Proposed budget cuts could harm children and families

BY RENA MORAN

We are heading into the last leg of the 2011 legislative session, and the stakes continue to be high for Minnesotans. Budget proposals passed by the Republican majority will have particularly devastating effects on our community.
As a new member to the Minnesota State Legislature, I ran with the belief that it was our job to do right by Minnesotans across the state regardless of political affiliation. Despite the perceived difficulties of no longer being in the majority, I was confident that the new Republican majority would be fair and balanced in their budget approach, setting in place resources for those who need it most, while making sure that everyone participates in a shared sacrifice for our state’s economic future.
I must admit, my confidence in this shared ideal has been shaken.
Cuts to K-12 education found in the GOP budget will have a disproportionate effect on children attending public schools in the Twin Cities versus those living in suburban and rural areas of the state. Creating a system of winners and losers, the bill eliminates integration revenue used by schools in St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Duluth to ensure equitable opportunities for all students to be academically successful.
The elimination of integration revenue, when combined with a cut to special education and other provisions, means St. Paul Public Schools would see a drastic cut of $13.7 million in 2012 and $14 million in 2013, as compared to current funding levels. Cuts of this size would equate to schools receiving $376 less per pupil in 2012 and $383 less per pupil in 2013. Cuts this substantial will have a definite and immediate impact on academic success for many children in our community.
One of my top priorities has been ensuring our community is safe and resources are available to those who need them. The public safety budget would significantly cut funds that protect our communities and keep them safe. Programs for battered women and survivors of sexual assault would see a significant reduction in funding. Additionally, programs aimed at stopping crimes before they start would see substantial cuts in community crime prevention and gang and drug task forces.
The budget hits children particularly hard, slashing funds for many essential services that keep our kids out of harm’s way. Steep cuts to programs that keep at-risk youth out of the juvenile justice system and services for victims of child abuse, along with a near-million-dollar cut to the guardian ad litem program — which provides advocates for abused and neglected children in court — will mean our children are not receiving adequate resources necessary for their safety and success.
Republicans dismantle the bipartisan strides made in healthcare reform over the past few years, resulting in decreased access to care and an increase in insurance premiums. Repealing the early Medical Assistance expansion will result in approximately 105,000 Minnesotans losing health insurance and will cost hospitals, clinics and doctors $1.3 billion. This will result in a reduced quality of care, higher healthcare premiums for consumers, and the loss of nearly 20,000 private jobs in the healthcare industry.
Now is not the time to take a back seat, as these cuts will have a dramatic impact on the vitality of our community. In the coming days and weeks, the cuts outlined in these budgets will make their way to Governor Dayton. I call on you to express how these cuts to programs and services will impact you and your family, as well as our community, by contacting the Governor’s office. You can contact Governor Dayton by calling his office at 651-201-3400 or by submitting concerns online at http://mn.gov/governor/contact-us/form.
I strongly believe in the the power of the public voice. However, I recognize the complexity with regards to these issues and the difficulty with ensuring that your concerns are heard clearly. I urge you to contact me with any questions, ideas, or concerns.
As always I ask for your continued partnership as we move forward with the important work of this legislative session. Together we can make a difference.

Rena Moran is the District 65A state representative. She welcomes reader responses to 651-296-5388 or rep.rena.moran@house.mn.