MFU meets with Sen. Howe

ST. PAUL — Members of Minnesota Farmers Union talked a variety of issues with legislators during last week's lobby day.

The organization supports limiting cuts to the state agriculture budget and holding the line on property taxes. It supports funding for 4-H, Extension and farm business management programs. MFU supports a bonding request for planning dollars for a dairy research facility and initiatives to ensure Minnesota is a leader in the local foods movement. The organization supports current law that mandates schools start after Labor Day and supports a bounty on coyotes.

Of course, it was the budget that drew the most discussion.

Sen. John Howe, R-Red Wing, vice chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, met with a group from southeastern Minnesota. He’s met with many groups to talk about the state budget. Most groups are willing to take cuts, they just don’t want to be cut disproportionately, he said.

"Everybody will feel this. It’s a fiscal reality," Howe said. "We are going to have to limit and redesign what government does."


There will be significant cuts made and maybe a bonding bill for public infrastructure in order to get a deal done. A bonding bill won’t be $1 billion, but some bonding for roads and bridges may be a good idea, Howe said.

A member of the Rural Caucus that meets at 6:45 a.m. every Tuesday, Howe said he’s learning more about rural issues each week.

Local government aid, for example, has a greater effect on greater Minnesota than the metropolitan area. The metro area receives transit funding, which hasn’t been adjusted similar to LGA. Both sides of the equation need to be addressed, Howe said.

He said the Senate passed a billion in budget cuts already and asked for ideas on where to cut $5 billion more.

The governor vetoed the bill Feb. 10.

Howe sees a need to simplify the tax system and he predicted there would be a push to broaden the base for the state sales tax and lower the rate. Clothing and food would continue to be exempt, he said.

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