To the Editor:
I am disappointed that the Minnesota House Democrat majority chose to eliminate an agriculture finance committee and allow an environment committee to decide whether to fund important rural Minnesota programs. The move creates a distinct metro area versus Greater Minnesota division.
The new House Speaker is from Minneapolis, the new majority leader is from St. Paul, and the new environment finance chair is from Minneapolis and has voted against ag finance bills in the past. With 22 of 29 committee chairs coming from inside the metro area, it's tough to see rural Minnesota being prioritized over the next two years by this new majority.
On the first day of session, lawmakers voted on a measure that would have given the responsibility of funding ag interests to the Greater Minnesota Democrat chairperson of an agriculture policy committee. Instead, the proposal was shot down on a party line vote, with rural Democrats siding with their Minneapolis leadership.
The vote was very disappointing. If you give an extreme environmentalist from Minneapolis a pot of money and tell her to distribute it as she sees fit among ag and environmental interests, it stands to reason that ag and rural programs are going to be diminished.
Let's remember, agriculture creates 20 percent of the jobs in this state and contributes a significant amount of resources toward all phases of Minnesota's economy. If anything, ag and rural development programs deserve a bigger stake of the budget, not less. With a Minneapolis lawmaker now in charge of deciding how much money to spend in Greater Minnesota, our residents shouldn't be surprised if our rural programs end up on the chopping block.
State Rep. Bob Gunther,