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Commentary - Legislative survey says...

By Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen,

R-Alexandria, and Representative Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake

The results of the legislative survey we distributed in District 11A have been compiled and the percentages indicate local citizens want state government to get its own spending habits in line instead of raising taxes.

In fact, 72 percent of our survey participants prefer reducing government spending instead of tax hikes to resolve our budget deficit (which was $4.8 billion at the time of the survey but now has risen to $6.4 billion). A step further, 87 percent support a statewide wage freeze on all units of government that are supported by state funds.

A total of 56 percent say they support a proposal to allow placing video slot machines in bars and using the revenue to help balance the budget.

Meantime, 55 percent do not support extending the state sales tax to services like accounting, legal services, mechanics, etc. But 27 percent are OK with such a plan as long as there is an equal reduction of income or property taxes. The smallest category of respondents (18 percent) would support broadening the sales tax to more items/services.

The most even voting is in a question pertaining to education. The question is which option for K-12 education funding people prefer and the top two choices are evenly split at 46 percent. The top choices are: I support working within the current budget to increase K-12 spending by 1.9 percent instead of enacting higher taxes to cover the cost; and no, I do not support increasing education spending in these economic times and they will have to live within their existing budgets.

A 61-percent majority does favor public colleges and universities using more online classes to reduce spending.

Here's a rundown of the other survey questions:

•A whopping 84 percent want Minnesota to repeal a ban that outlaws its residents from purchasing health insurance from out-of-state companies.

•A total of 86 percent of respondents say they would support a cost-saving measure of merging state patrol dispatch centers with county dispatch centers.

•Regarding energy, 70 percent of respondents want Minnesota to repeal its ban on new nuclear power plants.

•Survey respondents also indicate at an 83-percent rate that photo IDs should be required to vote in elections.

•A total of 83 percent also say the state Legislature should allow local governments to "opt out" of unfunded mandates imposed by the state.

We deviated from serious questions and capped our survey with a fun question, asking respondents to select the most common name among Minnesota lakes. Long, Mud and Rice were provided as options and Long was the runaway winner at 71 percent - but that was an obvious guess as Mud is the correct answer.

We received about 1,000 responses to the survey, an impressive total. Thank you to everyone who took the time to share their opinions!