Legislators disappointed with results from session

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 23, 2002

The 2002 Minnesota Legislature was the "most partisan ever."

In fact, State Senator John C. Hottinger said Wednesday that Gov. Jesse Ventura's new book title should be "I Ain't Got Time To Lead."

State Reps. Henry J. Kalis and Rob Leighton agreed with the Assistant Majority Leader and so did Dan Sparks, an Austin DFLer seeking State Senator Grace Schwab's seat in the Minnesota Senate.

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The foursome gathered at

Piggy Blue's Bar-B-Que in downtown Austin Wednesday

for a 2002 session wrapup.

According to Hottinger, the biggest challenge was the state budget shortfall.

Reducing the $2 billion shortfall was also the session's biggest success.

Meanwhile, transportation was the biggest failure, the "growing environment of distrust and disrespect" was the biggest disappointment "putting off many difficult decisions" was the biggest postponement.

Hottinger said he was relieve the state budget was balanced without significant funding damage to schools

He said protecting health care systems and anti-smoking programs will "save us all in health care costs."

Forcing the Republican-led House put over $300 million into reserves for future budgets was another.

But the disappointments were many.

The legislation would have dealt with "mushrooming congestion" in the twin Cities metro area and to provide safer, better roads in rural Minnesota, while "most importantly," according to Hottinger, "building business opportunity statewide."

The sessions acrimony left Hottinger "seriously worried," he said about what Gov. Ventura would do to the state's bonding bill this week and projects such as the Blazing Star hiking and biking trail.

Hottinger said the Governor earns the title "Samurai Governor" for his "slashing and burn" tactics.

Leighton agreed. "The Blazing Start trail from Albert Lea to Austin needs $600,000 and that is what the governor is threatening to cut. The Shooting Star trail in Mower County has the DNR's support so it is likely to stay put," he said.

Speaking of Governor Ventura's role in the troubling session, Leighton said, "There was an unbelievable lack of leadership by the governor."

Watching the trio of veteran legislators describe the 2002 legislative session, candidate Sparks said, "there was a failure to make some tough decisions and the Governor didn't help."

Lee Bonorden can be contacted at 434-2232 or by e-mail at :mailto:lee.bonorden@austindailyherald.com