Bad news for rural areas

To the Editor:

A recent Minnesota House Rules Committee meeting marked the final opportunity to prevent Minnesota’s ag funding interests from being controlled by a Minneapolis lawmaker.

And when the proposal was moved to transfer farming and rural development funds from an environment finance committee to an ag policy committee, which has a rural Democrat as chairperson, every Democrat on the rules committee opposed it. The 15-12 party line vote was extremely disappointing.

The voice for Greater Minnesota is becoming more muted every year. More than 75 percent of the House committee chairs are from inside the metro area, yet even a handful of rural Democrats won’t stand up to their Minneapolis bosses and vote to right this wrong.

Ag groups should be especially concerned. The lawmaker who now controls the purse strings for both agriculture and environment finance is known for opposing rural development budget bills, and could easily take money that had been traditionally used for agriculture and spend it in the environment area.

This is such an irresponsible message sent to rural Minnesota. I have no problems with a rural Democrat chairing the ag finance committee, but I have huge problems with a Minneapolis Democrat deciding how much money rural Minnesota should receive this year.

This is the first time in Minnesota’s history that a Minneapolis representative will chair a committee that has the final say on all state ag-related funding issues.

State Rep. Bob Gunther,