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SENATE DISTRICT 48
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

State Taxes and Spending
     • 10/18/2013: Gene Stageberg
     • 08/27/2013: Rep. Sarah Anderson
     • 07/01/2013: Sen. Dave Osmek
     • 06/25/2013: Sen. Dave Osmek
     • 06/19/2013: Phil Krinke
     • 06/13/2013: Sen. David Hann
     • 05/28/2013: Sen. Dave Osmek
     • 05/28/2013: Rep. Sarah Anderson
     • 05/22/2013: Doug Seaton
     • 05/15/2013: Patrick Becker
     • 05/07/2013: Rep. Sarah Anderson
     • 05/07/2013: Raymond Mithun
     • 04/23/2013: Daniel Damschen
     • 01/29/2013: Rep. Ernie Leidiger

Eden Prairie City Spending/Taxes
     • 12/05/2013: Ruth Charchian
     • 11/28/2013: Dan Kitrell
     • 09/06/2013: Dan Kitrell
     • 07/03/2013: Brad Aho
     • 04/11/2013: Dan Kittrell

Federal Spending
     • 01/24/2013: Larry Devries

Health Care Exchanges
     • 03/12/2013: Sen. Dave Osmek

Insurance Mandates
     • 06/13/2013: Steve Smith

Light Rail
     • 09/20/2013: Don Opheim
     • 09/13/2013: Donna Azarian
     • 08/22/2013: Donna Azarian
     • 08/21/2013: Roger Shipp
     • 08/02/2013: Lyle Hookom
     • 07/25/2013: Terry Christensen
     • 07/25/2013: Jeff Simon
     • 07/11/2013: Brad Aho
     • 06/20/2013: Glenn Bratt
     • 06/20/2013: Ruth Charchian
     • 06/13/2013: Donna Azarian
     • 05/15/2013: Donna Azarian

Second Amendment
     • 03/07/2013: Larry Devries

Marriage
     • 07/11/2013: SD48 Executive Cmte
     • 06/13/2013: John and Kathy Tyler
     • 06/13/2013: Dan Daniels
     • 06/06/2013: Bonnie Gasper

Child Care Unions
     • 05/21/2013: Rep. Jerry Hertaus
     • 05/14/2013: Rep. Sarah Anderson

IRS Scandal
     • 06/11/2013: Lenore Felix

EP School Referendum
     • 11/14/2013: David Wood
     • 10/31/2013: David Ingber
     • 10/31/2013: Robert Cody
     • 10/31/2013: Catherine Zahller Nelson
     • 10/31/2013: Dan Kitrell
     • 10/31/2013: C.A. Johnson
     • 10/31/2013: Ann Berne
     • 10/31/2013: Gary Johnson
     • 10/31/2013: David Johnson
     • 10/31/2013: Scott Pollino
     • 10/31/2013: Earl McDonald
     • 10/24/2013: Greg Olson
     • 09/27/2013: George Kissinger
     • 08/22/2013: Ralph Teschner
     • 08/08/2013: Scott Ruthford

Pay Hike for DFL Legislators
     • 04/25/2013: Rep. Paul Rosenthal

Legislative Updates
     • 03/08/2013: Sen. David Hann

Archives
     • 2012 Letters to the Editor
     • 2011 Letters to the Editor
     • 2010 Letters to the Editor

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News December 05, 2013:

City Council is ego driven
Ruth Charchian, Eden Prairie

I appreciate Councilman Aho's recap of the Aquatic Center project, its costs, its intended purpose, and the timeline. No one disagrees with the need for something to be done about the pool.

It seems that Eden Prairie and Minneapolis' Met Council are lured by the idea of "free" money that in the end costs taxpayers huge increases because they are not self-sustaining or have gone millions of dollars over budget from the get go. I, for one, have absolutely no trust that this will not cost taxpayers in the end no matter your current intentions. The Community Center $3 million annual shortfall is a prime example. Light rail is another.

The government grants and private investment make the lure very seductive. These "use it or lose it" funding techniques unquestionably do not serve us well. Instead of establishing a realistic, minimal plan that is sustainable, these tactics inspire planners to engage their huge egos and propose a 4-pool plan intended to "show off" our city like the overdressed girl at the party. It is time to put your egos aside and be realistic.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News November 28, 2013:

Give voters a choice on $20 million aquatics center
Dan Kitrell, Eden Prairie

Earlier this year, the Eden Prairie City Council identified three options to improve the swimming pool at the Community Center. The three options were to spend less than $1 million to maintain the current pool, spend about $10 million to replace the current pool, or spend more than $16.5 million to build an aquatics center.

As of today, the City Council has allocated nearly $1 million to this project. Not to make the necessary repairs to the current pool, but rather to develop detailed designs for the $16.5 million aquatics center. However, the $16.5 million option has now expanded to more than $19.4 million and could exceed $20.5 million based on estimates provided by the city.

We have seen this spending behavior before. In 2005, 51 percent of voters approved the $6.65 million requested by the city to expand the Community Center with the expectation that additional revenue should cover added operating expense. However, the City Council spent more than $11.2 million to build the facility and has accumulated more than $3 million in operating losses including more than $230,000 in losses in 2012.

What's different this time? For this project, the City Council is treating the entire $19.4 million aquatics center as an "infrastructure project" which they believe does not require voter approval. This is in contrast to the 2005 referendum which not only asked voters to approve $6.65 million for the Community Center, but also asked voters to approve $3.3 million for proposed improvements to the existing swimming pool.

The City Council has claimed that they can fund the entire aquatics center "without raising taxes." However, almost all of the proposed $19.4 million is expected to be funded by taxes including $16 million from bonds, $2.5 million from the Capital Improvement Fund, and $325,000 from Hennepin County. Only $500,000 is forecasted to be funded by private sources. This will result in Eden Prairie taxpayers paying more than $1.3 million per year in extra property taxes.

It appears that some council members and city staff are members of the Community Center, and it does not look like the project would be funded entirely by memberships and user fees. Imagine giving yourself the authority to spend nearly $20 million to improve the club to which you belong but not having to pay for these improvements through increases in your membership fees.

Although the Operating Levy referendum requested by the Eden Prairie School District failed this year, there will likely be another referendum soon. Residents should ask themselves where their tax dollars have the greatest impact in our community and on their home values. Although a $19.4 million aquatics center may be desirable among some households, smaller class sizes and improved school performance are far more likely to influence potential home buyers. Residents should be allowed to prioritize where their tax dollars are spent just as they need to prioritize their household spending.

To paraphrase a comment made by former City Manager Scott Neal in support of the 2005 referendum, residents who are feeling overtaxed should have a chance to tell us that. The city may not be required to allow residents to approve this $20 million project, but recent referendums regarding similar spending and other concerns outlined here would dictate that they should.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News November 21, 2013:

Let's use what we have
David Wood, Eden Prairie

Before the election, the district posted this statement:

"If the operating levy is not approved, the district expects to see a budget gap of about $4 million for the 2014-2015 school year. To close the gap, possible budget reductions could include: 1) Increase class sizes at all grades. 2) Reorganize or eliminate programs and offerings such as art, music, foreign languages, activities, athletics, non-state mandated courses and programs at all levels. 3) Reorganize high school schedule and limit academic opportunities to only state required courses. 4) Eliminate two-mile bus transportation and activity buses. 5) Eliminate administrative and support staff positions at district level and schools."

After the election Superintendent Curt Tryggestad stated, "We remain committed to maintaining the high standard of excellence for which the district is known, but we will have to do what we must to stabilize the finances."

The cut possibilities presented before the election do not indicate to me that we will maintain a high standard for excellence. The cuts listed seem a little dire and kid centered for a school district with the resources we have.

When I looked at the referendum, I was set back by the size of the increase and the amount that would not be spent the first year. The excess funds were to be added to the unreserved fund. This prompted me to ask the following question to the district on their web site: "What is the present balance of the unreserved fund? Also, what are the projected fund amounts over for the next three years?" The answer received was "The preliminary year-end fund balance for FY 2013 is $13.7 million (14.68 percent). The School Board's minimum fund balance policy is 8 percent. It is anticipated that this number will decrease to $12 million (12.75 percent) during FY 2014. The fund balance has grown from a FY 2005 low of $5.3 million (6.9 percent). The fund balance peaked in FY 2008 at a balance of $15.8 million (17.82 percent)."

My request is simple: Let's bring the unreserved fund down to at least the 8 percent target before we make any kid- or for that matter staffing-centered cuts for the 2014–2015 budget cycle.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News November 14, 2013:

Happy to see referendum turned down
David Ingber, Eden Prairie

As a "no" voter for both school referendum ballot items in the recent election, a recent event really reinforced that vote. While we were walking our dog, a lady was pulling "vote yes" signs in our neighborhood a couple days after the election. We started making small talk with her, and then she made the comment "the people of Eden Prairie are really going to be sorry they voted no!"

What does this mean? No heat in the schools? A call to Tonya Harding's henchman who gave a lead-pipe massage to Nancy Kerrigan to come pay a visit to the no-voters to the recent school referendum?

Several years ago a school referendum got voted down here and in retaliation, the school district quit busing kids in this town who lived less than a mile from school. Now I already see School Board members and administrators are being quoted in the paper about not busing kids who live less than two miles from school, cutting out music and athletic programs, etc., etc.

However nowhere do I see mention of cutting out administrative positions that for all intents and purposes can be easily done by a teacher. When I was young teachers were very underpaid. No more. Today, Eden Prairie school faculty are extremely well paid in comparison to other Twin Cities teachers in other districts and their health and retirement benefits are off the charts. Nowhere have I seen an offer from the School Board to put a moratorium on pay increases for faculty, if the school budget is in such distress.

In a year when there was a record set for percentage of school referendums passing, Eden Prairie was one of few school districts that had one fail. Our school district would not have been on this short list if they did not ask for such an exorbitant tax increase, plus put out a mountain of misleading propaganda before the election, similar to what a Third World dictatorship does before an "election."

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News October 31, 2013:

Referendum Question #1

• Revokes the existing operating levy of $1,200 per pupil unit and replaces it with a levy for $2,269 per pupil unit each year for the next 10 years beginning with the 2014-2015 school year

• Allows the district to increase the per pupil levy amount as the state increases the referendum cap.

• Increases the tax burden for a $300,000 home from $289 per year to $646 per year.

Referendum Question #2

Renews the existing technology/capital projects levy at the 6.5 percent tax rate for the next 10 years beginning with the 2015-2016 school year.

Referendum request is excessive
Robert Cody, Eden Prairie

There is no argument that quality schools are an important part of any community. Eden Prairie provides its students an excellent educational experience and this comes at a price. However, this price should have limits and be prudently controlled.

On Nov. 5, residents will be asked to approve a 10-year referendum that increases the operating levy by 73 percent beginning in 2014. This would result in an additional yearly tax of $379 for a median-valued home. A number of other factors such as city and county assessments could substantially increase property taxes beyond this amount over the same time period. This is a lot of money, but is it too much to ask taxpayers to come up with for additional school expenses?

I carefully read the ‘Connecting Points’ publications that were mailed to residents by the School District and was surprised by the following information. “The district will not spend the entire $9 million per year from the operating levy during the 2014-2015 school year. In fact, unless there is a decrease in state funding or no increases in state funding for several years in a row, the district will not spend the entire levy amount in any one year.” What? The entire levy amount isn’t even required? And for the record, the state has increased per-pupil funding seven out of the last 11 years and there is no reason to assume that these increases will cease. Also, the new levy includes an inflationary increase that is not present in the current operating levy.

Good schools increase property values, but high taxes do just the opposite. I believe that the current referendum request is excessive and should not be approved. A more realistic proposal should be formulated and brought before the voters next year.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News October 31, 2013:

Vote "NO" on both levies
Catherine Zahller Nelson, Eden Prairie

Vote "NO: for EPSD's request for more money. Our district's business model is inefficient. No plans have been presented to change to a better model.

Since the last operating levy increase, enrollment declined by 1,014 students, an additional 658 residents opted to enroll in other public schools and total buses to transport fewer students increased by seven, employee numbers increased by 86, and the redundancies and inefficiencies of an extra elementary school were institutionalized by insisting on delivering elementary programming as six separate schools within five buildings.

Operating levy approval would bring an additional $9 million annually. $4 million of this money is required to maintain the current business model, leaving $5 million available for all new initiatives. Between $1 million and $3.3 million will be spent on preschool initiatives.

Administration will take scarce dollars for our current K-12 students to pay for an optional program for children who may never materialize. Operating levy funds are general fund dollars. Community Service dollars available to our district for the next 10 years to Community Service is not the highest and best use of these scarce dolalrs.

The technology levy request lacks detailed plans for how the estimated $5.7 million will be spent each year. Administration hasn't even provided details as to how much the i-Learn@EP initiative costs on an annual basis. "Trust Us" is the refrain.

Neither levy is expiring this year. Time exists to capture efficiencies and present a request that will actually go to benefit all our kids. Send a message to our district administration to implement a financially efficient model and provide details regarding requests for additional funds. VOTE NO TWICE on November 5.

Community members who care about our kids created a site with more information. The link is http://notnow-notyet.webs.com/.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News October 31, 2013:

Vote "NOT NOW" on the referendum
Dan Kitrell, Eden Prairie

Reduced class sizes, thoughtful use of technology, and innovative enrichment programs are worthwhile objectives to improve education. I support these initiatives within our schools.

However, the district has not proven their ability to deliver improved results based on recent decreases in test scores and delays in implementing programs like STEM. Additionally, the district has not provided enough details on specific objectives, measurements and costs for the proposed programs to justify the maximum initial funding nor the maximum ongoing funding over the next ten years.

The proposed referendum would increase property taxes on a $300,000 home by $357 per year or about $30 per month. Prospective homebuyers evaluate affordability based on the combination of Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance (PITI). At current interest rates, the amount of Principal that a homebuyer can afford decreases by about $1,000 for every $5 increase in monthly Taxes. Therefore, the proposed referendum will decrease the amount of Principal that a homebuyer can afford by $6,000 on a $300,000 home. It is unclear how the programs proposed by the school district will increase demand among prospective homebuyers versus surrounding school districts to offset this decrease.

We should expect the same level of accountability from the school district to spend taxpayers’ money as public companies are expected to provide in spending shareholders’ money. Just as our needs today were not clearly defined 10 years ago, our needs 10 years from now are equally unclear today. It would be unrealistic and irresponsible to approve a referendum that provides maximum funding for an entire decade.

Voting “no” on this referendum is essentially voting “not now." I will support a future referendum focused on specific objectives over a shorter period of time to allow the school district to demonstrate their ability to design and implement programs that deliver improved results.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News October 31, 2013:

What are they thinking?
C.A. Johnson, Eden Prairie

Particularly at a time when the economy is still lagging, the proposed operating levy increase of 75 percent for each student by the Eden Prairie School Board is extraordinarily high.

As many Eden Prairie families have been doing for several years, the board should hunker down and carefully inspect each line of their budget to find ways to economize, stretch the dollars they already have. If they would do this, the trust created among EP constituents would make future tax increases for school projects much more believable and understandable to us.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News October 31, 2013:

Vote "NO" on referendums
Ann Berne, Eden Prairie

I urge the public to vote “No” for Question 1 in the upcoming referendum, and tell the School Board to try again with a more reasonable request. The current proposal asks taxpayers to approve a 74 percent increase in revenue from the operating levy. This exorbitant increase amounts to an additional $9 million each year for the next 10 years; with the potential for automatic inflationary increases on top of that. In fact, according to district estimates, they don’t even intend to spend about $4 million (44 percent) of the money collected next year, but will save it for the future.

In other words, the board is asking us to take money out of our bank accounts, and put it in the district’s until some later, unspecified date. I do support lowering elementary class sizes, but that only requires an estimated $1 million per year. I vehemently oppose spending that is promoted as “current program enhancement and expansion.” To me, it feels like the public is being asked to give the district a blank check for a wish list that hasn’t even been determined yet. The other targeted priorities are also vague and lacking specifics. For a School Board that has made trust and transparency a priority, this feels like smoke and mirrors.

I have made this decision with a heavy heart, because I support our schools. I am grounded in this community where I have lived for 44 years and I fervently believe that public support of education is an essential responsibility. I have cast a Yes vote in every other school referendum, and will vote to continue the technology levy, but I cannot support the excessive request for the operating levy increase because I do not see a demonstrated need or a clear plan to spend an additional $9 million per year.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News October 31, 2013:

No school tax increase, please
Gary Johnson, Eden Prairie

The Eden Prairie School Board and Administration are asking far too much in a tax increase this year. They need to get a couple sharp accountants who have sympathy for taxpayers, and ask them to look at every line item in the budget. It's a fact that government entities tend to keep expanding, always wanting increases in their funds. The budget increases in public schools have risen exponentially, startlingly, over the last decades, much greater than inflation or your salary increases.

I read recently that the school budget is now $136 million, nearly three times the entire city budget of Eden Prairie. I believe they have enough money. It is a matter of how it is being spent.

Not only are they asking for too much money, they want the increased amount to continue year after year, guaranteed for 10 years -- plus inflation! This is a major case of over-reach. No metro district is asking their taxpayers for an increase anywhere near what EP schools are asking.

The people pushing these referendums may feel that a tax increase of $300-$600 per year is not a big deal. Truist me, there are many homes where this unfair tax increase will be a real burden. If the referendums pass, you will be required to pay the increased tax, whether you can afford it or not.

I suggest you vote "NO" on the two referendums.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News October 31, 2013:

Vote 'NO' on both levies
David Johnson, Eden Prairie

Before going to the polls, you should know the whole funding picture of EP schools, not just the information the school district administration wants you to see.

The reason we’re even being asked for an operating levy increase is because it’s one of the few levies that the state requires to be voter approved. To put the operating levy ($13 million per year) into perspective, it’s less than a third of the total amount levied from Eden Prairie taxpayers ($40 million per year), and only about a tenth of the district’s total revenue ($125 million per year).

As referendum history has taught us, there's no need to panic. In 2001, the district asked voters for a large increase and when that failed, we passed a more fiscally responsible referendum the following year. Today, like back in 2001, there's no need to pass a large operating levy increase. The current levy isn't expiring yet and we should ask for a reasonable levy amount next fall.

The reason the "vote yes" camp wants your focus on the operating levy is because it's the only way to make EP look underfunded.

EPSD already receives more revenue from property taxes compared to Minnetonka -- $6,377,876 more than last year alone. EPSD also received $6,607,115 more from state sources and $2,540,441 more from federal sources. Eden Prairie property taxes per pupil are currently the fifth highest in the state, while Minnetonka is ranked 11th.

In the eoght years since we last ran a refwerendum, the school district has received $133 million more total revenue than Minnetonka, an average of $16.6 million per year which begs the question, why do they want even more?

Demand that EPSD use money we already give them better before asking for any more. Vote "NO" on November 5 to both levies.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News October 31, 2013:

Tax or spend?
Scott Pollino, Eden Prairie

There is a car commercial that shows a couple driving along the road and the driver remarks to the passenger that it is great that the car has voice activated command and great gas mileage. They try to imagine if they had to choose between the two and relate it to a dinner choice of sweet or sour chicken (then you see them not enjoying their sour-only meal).

Within the Eden Prairie school district we have hit upon a third choice. not tax and not spend. Superintendent Tryggestad tells us they have cut $17 million dollars out of the budget and yet, our children are graduating and going to college at a similar rate of our neighboring districts, our Spanish Immersion program has grown so fast it has taken over the only school building with a swimming pool and every CMS student has an iPad and every EPHS student has a MacBook Pro.

Perhaps if we can force them to cut another $17 million they could start funding some college scholarships. Let’s keep up the good work – Vote no on the school referendums!

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News October 31, 2013:

Questions haven't been addressed
Earl McDonald, Eden Prairie

There have been a lot of opinions both pro and con regarding the upcoming referendum. I find it interesting that the pro comments appear to lack facts and are more emotional while the con comments usually provide facts or at least put forth valid questions.

Scott Ruthford has raised several issues with the currently proposed referendum that to my knowledge have never been addressed by the current School Board. I wonder why.

Scott Ruthford issued an opinion in the August 8, 2013 Eden Prairie News and referred to a website that should be required reading before people vote. Follow this link for those who might be interested in some interesting reading prior to voting for the current proposed referendum.

Lastly, are people aware of what has happened regarding the courses of action that the new superintendent has taken that result in increased costs and who also feels that he can ask for anything and get it. This doesn't happen in private industry where there is zero-based budgeting. Zero-based budgeting is where a department is given a zero budget and then has to provide supporting rationale for the cost of every item that is needed for the next fiscal year.

Please ask the hard questions as to why this levy is so hight (73 percent increase) and why it has grown so much in the last six months?

So my concern as a 29-year Eden Prairie resident and supporter of the EP School District is that Eden Prairie residents should be fully knowledgable and cautious before they vote yes for this referendum.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News October 24, 2013:

Why a 73 percent levy increase is excessive
Greg P. Olson, Eden Prairie

On Nov. 5, Eden Prairie Schools is asking voters to approve an increase in their operating levy of 73 percent. For the median priced home of $300,000, this would mean an increase in property taxes of $357 per year. This is extremely high, when compared to official inflation estimates for the past 10 years and also compared with current requests by other school districts.

Officially, costs over the last 10 years have risen by 43 percent (official price deflator index for State and Local Government). The district’s requested increase of 73 percent well exceeds that. Much of the district’s justification has to do with reducing class sizes. I support lower class sizes. However, the district’s superintendent has stated that the district’s class sizes have already been reduced based on current funding levels.

Only a few neighboring districts have levy requests on their ballots this fall, and the requested amounts are significantly lower. Hopkins Schools is requesting a levy increase of only 22 percent which translates into a tax increase of only $108 per year on a $300,000 home. Orono is seeking a 36.7 percent increase, for an increase in taxes of only $125 per year. No other neighboring school district is asking for an increase in property taxes this year.

While in principle I would agree that a higher tax levy would be in order for our schools, the one on this ballot is excessive, in comparison with surrounding districts and in comparison with our personal budgets. Also bear in mind future increases in property taxes from Hennepin County and our city, as well. The proposed levy referendum should be rejected in favor of a more reasonable one, which can be brought forward in 2014.

--------------------------------------------
Olson is a former Eden Prairie School Board member

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News October 18, 2013:

Failing grade for Selcer on school shift
Gene Stageberg, Minnetonka

Rep. Yvonne Selcer's candidacy and service as our representative in the Minnesota Legislature is largely defined by the school shift. She campaigned against it, promising to pay back our schools. Once elected, Selcer was asked by Democrat leadership to carry House File 1, a bill that called for partial payback of the shift.

Unfortunately, Rep Selcer's bill was never reported out of committee. Even more disappointing is the fact that no funds in the new budget are devoted to paying back the shift. According to documents on Minnesota Management and Budget's website, all monies that have gone to paying back the shift are from surpluses generated by the 2012-2013 budget which passed without a single DFL vote. Selcer broke her promise to pay back the school shift. She failed to convince her fellow Democrats to support including even one dollar of school shift payback in the budget they passed. Even worse, Rep. Selcer voted for the budget that increased the school shift by nearly $100 million dollars. That's right - Yvonne Selcer and the DFL took another $100 million dollars from our children and our schools.

We need real leaders in Eden Prairie and Minnetonka who will follow through on their promises. Rep. Selcer could have stood up to her party leaders and demanded that they keep their word to the students and the people of Minnesota and pay back schools. Unfortunately, she sat quietly and toed the party line. We can do better than Yvonne Selcer.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News September 27, 2013:

Referendums set dangerous precedents
George Kissinger, Eden Prairie

The Eden Prairie School Board's two referendums to be on the ballot Nov. 5 each represent separate, but extremely dangerous, precedents. This became clear when the details were presented by the Eden Prairie School Board and published in this newspaper's Sept. 12 edition.

The proposed Operating Levy represents an increase of a whopping 77 percent in funding, from $13 million to $23 million. The official justification is that this levy hasn't been increased since 2004 through budget reductions during that time span. This begs the question, if the levy can be kept at prior year's levels through budgeting, why wipe out those prior year's budget reductions and have such a large percentage increase in the operating levy now? After all, the budget is, and has been, balanced.

A single year 77 percent increase is a dangerous, and unjustified, precedent. Further, the operating levy language provides for future levy increases without needed local Eden Prairie voter approval and would be based simply on statewide increases in the referendum cap and at the discretion of the Eden Prairie School Board. This language effectively and finally is taxation without representation -- another dangerous precedent.

The Technology/Capital Projects Levy is a prime example of the School Board going out and first incurring financial obligations, in this case the iLearn@EP initiative, and then coming back to ask the taxpayer for support funding. Equipment leases have already been executed, some equipment purchased and staff hired. Now it's time to pay the piper. This is a dangerous, and fiscally irresponsible, precedent.

Noted too in the published information from the board's executive director of communication, "residents" are being asked. More directly, it is the taxpayer that is being asked to pay - and with real tax dollars. The School Board should be honest with itself and with the taxpayer; it is tax increases being proposed here.

Lastly, these proposed tax increases are being pitched by the School Board as "opportunities." That is, at the very least, a disingenuous framing of the facts given the background as to how the School Board arrived at this juncture in the first place. The School Board should be advised to forthrightly propose and approve its annual budget through the normal and established process and then learn to live responsibly within that budget without having a need for such referendums.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News September 20, 2013:

Opposing views have never been welcome
Don Opheim, Eden Prairie

I have attended many public meetings hosted by proponents of LRT, primarily the Met Council.

From the very beginning it has been apparent that the fix was in. They have never been open to any alternative to LRT, which I believe was directed by the federal government due to lobbying by the rail industry. The only form of mass transportation ever considered for funding by the feds is LRT.

Early on, I thought, "How could anybody in their right mind choose a system created in the 19th century for use in the 21st century?” We have put men on the moon, we fly drones over Afghanistan by pilots in Kansas, we have cars that see to the rear and warn us of objects in danger, yet, we put up with bureaucrats from the Met Council telling us that this is the only way to move people efficiently?

We let local politicians make outlandish claims that 80 percent of us favor this because of a phony city-run survey of 500 people. These bureaucrats and politicians never worry who is going to pay for their stupid ideas, they just know they won’t have to. They think it is somehow romantic to have streetcars on our streets, rails and wires marring the beauty of our city and horrible traffic jams caused by rail cars carrying less than 3 percent of the commuting public. It does not bother them that the real cost of LRT has never been explained to the public and, in fact, the public is led to believe that they won’t have to pay as was implied in the so-called survey done by the city.

From the very beginning the goal of these politicians and bureaucrats has never been to move people where they want and when they want. It has been to put in LRT no matter what the cost, no matter how many neighborhoods are destroyed, or how many businesses are bankrupted. If you find this hard to imagine, take a look at what is happening in Minneapolis, St. Louis Park and along University Avenue.

I would like to thank Donna Azarian and Lyle Hookum for being lonely voices of reason in this sea of bureaucratic nonsense.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, September 13, 2013:

Opposing views weren't welcome
Donna Azarian, Eden Prairie

I was not surprised by the letter written by Jan Eian in last week’s Eden Prairie News in response to my letter expressing my disappointment with Rep. Yvonne Selcer’s LRT Town Hall Meeting on Aug. 14, 2013. After all, Eian's name is prominently listed on Selcer's website as one of her strongest supporters.

The questions I asked at the meeting about Light Rail Transit were in opposition to her support of LRT, so, Ms. Eian chose to vilify me in her letter instead of addressing facts on why she supports light rail.

My questions to the panel of experts who Rep. Selcer invited to her “Light Rail Town Hall” took up only five minutes of the two-hour meeting. I asked the experts why should we spend an astounding amount of money on a light rail system that less than 3 percent of the population would be using – especially when we don’t have the population density for a light rail system to succeed. I also pointed out that the cost to build the LRT rose 44 percent before the project was started. The experts had no answers to my concerns. As a fiscal conservative, I hate to see money wasted.

When I did further research to find out that the vehicles and the system for LRT need to be overhauled every 30 years at a cost equivalent or more than what it costs to originally build the LRT, I thought it should be pointed out to the taxpayers of not only Eden Prairie, but to all people who will be paying for this transit system forever. This additional research was prompted by what I heard at the town hall meeting.

It was obvious that an opposing point of view to SWLRT was not welcome at the town hall meeting. That’s too bad. Because when only one view or side is allowed, then that is definitely not a democracy.

Join the discussion on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SayNoToSouthwestLightRail

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, September 06, 2013:

Info needed on aquatic center funding
Dan Kitrell, Eden Prairie

It is reasonable for the city to maintain our existing swimming pool and to consider upgrades to ensure that it meets safety and other requirements. However, council members are focusing on the $16.5 million aquatics center, which they claim can be built and operated "without raising taxes."  Before we spend more tax dollars to design the proposed $16.5 million aquatics center, the City Council should detail how they will build and operate this facility without raising taxes.

Memberships and user fees should be the primary source of funding. Estimated revenues and expenses are detailed in a presentation available on the city’s website:

http://www.edenprairie.org/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=2097

The city has mentioned applying savings from refinancing current debt as a source of funding. This would be the equivalent of refinancing your mortgage but continuing to make your full monthly payment and letting the mortgage company keep your savings. Continuing to pay the current rate despite refinancing to a lower rate is a tax increase.

The city has also suggested that funding may become available as past debt obligations are paid in full. This would be the equivalent of continuing to make a monthly mortgage payment after you have paid off your entire loan. Continuing to collect taxes after a debt has been paid in full is a tax increase.

The city may apply for grants including $350,000 from Hennepin County. However, any grants that are funded by taxes are effectively a tax increase.

The city expects additional funding to come from licensing naming rights. One option would be to let a private business provide these services rather than the city trying to compete. Remember that the city asked for $6.65 million to build the current Community Center but spent more than $11.2 million, and despite telling voters that revenues would cover expenses, has accrued more than $3 million in losses during the past five years including more than $230,000 in losses in 2012.

It is reasonable to expect the city to provide details about how this facility will be funded without raising taxes before they spend more money to design the proposed $16.5 million aquatics center.

The following letter appeared in the Lakeshore Weekly News August 27, 2013:

Paying more in taxes
Sen. Rep. Sarah Anderson, R-Plymouth

People who earn the least amount of money will pay the most toward the $2.4 billion tax and fee increases, according to the Minnesota Department of Revenue. In fact, every Minnesotan will pay more in taxes under the tax bill passed by the Democrat-controlled Legislature and Governor's office.

Though my Republican colleagues and I warned against the negative impact these tax increases would have on low and middle-income families, Democrat leaders ignored our pleas.

Since enacted in May, we have continued to hear reports of how the business-to-business taxes are hurting the average Minnesotan.

Republicans urged Gov. Dayton and Democratic leaders to fix this "bad tax policy" in an upcoming special session by repealing the business-to-business taxes. Living in Minnesota should not be an audition for Survivor - last one standing after the tax onslaught wins.

Once again, our pleas were dismissed.

Four states tried the storage and warehouse services business-to-business tax. All of them repealed it within six months - one repealed it in two days.

Michigan discovered they would lose 7,000 out of the 13,000 jobs in this sector if they continued the tax. Minnesotans cannot afford to lose 7,000 jobs.

It's not just jobs we stand to lose; every Minnesota family will pay more for groceries, medicine, personal care products and much more. The Department of Revenue study notes that families will pay more when new business tax increases are passed on to consumers.

We can do better.

My Republican colleagues and I will continue to work on the Democrat-controlled Legislature next year to make these important changes for all of Minnesota.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, August 22, 2013:

We will pay dearly for light rail
Donna Azarian, Eden Prairie

On August 14, Representative Yvonne Selcer held a “Transportation Town Hall” meeting at the Glen Lake Activity Center. I attended this meeting and was met with hostility by SWLRT supporters who attended this meeting when I respectfully spoke about my concerns about SWLRT, including the insufficient population density for LRT to succeed, among other things. There was no two-way dialogue at this meeting at all.

Representative Selcer was gracious and thanked me for “attending the meeting and for expressing my concerns” but she and her panel of transit experts, including Representative Frank Hornstein, chair of the House Transportation Finance Committee, didn't have answers for my concerns. For me, this meeting was a waste of time.

Representative Hornstein said the SWLRT is not being built for our generation, but to benefit people 100 years from now. So, I went home and did some research and found some information from Randal O'Toole, an expert on light-rail transit. O'Toole says:

“One of rail transit's dirty secrets is that the entire system -- rails, cars, electrical facilities, stations -- must be replaced, rebuilt, or rehabilitated roughly every 30 years. This costs almost as much as the original construction, which means for taxpayers that rails are a 'pay now, pay more later' proposition.”

So, here we are, building and paying dearly for a light-rail system in the present time to benefit people 100 years from now, and it will have to replaced or rebuilt two or three more times so it will be usable and safe for the future generation we are building it for. Unbelievable.

Join the discussion on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SayNoToSouthwestLightRail

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie Newa, August 22, 2013:

Referendum Question #1

• Revokes the existing operating levy of $1,200 per pupil unit and replaces it with a levy for $2,269 per pupil unit each year for the next 10 years beginning with the 2014-2015 school year

• Allows the district to increase the per pupil levy amount as the state increases the referendum cap.

• Increases the tax burden for a $300,000 home from $289 per year to $646 per year.

Referendum Question #2

Renews the existing technology/capital projects levy at the 6.5 percent tax rate for the next 10 years beginning with the 2015-2016 school year.

Questions referendum money
Ralph Teschner, Eden Prairie

I am perplexed, frustrated and disappointed but with who; district officials or the Eden Prairie School Board regarding the upcoming referendum vote. Both appear equally culpable. The first question on the election ballot will ask for Eden Prairie residents to approve a funding increase of 89 percent per pupil unit. No kidding. No alternatives will have been seriously evaluated by the School other than the “Shoot for the Moon” approach to raising taxes with virtually no attention to outcome based results.

Simply put, district officials have stated: “Let's target out investment ... and this opportunity gives us a whole new way of programming ...” Where are the standards and goals to be achieved given an additional 100 million dollars of revenue over the next 10 years? No return on investment has been even discussed other than the same old rhetoric of reducing the achievement gap or keeping up with the neighboring school districts or simply because the state of Minnesota allows us to levy to the max.

My background as a finance director for the city of Prior Lake for 32 years gives me some perspective and sense of expertise regarding the right way to manage tax resources. Living in the community for the past 26 years and having a daughter experience the school's learning environment has been good up until now. To be fair to the School District, I believe an increase in the operating levy is warranted and I equally support the capital levy request because deferring capital expenditures is dangerous ... too costly in the long run. But an 89 percent jump, let's get real.

If all taxing jurisdictions, the city, county, and School District were to propose tax levies of this proportion we would be looking at a property tax increase of well over $1,000. A big bite indeed. Yet we are asked to approve the school's spending appetite. So Eden Prairie citizens when you go to the election polls this November, consider the fact that the School Board could have considered a more financially responsiblel request without breaking the bank or failing our kids in attaining an excellent education.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie Sun Newspapers, August 21, 2013:

Don’t let SWLRT derail Southwest Transit
Roger Shipp, Eden Prairie

Who is making the decision on SWLRT? It seems Met Council is dictating to the mayors by arm-twisting for federal dollars. But who pays ongoing operating deficits but the taxpayers?

Why don’t we learn from our prior experiences? I’d like to see the first five years’ operating experience of the Hiawatha line year-by-year, even though I’d expect the SW performance to be much worse. The only projection I have seen is 30,000 daily riders in the year 2030! What does that mean for 2015 or 2018? Sounds like our density is insufficient for the mode, as is the case across this country!

SW Transit bus service surely seems to be doing the job in an efficient, financially sound manner and it has flexibility that a train line does not have to add or move service as needed. We should not allow the Met Council to mess with our bus system, other than to expand it instead of creating a train line.

We all know that government funds at every level, especially the Fed, are in serious shortage and cannot support this kind of ongoing expenditure, to say nothing about huge outlays required ahead of us in pensions, health care, and infrastructure that must be met. Why are taxpayers being saddled by Met Council with a burden that will never go away.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, August 08, 2013:

Residents should take a closer look at referendum
Scott Ruthford, Eden Prairie

According to recent polling, the upcoming School District referendum is about to sail through to an easy approval this November. I really feel Eden Prairie residents should take a little closer look at whether this is the right decision. There is an analysis of district test score performance and spending data assembled in February by an Eden Prairie parent that should be required reading for anybody considering voting yes on the upcoming referendum as it tells an entirely different story than the EP School District is putting forth:

This well-sourced document was presented to Superintendent Tryggestad and the School Board six months ago. It contains some interesting comparisons of Eden Prairie with Edina, Minnetonka, and Wayzata schools, and paints a picture of an Eden Prairie School District that has the highest district property tax percentage and the lowest math, science and reading proficiency among all four.

Among the highlights, this document points out that Eden Prairie would have an additional $7 million per year if it were simply to spend the same percentage of its existing budget on “in classroom” expenditures as neighboring Minnetonka. Yes, you heard correctly, if we would just spend the same percentage of our budget on instruction as Minnetonka, we could spend another $7 million on teachers each year. Does that sound like a district that needs more money? We are fourth out of four, not because we don’t spend enough but because we don’t spend our money in the right places.

Another blatant inefficiency uncovered by this analysis is the fact that Eden Prairie’s transportation costs have risen 59 percent since 2004 during a period of declining enrollment while Minnetonka’s has remained flat. It’s as though the district decided to swap the traditional yellow-and-black buses for a fleet of Hummer limos. Either that or they decided to implement a ’70’s era forced busing policy (no, that would be even more absurd).

Even more dramatic is the fact that Eden Prairie spends double what our neighbors do in per student capital expenditures, yet they are asking voters to approve a capital projects levy this November.

Maybe there’s an explanation for all of this but so far we are still patiently awaiting a public response from the School District and the board, unless you count the blizzard of lawyer-speak and lessons on Data Practice regulations received from the superintendent so far. If we pass another referendum, we’ll be sending a clear message to the school district; go ahead and continue your wasteful spending and declining performance, we’ll just keep giving you more money to waste with no accountability.

If you’ve lived here for a while, you realize that education is what draws many to this city and its parents are very passionate about providing a top tier education for their kids. Unfortunately that sometimes translates into a blank check from busy parents that may not have time to delve into the minutiae of district spending, or those that think more money always correlates with a better education. Besides, what’s another couple hundred bucks a year in property taxes, right?

In Eden Prairie’s case, this mentality has resulted in poor stewardship of the abundant resources the district already has. At the very least, Eden Prairie residents should demand some explanations before we approve the upcoming referendum.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, August 02, 2013:

Why LRT?
Lyle Hookom, Eden Prairie

Buses carry around 80 of our 94 million riders each year. This contradicts Laurie McKendry (Economic Development Advisory Commissioner for Minnetonka) who stated “that a single LRT line operating in the Twin Cities provided 94 million rides.”

Buses get our riders downtown in 20 minutes during rush hour for a fee of $3, and 76 percent of our SouthWest Transit riders do not want LRT. Buses are more flexible in that they use our existing infrastructure so they can go anywhere and do not require special platforms to load/unload riders.

I did some research and found that LRT in Minnesota costs close to 70 percent more per passenger mile than bus. A single LRT line can carry about 20 percent the capacity of a single freeway lane and in order for LRT to be effective we need population densities 10 to 100 times greater than what we have. That is probably why proponents of LRT always talk about their experiences in places such as New York and London.

I have several questions for the council before they make a decision:

(1) What benefits does LRT provide?

(2) What happens to our SouthWest bus system if the LRT becomes reality?

(3) Will we see a significant increase in ridership over our current bus system?

(4) What is the cost comparison per passenger mile of LRT and bus?

(5) What percentage of this cost will be subsidized by the state/county and what by our city?

I am sure we can find better uses for taxpayer money.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, July 25, 2013:

What about the cost of light rail?
Terry Christensen, Eden Prairie

Reading the cons and now Laurie McKendry's pro on the proposed Light Rail Transit expansion into Eden Prairie, not one mention the vast amount of money it will cost.

Sure there have been figures tossed around and they keep referring to the “gift” from the federal government. Last I have seen the feds are in the red by figures that I have a difficult time making sense of, so how in the world can they afford to give that type of gift?

I have voted for politicians on both side of the spectrum in my 64 years as an American and I am disappointed that none take responsibility for driving us deeper in debt. Want-to-have and need-to-have are two different creatures. Accept it that cars and trucks are not going away, so if you are going to spend money we do not have, fix what we already have in place, and continue to plow the roads in the winter.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, July 25, 2013:

Commentary repeats LRT fallacies
Jeffrey Simon, Eden Prairie

The commentary from Laurie McKendry repeats all the common fallacies of the LRT proponents.

She says that it will create jobs, cut costs in other areas, and is wanted by 79 percent of Minnesotans.

The problems with her arguments have been pointed out over and over. The population density of the Twin Cities is only one third that necessary to make light rail economically viable. Therefore it will be a drag on the economy. It will not create jobs, nor save costs for the economy as a whole. Rather it is yet another case of investment in economically non-viable social programs, such as has led to the debacle known as Detroit.

You can repeat the mantra of “jobs” and “save the economy” all you want, but the facts are not there.

Regarding 79 percent of Minnesotans wanting it -- there is a fundamental flaw in the question. When asked “would you like light rail” and the answer is yes, that is similar to asking “would you like to have a free college education” or “would you like to have anything for free.” Of course people want something for free. But if the question is “would you like light rail where you pay $8 per ride or a bus where you pay $2.50 per ride,” then you no longer get the 79 percent in favor. The $8 figure comes from the actual costs to run the light rail.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, July 11, 2013:

Thankful for Hann's vote
Alia Arellano and Steve Smith (co-chairs) on behalf of the SD48 Executive Committee

Contrary to what the media would have you believe, Republicans are a diverse bunch. When it comes to gay marriage we fall on all sides of the issue, resembling Minnesotans across the state who are also broadly divided about the implications of redefining marriage. This debate is a healthy sign of democracy in action.

But one thing that Republicans are not divided on is the importance of liberty in a free society. Without the ability to speak freely and live according to your beliefs, the American experiment is destined to fail. Unfortunately, the new gay marriage law is a step backwards for individual and religious freedoms in our state. Senator Hann and the 29 other Senators from both parties who voted against this bill rightly recognized its fatal flaws.

We don’t have to take their word for it. During the debate in the legislature, several prominent religious liberty experts testified that the law would violate religious liberty protections guaranteed by the Constitution. For example, a local florist can be sued and forced to provide services for a same sex wedding, even if doing so violates her faith or her conscience. This exact scenario has already played out in Washingon, and we can expect similar legal battles to further divide Minnesotans and hurt family-owned business in coming years.

Even beloved faith-based community institutions like schools and hospitals will be required to accept the state-imposed definition of marriage in their everyday functions, otherwise be stripped of funding like Medicare reimbursements or educational grants for textbooks.

The citizens of Minnesota depend on our government to protect all of our rights, but this law gives preferential treatment to some while ignoring the constitutional rights of the rest. We’re very thankful for legislators like Senator Hann who have been willing to defend the personal liberties of all of their constituents, rather than only the loudest few.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, July 11, 2013:

Do the benefits of LRT justify the costs?
Brad Aho, Eden Prairie

Since LRT was proposed over a decade ago by then-Gov. Jesse Ventura when he stated, “I want to ride a train,” I’ve been concerned with LRT in general and SW LRT in particular. As a fellow resident, business owner, council member, and engineer, I’m troubled with LRT’s extraordinary capital and operating costs, traffic disruptions during construction and afterwards, negative impact it may have on our SW Transit bus service, negative effects it will have on our residents and businesses due to noise/safety, its inflexibility and lack of reliability during inclement weather, among other issues. We also have actual data from the Hiawatha line including its unplanned and additional expenses, number of down days, lack of payments by riders, etc. The question must be answered: Do the benefits of LRT justify its costs for Eden Prairie?

LRT as proposed is basically a ‘hub-and-spoke’ pattern throughout the metro, and of course is not as robust with only a few spokes as it exists today. But rather than expand the investment in LRT technology, many believe there are more cost-effective alternatives, including bus rapid transit (BRT), that can serve our needs for public multi-modal transportation to and from our residences, businesses and other venues.

Over the past decade, I have met with thousands of business owners and residents to discuss LRT. Both proponents and opponents have spoken at City Council meetings and workshops. I have also attended open houses on SW LRT sponsored by Hennepin County, the Met Council and others. I understand that those supporting SW LRT have a compelling story and will benefit from this proposed expenditure. Many Chambers and other groups have lauded LRT as successful, but the studies they cite appear based on higher density cities. Although the promised federal funding is enticing to many, there are tangible costs to us as noted above. Advocates continue to covet approval from prestigious cities like ours to further build on the perception of support. But my responsibility is to the residents of Eden Prairie.

Initially, the original route proposed for SW LRT was along the Hennepin County Rail Authority property, which would have been a “track to nowhere” and would have destroyed our beautiful trail and disrupted our neighborhoods. As a member of the SW Policy Advisory Commission, I worked with residents and policy makers to change that, and the route currently proposed better serves our businesses and residents. However, the current plan shows five stations in Eden Prairie, and the locations of the last three stations are controversial and cut across the city. Another alternative could be to have only two stations, one by the new United Health Group campus and the other in the Golden-Triangle business district (east end) and use an augmented bus service to transport riders to other areas within our city, without disrupting current traffic patterns during construction and afterwards.

Transportation issues remain one of my key focus areas. I chair the 494-Corridor Commission, and am on the SW Transit Board. I believe bus rapid transit and augmenting our current bus service to include additional lines when and where necessary, would provide a more cost-effective and flexible solution for public transit.

In the near future, the City Council will be asked to give municipal consent for SW LRT to enter our city; if we do not, the Met Council will most likely overrule us. Therefore, if the SW LRT line does come to Eden Prairie, I am committed to working to ensure that the disruption to our current transportation systems, residents and businesses will be minimized.

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Brad Aho is an Eden Prairie City Council member

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, July 03, 2013:

Aho opposed to green neighborhood plan
Brad Aho, Eden Prairie

The article entitled “City seeking feedback on green neighborhood plans” on June 27 correctly stated that the City Council members “liked the interesting features” of each of the three developer’s proposals. What it didn’t say is that I have been opposed to the city purchasing the land from MnDOT and then reselling it to a developer since first hearing of the proposal.

I am not against “green development,” but I don’t believe that it is city government’s role to act as an intermediary or pseudo developer for residential housing.

We already have the tools in place to ensure development follows proper procedures. We use guide plans, zoning and have a process in place for public input and approving all development plans to ensure that the city is properly developed in a fair, orderly and organized manner.

When the city purchases land for the sole purpose of reselling it to a private developer, we needlessly expand the role and cost of local government. The city does not need to purchase the land first in order to “leverage the development.” Rather, the developers can submit purchase agreements to MnDOT that are contingent upon receiving preliminary approval for their development plans. This can achieve the same desired goals without the city taking on any risk in purchasing the property.

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Brad Aho is an Eden Prairie City Council member

The following letter appeared in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, July 01, 2013:

The Dayton/DFL tax bill will burden you now
As of Monday, the new policies are in effect, and you don’t have to be a rich smoker to feel them
Sen. Dave Osmek, R-Mound

Many years ago, my parents gave me some sage advice about how to deal with my first credit card. They said: “Don’t go piling up debt on that card without knowing how you’re going to pay for it.” That’s the kind of Minnesota common sense we all were probably raised on. We now know who’s going to pick up the tab for more than $2.3 billion in new state spending.

On June 24, the Minnesota Department of Revenue released its Tax Incidence Analysis of the Omnibus Tax bill. While “tax the rich” and “tax the smokers” might sound catchy, the reality is that we will all be paying more.

Based on the Mark Dayton/DFL Party tax policy that took effect on July 1, those at every level of income will feel the impact of the 2013 legislative spending spree. While the “rich” taxpayers in the top 10 percent of the income distribution will see a projected tax increase of 0.67 percentage points, according to the Revenue Department, the poorest 10 percent will actually see a projected tax increase of more than 1.56 percentage points — nearly two and a half times the impact on the “rich.”

But the middle 80 percent will not be let off the hook at all. If you don’t fall into the top or bottom 10 percent of taxpayers, you will still see an increase to your effective taxes, according to the study. The bill from Gov. Dayton and the DFL did more than just tax the rich and nail the smokers. How could this be?

First, increases in business taxes will be passed to the consumer. The extension of sales taxes to warehousing services will be felt by consumers, assuming that those operations remain in Minnesota. The overnight increase in product costs of 7.85 percent will either hit you directly in the wallet or force businesses like Menards or Supervalu to move their centers, taking Minnesota jobs with it and reducing income tax revenue.

When you turn on your TV, you now will be paying sales taxes on satellite TV services. When your kid downloads that new Katy Perry album or when you want to download a book, you also get hit with sales taxes. And if you need to rent a car when yours is under repair, you will be slapped with a 50 percent increase in that tax. It all adds up — it all hits everyone.

And these projections of tax increases actually could be too low, being based on the assumption that local units of government will actually reduce their tax levies. To make the projections come true, cities and counties will have to cut their levies by 50 cents for every dollar they receive in local government aid and save through the new exemption from Minnesota sales taxes. Before the 2014 legislative session begins, we will know if this happens.

Election campaigning for 2014 has already begun. Dayton and his DFL colleagues will continue to try to tell you that “tax the rich and nail the smokers” won’t hurt the average taxpayer. But in truth, their tax bill is built on gimmicks and glued together by the hope that you don’t find out that everybody pays more.

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David Osmek, a Republican from Mound, is a member of the Minnesota Senate

The following is an e-mail update from Sen. David Hann, June 29, 2013:

The DFL "Everyone Pays" Plan

Mom and Pop shop tax, New Fourth Tier: $1.13 Billion
Employer Tax Increase $424 Million
Cigarette Tax: $408 Million
Sales and Gift Tax $137 Million
Total Due $2.1 Billion

David Hann (SD48) - Email Newsletter

Dear Friend,

The Minnesota Legislature has adjourned until February 25, 2014. The budget that passed this year includes $2.1 billion in new tax revenue and $38.3 billion in state spending. This is the largest spending increase and the largest tax increase in state history.

Everyone in Minnesota will pay more.

I want to thank everyone who wrote, emailed, called or stopped by to visit me during the session. Your views are very important to me, and I enjoyed hearing from everyone. I am honored to serve as your senator and the Republican Caucus leader.

Enjoy your summer.

David

KEY HIGHLIGHTS OF 2013 LEGISLATURE

Education:
• Reinstatement of a statewide property tax (General Education Levy).
• Increases payment to districts to $78/student next year and $80/student in 2015.
• Additional funding for early learning grants for lower income families.
• Funds all-day kindergarten statewide.

Transportation:
• Expanded wheelage tax option up to $20 per vehicle.
• Allows county boards, without referendum, to impose up to a 1/2 cent sales tax for highways and transit.
• $300 million in trunk highway bonding and $37 mil-lion for Southwest Light Rail Transit corridor.

Judiciary/Public Safety:
• Increases the salaries of Supreme Court justices, Court of Appeals judges, and District Court judges

Higher Education:
• Includes a $250 million increase in funding.
• Includes a two-year, undergraduate tuition freeze at the UMN, State Colleges and Universities.
• Includes the “Path to Prosperity Act” (lower tuition rates for undocumented immigrants)

Health and Human Services:
• Includes a 5% increase for nursing home providers.
• Improves insurance coverage for autism treatment.

Jobs and Economic Development and Energy:
• Creates a solar energy standard of 1.5% by 2020
• St. Paul River Centre debt bailout.

Environment, Natural Resources, and Commerce:
• New silica sand mining regulations prohibiting min-ing within one mile of designated water resources
unless a permit has been issued by the Commissioner of Department of Natural Resources.

Taxes:
• $2.1 billion in new taxes; $250 million in higher fees.


The following letter appeared in the Minnetonka Sun-Sailor June 25, 2013:

Senator Franzen’s letter didn’t represent reality
Sen. Dave Osmek, R-Mound

In response to the letter by Sen. Melisa Franzen, D-Edina (“Franzen: Session put state on course for financial stability,” June 20): The next time you go out to eat at a local restaurant, I want you to remember Sen. Melisa Franzen’s method of paying for your dinner. After you have dined and enjoyed a thick, juicy steak, simply refuse to pay the check. Call it “The Franzen Method.”

For months, Melisa Franzen voted to spend over $3 billion more in tax revenue. She voted to give illegal immigrants money for college and driver’s licenses. She voted to plow money into a light rail line that will cost us tens of millions of dollars each and every year to operate, while at the same time driving up the national debt by over $1 billion dollars more. She voted to increase her own salary by over 35 percent in one year, which she will enjoy in a shiny new Senate Office building with a shiny new office.

So after months and months of spending, in the last two hours of session, she refuses to support the tax bill to pay for all her votes. All along the way, Melisa Franzen did not offer even one amendment to reduce the runaway spending that created the need for over $2.3 billion in new taxes. But she was all too eager not to pay the check when the tab came.

Running up the state taxpayer’s credit card, then balking at paying it isn’t just intellectually dishonest – it’s just plain wrong. You should expect more than this kind of double-talk from your state senator.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, June 20, 2013:

Don't take train to Boondoggle
Glenn Bratt, Eden Prairie

It seems Eden Prairie with the blessing of its "pie in the sky" politicians and their vacuous cost-ignoring rhetoric is ready to experience its own Solyndra where certain fat cats get to benefit at taxpayer expense for a boondoggle. It is one thing to list the obvious benefits of a project, quite another to justify the cost and ongoing expenses. There is nothing like subsidizing government failures that benefit their rich beneficiaries. The rich and politically connected through government "charity for the rich" get richer and the middle class taxpayer gets hosed.

This is worse than the rich getting richer through so called "tax breaks for the rich." At least the tax break is somehow related to what the rich taxpayer earned in risking his and his investors' capital, whereas this is taxpayer money donated to a dubious project no sensible investor would put their money into. Let's stop another Solyndra-like boondoggle from happening.

If the population density studies which advise against LRT in our area are not compelling for you, ask yourself this: How much do you see yourself using LRT? Of the people you know in Eden Prairie, how many do you see using LRT regularly? If not much, don't you wonder why a suburb like Eden Prairie should be conned into subsidizing LRT? Aren't you tired of the way government wastes your hard-earned money with schemes like Solyndra and now LRT? Wouldn't you rather your tax dollars go toward those things that actually benefit you and the Eden Prairie community? Wouldn't you rather those billions go toward school and public facility improvements as well as extra dollars in your kid's college fund or your own retirement account? Or would you rather ride a train to a place called Boondoggle?

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, June 20, 2013:

Taxpayer: Head's up!
Ruth Charchian, Eden Prairie

I just read the compelling "point-counter point" articles by Donna Azarian and Nancy Tyra-Lukens on SWLRT in last week's Eden Prairie News. It is clear that there isn't enough information on this topic for Eden Prairie taxpayers to make an informed decision about this critical issue. The decision we all make will impact us for many years to come. We all better get a deeper round of information to make an informed choice.

After reading the two point-of-view articles, I did a quick cost/benefit analysis based on the information provided in the articles. The following questions bubbled up:

1. If Eden Prairie has a 5,600 population density along the line and we need a 14,720 population density to support light rail, what is the anticipated revenue shortfall?

2. Does the Eden Prairie taxpayer pay for all of this shortfall each and every year? If so, what is the burden projected to be on each household?

3. How many small businesses in and around the Eden Prairie Center/Golden Triangle will be displaced/interrupted/rerouted or have to move as a result of building light rail?

4. If there are 60-125 fewer cars on the road (each day?), does that mean we have 60-125 riders only? If not, how many riders are anticipated out of the population density we have here?

5. What is the cost of a round-trip ticket to downtown?

6. How long will it take for a rider to get to downtown versus riding a bus or driving their car? Is there really a time savings?

7. What are the demographics of a typical rider and what quantifiable statistics are available?

8. What is the cost/day to operate/maintain the Southwest LRT line?

Light rail sounds like a "nice to have" versus a "need to have" so far based on the compelling taxpayer information provided by Donna Azarian. The "soft" quality of life, mobility, additional commuting choices, competitive advantage terms appear to be more marketing jargon than sound business-based information.

Who in the city will answer these questions for all of the Eden Prairie taxpayers?

The following letter appeared in the Saint Cloud Times, June 19, 2013:

Don't count on tax decrease: Little links aid, property taxes
Phil Krinke, Taxpayers League of Minnesota

Every year legislators wish they could do something to stop the continuing escalation of property taxes. And why would the 2013 Legislature be any different?

After the legislative session ended in May with more than $2 billion in tax increases, the governor and DFL leaders proclaimed they had passed legislation that would reduce property taxes. Their claim is based on an increase in state aid payment to local government, combined with property tax credits of almost $400 million.

But don’t count on your property taxes decreasing, and certainly don’t spend the money until after you have taken a look at your 2014 property tax statement.

Minnesota has the most complicated and convoluted property tax system (if you can call it a system) in the country, and contrary to popular belief, our residential property taxes per-capita rank in the middle when compared with other states.

Despite this truth, legislators trek to St. Paul every year touting that they will lower homeowner’s property taxes. The stubborn fact is the total amount of property tax collections statewide continues to increase and so does the amount of money that legislators spend to buy them down.
Minnesotans pay about the same dollar amount in property taxes as they do in income taxes. The reason that property taxes continue to increase despite efforts at the Legislature is threefold:

• 1. Property taxes are largely determined by cities, counties and school districts.

• 2. Property taxes are based on property values. Even in times of declining market values cities and counties raise tax rates to offset the decline in home values.

• 3. Local government spending continues to increase regardless of the amount of state aid and legislators refuse to impose strict spending limits.
An example of this was in 2001 when the Legislature removed the general education levy (a state-mandated property tax for K–12 education). As a result residential property taxes were reduced on average by 20 percent statewide.

The startling response by many local units of government was to increase property tax levies dramatically. Within two years the attempt to reduce property taxes by $1 billion was wiped out as a result of higher spending by cities, counties and school districts.
A recent newspaper article in Austin highlights what will soon happen all across the state. At an upcoming City Council work session they will discuss whether to spend the additional Local Government Aid from the state or use the money to decrease property taxes. My guess is they will spend it because the $120 million increase in state aid to cities and counties will come with no strings attached.

Another windfall to cities and counties from this year’s tax bill is that they will no longer be required to pay sales taxes on their purchases. This change in tax policy is estimated to save cities and counties more than $120 million per year. However, it is unlikely that homeowners will see an equal reduction in their property taxes. Past studies have shown that there is little correlation between state aid payments and local property tax rates. None the less, legislators pontificate endlessly about how they have increased state aid to cities, counties and school districts, which in turn will result in lower residential property taxes.

While legislators spent hundreds of millions in an attempt to hold down residential property taxes, they do nothing to hold local government spending in check or bother to consider business property taxes.

Minnesota has the highest commercial/industrial property taxes in the country. As a result, commercial/industrial properties pay 31 percent of the total state property value. In contrast, residential homesteads make up 51 percent of the market value yet they pay only 43 percent of the total in property taxes. Therefore the state’s system of taxation shifts the property tax burden from homeowner to businesses. As a result consumers pay more for goods and services because of the high property tax on businesses.

It’s one more example of how legislators hide the cost of local government spending for homeowners.

I’ll bet you that you will see your property taxes going up the next couple of years. The term “property tax relief” is like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny – everyone wants to believe, but everyone knows in the end it won’t come true. When it comes to property taxes Minnesota legislators are like little children at Christmas time, they believe if they wish hard enough it will come true.

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Phil Krinkie is president of the Taxpayers League of Minnesota and a former eight-term Republican state legislator.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, June 13, 2013:

2013 Session: Everyone pays more
Senator David Hann, R-Eden Prairie

The 2013 Minnesota Legislative Session recently ended and the results are not good for hardworking taxpayers in Minnesota. Instead of going line-by-line through the state budget and cutting wasteful government spending, Gov. Mark Dayton and the Democrat majorities in the Legislature raised Minnesotan’s taxes by $2.1 billion and increased state spending by 8 percent.

And what did they raise taxes so much for? A more wasteful, inefficient government with diminished accountability, fewer standards and less opportunity. By permanently increasing spending over the next two years by $3 billion, hardworking taxpayers will lose more of their paychecks in order to fund more inefficient government programs.

Everyone’s cost of living will increase due to higher taxes and fees. These taxes and fees are above and beyond what the Democrats said they would do during last year’s political campaigns when they said they would just “tax the rich.”

But taxes weren’t the only focus of Gov. Dayton and the legislative Democrats. They also decided to pay back special interests and push controversial legislation that divided Minnesotans like the bill to force unionization of home childcare businesses.

Locally, State Sen. Melisa Franzen (DFL – Edina) voted for bills that raised the gas tax, added more school aid shift and will lower graduation standards.

Before we raise everyone’s taxes, spend more on wasteful government spending and reward political allies, we should be making sure we spend taxpayers' dollars better and implement real government reform.

--------------------------------------------
David Hann is the Minnesota Senate Republican Leader. He represents Eden Prairie and Minnetonka in the state Senate.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, June 13, 2013:

LRT would be bad for Eden Prairie
Donna Azarian, Eden Prairie

As residents of Eden Prairie, our beautiful hometown was honored to have been nationally recognized as one of the “Best Places to Live” by Money Magazine since 2006. We moved to Eden Prairie because of the quality of life for our families, miles of trails, verdant parks and the quiet sereneness of the suburbs. But the Met Council, like a giant meddlesome mother-in-law who invades your home to tell you “what’s best for you,” wants to jeopardize the quality of our life in Eden Prairie by injecting Light Rail Transit into our tranquil suburban community.

The Twin Cities has the second-lowest population density among the country’s top 25 metropolitan areas. The Federal Transit Administration Project Development states the population density along the SWLRT’s proposed 15.8-mile route is only 5,600 people per square mile. To succeed, a LRT system needs a population density of 14,720 people per square mile, according to the Urban Land Institute. Without the population to ensure the success of the Light Rail System, does this make sense to build?

The LRT will increase property taxes now and forever, whether or not it succeeds. The SWLRT project is estimated to cost $1.25 billion. The Hiawatha Line was projected to cost $470 million but ballooned to $715 million, an increase of 52 percent. Using this example, the SWLRT could end up costing well over $1.9 billion. Supporters of the LRT say that a $625 million gift from the Federal Transit Administration will help fund this project. This “gift” is only half the money needed to build the LRT. The rest will be raised through the state of Minnesota, the Counties Transit Improvement Board and the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority, in other words, the taxpayer. With property tax increases necessary to pay for the light rail bonds, it will place a burden on those with fixed incomes, forcing people, mostly elderly and lower-income families, from their homes.

Many folks think that once the LRT is built, it is all paid for. Wrong. Consider ride subsidies, operating and maintenance costs, which will never end. Most importantly, money that can be used to build or repair critical highway infrastructure is instead being used to build light rail transportation.

Do you like road construction? According to SWLRT.com, it will take three years to build the LRT. We will have to suffer torn up roads and detours to install the tracks, where once they are affixed, cannot be moved. What will become of the Southwest Metro Transit Buses, which can change routes and are able to travel in any weather condition? Light rail trains have already proven themselves an unreliable form of transportation in the April 2013 ice/snowstorm when service was suspended in Minneapolis. Ironically, buses had to be brought in to pick up the stranded LRT commuters as the trains could not run in the ice and snow.

What about safety? There have been nine LRT related deaths since the Hiawatha Line began operating in 2004. The U.S. Department of Energy says that LRT is more accident-prone than and not as fast as buses or cars. The planned LRT route along Technology Drive will cross Costco’s busy entrance/exit. This is a disaster waiting to happen.

Will forcing unnecessary financial and physical burdens on our citizens to install a 19th century mode of transportation really benefit our city? Eden Prairie residents should go beyond the sound bites of the SWLRT planners and understand how light rail will actually impact our lives and our community. Contact your elected officials with your thoughts on SWLRT. Let your voice be heard.

---------------------------------------------
Donna Azarian of Eden Prairie is secretary of the Congressional District 3 Republican Party

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, June 13, 2013:

2012 Healthcare Mandates By State
Rank
State Mandates
1
Rhode Island 69
2
Maryland 67
3
Minnesota 66
4
Virginia 66
5
Connecticut 65
U.S. Average 44.5
27
Wisconsin 43
32
North Dakota 40
45
South Dakota 29
48
Iowa 26
49
Michigan 24
Source: Council for Affordable Health Insurance
Insurance mandate will increase costs
Steve Smith, Co-Chair, SD48 Republicans

This year the state passed a mandate to require insurance companies to cover a controversial autism therapy, intensive early intervention behavioral therapy (IEIBT) for people covered by fully insured businesses with over 50 employees. As we consider what benefits to cover in Minnesota, we should remain focused on the triple aim of improving the health of the population while improving patient experience and reducing the cost of health care.

Coverage should always be based on evidence, not emotion. External, independent national organizations such as the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality continue to rate the evidence for IEIBT as "Poor." Not only is this mandate controversial, but it is extremely expensive - ranging up to $100,000 a year, per child. It's probably the most expensive mandate ever imposed on business by the folks in St. Paul. Conveniently, Rep. Yvonne Selcer and the Democrat legislators exempted themselves and other state employees from the expense of having to pay for it.

The language to put this mandate in place was added to a 700-page bill at the very last moment in a conference committee, late at night, when the public wasn't watching. It's the sort of behind-the-scenes shenanigans that makes people distrust the legislative process.

This mandate will inevitably drive more businesses to self-insure to escape all of these regulations and burdensome taxes, which will hurt the overall insurance market and further drive up cost. When you get your insurance increase next year you can thank Yvonne Selcer.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, June 13, 2013:

David Hann's vote justified
John and Kathy Tyler, Eden Prairie

And so it begins. Attacks on those who hold traditional Judeo-Christian marriage values by those who don't. A recent writer expressed she was "deeply deeply offended" at Senator Hann's vote to defend traditional marital values with his outspoken "no" vote and position on the gay marriage bill. This is because she is deeply, deeply msiinformed.

In her letter she states flatly that "people are born with their sexuality." This simply goes to show that if misinformation is repeated enough, people will blindly accept it as fact. This is not such a case. The basis of the entire gay marriage legislation is founded on this single piece of un-factual dogma repeated so many times it is assumed to be true -- that people are "born with their sexuality." The trouble is: it isn't true.

If one person has successfully renounced their same-sex attraction and gone on to lead a traditional heterosexual life, then this "fact" is blown sky high, and so is the basis for this legislation. And conversions have happened by the hundreds and thousands with organizations such as Exodus International (www.exodusinternational.org), Living Hope Ministries (www.livehope.org) and Love In Action International. These are Christian-based organizations that treat their participants in much the same way as pornography addiction: In a loving, faith-based, non-judgemental way.

John Laub and his wife met at Love In Action International. Following their recovery, they went on to marry and have a family. If homosexuals can recover then they are no longer a repressed minority and the entire basis of this legislation dissolves.

Which is more compassionate, to legally condone an activity by entrenching it into marriage law, or to offer a guide in a new direction of recovery with a proven record? Senator Hann's voice and vote are by far the most compassionate approach to this issue. To speak the truth in the face of unbelievavle pressure by the gay lobby takes courage as well. Thank you, Senator Hann, for both. We are proud of you.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News, June 13, 2013:

What will Republican say on marriage equality?
Dan Daniels, Eden Prairie

In last week’s newspaper, a letter writer praised Sen. Hann for his stance to oppose marriage between two men or two women. In previous newspapers, different letter writers praised Rep. Loon for her vote in support of marriage equality. Does this indicate a serious conflict between the Republicans of our senate district? What position will these Republicans take in 2014?

Some Republicans believe that government should not interfere into committed relationships between two people who love each other, no matter what gender. Other Republicans, social conservatives, believe marriage between either two men or two women is an attack against God and one’s personal religion. Which view will prevail among Republicans?

Rep. Loon supported putting an amendment to our state Constitution on the 2012 ballot to ban marriages between two men or two women. This year, Rep. Loon made a correct and passionate plea for legislators to support marriage equality. For next year’s election, will Rep. Loon change again to campaign to ban marriage equality? In my opinion, such a flip-flop-flip seems unlikely and it would be a stupid position for Rep. Loon to take.

In 2008, some Republican legislators were punished for overriding a veto of a 5-cent gas tax increase. What type of punishment, if any, will the Republicans who supported marriage equality face? If there is no punishment, does this mean fiscal conservatives are in charge of the Republican Party and that social conservative issues are not important? Is it true that Republican leadership was only using the gay marriage amendment to fool more support from social conservatives? With this issue failing to get more attention, could this be the end of complaints and fears about gays and lesbians among us?

The only major issue where Rep. Loon broke with the Republican Party is marriage equality. Removing Rep. Loon from her leadership position or having her face a primary challenger would seem equivalent to what happened in 2008. How can social conservatives go around Minnesota to campaign against Democrats while supporting Republicans who also voted for marriage equality? How would a primary challenger seriously argue that he or she is more fiscally conservative than Rep. Loon?

In 2014, Republicans will campaign to try to take control of the Minnesota House and the governor’s office. On the issue of marriage equality, what are Republicans going to say?

The following letter appeared in the Saint Cloud Times, June 11, 2013:

IRS scandal fueling a dishonesty campaign
Lenore Felix, Cold Spring

At first, I was pleasantly surprised that a story about the Obama-IRS scandal even appeared in the St. Cloud Times, albeit the USA Today section. It featured tea party and pro-life groups relating how badly they were treated by the IRS regarding their petitions for tax-exempt status. My pleasure was short-lived.

The summary statements (by only Democrats), lectured these people about their presumption of fair treatment: “We’re talking about whether or not American taxpayers will subsidize your work. We’re talking about a tax break,” said Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash.

Another Democrat, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, accused conservative groups of taking positions on highly charged political issues, saying: “Let’s just stop this charade of pretending to be just social welfare organizations. Admit they are political and treat them as such.”

The lectures delivered by the Democrats were dripping with liberal hypocrisy.

Most troubling, however, is that “low information” voters — mainstream media adherents — are deliberately left with the impression that all of these witnesses had been too stupid to understand the rules and had to be taught by these smart Democrats. I then noticed the subheading: Democrats: No tax breaks for political organizations.

A cursory search on the topic revealed “501(c)(3) organizations are not permitted to engage in political activity, endorse or oppose political candidates, or donate money or time to political campaigns, but 501(c)(4) organizations can do all of the above.”

If these smart Democrats’ objectives are so pure, why are American taxpayers “subsidizing” Media Matters, a watchdog group started with $2 million in donations from liberal philanthropists connected to the Democratic party, and additional funding from MoveOn.org and the New Democrat Network?

Why are labor unions categorized as nonprofits when they receive millions in dues and donations, but pay neither state nor federal taxes? In 2008, labor unions gave 92 percent of their contributions to Democrats.

There are many, many examples of liberal organizations having no trouble whatsoever gaining tax exempt status under Obama, but very few conservative groups. Why are you aiding and abetting this misinformation campaign? The dishonesty is palpable!

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News June 6, 2013:

Thanks Senator Hann for leadership
Bonnie Gasper, Eden Prairie

I want to thank Senator Hann for his strong, consistent and principled stand to protect and preserve marriage as it has always been historically understood; as a union between one man and one woman.

As one who shares his core convictions regarding the institution of marriage, it is good to know he (unlike some of our other legislators) will not shrink away when certain moral principles are currently “unpopular.”

And, true to form, a letter writer last week accused him of being a bigot for standing up for his convictions. That writer demonstrated again why it is nearly impossible to engage someone like her in meaningful discussion and debate about politically charged subjects like same-sex marriage and its long-term consequences. Rather than extending basic tolerance for differing views, she attacked his character and called him names. Those tactics are simply ridiculous and juvenile.

Reasonable people should be able to reasonably disagree.

It has been said that if one stands on principle, 99 percent of their decisions are already made. Senator Hann can be trusted to stand on his convictions without offiense and name calling. Thank you Senator Hann for showing us real leadership.

IN THE NEWS:
Can private bakeries be sued for not making wedding cakes for gay couples?
Star Tribune poll from March 2013: Most Minnesotans (53 - 38 percent) do NOT want a gay marriage law
Supporters of traditional marriage outspent 10 to 1

The following letter appeared in the Lakeshore Weekly News May 28, 2013:

Mixed messages in legislature
Sen. Dave Osmek, R-Mound

With the final gavel having fallen, we have ended the 2013 legislative session in St. Paul. It has been an incredibly eventful year in so many ways. It was an honor to take the oath of office and begin work as your state senator last January.

One important success this session was providing an up-front sales tax exemption on the purchase of capital equipment. This exemption will help small businesses avoid the unnecessary arcane process of filing paperwork to recoup sales taxes they've paid, but rather focus more time on building and expanding their business. Another important success was exempting cities and counties from sales tax on capital equipment.

However, we also sent mixed messages to the business community. For instance, a new Office of Broadband Development was created to help advance and deploy broadband and telecommunications technology throughout the state, yet we eliminated the sales tax exemption on the purchase of telecommunications equipment at a cost of $40 million a year.

But this session will be best known more for the damage that was done to Minnesota's future. From increasing taxes on just about everything under the sun to increasing fees, this session was highlighted by an attack on the wallets of hardworking Minnesotans. The DFL majority raised $2.1 billion to plug a $600 million budget deficit.

Our economy is growing, yet very fragile. This legislature failed to prioritize spending or address waste and inefficiencies in state government, a failed opportunity. Under this tax plan, every hard working taxpayer pays more, not just the rich ... everybody.

I look forward to spending the summer catching up with my family and working through the interim with district residents and city councils to make next year's session a much improved success for Minnesota.

The following letter appeared in the Lakeshore Weekly News May 28, 2013:

Unnecessary taxes
Rep. Sarah Anderson, R-Plymouth

Minnesota families will soon get a bill for the Democrat government spending increases of over $3 billion. Taxes and fees are being raised by over $2.6 billion to cover a $627 million budget gap.

Under this plan, every man, woman and child in the state will pay more. Hidden taxes and trickle-down costs will literally hit home under this tax-everyone budget package.

Families will pay more for heating their homes, food, personal and home care products, and medical products. Health insurance premiums will also increase under the democrat majority budget. Even the seemingly simple areas of daily life will be taxed directly or indirectly, like Amazon and iTunes purchases, vehicle registrations, gas, and yes, even beer.

Instead of removing barriers to job growth, the tax bill alone will result in over 10,000 lost jobs. Rather than lightening their tax burden or incentivizing private sector job growth, democrats prioritized government growth and created more than 1,266 new government jobs.

We must ask, when our small business economic engine grinds to a halt, who will be left to pay for future deficits when government out-spends this new revenue in just two short years?

You deserve better.

The 2013 legislative session has come to a close, but please feel free to contact me at any time. I am here to serve the people and priorities of Plymouth. Together we can bring job growth back to Minnesota and create a better future.

The following letter appeared in the Sun Newspapers May 22, 2013:

We expect efficient spending by government
Doug Seaton, Edina

I am a small-business owner and a long-time Minnesotan. Our state is a center of innovation and entrepreneurship, and our citizens are hardworking. Our Legislature is in the process of finalizing legislation that will increase taxes a total of $2 billion. These taxes, including increased business to business sales tax and increased business property taxes, will hit businesses, large and small, hard.

Increased taxation impedes job growth and discourages productivity and entrepreneurship; it threatens the principles on which Minnesota was built. The way forward should be principled, responsible spending. As a business, we prioritize efficient spending and we expect the same from our government.

The following letter appeared in the Lakeshore Weekly News May 21, 2013:

Child Care Unions
Rep. Jerry Hertaus, R-Greenfield

One of the more contentious and hot-button bills we have debated this session is a bill that seeks to unionize child care providers and personal care attendants. The bill has been opposed by the Star Tribune, Pioneer Press and many other editorial boards across the state. Democrats and Republicans alike have voiced opposition and concerns about this overreaching bill, and according to a recent poll of child care providers, 86 percent of providers have indicated they have no interest in joining a union.

The most detrimental parts of this legislation is the impact it will have on low-income families who utilize state subsidies, known as C-CAP payments, which enable parents to find a path to full-time employment, and help pay for child care costs. Providers that do not wish to be a part of the union will be forced to reject children who rely on state subsidy payments. This limits the number of choices that low-income families will have for their child care.

Currently, there are 5,000 Minnesota families on the waiting list to receive the C-CAP state subsidies. Fewer choices for these families would mean an even longer wait to receive the subsidy payments. Working parents working to make ends meet can't afford to wait even longer thanks to a political power play at the capitol.

Moreover, mandatory union dues represent increased costs for providers. As a result, parents may see their child care bills increased or services diminished in order to offset these burdensome new costs.

This bill redirects taxpayer money intended for the care of our children, and sends it to the national labor organization. One union official stated in the Star Tribune that approximately one third of union dues would not stay in the state, but instead go to Washington D.C. to fill union coffers that allow for more campaign spending.

Why would we want to send taxpayer dollars intended to help care for our children and send it to Washington? I just don't believe this makes sense, and is an egregious misuse of taxpayer dollars.

Raising the cost and reducing the number of care providers for parents is simply unacceptable, and not what Minnesotans expected when they elected new majorities in the legislature. We deserve better than a money-grab that benefits special interests at the expense of hardworking Minnesota parents and children.

The following letter appeared in the Sun Newspapers May 15, 2013:

Increased taxes damaging to business
Patrick Becker, Eden Prairie

I am opposed to the tax legislation recently passed by the Legislature. I believe the increased taxes will be damaging to our state economy, have unforeseen consequences on small businesses, and limit the ability of Minnesota businesses, large and small, to succeed.

Minnesota is home to many big businesses and is a hotbed of entrepreneurship. As such, it attracts residents from around the country and the world. I am concerned that the massive tax hikes that recently passed the Legislature will change this.

Subsequent to the implementation of these taxes, Minnesota will have one of the highest, if not the highest, income tax rate in the country. Small businesses that file taxes as individuals will see their taxes rise steeply. Business to business sales taxes and business property taxes will also increase.

These taxes are being implemented not to balance the budget, but to increase government spending. Before you impose taxes that force Minnesota businesses relocate, I suggest that you first eliminate wasteful spending and inefficiency.

The following letter appeared in the Sun Newspapers May 15, 2013:

Southwest Light Rail burdens community
Donna Azarian, Eden Prairie

The Met Council, a board of unelected officials, continues to push plans to force light rail trains on our community.

According to the Urban Land Institute, the minimum density needed to support light rail is 14,720 people per square mile. The population density along the proposed LRT route is only 5,600 per square mile according to the Federal Transit Administration Project Development summary. Without the necessary population density to succeed, why is LRT being foisted upon us?

Wet snow and ice in mid-April knocked out the Metro Transit Light Rail system for several hours where busses had to run in place of the Minneapolis LRT in the storm.

Eden Prairie residents have commute of about 21 minutes, according to the Census. Would more people be willing to give up their relatively short commutes to travel longer times on trains?

Light rail has huge costs, is inflexible and will be a huge tax burden on us and our future generations. Cities like Portland, San Jose and Dallas all have light rail systems riddled with budget problems, low ridership and high operating costs.

Let’s save our money, our future and our community. Say NO to the LRT!

The following letter appeared in the Lakeshore Weekly News May 14, 2013:

Child Care Unions
Rep. Sarah Anderson, R-Plymouth

Legislation unionizing independent, privately-held day care providers serving low-income families is traveling through the Legislature on a fast track. If enacted, this bill will increase the cost of day care for all families.

Two years ago, Gov. Mark Dayton tried to unionize these privately-owned businesses through an executive order, which was then struck down by a judge who said Dayton overreached on his powers.

Rep. Mike Nelson (D-Brooklyn Park) is currently pushing the same effort. But now legislators are adding in personal care attendants who provide care to individuals in programs covered by state medical assistance.

What's most troubling about this legislation is that union dues will automatically be deducted from state subsidies, even before they reach child care providers or PCAs. Even providers who opt out of joining the union will be forced to pay "fair share" union dues of 85 percent.

As a result, child care business owners have testified in committee that they will have to either stop taking child care assistance families, raise their rates on all families, or ultimately, close up shop.

Regardless of whether or not a child care provider or PCA is forced to unionize, the effects of unionization will ripple throughout their industries. The state will become the "boss" of these private business people.

If you, your family or your business would be affected by child care or PCA unionization, please do not hesitate to contact me.

The following letter appeared in the Lakeshore Weekly News May 7, 2013:

Tax Plans
Rep. Sarah Anderson, R-Plymouth

The Tax Man will have a bigger stick next year under the Democrat tax bills. In the House, Democrat leaders increase taxes by $2.6 billion on all hardworking Minnesotans.

Even though we have a projected surplus in 2016-17, House democrats are asking everyone to support an 11 percent spending increase of $4 billion to grow government bureaucracy. The governor and Senate democrats want to increase state spending by 8 percent, in part to fund a salary increase for themselves.

It's not just taxes that are being increased; the democrat majorities are increasing fees by over half a billion dollars. Instead of growing private sector jobs, democrat leaders are adding more than 300 government workers.

Under the House democrat tax bill, 60 percent of people in the middle income tax bracket will see an income tax increase. Every Minnesotan will be paying more taxes and higher consumer prices under this bill. Even the price of beer and wine will spike upward when the taxes are increased by as much as 500 percent.

While the House tax bill hits 60 percent of people in the middle income tax bracket, the Senate Democrat tax bill hits the top 7 percent of Minnesotans. For married, joint filers making over $140,960, your income tax will increase from 7.85 to 9.4 percent - that's a 20 percent jump. In addition, Senate democrats want to tax clothing sales and consumer services, which hurts families with growing kids.

We have seen where unsustainable government spending has gotten us on the federal level. Let's not make the same mistake in Minnesota. In working with the democrat majorities, my republican colleagues and I will continue to offer solutions that create real jobs and real opportunity in Minnesota.

The following letter appeared in the Lakeshore Weekly News May 7, 2013:

Soaring Taxes
Raymond Mithun Jr., Deephaven

Last week, at the Maggie Manor opening, I was unexpectedly called upon to accept a beautiful and generous plaque, honoring our family's role in this great adventure.

And then I was asked to speak.

Now, as many will attest, even when I have planned remarks, public speaking is not my strong suit. When asked to speak impromptu, I am even more challenged.

And so, with your indulgence, I would like a redo at thanking the community, and conveying my thoughts.

As I said at the dedication, thank you, Steve Bohl. You have designed and developed a building that means the world to our family, as well as six low-income families.

Thank you, Phil, Fred and LaDonna for all you do for Interfaith Outreach. The world is simply a better place because of you.

And now to my thoughts. I am worried. Deeply worried. About our state. About our country. And about the unsustainable economic path we are on.

Our granddaughter Margaret, Maggie's namesake, was at the dedication last week. The nation, the state, and the community she will inherit looks nothing like the one we had hoped she'd enjoy. Instead, at age 6, her share of the national debt was $33,000. Now, at age 9, she is already at $50,000. And her share of the debt is most likely headed to well over $75,000 by sixth grade.

Our president is out of control. Our congress is out of control. Our governor is out of control. Our state is ranked 50 out of 50 in creating new businesses. Minnesota? Fifty out of 50?

It's got to stop.

I am delighted and honored to be a part of Maggie Manor. I am delighted to be a part of Interfaith Outreach. I sometimes think about what that first meeting between the local churches must have been like. Congregations banding together with other congregations, practicing the Judeo-Christian ethic of serving each other. With no sign of government in sight.

Now we are drowning in government. They encourage each of us to sit back, and be passively robbed of our freedoms, our self reliance, and our duty.

I believe it is government's job to secure bridges, fill potholes and do for us only that which we are unable to do for ourselves.

I believe that it is our job as a community to serve one another, just as you all are doing with Maggie Manor.

That said, I would like to ask for something back from our community. I would ask, no, I would beg you. Please stop allowing this massive destruction of our state and our country through soaring taxes and entitlement spending. Stop voting in people who promise to give us more and more, while requiring of us less and less.

As Margaret Thatcher said, "The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money."

Soon, we will run out of our children's money, our grandchildren's money and even China's money.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News April 25, 2013:

Opposes pay increase for legislators
Rep. Paul Rosenthal, DFL-Edina

There has been recent discussion in the Minnesota State Senate about increasing salaries for state legislators. I want to make it clear that I oppose a pay raise for legislators. The Minnesota House has no such proposal, making the Senate proposal unlikely to pass into law.

The legislature needs to focus on reducing the $627 million budget deficit, paying back the $854 million owed to schools, and invest our resources in proposals that will strengthen our schools and economy. There are many priorities that are much more important than our pay and I will continue to oppose this increase.

This proposal demonstrates no real leadership and reinforces what people hate most about politics. We need to listen to members of the community and work together on the issues facing our state. In addition, Minnesota has a part-time Legislature, and our pay should reflect this. My day-job as a currency trader helps me to bring a unique perspective to the Legislature, just like my colleagues who hold different jobs and careers around the state. I was elected to do the work of the people, not to advance my own agenda or line my own pockets.

As always, please contact me directly with any questions, comments, or concerns on any issue. I can be reached by phone at (651) 296-7803 or by email at rep.paul.rosenthal@house.mn. Please contact me anytime I can be of assistance.

The following letter appeared in the Minnetonka Sun Sailor Newspaper April 23, 2013:

Lack of educating, not funds, is problem with schools
Daniel Damschen, Minnetonka

I would like to tell Rep. Yvonne Selcer that our problem is not a lack of funds for education in Minnesota, it’s a lack of educating. I have friends and neighbors who are teachers – working and retired. I envy their paychecks, pensions and “Cadillac” benefits … no problem with compensation.

Government regulation, political correctness and indoctrination so dominate time, there is precious little left to teach skills and problem-solving.

Teaching, a high calling, needs freedom to soar and to achieve great things. Sadly, the more government mandates, indoctrinates and assumes the parenting role, the more dismal will the results be.

We continue to see the breakdown of the family, the biggest cause of poor achievement and reduced success. But the government cannot make better families, and more important, government cannot “be the family.” When an institution becomes the parent, very grim things happen. I am sure that Selcer, as a person dedicated to education, has studied history and understands this.

Spending is not our problem in Minnesota – it’s our resistance to change. Let those who would be eager to experiment with new schools hire the teachers they want to hire. But this is either against the law outright or violates union contracts or wouldn’t comply with human rights mandates or hundreds of other government controls.

If our children are not learning, it’s not their fault. It’s the government’s fault for:

• Addicting people to subsidized poverty, destroying the family, especially in the urban centers over the last 40 years

• Allowing unions to corrupt the compensation and political system

• Re-writing history, turning the schools into amoral institutions so mired in regulation and political correctness that it suffocates inquisitive minds and ideas that don’t follow the agenda.

Spending is not our problem, it’s something else.

Let’s tear down the walls that hold us back and let education and truth breathe again.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News April 11, 2013:

Does Eden Prairie need a $16.5 million aquatics center?
Dan Kitrell Eden Prairie

In 2005, 49 percent of voters opposed the $6.65 million requested by the city to expand the Community Center. The City Council eventually spent more than $11.2 million to build this facility. The referendum specified that no additional annual operating expenses were expected. However, from 2008-2012 the Community Center accumulated more than $3 million in operating losses beyond the $4.5 million in excess building costs.

During this initial five-year period, the number of memberships at the Community Center has increased substantially and is nearing capacity but the center is still operating at a loss. In a report to the Budget Advisory Commission, Jay Lotthammer stated that "cost recovery will likely be higher in the (initial) 3-5 years than in five plus years when use has peaked/stabilized and replacement needs begin to kick in." We are entering the "five plus years" now and operating losses may begin to expand. How much more are members and users willing to pay to cover this gap?

Also in 2005, 54 percent of voters rejected the $3.3 million requested for improvements for the existing indoor swimming pool. However, the City Council may not even allow taxpayers to vote this time on the proposed $16.5 million aquatics center.

Whether you are for or against an expanded aquatics center, taxpayers deserve to be given complete and accurate information and to have an opportunity to participate in an honest and transparent process.

The following is an e-mail update from Sen. David Osmek, March 12, 2013:

Healthcare Exchange Clears Senate
Senator David Osmek, SD33

The legislative session is in full swing with deadlines fast approaching. Everyone is scrambling to get legislation moved out of committees to keep their issues alive for the remainder of the session. Perhaps one of the most important deadlines is the end of March, the deadline imposed by the federal government for states to approve a healthcare exchange.

Last Thursday, after more than 12 hours of debate, the Minnesota Senate passed the healthcare exchange bill. As part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), states were asked to establish their own health exchanges to help individuals and small businesses gain access to health insurance or the Federal government would step in and do it for them. It’s expected that 1.3 million Minnesotans will purchase their insurance through this exchange. This new Exchange is estimated to cost $60 million a year.

This bill will fundamentally change the way healthcare is delivered in Minnesota and I cannot support legislation that is unable to prove that it will lower costs, ensure consumer choice, provide legislative oversight of the Exchange board, and protect your data privacy rights.

According to studies and analysis from actuaries, consultants, state insurance commissioners, and the Congressional Budget Office, insurance premiums are expected to significantly increase. A study by the actuarial firm Oliver Wyman projects that premiums on individuals will increase an average of 40 percent. Actuaries Gruber and Gorman project the increases will range from 26 to 46 percent.

Even more frightening than the costs, the Exchange will be governed by a board, made up of seven appointed members, who make the rules, choose the companies allowed to participate, decide which health plans can be offered, and certify all costs associated with the Exchange. This allows the government to pick winners and losers and limits a true competitive marketplace which could discourage interested, qualified insurers from wanting to participate.

Furthermore, there is concern over access to all data deemed “necessary” to carry out functions of the exchange. Testifiers in committee stated that this will be the single largest data base in existence, and the Board of seven unelected, unaccountable appointees will have complete control over the data. While the Senate legislation creates an oversight committee, that committee has absolutely no authority to take action on policies and expenditures set by the board.

Many common sense amendments were offered through the committee process and during the floor debate to address many of these issues and rebuffed on party-line votes. Minnesota deserves better than what has been passed from both houses. Unfortunately, the Healthcare Exchange will ultimately weaken Minnesota’s world-class healthcare system and hurt hard-working Minnesota families with high premiums.
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Senator Osmek represents Senate District 48 which includes the cities of Corcoran, Deephaven, Excelsior, Greenfield, Greenwood, Independence, Long Lake, Loretto, Maple Plain, Medina, Minnetonka Beach, Minnetrista, Mound, Orono, Shorewood, Spring Park, St. Bonifacius, Tonka Bay, Wayzata, and parts of Chanhassen

The following is an e-mail update from Sen. David Hann, March 08, 2013:

David Hann (SD48) - Email Newsletter

Dear Friend,

The big story at the Capitol this week is the passage of the Minnesota Insurance Marketplace Act (Health Care Exchange - H.F. 5/S.F.1). The largest change to health care in the state of Minnesota since Medicaid passed through senate committees to the Senate chamber in eight weeks time. The DFL majority has pushed this bill through with questions unanswered and consequences unknown. In a 12 hour debate on the Senate floor, Republican senators offered many common sense amendments, trying to preserve consumer choices in insurance coverage and allowing legislative oversight of the massive increases in spending. Republicans asked questions regarding the fiscal impact of the bill to businesses, individuals, and the state. Those questions were never answered and the amendments were not accepted. This extremely partisan bill passed the Minnesota Senate 37-28 with all Republicans and one Democrat voting against the bill.

Minnesota Insurance Marketplace Act/Health Care Exchange
Proponents of this bill expect 1.3 million people (approx. 25% of Minnesotans) to use the Exchange starting in October of this year. As this bill goes to conference committee next week and then to Governor Dayton, Minnesota families, taxpayers, small businesses, individuals young and old, deserve answers to outstanding questions. This bill does not improve or reform healthcare, lower costs, help people keep their doctor, or protect their privacy. This partisan DFL bill restricts consumer choices and establishes the principle that ordinary people cannot be trusted to make decisions about their healthcare.

Daycare Provider Unionization Update
This week the State and Local Government Committee passed Senate File 778, a bill that could result in the unionization of child daycare providers. After rejecting several Republican amend-ments to protect these private business owners and the families they serve, the committee passed the AFSCME-supported bill on a 7-5 party-line vote. Republicans offered amendments included allowing families to observe contract negotiations, exempting nonmembers from paying union dues, and disclosing information to providers about what unionization means for their business. In response to AFSCME's testimony that the bill is about "raising subsidy rates," Republicans expressed concern that the bill would result in increased costs for families and taxpayers alike. Under the bill, even daycare providers who choose not to join the union would still be forced to pay union fees, be subject to the terms and conditions negotiated by the union, and be effectively deemed employees of the state. The bill will be heard in the Health, Human Services, and Housing Committee in the coming weeks.

Taxes are still in the forefront of concern in the minds of Minnesotans and businesses owners around the state. With last week's updated state budget forecast, the spotlight is now back on Governor Dayton to see what changes will be made to his initial budget proposal calling for $3.6 billion in tax increases, including $2.1 billion in new sales taxes. The Governor's “supplemental’ budget recommendations are expected next week, and he said Friday he would no longer pursue his sales tax and business to business tax proposals. The absence of these tax increases leaves a huge hole in his plan to increase spending by nearly 8%. The DFL majorities in the legislature have not said they will remove the sales tax and business to business tax increase from their budget proposals.

The Jobs, Agriculture and Rural Development Committee heard testimony on five minimum wage increase bills this week. Legislation was introduced and discussed to raise the minimum wage in Minnesota to $7.25, $7.50, $9.50 and even $10.55 per hour. Amendments and action will be taken on the bills in a future hearing.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News March 07, 2013:

Second Amendment rights protected
By: Larry G. DeVries, Eden Prairie

The letter writer of last week regarding the Second Amendment seems to have missed some basic concepts. While recent incidents of crimes committed by a few are tragic and deplorable there must be caution in dealing with a Right granted in the Constitution.

The Second Amendment as a Right (to keep and bear arms) is not subject to modification by the latest polls, by popular opinion, the urgency of the moment, or even “majority rules” in State legislatures or in the U. S. Congress. We have our Rights protected from such changes by the Constitution in Article V, Section 1. That section states that 3/4 of the States must vote and agree to specific language of a modification of the Constitution before such a change can be made.

The letter writer's argument seems to be that the modern rifle could not have been in the minds of the original writers or the founding fathers. And, as a result apparently, any improvements to the musket used at that time should be outlawed. We certainly don't apply the line of reasoning to the other Amendments.

I wonder how many would support changes to the First Amendment if the reasoning they took applied to new methods of communication of ideas not present at the time of the founding fathers. With that line of reasoning the newer types of communication of ideas should be outlawed. Under that reasoning, types of communication technology to be excluded would be the telegraph, telephone, copy machines, fax machines, radio, television, computers, communication satellites and the internet. Plus any kind of writing instrument other than a quill pen. Excluding even the pencil which was a modern invention.

That would leave the freedoms of the First Amendment with only the means of the spoken word, the hand-written word on paper, the printing press, newspapers, books, the post office, and delivery of news no faster than the speed of the horse.

The following commentary appeared in the Chanhassen Villager January 29, 2013:

A budget for a better Wisconsin
By: Rep. Ernie Leidiger (R-Mayer)

Gov. Dayton last week unveiled his budget proposal that pulls the rug out from under the middle class and small business owners who are simply trying to make a go of it in Minnesota.

It is what I like to call “A budget for a better Wisconsin,” because neighboring states with friendlier tax climates sure look a lot more attractive after reading the governor’s plan to kill jobs and empty wallets through misguided tax increases.

Instead of fixing what doesn’t work, Gov. Dayton plans on making government bigger than ever and adding a historic $3.7 billion in taxes, most to be paid for by folks like you and me.

A total of $2.1 billion in tax revenue will be raised from an expanded sales tax on pretty much every good and service imaginable. And guess who is going to be hardest hit? Not the “rich” or the “Top 2 percent.” No, it’s going to be the middle class and small business owners.

• Does your hand-me-down car need a tune-up? Auto repairs are taxed.

• Sick? Aspirin, cold medicine, and any other over-the-counter drugs are taxed.

• Getting married? The wedding dress and hair services are taxed.

• Need to buy your kids winter coats? Any clothing item over $100 is taxed.

• Need to make a will or get tax help? Legal and accounting services are taxed.

• Do your college-aged children need to buy textbooks online? Online purchases and digital downloads are taxed.

• Smoke? The cigarette tax is increased by nearly $1 per pack.

•Own a business? Business-to-business transaction sales are taxed.

Look at it this way: A hardworking middle class family will not only have diminished take-home pay because of higher social security taxes, but they will also have to dig deeper in their pockets for everyday items and services. All the while, they’re feeding their money into a system to pay for a property tax rebate “up to $500” for every Minnesotan, including millionaires in the Twin Cities.

Sure, households that make over $250,000 (the “rich”) will be taxed more, but that only accounts for $1.1 billion of this plan. The middle class will pay $2.1 billion, just so Gov. Dayton can have a bigger government.

That’s why neighboring states like Wisconsin and the Dakotas are very excited. These are states that have learned you cannot tax and spend your way to sustainable growth and prosperity; tax increases don’t close budget deficits and are not a substitute for economic growth.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has already responded by saying his state is “Open for Business” and that he might “put a little bit more of a push” to lure Minnesota companies across the border. And even before Gov. Dayton’s proposal, the South Dakota governor was running radio ads calling for Minnesota businesses to relocate: “Leave the taxes behind. Come to South Dakota where you can make a profit and keep it.”

When Republicans ran the Legislature over the last two years, we always said “live-within-our-means!” We made sure government spending didn’t exceed the growth of the economy. As a result, we decreased the biggest deficit in Minnesota history and refilled our reserves, all without raising taxes. And the data shows that more businesses are growing and more people are working.

On the other hand, Gov. Dayton’s plan veers us sharply off the path to success. It favors a bigger government over the well-being of Minnesotans’ financial security and independence. And that is why this is “A Budget for a Better Wisconsin.”

I’d like to hear from you. Do you think the governor’s plan is the right direction for Minnesota? Contact me at rep.ernie.leigider@house.mn or by phone at (651) 296-4282.

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Rep. Ernie Leidiger, (R-Mayer) represents District 47A, which includes Carver and western Carver County.

The following letter appeared in the Eden Prairie News January 24, 2013:

Another view of fiscal cliff vote
By: Larry G. DeVries, Eden Prairie

I noted the comments made by Kathy Casmer in the Jan. 10 edition.

While the idea of compromise may have its followers, there is a need to challenge everything the U.S. Congress is now doing.

The federal government is $16 trillion dollars plus in debt, the annual budget deficit is adding more debt at the rate of over $1 trillion a year and the U.S. economy is in the worst economic recovery on record. Millions are out of work and the economy is growing at a meager rate.

Perhaps the act of compromise is part of the problem that has put the federal government in such desperate financial shape.

One side advances a questionable spending bill and the other side says no to the spending but an agreement is reached by compromise to only spend one-half of the proposed amount. Spending is implemented. It is easy to see such practices adding to the spending problem.

All past practices by the Congress should be challenged. No past practice of Congress should be sacrosanct.

The so-called fiscal cliff agreement added more unnecessary spending and extended additional spending and subsidy programs that are known to be wasteful and to hinder the economy.

On balance the agreement did little in the way of control but kicked the financial challenge down the road - again.

Resistance to fiscal mismanagement must start somewhere.

I support Congressman Paulsen's vote of No on the fiscal cliff agreement.

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