House kicks off 2010 session with a jobs bill

Published 5:53 pm Saturday, February 6, 2010

The 2010 legislative session began on Thursday. Following weeks of work by the Capital Investment Committee, the House unveiled its project list on the very first day — including projects for higher education, transportation and transit, economic development and clean water and infrastructure. In addition to maintaining and protecting state resources, this bill is estimated to create as many as 10,000 jobs or more.

Four projects I authored for our area were included in the bonding bill. Both the Shooting Star and the Blazing Star trails are designated to receive a portion of $21 million set aside for state trail acquisition and development. The Albert Lea campus of Riverland Community College will receive funding to replace their HVAC and fire protection system, and the Cedar River and Turtle Creek watershed districts in Freeborn, Mower and Steele counties will receive $2 million to restore wetlands and reduce flooding.

Passage of the bonding bill is one of our top priorities for this session. The next step in the process is to reconcile the differences with the Senate version of the bill, and then reach agreement with Gov. Tim Pawlenty. I remain optimistic we can get this bill signed into law quickly so we can take full advantage of the spring construction season.

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Again this year, I will serve on four finance divisions: K-12 Education, Agriculture, Rural Economies and Veterans Affairs, Cultural and Outdoor Resources and Telecommunications Regulation and Infrastructure. The biggest challenge facing members of all of the finance divisions will without a doubt be trimming our budgets to address another deficit.

As anyone faced with tightening a family budget can tell you, sometimes the initial cuts are often not too painful. We can simply go out to dinner less, spend less on recreation or clothes, or make any number of cuts that, while not necessarily fun, won’t dramatically change the way we live. It’s the second or third round of cuts that go deeper and can noticeably change our lives.

Our situation in filling the state deficit is much the same. Over most of the past few years, we have cut spending for schools, hospitals, nursing homes and local government, leaving those important state services with little or no waste. The cuts that will be necessary this year will be more painful, we’re willing to do the work, but we’re past the time of easy cuts. I will continue to look for ways to address our deficit while causing the least amount of harm.

The decisions we face are seldom black or white. In fact, as I look back over my voting record since I was first elected, I find it hard to label myself as following any one group with a 100 percent voting record. I weigh the pros and cons of the various bills that come before me, and I consider how it will impact the residents of our district, as well as the effect it will have on the entire state.

I may also vote for legislation I hear in committee that is not perfect, but I believe to be a worthwhile idea that deserves further discussion. It is often said that you should never watch either sausage or politics being made or you could lose your appetite for both. I admit it is not always a smooth or clean process, but by the time a bill is voted on for the final time, I do believe members from both parties have had ample opportunity to consider it.

Even though we face significant challenges this session, I am optimistic we can work together to reach agreement on solutions to many of the obstacles facing our state. We must continue looking to the future for ways to keep Minnesota a great place to live, work and raise a family.

Finally, I want to thank everyone who attended our local caucuses for getting involved and making your voices heard. We had a good turnout in our area, and I appreciate the support and feedback you gave me. Please continue to contact me as the session progresses. I can be reached at (651) 296-8216 or by e-mail at I look forward to hearing from you.

Robin Brown, DFL-Moscow Township, is the state representative for District 27A.