Painful choices necessary to close budget deficit


We are one month into the 2011 legislative session. It’s been invigorating to get back to the State Capitol to represent our community and to work on the important challenges facing our state.

There is a lot at stake this session. We need to address a record $6.2 billion budget deficit, and there are still over 200,000 Minnesotans out of work. My promise to you is that I will vigorously fight for fair solutions that raise up all Minnesotans.

My challenge for you is to get involved. Talk with your neighbors, families and me about the concerns and ideas you have to make our community better. To help us both hold up our ends of the bargain, I will continue to provide regular updates in the newspaper, with email newsletters, and on Twitter and Facebook so that you can track the action at the State Capitol and make your voice heard.

One issue you should be aware of is the Republican early attempts to balance our budget on the backs of abused children. Their “Phase 1” budget bill cuts $28 million from child protection services. These funds are sent to counties for programs used to protect children and pregnant teenagers in dangerous situations.

This cut represents a 100-percent cut to child protection services in Hennepin County. As a result, Hennepin County would either have to suspend child protection or raise property taxes on homeowners to fill the gap.

We are certainly going to face difficult choices and painful cuts to close this deficit. However, to go after abused kids with the first cut is reckless, irresponsible and unconscionable. The Republicans have pushed this bill through the House and Senate, but Governor Dayton has rightly said he does not favor a piecemeal approach to the solving the budget deficit. I stand with the governor and will work to make sure these disastrous cuts are not implemented.

Another key issue this legislative session will be education. I believe it’s critical we educate all of our kids to compete in the 21st century. To be successful, we need proactive solutions to narrow the achievement gap so our students have an equal opportunity to succeed.

I would like your input on this issue. Along with Rep. Bobby Joe Champion, we have invited Brenda Cassellius, the new commissioner of education, to join us for a community forum on education.

The forum will be Tuesday, February 22, from 6-8 pm at the Sabathani Community Center, 310 E. 38th St. in Minneapolis. I encourage you to come to meet the new commissioner and participate in our discussion about Governor Dayton’s plans for educating all Minnesotans.

It continues to be a great honor to serve District 61B in the Minnesota House. Please contact me with any of your questions and concerns. If you have a chance, visit my office in the State Office Building, across Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. from the Capitol, in Room 389, or contact me at or 651-296-7152.

Jeff Hayden is the district 61B state representative.