Social services funds are actually set to rise

Like his predecessor as a local news columnist, Nick Coleman, Jon Tevlin apparently isn't going to let facts get in the way of an emotional, anecdotal story ("Vulnerable adults, kids: Here comes the budget ax," March 30).

Tevlin paints a dire picture regarding Minnesota's safety net programs. However, he omits an important fact. If Gov. Tim Pawlenty's recommendations are adopted by the Legislature, spending on human-services programs, including federal funds, would increase by 15.8 percent from the last budget to this budget, going from $19.7 billion to $22.8 billion.

Again, that's a 15.8 percent increase, not decrease.

Over the past few years, during difficult times, we've made reductions to balance our budget while state revenues dropped dramatically. Nevertheless, Minnesota's social-service programs continue to be among the most generous in the country.

There's another important issue to keep in mind: The best program is not a program at all, it's a job. In order to keep and attract job providers, we must be competitive with other states and other places around the world. That means we must continue to streamline government, find efficiencies and keep taxes as low as possible.

BRIAN MCclung, deputy chief of staff, Office of Gov. Tim Pawlenty

• • •

Tevlin's column described the heavy burdens on the poor from the health benefits cuts. It also clearly pointed out that our governor has one agenda: running for president and being able to state that he decreased the budget without raising taxes. This agenda clearly hurts the state's powerless and the poor, as well as our kids' education.

Especially during this time of Easter we should all look at our own agendas and adjust them to the old adage "there but for the grace of God go I."


gray wolves

Montana hunt hints at delisting's downside

There is no scientific basis to justify leaving the door open for eventual hunting of wolves ("State is ready to manage gray wolves," editorial, March 25). Wolves occupy only 5 percent of their historical range and face ongoing threats to their long-term survival.

Just last year, the Obama administration allowed the delisting of the wolf in the Northern Rockies -- and a resumption of hunting. No endangered species has ever been delisted and then immediately hunted at such a low population level.

The result? Radio-collared wolves from a crucial Yellowstone reintroduction study were killed, and heavily concentrated wolf killings in other areas led Montana's lead wolf biologist to declare that the state had "missed the mark" in opening the first wolf hunt in years.

Let's not jump the gun and allow the same mistake to happen here in Minnesota. Only a lawsuit by the Humane Society of the United States and other wildlife conservation groups has so far prevented the wolf from being delisted and hunted here.

As keystone predators who are important to healthy ecosystems, and as iconic figures in American history and legend, wolves deserve continued protection.

HOWARD GOLDMAN, MINNESOTA state director, Humane Society of the United States

burnsville arts center

Time for original supporters to step up

Burnsville Mayor Elizabeth Kautz commented that an advisory board for the Burnsville Performing Arts Center will be better able to determine whether VenuWorks is running a successful business ("Changes afoot at troubled arts center," March 29).

This is an astounding statement coming from our top city official. If she hasn't been able to determine the success or failure of the arts center at this point, we are in deeper trouble than even the most pessimistic person in Burnsville would have believed.

The mayor and council should have been on top of the financial picture from day one, since it is their single most expensive venture after infrastructure.

There is no comfort for the thousands of us who opposed this as a city-owned facility in saying "we told you so."

The silence from the center's supporters is deafening. It seems appropriate for that group to now step up to the plate.


offshore oil exploration

Obama's drilling decision echoes GOP

Regarding the March 31 headline "Obama to open areas to drilling": Wouldn't a more accurate headline have been "Obama caves and agrees with Republicans on offshore drilling"?


a house divided?

Republican secession discussion unpatriotic

So now some in Minnesota's Republican Party are flirting with the idea of the state seceding from America ("Secession movement," Opinion Exchange, March 31).

This unpatriotic idea came within two votes of passing at a district convention!

Are the very people responsible for selecting a Republican candidate to govern Minnesota not sure they want to remain American?


think spring

But also think about enforcing traffic codes

With the return of the Minnesota Nice weather also comes the spring challenge of navigating between those drivers, bikers and walkers who think rules of the road are designated for the "other" people and not themselves.

Perhaps it's time to enforce traffic codes to ensure the safety of all. Even the scofflaws.