THE HHS BUDGET

DFL doublespeak: A 'cut' is actually a hike

Minnesotans should know that a new era of big government is now firmly entrenched. On Monday, House Democrats once again have shown their misplaced priorities through the passage of the Health and Human Services (HHS) omnibus bill. At a time when all Minnesotans are facing an uncertain economic situation, the majority party claims to have cut spending for HHS programs by $400 million when, in fact, this is simply a reduction in what they wanted to spend. Only in politics can an increase of more than 11 percent in real spending be called a cut.

How is the state proposing to pay for this "cut" when we are facing a $6.4 billion deficit? By placing the financial burden on Minnesota taxpayers. Instead of finding innovative solutions to solve our state deficit, DFLers are increasing spending to expand eligibility for welfare programs through more big government. This increased spending necessitates a tax increase now and will create more hardships in the future. This absent-minded proposal will completely deplete the Health Care Access Fund after 2013, creating an even larger budget deficit.

No consideration was given to eliminating the waste and fraud within HHS to save taxpayers money, or to solutions that would allow more providers to offer coverage, which would give Minnesotans greater choice in providers. Instead we are left with a bloated government, lacking in any direction or true solutions. I ask the majority party to drop the political rhetoric of claiming "cuts" in spending, and to explain to all Minnesotans the reasons we will be struggling with this deficit for many years to come.

REP. MARK BUESGENS, R-JORDAN

PALIN'S 'CHOICE'

All she did was follow moral law

An April 26 letter stated, "Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin briefly considered 'changing the circumstances' upon learning the fetus she was carrying had Down Syndrome. She made the choice for herself."

This is an inherently incorrect statement. Gov. Palin gave life to her unborn child; she didn't make a "choice" to keep it. She simply followed moral law, which includes giving each person life -- including all unborn persons.

ERIN HOLLEY, BLOOMINGTON

DINKYTOWN MELEE

One student's party is one man's riot

I'd like an opportunity to answer the question the Star Tribune posed on Monday's edition, "Was force necessary to break up Dinkytown party?"

Party? Really? Last time I checked, setting fires, overturning cars and throwing things at the police are not the typical activities of any party I've been to. In fact, it kind of sounds like a riot.

Oh, that's right, it was a riot. So, to answer the question, police force was indeed necessary. No one forced or pressured these "partiers" into these acts of violence. It's time for people to take responsibility for their actions, and for others to stop making excuses and enabling them.

PAUL NIEBELING, WOODBURY

LEGALIZING POT

Arguments against it actually make case for

Hennepin County Sheriff Richard W. Stanek got it right when he said the marijuana trade is an excellent way for thugs and gang members to finance their violent lifestyles. But he contradicts himself by then arguing against ending prohibition.

Isn't it logical that the best way to end criminal profit in the drug trade is to legalize it so that drugs are sold by licensed, regulated professionals? Who would want to buy drugs from someone who, as Stanek said, is just as likely to rob them as sell to them, when they could buy it over a counter at a safe business?

If only we had an example of a drug that was sold at a licensed, regulated and taxed place of business to see if it would work -- oh, yeah, we do: alcohol.

ALEX BAUMAN, MINNEAPOLIS

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Even if we agree that marijuana can have harmful effects, there are two huge facts that Stanek's argument ignores: the current policy of prohibition does not keep marijuana out of the hands of anyone who wants it, and legalization would take it out of the hands of the criminals who currently distribute it.

His vague recollection about "a man from out-of-state" who got killed buying marijuana is actually an argument in favor of legalization. If a person can legally grow his own marijuana, he will not be killed by a psychopathic gangster who wants to keep his money and his weed. Nor will he be buying it from someone who is also selling cocaine and heroin.

The United States currently incarcerates a higher percentage of its population than any other country in the world, mainly due to drug prohibition. It is time to recognize the failure of the war on drugs and move to a more effective, pragmatic, harm-reduction policy based on education and treatment.

STEVE LOUBERT, GOLDEN VALLEY

PUPPY MILLS

Minnesota's sorry standing in the nation

Puppy mills are a problem in Minnesota. In fact, it is one of the top producers of puppies in the nation. Our state has some of the largest kennels, housing more than 1,000 dogs and puppies in each.

Currently, Minnesota has no state laws to regulate the multimillion-dollar dog-and-cat breeding industry -- no state licensing or inspections of dog and cat breeders. The Legislature must act in 2010 to address this problem. To learn more about puppy and kitten mills and what you can do, please visit www.animalfolksmn.org.

ANN OLSON, ST. PAUL;

FOUNDER, ANIMAL FOLKS MINNESOTA