After attending the town hall meeting in Bemidji on Feb. 20, you could say the consensus was that many people and organizations in our area are concerned about the proposed cuts under the plan that our governor has proposed to the people of Minnesota.
What was unfortunate about this forum was everyone had a lot to say about his or her concerns, but not many proposals were offered on how to fix the massive problem that we are facing as a state. It is clear that programs will be reduced and some of the most vulnerable people who need help the most will be affected by the next budget cycle. To many citizens this is unacceptable and part of the solution may have to be raising revenue for the state, but unfortunately we have a governor that at this time is unwilling to do this.
The governor has proposed a budget that does not raise revenue for the state in any form because of his relentless pursuit to not raise taxes. Therefore, he is asking the citizens to work with what we have, which is significantly less than in previous years because of the recession.
It is quite clear to most Minnesotans that our state has a revenue problem; we have had a revenue problem for many years in this state. Unfortunately, we have a governor that refuses to address this problem in a pragmatic way and now we have a very serious situation that should be addressed in a bipartisan method.
To address the budget deficit, we need a leader who will work with our Legislature and the people of Minnesota for the betterment of every citizen. Nobody wants to pay more taxes, but extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, and we need a leader who will propose a plan that will show us a willing-ness to be the leader we all want, a leader who will recognize that raising revenue can and should be part of the solution without sacrificing core political ideals.
The consensus of the town hall meeting was that citizens of the Bemidji area are not willing to sacrifice the services and institutions key to the health of our community and state of Minnesota for the political agenda of our governor. Our governor needs to address our state budget issue in a sensible, bipartisan way that every Minnesotan can be proud.
Richard L Jaenisch