Margaret Anderson Kelliher: Tough times require hard work

  • Updated: April 18, 2010 - 5:00 PM

Experience and perseverance are key in leading Minnesota to better times.

Minnesota farm families experienced one of the steepest declines ever in farm income last year. The 63 percent drop in earnings means real pain for the many farmers who keep our grocery store shelves stocked with fresh milk, beef and tomatoes. My own family has experienced similar tough times.

Like many farm families in the 1980s, my mom and dad went to see the local banker to get their spring operating loan and were told they needed to expand the farm. Interest rates were low; prices were good, and so we upgraded our small dairy farm and went from producing Grade B butter milk to Grade A drinking milk.

I soon discovered the toll this would take. One night after we finished dinner, my dad pushed his plate away, laid his head on the dining room table and started to cry. I had never seen my very stoic father cry, and I knew something was really wrong.

Interest rates had skyrocketed and milk prices had bottomed out. My parents had to cash in their life insurance and use their retirement funds to save the farm from foreclosure. The struggles my family went through back then are a lot like those many Minnesota families face in today's tough economic times.

My father had an eighth-grade education. During some of the hardest days on the farm, he and my mother continually reminded me that I had to work as hard in school as we did on the farm. They said education was the gateway to a good-paying job and a bright future.

I'm running for governor because we need a leader who understands the priorities of Minnesotans, who understands these tough economic times and who will fight to get people back to work.

As a public school parent, I believe that every child, from birth to pre-K to college, deserves the opportunity for a great education. We must invest in public schools and our public school teachers and must stop blaming teachers for the challenges our schools face today.

As a middle-class Minnesotan who understands the struggles of working families, I have put forward an economic road map that will touch every part of the state by creating jobs and putting people back to work from Thief River Falls to Rochester.

Small, medium and self-employed businesses and farms are at the heart of our economy. We must have a governor who understands this, too. We don't need a governor who needs training wheels.

As governor, I will have the experience to hit the ground running. The new governor must deliver a budget in 12 short weeks. As speaker of the House, I manage a 300-person staff with a multimillion-dollar budget and have put together three balanced state budgets. Fixing the state budget deficit is the first step in putting our state on the road to economic recovery, and I will deliver a balanced budget that is responsible.

My parents showed me that with hard work and perseverance, we can get through tough times.

Economic growth will take time. There are no quick or easy solutions. Minnesota needs a leader who understands the struggles faced by people in rural, suburban and urban areas, and who has a plan to overcome these challenges and the resolve to make it happen. Jobs will be job one for me. I will be a governor who can be a bridge for all of Minnesota.

Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Minneapolis, is speaker of the state House of Representatives and a DFL candidate for governor.

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