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Lone local DFL legislator says session made progress

This won't come as a shocker but State Representative Jay McNamar of Elbow Lake, the sole DFLer representing parts of Douglas County, had an entirely different view of the just-completed session than his Republican counterparts.

He noted that the session finished on time with a balanced budget that makes critical investments in education, property tax relief and job creation.

McNamar, who represents District 12A, said that the Legislature made great progress for Minnesota.

"After a decade of just making cuts and shifting funds around, I'm proud to say the Legislature put forward a balanced budget that invests in the things that will help our communities most," he said.

McNamar listed a number of accomplishments, including:

• Balancing the budget deficit without gimmicks. The DFL budget put an end to "roller-coaster" deficits with a fair and balanced budget that will finally put Minnesota on sound fiscal footing, and deliver key investments for a stronger middle class, he said.

• Accelerating pay back of school funding. The previous Legislature borrowed $2.4 billion from our schools. The DFL plan will accelerate a plan to pay back Minnesota's schools and fully pay them back by 2014.

• Making historic investments in education. The DFL budget makes a historic $725 million in education for all learners. "This kind of commitment to our kids' futures will allow us to invest in all learners, from early education and all-day kindergarten, to reduce class sizes and restore equity in our K-12 schools, to freeze tuition and lower debt for our college students and their parents," McNamar said.

• Creating jobs. The DFL plan makes $89 million in new investments to spur middle class job creation, calling for more job training, workforce development and small business strategies that are proven job-creating engines to strengthen our economy and workforce.

• Fairer taxes for the middle class. The budget provides $400 million in property tax relief for middle class Minnesotans and it's paid for by a new tax on the wealthiest 2 percent of Minnesotans, including big corporations.

• Supporting nursing homes. For the first time in more than four years, nursing home workers will see a pay increase. After the Legislature cut more than $1 billion from Health and Human Services two years ago, the DFL budget gives a 5 percent increase in pay for nursing home workers.

"When the House put forward a human services bill with funding cuts for rural hospitals, I told them I wouldn't vote for it," said McNamar. "I fought to make sure our local hospitals and our local nursing home workers were a priority. I got the cut to hospitals taken out of the bill and a pay increase for nursing home workers put in. That work led to a final Health and Human Services bill that we can be happy with."

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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