After another legislative session, a special session to get all the bills made into law and Governor Mark Dayton line-item vetoing their respective chambers, Rep. Ron Kresha, R-Little Falls and Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, spoke to their constituents at a legislative update, Monday.
People packed the Council Chambers at Little Falls City Hall to say what they would like to have on the agenda next session or just give their take on how this session went.
On the topic of Dayton vetoing the legislature’s budgets, Gazelka said many people on the DFL side of the aisle were against the move, and that other people were arguing it was unconstitutional.
“How can you not fund the House and Senate any more than how could you not fund the Judicial Branch,” Gazelka said.
He said with the lawsuit, he and House Speaker Rep. Kurt Daudt agreed if they renew funding, it would be for the whole Legislature, not just the Republicans.
Roman Witucki, chair of the Morrison County DFL, expressed his concern about cuts to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) budget.
“Our local hospital is going to take an approximately $600,000 cut in Medicare benefits. How is that going to affect our community?” Witucki asked.
Kresha said with rising costs, the HHS problem is going to keep on getting larger. If the state puts more and more funding into it, Kresha said, then other areas like transportation and schools suffer.
The budget that was put together this session, Kresha said, was the best compromise between all those issues.
“The budget that you have in place is the best compromise we could have gotten that causes the least amount of pain for everybody,” Kresha said.
The government should not exit the health insurance marketplace, John Snell said, citing statistics from the Kaiser Family Foundation stating insurance premiums for a family of four had gone up from $4,700 to $15,073 from 1999-2010.
“If we had more choice and less government interference how did insurance rates more than triple?” Snell asked.
Gazelka said he agreed that there was a problem, but said Obamacare has been worse, citing that premiums had gone up over 60 percent for some people, and that Gov. Dayton had called it unaffordable.
Rosie Pryzbilla sent a letter in, asking what the state would be doing to try and get broadband access to eastern Morrison County.
Kresha said the state has been appropriating money to high need areas like eastern Morrison County, but it is difficult and time consuming to install it.
“The cavalry is coming, I just can’t tell you how quickly they’re going to get here,” Kresha said.
Carol Anderson from Morrison County Community Development said grants received by Benton Telephone Company is putting service into the Buckman area right now, while eastern Morrison County is set for next year.
The legislative forum was sponsored by the Little Falls Area Chamber of Commerce.