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Letter: Bills prompt questions

To the editor,

I was browsing the Minnesota Legislature website and noticed two bills, HF 472 and SF 142, working their way through legislative committees, that would give School District 200 the ability to pass a levy for facility bonds without voter approval. It should be noted, Superintendent Tim Collins has stated in past bond meetings, the district still has funding needs in regards to the 'aging' high school (the need for new carpeting and other upgrades and maintenance), and this bond is not the last.

Many bills never make it out of committee and this could be the case with these. The House bill HF 472, introduced by Rep. Denny McNamara, has a remark that he authored it by request only. The Senate bill SF 142, introduced by Sen. Katie Sieben does not have the same remark. It is common for larger school districts to take this approach. Is this the way Hastings residents want to approach bonds? My vote would be, no, because we need to have checks on this bloated K-12 system that already accounts for 37.1 percent of the state's budget.

If for some reason one of these passes during the 2010 session, the school board's decision to pass this type of bond can be repealed. A signed petition by more than 15 percent of district's registered voters within 30 days (MN Statute 123B.62.sec-c) could be done. This type of bureaucratic repeal mechanism ultimately becomes a 'moat' around the out of control government castle.

Unfortunately, this asking for 'forgiveness' is easier than asking 'permission' or 'opt-out' mentality is undermining the trust of every institution in our society.

Jason Avery