Eagan residents, state workers without jobs, and other concerned citizens spoke up Thursday night about the state budget and government shutdown.
At the Eagan Civic Arena, a crowd filled a room to share their thoughts for more than an hour. The Saint Paul Regional Labor Federation and TakeAction Minnesota put on the forum, during which they recorded the thoughts and questions Eagan residents shared. The videos will be posted on YouTube and sent to local legislators Sen. Ted Daley (R-District 38), Rep. Doug Wardlow (R-District 38B) and Rep. Diane Anderson (R-District 38A).
All three senators were not at the meeting, and criticized for it at the forum. Patch could not reach the legislators for comment before publishing time.
“To be polite to them,” said Robert Kasper, president of the Saint Paul Regional Labor Federation, “they’re doing their job. I hope so.”
Kasper and Steve Rogness, deputy political director for TakeAction Minnesota, started off the event by inviting comments and thoughts on the shutdown and the budget impasse.
“It’s important for us to hear how you’re affected,” Rogness said. This kind of event can put pressure on both parties to end the shutdown and reach a budget deal, he said.
“Our children are at stake, our elders are at stake, and our disabled are at stake,” Kasper said. “… There are a lot of people’s lives at stake.”
For more than an hour, people from many different backgrounds spoke up. Some had emotional stories to share. One woman said she worked in a psychiatric ward but decided to retire early because she thought budget cuts were inhumane and damaging lives. A transit worker wondered why cuts to transportation would be a good idea. State workers who lost their jobs to the shutdown voiced their concerns. Some said they felt they aren’t being represented and urged others to vote in the 2012 elections.
Marilyn Remer, a utilities engineer at the Minnesota Department of Transportation, was laid off. She got up in front of the crowd. “I just can’t believe how much money we’ve already wasted,” she said.
After the meeting, she said this is also terrible for state workers’ morale. Some of her colleagues even expressed that they wanted to keep working, despite the shutdown. That’s because their plates were already full. “We’re going to have so much work to do,” she said.
“It’s so hard not knowing how long it’s going to be” until they can go back to work, Remer said.
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