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Letter: Legislator says Clark's comments 'crystal clear'

It appears Minnesota Assistant Senate Majority Leader Tarryl Clark is a little upset over the fact that I brought her feelings regarding nursing home funding to your attention. She says I'm "misleading" you, "distorting the record," and "muddying the waters."

Actually, what I gave you was her direct quote -- "nursing homes don't really count" in their (the Senate DFL) definition of health care.

You can't get any more crystal clear than that. These words come from one of the most powerful people in the Legislature (second in command in the Minnesota Senate), which is why I was extremely disappointed in her comments. I've spoken to Senator Vickerman on this topic and he agrees with me on the need to help our nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

Until House and Senate leadership sat down to negotiate with Governor Pawlenty, Clark and her fellow leaders failed to adequately address nursing home funding over the past two years. That's a fact. And I would argue nursing homes funding is still coming up short.

Further, Clark says nursing homes are "one of the largest and fastest-growing expenses in the state's budget." I don't look at nursing homes as an expense but as an investment. So if she claims that caring for our elderly is an expense, she must actually view it as a burden.

Our focus needs to be on caring for the elderly, the disabled and the children. We need to care for people that have a more difficult time caring for themselves -- not by expanding welfare programs to people that are capable of working, are residents of other states, or not residents at all.

Clark and I obviously have a fundamental difference of opinion on this topic, and that's fine. But she should have the courage to say it, as opposed to blaming me for her questionable comments.

Clark also seems to insinuate that I'm attempting to carry Governor Pawlenty's water. Clearly, anyone who's paid any attention at all to the transportation debate this year knows that is not the case.

In my world, you say what you mean and mean what you say. Clark said nursing homes don't count in a health care definition, and that nursing homes are a large expense. I have said nursing home funding should be one of our top health care priorities, and have consistently fought for cost-of-living adjustments for our rural facilities.

I guess I just expect more from people in Senator Clark's position, that's all.