Driving County Roads

An on line journal sharing my views. The content reflects my background as a rural person employed in agriculture and as a retired elected official of local government.

Friday, June 26, 2009

MINNESOTANS WANT MORE GOVERNMENT

Just stay with me on this. At first blush, the reader’s thoughts might be “what planet is she living on?” The quick answer is, I live in Minnesota, a state where on election day last November, a good majority of the voters decided it was a good idea to increase the sales tax we pay by 3/8ths of 1%. This was the constitutional amendment we passed with proceeds going to preserve land, promote clean water, create more trails, and to promote culture and history.

What does this have to do with more government? The amendment put in place the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council, which is established to make recommendations to the legislature for funding of the natural resource projects. The other pots of money were to be distributed through already existing state agencies. But, we all know how these things evolve.

Now, the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council needs a director and candidates for the position are being solicited. So there you have it. Because of the passage of this amendment, we are starting to create more government, more layers, and more bureaucracy. The Lessard Council is 12 people, and guess what? They don’t donate their time. Now they have to have a staff person. Soon the other three pots of money will require similar councils, staff people etc.

This could have all been avoided if, we the citizens, would have urged our elected representatives to do their job and fund these important programs through the agencies that are already in place i.e. Board of Water and Soil Resources, Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and others. The people we elected debated these funding issues for years and could never make a decision. So they threw up their hands and said, “let the people decide with a constitutional amendment.” This is poor policy. Constitutionally dedicated funding does not allow for debate or discussion and the ultimate scrutiny that is needed for good stewardship of our tax dollars. The passage of this amendment has sent Minnesota down a slippery slope. Already the idea is being bandied about to put the issue of medicinal marijuana on the ballot in the same manner. This action by our elected leaders is dereliction of duty.

However, the citizens have spoken and in the state where “no new taxes” seems to be the mantra of our leaders, the citizens have decided otherwise. end

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