Letter: We need fact-based, respectful debate

Published 8:30 pm Saturday, March 23, 2024

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Mr. Aaron Farris shared numerous points of view in the Feb. 13 edition of the Albert Lea Tribune. He asserts that “Democrats took a $17 billion surplus and turned it into a $2.3 billion deficit in just one season.” He contends that Democrats lack “common sense” and could have made our schools safer, fixed a child care crisis, paid for our wastewater treatment plant or given it back to the taxpayers.

He is certainly entitled to his point of view. However, voters in Minnesota gave Democrats a majority in both the Minnesota House and Senate. Perhaps voters made their choices based upon the candidates that best represented their values, including common sense.

How did Minnesota spend and invest the surplus? According to house.mn.gov and americanexperiment.org, the bulk of the surplus went to tax reduction/relief, E-12 education, health and human services, and transportation and public safety. While it is beyond the scope of this letter to include all spending details, the surplus was not only not “squandered,” it was predominantly invested in all the areas Mr. Farris listed as needing fixing.

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I recently completed my taxes and was pleasantly surprised by my Minnesota return. My tax bill went down noticeably due to changes in the tax code made possible through the budget surplus and legislative spending decisions. Democrats reduced or eliminated taxes on Social Security income for all but the top income earners.

The latest Minnesota Budget and Economic forecast projects a $3.72 billion surplus, not deficit, for the 2024-25 fiscal year. There is work to be done to correct what is termed a ‘budget structural imbalance’ for 2025-26. I am confident our Democratic legislators will use common sense to resolve it wisely.

Mr. Farris, please consider that pointing fingers, distorting and ignoring facts, and demeaning a political party’s legislators and voters as lacking common sense diminishes all of us. We can and do disagree on many things, and it is healthy to have different points of view. To build a better Minnesota, we should hew toward honest, fact-based, and most importantly, respectful debate.

Jeff Miller
Albert Lea