North Minneapolis legislative town hall meeting

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On January 26, Representatives Bobby Joe Champion and Jeff Hayden held a town hall meeting at the Urban Research and Outreach/Engagement Center, UROC, to explain the basics of the state budget.

They enlisted the help of Bill Marx, chief fiscal analyst for the Minnesota House of Representatives, to give a power point demonstration explaining in broad strokes how the state budget is handled.  He discussed the state budget structure, revenue sources and how the resources are used.

The mood in the room was one of trepidation about where and how the resources would be used in their neighborhood. “We want to make sure the community gets a portion of the money, no excuses,” said one woman in attendance.

Most questions focused on concerns about unemployment, equal distribution of resources and worry over what programs will be cut.  Specific concerns were expressed over cuts to children and community services and education.

Other questions ranged from the Metro Transit contract with drivers to gaming as a possible second revenue stream.

The proposed Viking stadium was brought up.  Concerns about where the funding would come from dominated that portion of the conversation.  Rep Hayden and Rep. Champion were very clear that they were looking for ways that the new stadium would benefit the community if and when it was built.

“We can have a political debate, but this is not the venue for that.”  Rep. Hayden said frequently. “What we want to focus on is the context of the issue.  How much money we have, how much money we don’t.”

The representatives alluded to bills they were working on and hoped to see passed and how they intended to work with their new Republican counterparts in passing those bills.

Attendees commended the politicians for coming out.

“We want to make sure that you are participating in the process.”  said Representative Champion.