Northland legislators Sen. Roger Reinert, Rep. Kerry Gauthier, Rep. Tom Huntley and Rep. Mary Murphy will hold the first of three town hall meetings at Asbury United Methodist Church, on Saturday Feb. 12th from 10:00-11:30 am. Asbury is located at 6822 Grand Avenue.
The meeting is open to all constituents and will focus on the $6.4 billion budget deficit that must be addressed this legislative session. There will be a presentation on the state budget, followed by an open conversation about priorities, concerns and solutions.
“Our Town Hall is open to anyone and everyone,” Sen. Reinert stated, “This is an ‘all hands on deck’ moment for Minnesota.”
“With Health and Human Services representing 30% of the General Fund budget, we know there will be more proposals to cut areas such long-term care and services for the disabled,” said Huntley. “We want to engage the people of Duluth on some of these tough decisions ahead of us.”
“I’ve been eager to get to work on solutions for all Minnesotans, and meeting with constituents is the best way to flush those out,” says Rep. Gauthier, the freshman of the group.
Rep. Mary Murphy says the decisions ahead will be difficult, requiring a thoughtful, deliberative approach. “Facing a $6.2 billion deficit, cuts must be made and some investment is necessary for a balanced approach,” said Rep. Murphy. “We need to protect critical services for our students, seniors, and the most vulnerable Minnesotans. That is my highest priority.”
One focus for the delegation will be to minimize cuts to Local Government Aid (LGA), which helps cities deal with the costs of providing basic services. Last year LGA accounted for 37.1% of Duluth’s budget.
Sen. Reinert defends Duluth’s share, saying “Duluth is a vital economic engine for the entire region; the state budget needs to reflect the priorities of Duluth as a thriving regional center and a driving economic force in our state.”
The Duluth legislative delegation will have two additional town hall meetings over the course of the session. The second will be in an east location, and the third will be centrally located.
For those that have questions or cannot attend but would like information on the budget please contact Sen. Reinert’s office at 651-296-4188.