LETTER TO THE EDITOR: American dream to own your own land is still alive
I would like to briefly address some statements BSU professor Brian Hiller made in his Jan. 19 letter to the Bemidji Pioneer where he mentioned me.
First, the state of Minnesota is not a person spending money it has earned. Instead, the state spends the citizens’ hard-earned tax dollars it seizes from them.
Payment in lieu of taxes (PILT) also is tax money taken from citizens. Actually, it is a double tax. It is wrong for the state to overtax people so there is enough money to give some back. Only government could get away with this kind of bookkeeping.
Money and jobs created by state lands existed when the land was privately owned. Yet, businesses have been taxed and charged fees to the degree it has become impossible for some to do business in Minnesota. Over the past 30-plus years, there has been a decline in resorts, from well over 3,000 to currently less than 800. It looks like roughly two-thirds of forest land is managed by the state. As a side note: The Legislature removed the School Trust Land from the DNR’s authority for lack of proper management.
Beltrami, Clearwater and Mahnomen counties are among the poorest in the state. Land owners here are not wealthy. They work hard for everything they have.
Is the American dream to own your own land still alive? I choose to believe it is. But, like our forefathers, we will have to fight to keep it.
On a final note, I have been asked to source figures I have used regarding the amount of land the state owns. I have a few and the easiest to access is DNR’s very own report. Just Google “Public Land and Mineral Ownership in Minnesota – A Guide for Teachers” and click on what should be the top link to appear, a pdf file from the DNR.
Steve Green, Fosston, is District 2B representative in the Minnesota House.