Poston, Stauber reflect on 2022 priorities: Childcare looms as major concern
Also brought up were concerns over taxes, inflation, energy, broadband and the southern border.
Rep. John Poston (R-Lake Shore) and U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber were invited to speak to a group of Wadena County leaders and other interested citizens about their 2022 priorities on Jan. 3, chief among them was making 2022 better than 2021.
While the officials had many priorities on their list, childcare kept rising to the top of many of those listening in to the conversation.
Rep. Poston shared a story about a Wadena provider with two staff that were capped at caring for 14 kids. They had a list of families in need of childcare and people on the line willing to work, but under current rules, they cannot take in more children at their facility. A solution shared with them is to create a second location. While they have a large enough building to create separation, the cost to divide services at the site was too high to consider it. For now they are kept from expanding.
Chet Bodin, Business & Community Development Manager with DEED Minnesota spoke up during discussions glad to hear of the concern for the issue. He asked what innovations were being discussed to try to improve the situation. Poston responded that work needs to be done to cut through the many rules and regulations child care providers have to deal with. Poston said due to the restrictions, people are leaving the business at a time they are needed most. He added that he’s working with the revisor’s office to bring change.
“In this crisis, they’ve got to come up with solutions,” Poston explained.
Wadena County Economic Alliance Executive Director Katie Heppner asked what the local community could do to bring improvements.
“We need to be squeakers about this issue for sure,” Poston said.
Wadena Economic Development Director Dean Uselman asked just who they should squeak to. Poston suggested they squeak to their county leaders and squeak to him so he can continue to squeak in the Legislature.
“We’ll try to squeak as loud as we can,” Heppner said. She referenced a Wadena County study in 2019, which showed that over 500 children were currently unserved by childcare in a county of about 14,000.
“Chances are that it didn't get better because of COVID,” Heppner said.
Uselman suggested anyone with concerns about childcare in the region should send an email to Rep. Poston. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Stauber noted other high level issues he’s concerned about including securing the southern border, the energy crisis and bringing down inflation.
Stauber spoke about the growth of billions of dollars worth of broadband in the state but said the fruits of that infrastructure have not yet been seen.
He later brought up that even more funding for broadband is coming, and he is fighting for more of it to come to rural Minnesota, rather than the metro area. Speaking further on broadband, it’s Stauber’s goal to have local elected officials determine the type of broadband used in their community.
When asked about the Build Back Better Plan passing through the House of Representatives, Stauber shared that he voted against the bill because of the wasted money found inside and that committees were not given opportunities to weigh in on the bill.
He said the governing of “my way or the highway,” is no way to run a government.
Of chief concern to him were that the plan proposes creating 150 new federal programs and hiring 86,000 IRS agents. He was disgusted with the increases. While there is some good in the bill, he saw too many concerns that he and others were unable to debate, he said.
In speaking to jumpstarting the economy, Stauber said they need to get people back in the workforce.
“One thing we know is it doesn’t pay to pay people more money to stay home,” Stauber said. He gave an example of someone who was able bodied but decided not to work. If they were to follow the right steps they could make $41,000 a year without working.
“That is not how we energize the workforce,” Stauber said.
His solution was to find a way to bring dignity back to work.
“We have to change our thinking and put work as a priority,” Stauber said. “Every job has dignity.”
Rep. Poston spoke about the upcoming legislative session and operational changes like remote hearings that he opposes. Poston said debating remotely is not nearly as effective and many voices are not heard when 200 people are on a Zoom call.
“It’s not good for the legislature and it’s not good for you,” Poston said, addressing the Zoom attendees.
Poston shared his concerns about the $7.7 billion surplus, calling it over taxation. He said while not all the funds should be used, they might as well use some for the proposed bonding projects rather than bonding and putting the state further in debt.
“I think we should pay down some of the debt that we already have,” Poston said.
He called for a stop to the over taxation, including a stop to taxing social security.
Poston brought up that the state is going through voting redistricting. I n the event lawmakers can't meet their Feb. 15 deadline to put forward new maps, a panel of judges is ready to step in and redraw the boundaries.
Despite the many concerns brought up, both men were optimistic that this would be a good year.
“It is going to be a better year,” Poston said.