The state budget, a proposed Vikings stadium and nuclear energy were the main topics of conversation at Rep. Steve Simon’s town hall meeting Sunday.
The four-term Democrat from District 44A, which encompasses Hopkins and St. Louis Park, told about a dozen people at the in Hopkins that he personally favors a combination of spending cuts and revenue increases to tackle the state's roughly $5 billion deficit.
“Both the governor and the Republican majority in the legislature have budget proposals which are noticeably different.” Simon said. “Pretty much everyone knows there will be a compromise and a meeting in the middle from the two extremes.”
He added that both the governor and the GOP believe they have something of a mandate relative to their positions because both were winners in the 2010 election.
“I expect we will see a good deal more clarity in the next few weeks,” Simon said.
As for a new Vikings stadium, Simon says there appears to be a lack of receptiveness to the idea even if there was no—or very little—state money involved in funding a new facility.
“The Vikings are saying this is a do-or-die situation this session because their lease for the Metrodome is up,” he said. “I personally think that the lease could be extended for one to three years to give this more time and to hopefully see the climate improve to increase the chances for a stadium.
“Businesses extend leases all the time and the Vikings could as well right now.”
Nuclear energy was the final big topic at the meeting. Simon said he personally is “on the 50 yard line" on the matter.
“I am not a scientist by any means,” he said. “However, I do have real concerns about global warming, and one thing about nuclear energy is that it is pollution free and does not contribute to climate change.”
At the same time, he said, studies show that if America were to have just 5 percent of the vehicles on the road become totally electric, it would put an incredible strain on the electrical grid because of increased demand.
“Wind and solar are great, but still in their infancy, yet has the chance to expand but that will take several years,” he said.
Nuclear is extremely expensive when it comes to building plants, and the issue of safe radioactive waste disposal is not even close to being resolved.
"Greater use of nuclear also has the effect of de-incentifying a push for renewable energy,” he said.