Editorial: Partisan letters to the editor
We are already entering into the season when the West Central Tribune opinion page becomes sprinkled, or deluged, with partisan letters to the editor. Incumbents are given all credit for legislative accomplishments and too much blame for legislative failures. I write this as an incumbent legislator in response to Joe Raines' letter of July 17 and Geri Dale's letter of July 18.
For example, I find it interesting that the Democrat majority caucus takes all credit for paying back the school shift but blames Republicans for impending property tax increases. Yet both happened under their control. As part of the KWLM legislative review program I frequently pointed out the truth of the school payment. Let me clarify again: to balance the budget, the then-Republican majority and DFL Gov. Dayton delayed payments to schools. Under state law the first monies from future state surpluses go to our state reserve and to pay back any shift.
No bills were needed to pay back the shift. Under the Republican budget plan, a surplus was generated and the shift was paid back. The DFL did appropriate money from the forecasted surplus to expedite shift payment, but it was going to happen anyway.
Another point frequently inaccurately portrayed is that the Republicans cut education when we were in the majority. We never did. Facing one of the most serious recessions in history, we did reduce expected increases in many areas and made cuts in others. In K-12 education the budget was frozen once; other budgets gave increases to education. One could argue more was needed, but not that it was cut.
Another letter blamed Republicans for obstructionism. I'll just respond to Raines's examples regarding extended veterans' benefits. He states that 30 Republicans in Congress voted against them; if he is correct, that means that over 200 voted for the benefits.
Also, I urge people not to confuse state legislators with Congress. We in Minnesota do not receive free health care and free retirement. We contribute each month to a defined benefit plan. One other point: the new office building, passed entirely by the DFL majority, is not for House members. Only senators will be officed in the new building.
I hope this clarifies some items, but the spin will continue.
State Representative 18A