School and the EP High School. How will the library, educational materials, resources, equipment, the outdoor play areas, the band program, the extracurricular clubs and sports, swimming in Physical Education be replicated to the standards known previously at this school? Destroying Oak Point Intermediate is the worst thing that the administration could do for our students here. Now, we have the costs of funding five elementary schools for the Intermediate age kids. Can we provide all of the above times five? Intermediate school was a wonderful step in preparing our stude nts for middle school and high school.

It set us apart from other districts. As far as boundary changes for socioeconomic balance, make them in grades K-4. As far as Spanish Immersion? That's great but can't it be done without destroying the Intermediate school? I see us spending a lot money for this change and ending up with a lower quality school. To the administration and school board, rethink this please. It's not too late to change these plans. This would be the mistake of the century here in Eden Prairie and I am asking you to please not gamble with our kids education, which is exactly what you are doing here. There are other options and we all know that.

I apologize for getting involved so late in the game but as an empty nester, I didn't follow the school news anymore until my neighbors opened my eyes to this last fall. I think there are a lot of sleeping giants out there like me that aren't going to like hearing about what is going on in our school district right now.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, April 14, 2011:

Plan Increases Funding for Schools
By: Representative Kirk Stensrud, 48A

Our commitment to upholding K-12 as a top priority is clearly reflected in a bill the House recently approved. Our focus is kids first, no excuses, no exceptions.

Through our plan, Eden Prairie and Minnetonka schools both would receive more money per student over each of the next two years, both vs. fiscal year 2011 funding and vs. the governor's proposal. Our emphasis is on developing a more equitable K-12 funding formula so our school district officials can do even more to prepare our students for the future. This reflects our commitment to protecting classroom funding during a tough budget year.

Funding for K-12 education will account for 40 percent of Minnesota's General Fund spending in 2012-13, according to February's economic forecast. We must make sure we are getting the best value possible when such a large percentage of our tax dollars are put to one area, the reason our bill is loaded with reform.

One reform is an A-through-F school grading system, making it easier for parents to evaluate and compare schools. It rewards schools that are innovative and effective. We also create new enrollment options for low-income students in persistently low-performing schools in Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth.

The bill also repeals integration funding aid. A 2005 report from the Legislative Auditor found numerous faults with the program, leading many lawmakers to questions its effectiveness Most of the money from the repeal is still being given to the same schools, but with a focus on student achievement and academic performance.

This legislation also provides anew teacher evaluation system based on student academic achievement and locally determined factors. This new model of evaluation would replace the old seniority-based retention process. The new plan would give local districts a say over how their teachers are evaluated and ends the last-hired, first-fired way of evaluating teachers.

There are no reductions to Head Start, School Readiness or Early Childhood Family Education in our proposal. Mandate relief in the bill includes repealing the maintenance-of-effort for the safe school levy and repealing the 2 percent staff development set-aside.

It will be interesting to see what changes are made in the bill as it makes its way through the legislative process, but the good thing is we finally have long-needed reform moving forward in St. Paul.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, April 14, 2011:

Representative is Delivering
By: Ken Powaga, Eden Prairie

It is refreshing to see that Eden Prairie's newly elected representative is delivering on his promises. When Kirk Stensrud knocked on my door last fall I thought that he was another politician ready to promise anything just to get elected. He explained that he was not a typical politician but a small business owner who wanted to serve and use his experience to eliminate waste and improve government effectiveness and efficiency - to get more done with less. This sounded like a good thing to me and I trusted him with my vote. Last month, I am happy to say that Kirk delivered on his promise by introducing two bills that will save taxpayers $25,000,000.

One bill (HF1029) reduces redundant and unnecessary deputy and assistant commissioners for state agencies. For instance, the current budget includes our deputy commissioners for the department of commerce. Under Kirk's bill management of his department would be streamlined, allowing only one deputy. The other bill (HF1090) requires an audit of dependent eligibility for state employee health insurance benefits. Both are examples of common sense measures that every private business must take to remain competitive As taxpayers, we need to make sure that each government agency lives within its means and is held accountable to get the most done for the resources available.

Even though Kirk has been our representative for only three months, he is making a difference bringing that accountability and efficiency to government.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, March 31, 2011:

Voter ID would Prevent Fraud
By: Denny Vinar, Eden Prairie

In last week's letter disregarding the concern for election integrity, the author tried dismissing the sensible arguments for modernizing and securing our electoral system, but failed. He writes that none of the four types of fraud in the first letter would be fixed by “Voter ID.” The bill now in the Legislature is far more comprehensive than just issuing photo ID's. Had be bothered to go to www.wewantvoterid.com he could have read the bill and seen the short video explaining all the improvements proposed which would stop the frauds listed.

He then dismisses the second author because he “never states the size of the problem.” Because vote fraud is difficult to detect, the true size of the problem is not known. And when it is detected, it's months after the election (and damage) is done. But, as Minnesota Majority (who did an independent audit of the 2008 election) states, “There is a mountain of evidence that indicates illegal voting is occurring. Prosecutions and convictions of voter fraud are rare because our system makes it nearly impossible to ascertain the identity of fraudulent voters.” But we do know the problem is far bigger than the “tens of cases” Mr. Bye claims. Here are some examples of fraud from 2008:

PhantomBallots: A comparison of the SVRS voter histories and the State Canvassing Board certified election results revealed a mismatch of 40,000 unaccounted for ballots. That's 40,000 more ballots counted than there were voters who participated in the election. Perhaps Mr. Bye can tell me where these came from because Secretary Mark Ritchie cannot. An estimated 30,000 phantom ballots were counted in the 2010 election. Accurate results won't be available for months due to the antiquated paper system Minnesota still uses. Another part of the solution proposed in the “Voter ID” bill corrects this.

Felons voting: Approximately 1,400 registered felons voted in the 2008 election.

Double Voting: Evidence of nearly 100 cases where voter registration and voter history records strongly indicate that single voter may have voted more than once in a single election.

That's 41,500 fraudulent votes in an election where 312 votes gave the Democrats their 60th senator for Obamacare and 30,000 fraudulent votes where 8,700 votes gave us Gov. Dayton this last election.

Go to the website (www.minnesotamajority.org) to see the full list of problems found.

Arguments against Voter ID proposals are nothing more than arguments to allow voter fraud. Ask those who oppose it, “If showing ID is such a disenfranchisement to the elderly and minorities, then why doesn't the DFL also want to eliminate it for other things like buying alcohol and cigarettes or boarding a plane?” As WCCO would say, “Good question.”

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, March 31, 2011:

Voter ID Letter Was Wrong
By: David Johnson, Eden Prairie

The chairman of the SD48 DFL committee wrote a misleading letter recently to scare Minnesotans with the canard that voter ID requirements would keep old people and minorities from voting and was a solution in search of a problem. As usual with liberals, he was completely wrong.
Voter fraud hurts all of us.

When someone votes illegally, when someone votes more than once, when we have dead people voting, when illegal aliens vote, that takes away something from all of us. If we can no longer trust our election system, then we no longer have democracy. A simple check like showing an ID -- something that every one of us does when renting a movie or buying beer or cashing a check -- is not too great a price to pay to insure the integrity of our election system. Other states already do it. In Indiana not one person has yet been turned away under their voter ID law. It is not about taking away rights -- it is about preserving our rights. We have a right to free and honest elections. We have a right to trust that everyone who votes has a right to vote. We have a right to keep people who are not eligible to vote away from the polls.

We must also stop the absentee ballot fraud and the legal loophole which allows one person to vouch for another that they are a citizen with no proof but their word. Once that ballot is cast, there is no way to distinguish it from legitimate votes.

On the website www.wewantvoterid.com are listed some great arguments for modernizing our electoral system by passing the current bill before the legislature. Among them is the fact that 80 percent of Minnesotans want a voter ID requirement to vote; Rasmussen’s survey shows that even 2/3 of Democrats support voter ID; It prevents fraud from influencing our elections; it makes life easier for disadvantaged voters by encouraging them get state ID cards which enable people to get work, open bank accounts and participate in other normal functions of society that are impossible without photo ID; and it allows use of 21st century election systems that reduce the costs of running elections.

This website also addressed some of the untrue accusations the Left continues to spout like, “Minorities, the poor and elderly will be disenfranchised by a photo ID requirement.” The voter ID bill provides free ID's that only need to be renewed every four years. Seniors, 65 or older are provided an ID for life that never needs to be renewed and seniors in nursing homes will still be able to cast absentee ballots. If you can fill out a form to register and to vote, you should be able to fill out an ID application.

Voter ID is only part of the solution, but a necessary one. Go to www.wewantvoterid.com to read the actual bill, get more information and watch a short video outlining the proposed improvements to our election system.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, March 31, 2011:

No Voter Fraud?
By: Fred Koppelman, Eden Prairie

Norbert Gernes starts his letter in the March 17 edition of the Eden Prairie News -- "Voter fraud has not been a problem in our state." If you believe that, Mr. G., I would like to interest you in some ocean-front property in New Mexico.

(1) Upon examining voter registration records, thousands had identical first, middle and last names with the same birth years indicating duplicate voter registrations.

(2) Newly registered voters are sent postal verification cards. In the 2008 election, 38,000 were returned to county auditors as undeliverable; 23,000 stemmed from Election Day registrations.

(3) Channel 9 News found that over 100 convicted felons registered to vote in the 2008 election.

(4) The Secretary of State admitted that there were 30,000 more votes cast in the 2008 election than there were voters.

No doubt, there's more, but it's situations like this that get the Al Frankens and the Mark Daytons of the world into office.

To make sure that we know just who it is standing before that voting booth, we need photo IDs. If the elderly, young people, minorities or others have problems making that work, I'll help them and I'm sure there are a lot of other people who would be willing to help too. If the photo ID bill doesn't get passed, maybe I'll try to get my dog, Skipper, registered to vote next time.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie Sun-Current February 8, 2011:

Priorities
By: Representative Kirk Stensrud, 48A

Last fall, we said the new Legislature would hit the ground running in the 2011 session. This winter, we are making good on that pledge.

The first thing we did this session is introduce a pair of bills to boost the private sector, help people get back to work and bring common sense to government spending. These are the things Minnesotans asked us to do when they sent new majorities to the Capitol and we will remain committed to honoring those priorities. I am pleased my committee assignments (Commerce and Regulatory Reform, Jobs and Economic Development Finance and State Government Finance) will allow me to be at the forefront of these key issues.

The first bill we introduced this session would streamline the permitting process for small businesses. Our permitting process is cumbersome compared with our neighboring states and has frustrated entrepreneurs to the point they sometimes pull the plug on plans to start or expand an operation in Minnesota. That puts us at a distinct competitive disadvantage and is unacceptable.

A new bill includes six components to make improvements here, namely by speeding up the processing time for permits through a 150-day goal for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; a report is required for applications not meeting that goal. The bill also satisfies environmental concerns by adopting MPCA standards for air, water and hazardous waste that are more stringent than any similar federal standard.

The second bill we unveiled brings accountability to the way our tax dollars are spent. Government has a habit of figuring out what it wants to spend and then digs into the taxpayers' wallet when it needs more money. Our new legislation takes a long-overdue approach of establishing how much revenue the state has and then setting spending according to our priorities.

This is the very same system families and small businesses use every day, so it amazes me how it has been a concept so foreign to our government. For instance, we keep hearing about how Minnesota faces a $6.2 billion budget shortfall in the upcoming biennium. Here's the reality: We actually expect state revenue to increase by 5 percent over that same time. Our projected shortfall only exists because of commitments we've made to outspend our means by a whopping $6.2 billion.

I know my small business and household could never survive that way, so why has government acted as if it's above the laws of economics? Maybe it's because we -- the taxpayers -- remained silent too long and haven't demanded accountability. Whatever the case, those days of backward budgeting are finished and those first two bills are proof of new priorities taking root.

We still have a long way to go in returning prosperity to Minnesota, but at least we are off to a good start. My door is always open and I welcome input because it will help me continue doing my best to represent local citizens.

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