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Letters: Children's success, gubernatorial ticket concerns, Obamacare

Children’s success is the goal

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, the community, for allowing me to serve on the District 833 School Board. In the short seven months that I have been on the board, there have been some challenges and changes in the district. I have had the privilege and opportunity to watch our schools continue to improve and I believe that the vision and leadership provided by our school superintendent, Dr. Keith Jacobus, will enable our district to improve well into the future.

District 833 is one of the best school districts in Minnesota. In a recent publication, parents gave top marks to our teachers for keeping parents informed. Keeping parents and the community informed is extremely important. One of my campaign issues was to improve communication and continue to build and strengthen relationships between the stakeholders — parents, students, teachers and the community. I strongly believe that when stakeholders feel empowered, welcomed, valued and respected, the dialogue between the stakeholders and the district leaders will improve — so we can all collaborate in a more meaningful and purposeful manner.

There is always more that we can do to improve the South Washington County Schools. The School Board, district administration, staff and teachers believe in the district’s mission, being “committed to igniting a passion for lifelong learning,” and are dedicated to the success of all children. I urge parents and community members to continue to be involved so that we can continue to provide our children with a high-quality education. Even if you do not have a school-age child attending one of our schools, please consider being involved with our schools. We can use everyone’s knowledge, wisdom, experience and suggestions. Should you have any specific questions or suggestions, please email me at: Please enjoy the rest of the summer.

Sharon Van Leer- Woodbury

’Obamacare’ working for America – and working well

If Linda Stanton’s claims regarding rising premiums under “Obamacare” were true, that would be dire news indeed. Fortunately, she is wrong. Her source, a right wing think tank devoted to privatizing safety net programs such as Social Security, ignores the fact that insurance premiums have increased every year, often by double digits, even before the ACA was enacted.

Moreover, its comparison was apples to oranges, bare bones policies which cover essentially nothing compared with comprehensive policies with broad coverage. In fact, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, policies with identical coverage actually cost less now because of “Obamacare.” Additionally, the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research completely ignores the impact of tax subsidies which reduce the cost of premiums as much as 70 percent.

As with any new policy, there will be tradeoffs and yes, some have seen their premiums increase, in large measure because they now have better coverage. However, millions upon millions of Americans, the working poor, self-employed entrepreneurs, those with preexisting conditions, have access to quality health care for the first time, reducing society’s costs for catastrophic and uncompensated care. Our uninsured rate is now the lowest since Gallup began tracking that figure and, according to Kaiser Health, the cost of health care in the United States increased at a record slow rate thanks to the Affordable Care Act. “Obamacare” is working well.

Joyce Denn - Woodbury

Housley brings concern to gubernatorial ticket

With the primary election rapidly approaching, it is necessary to evaluate those running for political office. We must not elect those who are lacking in experience, training, virtue and wisdom or who have been dishonest with the voters they claim to represent.

Gubernatorial candidate Scott Honour‘s running mate, Karin Housley, states that she is very conservative. Her record seems to indicate otherwise.

Sen. Housley has stated numerous times that she favors city governments and school districts having their own “local control” rather than oversight from the state Legislature.

Before Forest Lake School District 831 had its $170 million levy election two months ago (which was turned down by voters), Sen. Housley made efforts to find a loophole, using a state law that allows larger school districts to fund building maintenance without giving the voters a say in the matter. The “Alternative Facilities Program” requires the school buildings to be of a certain size and age, but special legislation has been granted to some school districts that allowed them to fund their projects without voter consent. Sen. Housley’s attempts to get special legislation for ISD 831 were unsuccessful.

The Stillwater school district and the cities of Stillwater and Forest Lake have also benefited by Sen. Housley’s efforts to promote levies and Tax Increment Finance districts.

Sen. Housley’s actions seem to please all government officials and staff but they don’t please all of her constituents nor all of the taxpayers across the state that are often at the mercy of “local control.”

Make a wise choice when voting in the primary and remember to vote for the candidate who has both the experience and integrity to represent Minnesota.

Susan Richardson - Woodbury

Understanding the broken promises of ‘Obamacare’

The author (“Republican complaints … ,” July 23) should get his facts straight: not only are policy experts reporting large increases in health insurance premiums but local experts as well. The Minnesota Council of Health Plans executive director was quoted by a local TV station on July 10. Julie Brunner stated at a University of Minnesota symposium that “she would not be surprised if the health plans increased their rates by 8, 10 or even 12 percent.” Ms. Brunner was referring to the public or MNsure/Obamacare exchange health plans. The Manhattan Institute reported that premiums in the private market in MN are increasing by 47 percent. Once again this discrepancy shows that expert opinions can vary greatly.

The Manhattan Institute is a conservative research center on the “center right,” but can Mr. Hammond prove that the Commonwealth Fund is not a liberal research group? And if he discovered it was a “liberal” one, would he be honest about it or refer to it as “left wing,” progressive or extreme?

President Obama promised that the typical family would see premiums go down by $2,500.  That has not happened because mandates imposed by the government have forced prices up.  This is basic economics.  No amount of distraction can hide this from hard-working Minnesotans who see their money spent wastefully.

Democrats jammed down Obamacare on a partisan vote (“we have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it”). Now we are left to try and live with it. Minnesotans deserve better than these broken promises.

Linda Stanton - Woodbury