Mr. Dahle Goes to St. Paul


Archive for January, 2009

The Budget and Health Care

January 31, 2009 By: Kevin Dahle Category: Economy, Health Care No Comments →

healthGovernor Pawlenty has missed an important opportunity in the recently released budget for the upcoming biennium. This budget relies heavily on one time money to pay for ongoing expenses, contributing to a significant structural imbalance. The budget hits health care programs especially hard.
The Governor’s budget removes 113,000 people from state health care programs through FY11 just as layoffs are increasing and jobs become scarce. Even more people stand to lose health care if the Governor’s provider payment cuts reduce access and curtail prevention efforts. The budget eliminates dental, chiropractic, podiatry, and rehabilitation services for our most vulnerable adults. It also eliminates all MnCare coverage for adults without children.
The Health Care Access Fund is gutted as the plan transfers these dollars to the general fund. However, the tax paid by providers, our medical and dental professionals, and social workers will remain. When the tax dollars went to the underinsured or underserved, there was some buy-in by our health care professionals. Where is the incentive to pay into the Fund now?
Furthermore, cuts to health care jeopardize federal stimulus money with its Medical Assistance (MA) eligibility cuts. In addition, state dollars help leverage federal matching funds. Failure to provide state dollars means additional cuts to health care. Those responsibilities will be passed on to property taxpayers, increasing burdens on county governments, nonprofits, and hospitals.
We need long term solutions to this budget crisis. Fiscal responsibility, without making our health care problems worse, should be at the forefront of the budget discussion.

The Budget Proposed

January 27, 2009 By: Kevin Dahle Category: Economy No Comments →

tpawToday Governor Pawlenty revealed his budget proposal for the 2010-11 biennium. Over the next few days, weeks, and months, the legislature and the public will have a chance to look it over and weigh in on the good, the bad, and the ugly. This is the job of the Minnesota legislature. We will take a look at the Governor’s proposals and gather input on these and other proposals brought forth by Senators, Representatives, and citizens like you.
We value your input. This is why we have committee meetings, working groups, and town hall meetings across the state. Budget cuts have real consequences for those directly and indirectly affected. Whether the issue is education, health care, Local Government Aid, or College tuition, it is important to hear from the stakeholders involved.
Eventually the Finance committee, with input from all legislative committees, will craft a budget to present to the Governor. The process will be difficult. Tough times call for tough decisions. Please make sure your voice is a part of that process.
The Minnesota House and Senate have set up websites where you can leave comments and suggestions to help solve the deficit. The Senate website can be found at I will be holding town meetings in several cities in District 25 in early February. Stay tuned for specific times, dates, and locations. We look forward to hearing from you.

“Keep On A-Walking, Children”

January 18, 2009 By: Kevin Dahle Category: Event 2 Comments →

kingOn Monday, January 19, we celebrate the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Fittingly, the following day, we will celebrate the inauguration of the first African American President of the United States, Barack Obama. The following excerpt was taken from an article which appeared in the New American Review, January 1969, and written by Pat Watters. He had been to the Poor People’s March in Washington D.C. the week after MLK’s death. He penned his thoughts on his return to Georgia…
It was hot in Atlanta when we got down. The cab driver complained of the unrelenting quality of the goddamned heat in that ageless, always surprised, equinox after equinox, complaint of the Southerner. The Movement is dead. I said to myself. And there is no hope that lasts. They have known that for some time in other places: in France they have embodied it into a philosophy; in India, they have nurtured their religion on it. Negroes in the South have known it, through slavery and since then – existing, making do. How did the SNCC kids, with all their reading of Camus, miss that? Keeping on, those of them still at it, coining their rhetoric from the metal of hope, showing in all their hate-talk now only the other side of the love-talk, anything to avoid accepting hopelessness. Dr. King knew about that. Making do, as Southern Negroes always have done, with an irrelevant and irrational religion, he forged a world-view of staggering insight. Making do with the worst of his followers by drawing the best out of them, he built a movement that shook America, almost converted some of it, at the very least he put an end to Southern institutionalization of racism. And then he had seen his philosophy and strategy of nonviolent change lose influence, had seen American steadily moving in the opposite direction from the one he sought. You get down to hopelessness, finally, his kind of hopelessness, and then you see that it is still possible to keep on, to find meaning in meaninglessness, like the Negroes with no food and no purpose, like the demonstrators in the driveway, “Keep on a-walking, children,” Dr. King used to say in the hot, fervent, sacred little churches of the Movement’s great days, “don’t you get weary: We are headed toward the promised land.”

State of the State

January 15, 2009 By: Kevin Dahle Category: Event, Kevin Dahle MN Senate District 25 No Comments →

govAt about 11:40am today, the Minnesota Senate lined up outside the Senate Chambers, ready to proceed down the hall to the Minnesota House of Representatives. At 11:45, after being introduced by the Sergeant-of-Arms, we entered the chamber amid applause from our legislative colleagues. As we walked down the main aisle, we shook hands and exchanged pleasantries to those House members within reach. We took our own seats and awaited the arrival of the Governor. The Supreme Court Justices were introduced and welcomed with a standing ovation….followed by the constitutional officers, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, Attorney General Lori Swanson, and Auditor Rebecca Otto. The Lieutenant Governor, Carol Molnau, was escorted to her seat. The lone former Governor in attendance, Al Quie, was introduced and given a warm reception as he took a chair in the front row.
At noon, Governor Pawlenty was announced and escorted into the room with two State Patrol officers at his side. The standing ovation lasted several minutes as the Governor worked his way to the front of the room to deliver the “State of the State” address. I sat in the second row, behind the Patrol officers, to the Governor’s left. I, like the others in the room, listened carefully to the Governor as he described the current state of Minnesota. His thirty minute speech touched on the budget crisis, our economy, education reform, jobs, military veterans, energy, health care, and other issues.
The pomp and circumstance of the state of the State was a great experience. Today the Minnesota House and Senate came together to listen to the Governor’s vision for the coming year. We look forward to working with the Governor to achieve the vision we all share: a working economy, great schools, and the best quality of life for the citizens of this state. God Bless the state of Minnesota.

Minnesota Youth in Government

January 11, 2009 By: Kevin Dahle Category: Event No Comments →

ymca2This past weekend, Minnesota YMCA Youth in Government (YIG) took over the Capitol building. Minnesota YIG is a youth-led, experiential learning opportunity that involves 1,800 middle-school and high school students each year. It is a nation-wide program, active in nearly 40 states. Across the country almost 25,000 students attend state Youth in Government conferences each year, with 3,300 adult volunteers and YMCA staff serving as advisors. So what did our young people do for the last four days?
• Joined youth leaders from around the state to debate issues and topics of the day
• Listened to delegates with different experiences from around the state.
• Researched public issues and become aware of local, state, national and international concerns.
• Accepted civic responsibilities in various leadership roles.
• Participated in the decision-making process through the bill making process from committees to the House and Senate.
Minnesota is among the top programs, nationally, in terms of quality and number of students. 60% of participants and 55% of youth program leaders are girls. Additionally, nearly two-thirds of all eligible students return the next year.

Minnesota YMCA Youth in Government builds a sense of responsibility and passion for issues, the desire to make a difference, citizenship skills, and values in the lives of teens. Ultimately, Youth in Government programs help mold character in students with a strong focus on leadership development and citizenship-building.

Congratulations to Northfield advisors Mark Thornton and Northfield YMCA director Virginia Kaczmarek and the nearly 20 Northfield students involved in the program.

Maximizing Federal Dollars

January 08, 2009 By: Kevin Dahle Category: Economy, Kevin Dahle MN Senate District 25 No Comments →

stimulus1One of the first bills to be introduced in the Minnesota Senate this week will be a bill to maximize the Federal Stimulus package being developed in Washington, D.C. The conventional wisdom is that such a program will include components targeted to both individuals and states. By all indications, the objective of the incoming administration and Congress is to identify programs that can be implemented quickly and provide economic stimulus for an extended period. For Minnesota, infrastructure investment, especially for “ready to go” projects would be given a high priority. Support for Medicaid and other grant programs through an increase in federal medical assistance might also be a high priority. It is commonly believed that any stimulus package would include the following considerations:
• Finance programs that provide longer-term benefits beyond stimulus, such as infrastructure
• Provide aid that state and local governments can use to address revenue shortfalls, provide basic services and forestall layoffs
• Assist the unemployed and others who are suffering from the downturn
• Provide aid that has a high economic multiplier, so that assistance will be spent and enter the national economy rather than be saved
The appropriate size for aid to state governments is debatable, but according to FFIS (Federal Funds Information for States), analysts have suggested about $100 billion over two years beginning in January of 2009. An advantage of a stimulus of this size is that it can be implemented in fairly short order, can rely on the existing framework of state-federal programs, and can be expanded or supplemented at a later date to accommodate new programs or persistent fiscal problems.
Minnesota will be ready to maximize any federal stimulus options.

The Minnesota Senate: Take Two

January 06, 2009 By: Kevin Dahle Category: Kevin Dahle MN Senate District 25 No Comments →

Today, the Minnesota State legislature convened to start the 2009 session. As I begin my second year as a State Senator, I ask myself, “What kind of legislator do I want to be? What do constituents expect of me? How can I be effective in completing the work that needs to be done?” A recent issue of State Legislatures (January 2009) offered some practical wisdom on that matter. Here are some principles that I feel are especially important.

1. Honor the Institution: Serving as a legislator is an important duty that deserves time, attention, and dedication. If representative government is to work, it is important to take the role seriously if I am to make a difference.
2. Take the High Road: Understanding ethical responsibility and legislative etiquette is vital, not only to the institution and my constituents, but to myself.
3. Know Where to Get Help: It is important to look for expertise among members on both sides of the aisle. I will seek advice from constituents, fellow legislators and staff, local government leaders, and others.
4. Manage Your Time: Organize, prioritize, & commit to those things that are important.
5. Vote Your Conscience: Represent constituents & be a trustee for the entire state. However, if divisive issues compromise these responsibilities, come to a decision and vote. Ultimately, I will have to live with that decision.
6. Don’t Burn Bridges: Today’s adversary is tomorrow’s ally. People may not like me, but if they respect me and know that I will play it straight, I’ll be all right.
7. Keep Your Word: Without truth there can be no trust. Credibility is the key; I can’t be effective if I am seen as untrustworthy.
8. Stay in Touch: Maintaining good contact with constituents is so very important.
9. Be a Problem Solver: While there may be controversial issues in my district, it is up to me and my office to help the community find solutions.
10. Stop and Smell the Rosescapitol2: Maintain a normal private life. Enjoy time with family and friends. Take time for myself.

It was not that long ago that I ran for office. I will continue to do what I can to represent District 25, the State of Minnesota, and to make a difference – a difference for the better.

2009 Session Preview

January 01, 2009 By: Kevin Dahle Category: Economy, Education, Energy, Environment, Health Care, Transportation 1 Comment →

Addressing the budget deficit will be the main issue for 2009, but what are some of the other areas that the Minnesota Senate will be focusing on as the session gets under way January 6?
• Rebuilding Minnesota’s economy and protecting workers impacted by the recession
• Tax Reform and tax fairness
• Adopting Mn/DOT Bridge Reforms
• Review the costs and benefits of No Fault Auto Insurance
• Green JOBZ program
• Growing Minnesota’s Bioscience industry
• Addressing Foreclosures/Neighborhood Stabilization Programs
• Meeting Long term care challenges
• Allocation of funds from Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment
• GRAD Test/Testing Reform/ Stabilize education funding
• Implement Minnesota Climate Change Advisory Group recommendations/Renewable Energy Standards
• Stranger Oriented Life Insurance
• Farmer-Lender Mediation Act Authorization extension
• Small Bonding bill
• College Affordability/College Readiness and Retention
• Juvenile Justice Initiatives/Data Privacy Issues
• Elections Law
• Role of Nuclear Energy in Minnesota’s energy portfolio/Greenhouse Gas reductions
• Health Care Reform/Pharmaceutical Reform/Children’s health insurance
• Minimum Wage/Consumer cost savings measures
• Pensions
• Local Government Aid reform
While this list is a partial glimpse at the range and scope of issues and topics that may be discussed this session, it is by no means an exclusive list. I am sure to be writing about the specifics of these and other policy issues as we begin our work next week.