Sunday, February 14, 2010

MN-02 : Kline Needs to Listen To The Neighbors

We hear it all the time, Minnesota is not competitive … our neighbors have it better.
Maybe because they have elected officials that represent their constituents.

Case in point, the so called “stimulus” … it had a number of aspects. Some we feel directly … some indirectly … and some maybe not at all.

As President Obama stated in the State of the Union address, his administration’s economic recovery plan includes 25 different tax cuts. "Now, let me repeat: We cut taxes," he said. "We cut taxes for 95 percent of working families. We cut taxes for small businesses. We cut taxes for first-time homebuyers. We cut taxes for parents trying to care for their children. We cut taxes for 8 million Americans paying for college."

The “stimulus” also included monies for the states … which helped Minnesota’s budget signficantly. Beyond the immediate action, there are other programs that require application, evaluation and approval.

So the question is how is this being handled by Minnesota’s competitors?

"If the funds are there, Senator Grassley’s going to help Iowa, rather than some other state, get its share" was the comment as the Iowa Republican Senator submitted his “requests”.

"I strongly opposed the stimulus, but the only thing that could make it worse would be if none of it returned to the taxpayers of Missouri," said Kit Bond (R-MO).

"The proposed project would create 38 new jobs and bring broadband to eight hospitals, five colleges, 16 libraries and 161 K-12 schools," wrote Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE) in his request.

These are not unique, as the Washington Times reported of a number of Republicans who voted against the legislation, but then recognized that they need to represent their constituents. "We know their endeavor will provide jobs and investment in one of the poorer sections of the Congressional District," Representative Joe Wilson (R-SC) wrote Agriculuture Secretary Vilsack in a Aug. 26, 2009, letter in support of a funding request. "I believe the addition of federal funds to these projects would maximize the stimulative effect of these projects on the local economy," Sen. Robert F. Bennett (R-UT) wrote on Feb. 11, 2009 in his justification for funding.

So where is John Kline’s requests … or does he believe that his constituents need to be represented only during votes and not in services ?

Heck, he doesn’t even have to look outside the Minnesota delegation to see how it’s done.

Erik Paulsen (R-MN-03) wrote concerning transportation projects “I worked hard to secure this funding in order to reduce congestion, improve economic opportunities and increase safety. I’m pleased these critical projects were passed by the House”
The projects :
- Interstate 94/Brockton Lane Interchange : $700,000 for the Brockton Interchange project includes preliminary design, environmental reviews, right-of-way acquisition and final design to construct an interchange at the location of Interstate 94 and Brockton Lane
- Highway 169/Interstate 494 Interchange : $400,000 for the project involves a segment of US Hwy 169 from 4,600 feet south and 13,600 feet north of the 169/494 interchange; and a segment of I-494 from 7,300 feet west and 3,400 feet east of the 169/494 interchange. The project provides all of the US Hwy 169 to I-494 (system-to-system) moves, as well as providing local access to the principal arterials of US Hwy 169 and I-494.
- Highway 610 Construction : $ 400,000 - Design and construction of Trunk Highway 610 in Maple Grove from County State Aid Highway 81 to the final terminus of Interstate 94, thus completing the corridor from I-35W to I-94. The project would include planning, design, update of environmental review, right-of-way acquisition, construction and the realignment of several local roadways and utilities.
Oh, and for the record, just like those Republicans that voted against the stimulus, Andrew Foxwell, spokesperson for the Representative explained his vote : "While Congressman Paulsen has worked for months to get these projects approved, he voted no on the overall bill due to many problems with this massive and expensive piece of legislation."
That’s right Mr. Kline (cannot call you Representative until you tell us who you represent), you can actually oppose legislation and still work to make sure that Minnesota gets a fair return on its money. This is not a new concept … since it was addressed previously noting that Bob Hofstad of MnDOT said that the state receives about 92 cents for every dollar that its residents send to Washington.

The stimulus is a great opportunity to address Minnesota’s lagging broadband capacity ... just as Representatives are requesting for their states. Governor Pawlenty is opposing bonding for higher education facilities as he believes that in the future, class will be taught over the Internet. Sadly, Minnesota is not equipped for the Internet speeds required. The Ultra-High Speed Task Force released its report in November on Minnesota’s broadband needs. Currently only one county meets the currently accepted standards while some are extremely behind (Cook at 37%) … Minnesota's broadband adoption in the metro area is 57% while rural broadband is at 39.4% according to a Pew Internet project. This is a great opportunity for jobs in a public-private partnership especially since the federal Recovery Act Broadband Program is now starting to approve projects … South Dakota just got $20.6 million to add 140 miles of middle mile spurs… thus South Dakota will not only have a tax advantage over Minnesota but also a broadband advantage to attract new business. For example, state economic development officials were helping a company look for up to 500 acres of land within 30 minutes of a major airport and close to a railroad. Lake County could provide both but it lost out because it did not have one other requirement: A high-speed Internet fiber connection. The lost opportunity meant 150 jobs were lost.

Today, Minnesota may be competing with neighboring states for business, but tomorrow, the competition will be world-wide … and Minnesota (and the United States) are already behind.

The question for Mr. Kline is : Will you listen ? Minnesota is hurting and you're not helping.

2 comments:

オテモヤン said...

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Holly Cairns said...

Wow, a comment in Chinese. Your posts get around.

It's interesting to see all those Republicans and even Erik Paulson working for federal dollars. It seems like a no brainer that our rep should work on our behalf.

I'm heading to the Kline town hall instead of my daughter's basketball game. It's going to make me grumpy if they don't allow me in. I'd never interrupt and it's unlike me to ask a public question... hopefully I can see what the audience is concerned about.