Friday, August 29, 2008

Marshall Stenersen, DFL statement

I oppose the “Red Plan,” primarily because the citizenry of Duluth was not allowed to vote on the issue. The “Red Plan” as presented, makes bad use of a law designed to help cities of the first class, namely Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth, address safety and desegregation problems. The “Red Plan” is too extensive and too expensive. I fear that the manner in which the “Red Plan” was forced on taxpayers will leave, not a chilling, but a freezing effect on the passage of future operating levy referendums, which will inevitably result in teacher cuts, larger class sizes, and program cuts for our children.

To date, the largest bond issue brought under this statute was for the St. Paul School District, which is several times larger than the Duluth School District – and that bond issuance was for under $50 million – six times smaller than the Duluth bonding issue.
The school district, in my mind, even if it is conceded to be in technical compliance with the law, is certainly in violation of the spirit and intent of the law. This plan seems to be more about buildings than it does about desegregation and safety.

I promise to introduce legislation at the 2009 session to address language which will clarify the law to make it consistent with its spirit and its intent. Certainly bond issues of this size should require a vote of the citizenry, no matter its intent. Depending upon actions of the ISD 709 School Board between now and the end of the year, I pledge to meet with my area legislative colleagues in St. Paul, to determine a prudent course of action. However, I steadfastly refuse to make pledges on this issue at the behest of any organization, or spokesperson thereof. My pledges are based on my personal understanding of the myriad of issues and problems involved with the “Red Plan.”