By Rep. Dale Lueck
We are hard at work here in St. Paul. The governor submits his budget proposal to the Legislature next week. Our job is to boil down his “wants list” to a “needs list.”
The citizens of Aitkin and Crow Wing counties have made it clear we have three areas in need of immediate attention. They include: stronger support for our nursing homes, long-term care facilities and in home care providers; our roads and bridges; and applying common sense where we have excessive regulation.
This week I was pleased to meet with Maria Freidlund, Administrator at Aitkin Health Services. We discussed the needs that exist in caring for our elderly and disabled. Later that morning Maria testified before the House Aging and Long Term Care Committee. She did a wonderful job identifying real needs that exist within our elder and disabled care system.
I have assured Maria that proper funding for elder and disabled care is at the top of my needed list. I look forward to continued discussions on how we can do things better in this area.
Transportation also is at the forefront. Senate Democrats recently unveiled a massive tax hike to provide more transportation funding. The proposal is unrealistic and too expensive. The huge tax increase would be especially hard on family budgets here in Aitkin and Crow Wing counties.
To make matters worse, the Democrat proposal would likely send more than one-third of their tax increase to buy more metro light rail. I am working on shifting already existing tax revenues to transportation and also smarter spending of those existing dollars. Next week I will introduce a bill that would shift the state general sales tax we already pay on auto and truck tires to the transportation fund.
Before we consider tax hikes we must match existing revenue to improve our roads and bridges.
As I frequently say, we should think things through before we start experimenting with people’s welfare. Area citizens have brought to my attention several regulations that were put in place during the last session that don’t work and now are causing problems. More to follow on that subject in an upcoming letter.
I also continue working closely on issues pertaining to wolves and the proposed Sandpiper oil pipeline. Look for more from me on common-sense solutions in the days ahead.
Dale Lueck is the state Rep. for District 10B, spanning all of Aitkin County and the majority of Crow Wing. Lueck may be reached at email@example.com or (651) 296-2365. His legislative office is 423 State Office Building, 100 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.