Northwest Minnesotans ask questions on surplus during District 4 town hall

MINNESOTA (KVRR) – People from Moorhead to Detroit Lakes take part in a town hall to hear from their state senator and representatives.

Minnesota has the only divided Legislature in the country, so passing anything requires some comprise.

People wanted to know how State Senator Kent Eken and State Representatives Paul Marquart and Heather Keeler would like the Legislature to spend or invest the state’s $9.3 billion surplus.

Eken and Marquart would like to see some of that money returned to taxpayers with income tax and property tax cuts. Eken says property taxes hit rural Minnesotans hard.

Eken and Marquart would also like to see the Legislature make solutions to the state’s workforce shortages like making community career workforce academies.

Keeler would like to see investments in helping the homeless.

“This is probably the biggest economic challenge we have right now. It’s leading to our inflation. It’s leading to our supply chain problems,” Marquart said.

“The quality of care is being compromised for our most vulnerable right now. We need to have a long range solution for these long-term care problems,” Eken said.

“It’s our time to invest in the people who need it now and the people who could potential need it in the future,” Keeler said.

Marquart says workforce shortages were predicted two decades ago with concerns of baby boomers retiring and those jobs not being taken over quickly by other generations.

This year an important compromise the Legislature will have to work on is passing a bonding bill to put money into construction and rehabilitation projects statewide.

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