Update: Per a request from my former campaign manager...I put the blog post from start to finish. When I liveblogged it, I posted the most recent actions at the beginning.
Your welcome Nolan...
Live from the Ridgewater College Commons area in Hutchinson. FYI, we have video of this event too!
Special thanks to Ollie for allowing me to use her Aircard to blog the event, and not utilize state resources for political purposes...
Sure are a lot of Republican's here. Good Democrats like Kevin Johnson and John Hassinger are here though!
Format for the townhall meeting.
Intro from Urdahl and Shimanski
Introduction of the panel, 5 minutes per panel member
Q&A with audiences and Representatives 10 minutes per issue.
Dean says hi...hoping this thing will start soon.
Scott Newman's here, looks like he does not like me liveblogging the event.
7:03 Rep Seifert is here along with Tom Emmer, Dean Urdahl, Ron Shimanski and Michael Barrett.
7:08 Rep Shimanski introduces panel.
7:10 Rep. Urdahl is discussing rural development, education, transportation, health care and other issues and the disparity in funding between metro and Greater Minnesota areas. Marty Seifert is talking to the crowd, doesn't say too much, introduces Mike Boehme, Dean at Ridgewater College.
7:15 Discussion of the importance of Ridgewater in the area, providing seamless service to both the business industry and from the local high schools.
Ridgewater Dean talked about importance of funding higher education and keeping tuition affordable.
7:18 Jack Geller from the Minnesota Center for Rural Economic Policy is discussing the differences within Greater Minnesota. Talks regional economies versus community economies. Talks about the need for small business development in rural Minnesota, working in conjunction with higher education opportunities.
7:24 Mark Loftus, Department of Employment and Economic Development, talking about the SEED program. Governor Pawlenty's plan sounds a lot like MN 2020's plan for small business development. Hmmmm
7:29 Bill Ward, Dassel Lakeside Nursing Home speaks about the impact of nursing homes have on the small community economy. In most towns, the nursing homes are the largest employers. His challenge: You cannot recruit more nursing homes and when a community loses one, it will never come back. Talks about ads for education shortfalls and nothing for the nursing homes. The stat, nursing home funding is $25 less than the actual cost of care.
Urdhal is talking reimbursement rate disparties for the nursing homes. They fund through historical trends, which causes McLeod and Meeker Counties to receive less. He says Seifert, Emmer, Shimanski and himself are working on this...
7:51 Connie Leis, City Council Member from Litchfield. Lithcfield was the dryest place in the state in 2007. LGA cuts eliminated tree program, the draught stricken trees stand diseased because they cannot afford to cut them down, at $3,000 per tree. City running at a break even, cannot create development.
Fire Hall stores some equipment outside of city limits? 1900 Fire Hall should be condemned!
Explains the problems small cities face, no one claps...I think Republican's hate LGA.
Urdahl: Cities face challenges and I hope we can do something about it next session.
7:38 Dave Johnson, MnDOT. Talks about the challenges in MnDOT now. Gave props to the Transportation Commissioner.
Funding has eroded. Area 8, Willmar was receiving 6% of states funding, now down to 5.4%.
Editorial note: Urdahl voted against the Gas Tax.
7:42 Siefert and Emmer are now on stage, Glenn Gruenhagen, Glencoe is asking about Light Rail. McLeod GOP Chair and Scott Newman are chuckling about this.
Calls light rail a big "boondoggle".
MnDOT answer, road building is not a feasible option for the congestion problem in the metro area.
Urdahl responds: Expense of transit is in question, need to explore possiblities of rail but maybe not the direction we are headed now. Efficiency and cost is problematic.
Greunhagen: Companies like 3M are looking at moving out of Minnesota because of light rail, lower tax rates and allow companies to compete globally.
Glencoe man question: Why did MnDOT take the high bid on the 35W bridge?
MnDOT: They use a combo of bid price and skill. They do it on all specialty contracts.
Seifert: It's flawed policy. Criteria such as asthetics and public relations are in the "best value law". Move back to "lowest responsible bidder" laws. We'll have to fight unions!
7:56 College Small Business Management program instructor pleads for support for SEED program, which is strikingly similar to the MN 2020 proposal.
8:00 Dean Mahlstadt, from Cokato talks about Cokato creating a 7 member Ecomomic Development Commitee. He's not happy he has to compete. Complains that government seems to be geared towards single mothers, welfare families, and the such.
Where is the hope for his family who has been in the Cokato area before it was Cokato. What is the hope for his 6 kids...
Emmer: Thank you. I call what Geller called, redistrubtuion of income. We need to work together to ensure that Minnesota is not the largest employer in Minnesota, but get back to 3M and other large businesses being the largest employer.
8:08 Republican House Tax man is speaking: Government is the largest employer.
Urdahl: $5 billion in tax raises proposed. Veto's and the Republican House Caucus held the line. The mood is to not raise taxes. Raise someone elses taxes but not mine. $7800 per person in taxes, are we getting are money's worth? No one raises their hand...I'm blogging.
Seifert: Governor was right in vetoing, media and willing allies call it shameful. It was shameful that it was ever passed. It's bout keeping Government in check. State of Minnesota is the 4th largest land owner in Minnesota.
1972, largest employers were 3M, Daytons, etc.
2007: State of Minnesota, U of M, Federal government
Government has too much of our money. People create jobs, not government. Government's at all levels need to reign in spending.
Shimanski: Adequate transportation funding? A lot more than a 5 cent gas tax increase.
Top tier of income, more than $250,000. Will run their buisness with wireless phone and internet and live outside of Minnesota for more than 6 months.
Can't strangle the golden goose. Can't steal the golden eggs.
Connie Leis: Tax fast food? Smoke less, drink less, eat more.
John Hassinger: Criteria for a Return on Investment in the State. We work so hard in the State Park system, suddenly, one shows up in Lake Vermillion?
Urdahl: Where do I begin? He's been working on Greenleaf. 4 branches of Government, Legislative, Judicial, Executive, and the DNR.
8:19 Tom Emmer just told me to make sure the photo of Shimanski I just took does not get tampered with. Avidor, you there?
8:28: Russ Goldstein: We don't wanna raise taxes. State uses law enforcement stings to ensure that underage people are not allowed to buy.
We have welfare benefits, WIC benefits, etc. Do we ever do stings to ensure that illegal aliens have not come to Minnesota for benefits? Many of the checks and dollars go to people who do not need them. Send in enforcement agents and fine the agency $300 and the seller $300 each.
Urdahl: Senator Gimse has announced he will bring forth a bill to do most of that.
Greunhagen: Prevailing wages laws should be struck down. Open up the process and repeal the prevailing wages laws. It makes our businesses and school more expensive. Workman's Comp rates are too high.
Urdahl: JOBZ had to be cancelled at a Litchfield business because the prevailing wages would have driven up their costs by $400,ooo. We could not do it when we were in the majority...it's much tougher now that we are in the minority.
8:35: Healthcare Constitutional Amendment for Health Care? Kelliher has the same sense of clock management as Denny Green. Healthcare dude thinks he's funny...
Minnesota has been first 6 of the last 8 years. 93% of Minnesotan's have health care coverage.
Seifert: Welfare people moving to Minnesota to take advantage of our benefits. 7 working groups under the current regime, over 20 meetings between now and Halloween.
He is not taking per diem tonight.
*Editors note: Marty must read Blueman!
Crushing health care costs: Marty's plan
1. Monopolistic Control: 4 non-profits provide 80% of the HMO insurance. Open up competition, prices go down.
2. More mandates on private health care. Allow for cafeteria plans.
3. MN Care tax repealed.
4. Reform welfare system. 4-6,000 people move to the state every year to take advantage of Minnesota's benefits. EFC cards: You can take them to an ATM and get cash for the casino, 6 pack of beer and smokes.
5. Reform torts. Avg cost of malpractice is $100,000-200,000 per doctor. $11-1200 per baby pays for the malpractice insurance. Trial lawyer lobby...take on the Army of Lobbyists, the Welfare Rights people, trial lawyers. Rise up...
6. Pass tax credits to get Government out of Health care and allow the people to choose your doctor and hospital.
Crowd: It's perfect! HHS and illegals. Is it legal to get health care for illegals?
Seifert: For neo-natal care only.
8:59: GOP Tax guy: Gas Tax would only pay for the equivalent of a 35W bridge. Supports bonding for bridges.
Education taxes: Complex formula that provides the metro area more money than rural areas. All children are created equal until the legislature acts.
Seifert: More money is needed for roads and bridges. Should we take 1/2 of the bonding bill and put towards roads and bridges? How does that compare to the gas tax? Bigger better, more efficient.
Take MVST money and do trunk highway bonding, pay for state road expansions with that. Stillwater Bridge should have been done 15 years ago! Seifert wants to bond for bills.
First two tax increases: Gas tax, constitutional amendment for arts crafts, etc. They'll hurt average Joe by the DFL more.
9:06: Urdahl is on the bonding committee. He got cookies at each project. $4 billion requested in bonding bill, wants money in roads bridges and water infrastructure.
Question from the audience. Is $500 million really enough? We have a $1.8 billion shortfall on Transportation funding in the state, annually. In order to be a world class economy, we must have a highly efficient transportation system.
Urdahl: $500 million is only one component. Final package uncertain. Strong believer in local government, get money to counties and townships. Work in a bipartisan manner to get some money to rural Minnesota.
9:15: Gruenhagen: Cut government employee's wages and benefits and do this together. Pay additional taxes if government employee's take a cut.
9:25: Republican Guy, I think he's the SD 18 GOP Chair and a Local 49er are aguing about transportation funding...
Seifert abruptly ends the forum that is now 25 minutes past its close and missing the discussion on education.