In the Spotlight

News & Features
Accept Change, Ventura Suggests
By Amy Radil
August 12, 1999
Click for audio RealAudio 3.0

After he warned a Duluth audience he had harsh words for them, Governor Ventura said government needs to quit funding quick fixes to rural problems, and instead aim for long-term solutions. Speaking at the Minnesota Rural Summit, Ventura said it's up to rural leaders to figure out and attain their own visions. Some audience members said the governer has a lot to learn about rural areas, but local leaders also seemed braced by his challenge.

For More Information
Listen to the entire speechgiven by Governor Ventura at the Rural Summit.

What do you think about the Governor's comments. Post your thoughts and read those of others in the MPR Forum.
GOVERNOR VENTURA DELIVERED a new twist on one of his long-running themes - personal responsibility - in addressing the plight and promise of Minnesota's rural areas. Before an audience of 600 rural leaders, Ventura said he doesn't want to hear about the rural crisis anymore.
Ventura: It's time to quit talking about rural crisis and start talking about rural change, coping and common sense.
Ventura says rural residents, like urban ones, must be mindful that tax cuts and balanced budgets can't co-exist with an endless stream of government aid.
Ventura: Since I have been governor, there have been a series of so-called disasters: depressed hog prices, 100-mile winds, flooded farm fields. Those just name a few. In every instance, I've heard, "Governor, come and save us."
The governor said he'll keep a skeptical eye turned to many of the budget items intended to sustain rural communities, whether the money compensates hurting farmers or population loss in small towns.
Ventura: Any dollar that gets spent on rural development or ag relief or off-setting declining enrollment in public schools needs to be carefully considered based on what makes common sense over the long term.
Ventura says farmers are continuing to look to the state for help, but the money is spent. Ralph Maltz is a former Scott County commissioner who runs a farm in southeast Minnesota. He says Ventura is naive about some areas of agriculture, and unaware of the ways international agreements and federal policies affect farmers. But he says the governor has a point in asking rural residents to get beyond a crisis mentality.
Maltz: What he was pointing out is: when you say "rural crisis," that's basically a negative statement and that's fine; you're diagnosing it, but let's move on. If you have a crisis you have to deal with it, and dealing with it you take positive steps that over time will help correct it. So it's a mindset too. So I think he's right to point that out.
Ventura did touch on the government's role in helping rural communities make the transition to sounder economies. He noted U.S. Bancorp's donation of $500,000 to be used for venture capital for outstate businesses, as well as the 21st Century Minerals Fund to keep iron mining viable in northeast Minnesota. And he supports giving rural communities the wiring and technological infrastructure to help communities keep pace with the Metro area.