State Sen. Julie Rosen attended a special meeting of the Martin County Board on Tuesday to hear about the needs of the county. County department heads also were present, along with a few members of the public.
Commissioner Elliot Belgard addressed transportation needs. County Highway Engineer Kevin Peyman also commented.about dedicated highway funds.I think that’s a good point when you talk about dedicated [funds],” Rosen said. “The sustainable part is questionable when it comes to the gas tax. Just in my every day workings in the district I serve, they’ll stop me and say, ‘Thank you for not voting on the gas tax.’
“It’s $30 million for every penny increase on the gas tax,” she continued. “So even if you went with 5 cents, that’s only $150 million and the question is if that’s sustainable, especially with the governor’s push towards electric vehicles.
“We do have about $500 million in the bonding bill capacity for bridges that we can tap. But the gas tax is a tough one. I am a little concerned about the gas tax and how it dis-proportionally hurts greater Minnesota.”
Health and Human Services was another big topic. Commissioner Steve Flohrs said.
“The biggest problem that I see is generational people that just keep going through the system, and the failure of the public to understand the whole process,” he said. “It’s a huge animal over there, it’s complicated and there’s restrictions on all these programs, but the public doesn’t understand that. They think people are just walking in there and getting a free ride. “We need to look at the bigger picture and how we can break the cycle and get people working. It’s bigger than anything that can be done simply.”
Senator Rosen said the opioid bill, which I was a chief author on, was a tough one,” Rosen responded. “I wanted to generate $20 million, which is only a fraction of what this drug problem is costing us, whether it’s opioids, meth, heroin or fentanyl. Half of that money goes to out-of-home placement cost to the counties, and it’s on a pro-rated basis.
“So that should be available depending on how many cases you have. We’re also doing some reworking of the child protection and family assessment laws.”
Rosen went on to note that the stigma of how mental health is tied to drug use has been an issue that has long been ignored.
Sheriff Jeff Markquart shared his concerns related to the local level.
Also brought up was the county’s need for a new Justice Center and bonding money help needed for that project.
Senator Rosen commented “Well, the good news is that you’ve never asked for anything,” Rosen responded. “You’ve stated a very strong case.
“The discussion at the Capitol is what kind of bonding bill we’re looking for and what you put in that bill to get the votes. But you cannot negate your commitment at all.”