Pass it and get ready for more on future ballots
Beware, Minnesota voters! Beware of the proposal to put a small sales tax into the state Constitution. It looks harmless to give extra funds for the arts and the parks and natural resources.
But why put it into the Constitution? Because recent legislative sessions have not appropriated enough funds? Yes.
Why not? Because public schools, public safety, local government aid, public health, higher education -- all these have also not had enough funds.
Taxes must be set by each legislative session through the difficult process of assessing the needs of the state while at the same time, keeping a balanced budget. Budget deficits are looming. If this amendment passes, it is just a matter of time before other amendments will have taxes dedicated by Constitution for public schools and public safety.
Don¹t fall into this trap. Vote no on this really bad idea.
DAVE BISHOP, ROCHESTER;
RETIRED STATE LEGISLATOR
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In the past, the media have labeled this proposed amendment the "Hunting and Fishing Amendment," which is completely inaccurate. Clean water in our state is not only important to those who fish and hunt, but to everyone who needs drinkable water to survive -- all of us. Our lakes, especially our wetlands and shallow lakes, are nature's system for filtering our water as it works its way into our groundwater system, where we get our drinking water.
Yes, having these waters clean is important to the survival of wildlife, but also to the survival of humans. Wildlife needs "green space" with trees and grasslands to survive, but the photosynthesis that takes place with these trees is needed by humans to survive as well.
The Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment is not a "blank check" to "government bureaucracies" but a guaranteed amount of money to be overseen by a citizens' committee to be used for specified purposes, including cleaning up our state's waters, preserving and maintaining "green spaces" and parks, forests and trails.
Finally, the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment is not an "affront to representative democracy." Any form of democracy is based on the principle of "majority rule." A referendum ensures majority rule -- a concept that has eluded our state government for some time.
TROY SMUTKA, CHASKA
HENNEPIN COUNTY BENCH
The arguments for Piper and Ranum
As a DFL politician from a DFL-dominated district of southwest Minneapolis, Jane Ranum was partisan and anti-suburban in her views on a broad array of issues including transit, local development and state aid to local government. Her perspective as a legislator could hardly be called "balanced." Do we need someone to legislate from the bench?
Her opponent, David Piper, has impressive legal credentials, judicial experience and unquestioned temperament for the bench. He deserves election.
STEVEN MINN, EDINA
For 16 years, Jane Ranum did outstanding work at the state Senate. And she represented ideas and principles that are important to all Minnesotans. She worked effectively across party lines and was known for her expertise in crime prevention, the state judicial system and budgeting. Her honesty, integrity and willingness to listen to all points of view while a senator were well known. Her retirement from the Legislature was definitely a sad moment for those of us who had come to rely on her as our state senator.
We now have the opportunity to return Ranum to public service as a Hennepin County judge. The skills, integrity and intelligence she showed as our senator more than equip her to take on this important new role.
CYNTHIA CHAMBERLIN, RICHFIELD
Tinklenberg: The right choice for U.S. House
El Tinklenberg is a calm, thoughtful person who has demonstrated the ability to build consensus with a common-sense approach and actually get things done. He understands the need to repair our infrastructure and build for the future. He understands the need, and the justice, of providing the benefits of the G.I. Bill for our veterans.
His opponent in this race has been an embarrassment both as a representative in the state House and the U.S. Congress.
The choice between Tinklenberg and Rep. Michele Bachmann is an easy one.
JOHN L. BARRETT, STILLWATER
How about a mortgage holiday instead?
I am all in favor for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's endorsement of a second economic stimulus package. However, I am not in favor of increasing this country's debt to do it.
What about two months of free mortgage to homeowners? What an outstanding way for mortgage companies to thank homeowners for helping bail them out of this past month's financial crisis!
KAREN WATTERS, STILLWATER