To the Editor:
The Minnesota Legislature recently concluded its work for 2008, having provided improvements for our roads and bridges, increased funding for schools and the beginnings of health care reform. There will be some property tax relief for many families, along with increased funding for our essential nursing homes.
As legislators, we don’t need opinion polls to tell us that many people are concerned about the economy and the stability of their jobs. We are trying to keep our good job-creating Minnesota businesses in Minnesota and are promoting state policies that bring new companies and jobs to our state.
We know that people in our communities are concerned about health care costs. We hear a lot about their concerns for our schools and the need for our graduates to compete in the global economy. Those concerns weigh on us daily.
While it was largely a positive legislative session, our work is far from over. Minnesota’s economy is not as strong as it should be and as a result we face a considerable state budget deficit in the next two years that will have to be resolved during the 2009 legislative session.
Health care continues to be an area of challenge, as does providing sufficient financial resources for our schools to prepare our students for their future careers.
We four state representatives have made concerted efforts to work together with members of both political parties. This bipartisan effort, which our constituents think is what we should be doing, has caused great consternation at times from political party leadership. They have even referred to us as the “Gang of Four."
We continue to feel that this is the way public policymaking is supposed to work, as the best ideas are drawn out from every side. A lot is at stake as the Legislature and state leaders plot out a course for our state.
As we look to the future, it is our hope that in the upcoming legislative sessions we can continue to build on these principles of bipartisan collaboration, even as Rep. Tingelstad retires from public service and leaves our “Gang.”
Please feel free to contact us about your ideas regarding state policies. As our constituents, taxpayers and neighbors you will help us lead to well. Minnesota is counting on us.
State Rep. Jim Abeler, Anoka/Ramsey; State Rep. Denise Dittrich, Champlin/Coon Rapids; State Rep. Melissa Hortman, Brooklyn Park/Coon Rapids; State Rep. Kathy Tingelstad Andover/Coon Rapids