From: Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen, District 18B
This session, Governor Dayton and Democrats in the legislature are demanding billions of dollars in new taxes to fix our $627 million budget shortfall. They insist that raising revenues is the only way to fix our budget, putting forth a budget with minimal reforms and cuts.
The governor’s initial plan, for instance asked for $22 dollars in new taxes for every $1 in cuts. Hardly a balanced approach. It’s my belief that before we ask hardworking Minnesotans for even one more dollar in tax increases, that we ensure our government programs are devoid of waste and running as efficiently as possible.
Last month, the Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) issued a report faulting the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) for failing to check the eligibility of participants in a number of public assistance programs that provide medical, cash, and food benefit, to low-income citizens.
Under state and federal law, agencies are required to verify income levels for participants in the various public assistance programs. The OLA report cited the MinnesotaCare insurance program as having failed to adequately verify the income level of participants.
In addition, despite federal requirements, DHS failed to cross-check and address discrepancies in reported income levels with other government data for the Medical Assistance program, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance food-stamp program.
In February, I received a memo from DHS Inspector General Jerry Kerber that cited just five cases of fraud and abuse that resulted in $2,762,197 in overpayments from the government. These fraud and abuse investigations were the result of anti-fraud measures instituted by the Republican-lead legislature in 2012.
If anything, we should be increasing funding to the departments that are tasked with finding and fighting fraud and abuse to help clean up these government programs. I believe these examples should be a wake-up call to Democrats in the legislature.
We don’t need to raise taxes to address our budget gap. We need to be examining our government programs from top to bottom, ensuring that we find every dollar of cost savings possible, and that our programs are free of waste, fraud, and abuse.
I am concerned that these examples are just the tip of the iceberg. These are your tax dollars at work – I believe your government owes it to you to ensure that those dollars are being spent responsibly and efficiently. You deserve nothing less.
From: Gary Ballard, Glencoe
I attended a McLeod County budget meeting this past Tuesday. The essence of the meeting was whether our county is prepared to spend $3 million (consisting of both county and state funds) of their possible share of nearly $4 million in costs to extend Morningside Avenue in Glencoe, a distance of three blocks.
Many concerns were raised:
1. What percent is the county’s share of the cost? Should the cost be split 50/50 with the city of Glencoe?
2. What are the unknown problems of building over the old dump site?
3. What is the cost of removing the homes alongside Morningside (which are currently not included in the present costs of the project)?
4. What state and federal funds are available and for how long?
5. The county is not pushing for this project; the push is coming from Glencoe city officials.
6. If the county spends millions of dollars on this project, other county projects will need to be cut.
7. The county is looking at turning some of its county streets back over to the city of Glencoe to save money. How does this affect future city costs?
8. How will the mediation on wetlands be handled?
9. How does Diamond Avenue’s closure affect city and county residents?
10. Should the project be delayed?
We know that this $1 million to be spent by the city could be better used to in other ways, like upgrading our present streets and not having to assess the adjoining property owners.
After conferring with a road engineer, I was informed that the amount of money spent on the three-block Morningside extension could provide the replacement of 7.5 miles of streets with a seven-ton rating. This would be an enormous amount of savings for the taxpayers.
Another county board meeting is set for Tuesday, April 2, with Glencoe city officials invited. I hope the city officials discuss the items listed above and view this monster expense with the same reservations as did the county.
Call the county commissioners, and voice your concerns over this unnecessary project — or put the project on hold. In 2001, Glencoe residents (1,354) petitioned to halt this very project.
From: Helen Yager
I appreciate everyone who made the April 2 Red Cross blood drive at Holy Trinity in Winsted a huge success. Our goal for the day was 95 units, and we ended up with 102 units.
I especially appreciate the students and the donors who were very patient and waited longer than normal. This was due to a worker who called in sick at the last moment. For this, the Red Cross called to apologize.
In addition, I appreciate those who did a lot of work before and the day of the drive; the callers, those who put up posters and then had to correct information and put them up a second time, the canteen workers, those who checked donors in, and Dorothy Karels, who made a delicious lunch for the Red Cross staff.
Again, I want to express my appreciation to all who made this possible. Our next drive will be Thursday, Sept. 12 from noon to 6 p.m. Please mark your calendar.
From: Keith Lemke
I was a resident of Howard Lake for most of my life; I built a home in Buffalo and moved there with my wife, Sally, in 1998. Because other interests filled our lives, I seldom returned to my hometown.
Chey Karels is one of our grandchildren. When Chey started paying basketball, we took an interest in the Howard Lake girls’ team. Now that we are retired, we have been able to attend many of her games.
I personally appreciate the girls’ basketball program for the way they trained and encouraged Chey, as well as the other team members.
Dan Herda and Jason Kuehn not only trained the girls how to win, but, more importantly, how to respect their rivals in a loss. We all know that both winning and losing are a part of life.
When I got upset with the refs when they made bad calls– because I clearly knew more than they–I repeatedly watched the coaches calmly deal with each situation professionally. We could probably all learn from their actions.
Each girl’s talents in basketball were an asset for the team, and they used each to the best of their ability. We totally enjoyed watching each one of the girls progress throughout the season.
Sally and I enjoy seeing our old friends and will be forever grateful that Chey brought us back to Howard Lake. It will be with us forever.
From: Lester Prairie Ambassadors, Hannah Leverich, Ashley Maesse, and Kathryn DeBruyckere
The Lester Prairie Ambassadors are thrilled to announce that we are currently competing in a Royal Food Fight against the other McLeod County Royalty Programs.
It is our goal to raise 5,000 pounds for the food shelf this month and we are looking for help from the community.
We will accept both donations of non-perishable food items and also monetary donations. We currently have donation boxes at the Lester Prairie City Hall, Big Don’s Carthedral, and St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.
Contact one of the Lester Prairie Ambassadors, Hannah Leverich, Ashley Maesse, or Kathryn DeBruyckere, if you have questions or would like to make a monetary donation. We appreciate your support of our local food shelf.
From: Marietta Neumann,
McLeod Emergency Food Shelf
Spring and March Madness are all around us. March Madness isn’t just for all the various sports, but for the food shelf also. It is time for the most important food drive of the year for the McLeod County Emergency Food Shelf.
It is at this time that Minnesota Food Share conducts a statewide food drive and gives a proportional match according to the amount of food and cash that each food shelf receives during the month of March.
The Feinstein Family Foundation from Rhode Island also gives a proportional amount of cash in accordance to the amount we receive, thus your donation at this time is of a greater value than the actual amount.
The madness for the food shelf right now is the big challenge between all the cities of McLeod County to see which one can bring in the most pounds of food and cash to the McLeod Emergency Food Shelf determined by the pounds of food or cash collected per person according to the population of that city. This puts everyone on an equal basis, large or small. The past three years, little Plato has been the winner. Let’s see who can beat them this year.
Food can be dropped off at the various businesses that are having drivers or at either food shelf site: 105 E. 2nd Ave SW, Hutchinson; or 808 E. 12th St., Glencoe.
Everyone’s help and concern last year supplied food for 354,086 meals for needy residents of McLeod County.