Brown willing to face hard decisions

Published 9:17 am Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Running for her third term as District 27A representative, DFLer Robin Brown said she understands the diversity within the district and will not be afraid to make difficult budget decisions in the years ahead.

She faces Republican Rich Murray of Albert Lea for the position.

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Brown, 49, of Moscow Township, is married to her husband, Joe, a former Iowa state senator and current Fairmont superintendent. She has six grown children.

Robin Brown

An art teacher at Albert Lea High School, Brown said she has enjoyed teaching thousands of students over the years and getting to know their families in the process.

In her spare time, she enjoys sharing her horses with friends and also likes photography, painting, gardening, trail riding and reading.

She is a member of the Thorne Crest Advisory Board, AAUW, Freeborn County Historical Society, North American Peruvian Paso Horse Association, Sunset Saddle Club, Albert Lea Rifle and Pistol Club, NRA, Women of the Moose, Education Minnesota, Farmers Union, Civil Air Patrol and the Freeborn County DFL Party.

She said she and her husband moved their family to Minnesota in 1992 because the state was at the top for education, health care and the environment; however, that has changed over the years. She said she wants to work to restore that.

Brown said during her first two terms as a legislator, in each decision she made, she has been faithful to her family and to the district. When she was first elected, she said she was going to fairly fund education, support infrastructure and support the environment, among other goals.

“People can look at my global record and see that I’ve done what I said I was going to do,” she said. “I think it’s important to be faithful to your district.”

She said her main two goals for the next term are the following: First, dealing with the budget deficit; and second, to make sure the people across the state are treated more equally.


Brown said right now the state is in a major budget crisis, with a deficit of $6 billion — or more.

She said she has done her best to protect schools, nursing homes and other programs that her constituents feel are important.

“But when you’re in a budget deficit, really hard decisions have to be made,” she said.

She said she has already had to make difficult decisions in the past and anticipates more difficult decisions ahead.

“It’s going to be hard to keep in tact any complete budget,” she noted. “We need to thoughtfully consider how to balance that budget.”

Some will say it can be done by cutting programs alone; others will say it can be done by raising taxes alone, she said.

However, she said she thinks it will be a “thoughtful” combination of revenue raisers and program efficiencies to balance the deficit.

A lot of the decisions also depend on who is elected as governor.

“Their philosophy and their agenda will guide the budget,” she said.

Brown noted she is more than happy to work with whoever is elected.

She also noted that when the state decides to add a tax credit, this is the same as subtracting money from the state. The same is true for adding programs.

“We have to think about what credits we can afford to still give, and we need to think about what programs we can continue to keep.”


Brown said she supports an education funding formula that’s fair for all children across the state.

Since education is a large part of the budget, she said it will probably be fair game for some legislators to suggest that it be cut; however, she said she still has education as a high priority and will be fighting for it.

Brown said over the past eight years the cost of fuel, health care and purchasing books have increased dramatically, yet there have not been any increases in education funding. At the same time, schools are trying to meet federal mandates like the No Child Left Behind Act.

She said No Child Left Behind doesn’t take into consideration the diversity of students that are being taught or their ranges of abilities.

Local government aid

Brown said she will continue to fight for local government aid for cities within the district that need it to provide core services.

“If you are living in a town that has very low economic base, you still have to pay for your fire department and you want the town to be safe and clean,” she said. “It’s one of those programs for the common good.”

She said she thinks every program can be revisited and made more efficient, and that during times of a big budget deficit, legislators will need to look at its original intent.

She noted that Albert Lea leaders were wise a few years ago when they decided to become less reliant on LGA because they figured it would be targeted.

Economic development

With the success of the Jobs Opportunity Building Zones program visible in Freeborn County, Brown said she supports the program and will continue to vote in favor of its continuation.

She said she is also always willing to talk with local people about their ideas to spur economic development.

She said she supports angel investment credits for startup companies and has voted to accelerate the single-factor corporate tax, that benefits both the manufacturer and the employee.

Constituent service

Having knocked on more than 10,000 doors during her campaign, Brown said she thinks constituent service is the “pride and joy” of her position.

“I think it is much more than a campaign issue,” she said. “I think it’s absolutely necessary to get to know your district, to allow your constituents accessibility.

“I will continue to do it as long as I am serving — election year or nonelection year.”

Brown said some of her best conversations happen at the doorstep, and each time she knocks on doors she sees different people and hears different stories.

She said she takes her constituents concerns seriously and works to represent the district. “If we can’t serve the individuals, we ought not be in the Legislature,” she said.

What’s ahead

During the remaining weeks of the campaign season, Brown said she will continue her efforts to doorknock and meet with various groups in the community. She has a few forums and interviews scheduled and will be trying to casually visit with people and get to know their concerns.

“I really feel honored to have served,” she said. “I do not take any vote for granted, I never have.”