Letter: 'We put a proverbial gun to the head of the public'There’s a saying that when everyone is to blame, no one is to blame. In the case of our state’s shut down of services, everyone from the governor to the legislature is to blame, and should be to blame.
By: District 22A Rep. Joe Schomacker, R-Luverne, Worthington Daily Globe
There’s a saying that when everyone is to blame, no one is to blame. In the case of our state’s shut down of services, everyone from the governor to the legislature is to blame, and should be to blame.
While I remain critical of the governor ignoring the legislature’s moving to his entire position on over half of the state budget, he has his viewpoint, too. And I must admit that I was not too excited to listen to his tax increase proposal because I still don’t know where that money is supposed to go, but I do know it included tax increases on nursing homes, hospitals and online purchases, in addition to the top two percent of tax payers. Still, doing more to seek out details may have been something I could have done to help avoid this.
Although I am only one of the 201 in the legislature, I recognize that I am the only one for Murray, Pipestone, Rock and much of Nobles counties. The proposal we presented the governor months ago offered many great services for our region, from increasing access to public transit, more money for many of our nursing homes, holding the line on local government aid, to a fairer funding formula for schools. These proposals have been vetoed.
Now, because one side wanted one thing and the other side wanted another, we put a proverbial gun to the head of the public. That’s not statesmanship, that’s not leadership. I understand as a member of the community and a member of my own family that a shutdown will have widespread personal and public impacts. Businesses that need permits to expand or people waiting for a background check on a job are also going to be impacted by this.
There is another saying that you have to stand for something or you stand for nothing. I’ve spoken with many of you, at length, about how to address this $5.1 billion budget deficit. It seems clear that people recognize that in these very challenging times we have great opportunities. It’s what gets people to the table to talk about ideas that have been floating around for years, and we can’t give up on those opportunities that could mean so much for our region, either. A six percent spending increase with real reforms is a responsible way to move forward; we can’t afford to stand for the status quo.
Status quo politics is what we’re seeing today, though. While I get frustrated with the amount of cynicism in the emails and calls I receive, I can’t blame the constituents for it, either. I ran on a platform that was about finding common ground and solutions more than any particular budget proposal. I can’t imagine how helpless folks must feel about the process when there are days right now when I feel that way, too. That feeling does not last long, though, and I continue to be optimistic about the prospects of swift resolution. No one is winning right now, so the best thing that we can do now is end this quickly.
Since the end of regular session I’ve been meeting with community leaders all throughout the district and brining those messages back to the folks at the negotiating table. I’ve been studying up as much as I can on the proposals, and I’ve been reading many unprompted, very personal, very sincere emails from concerned citizens. I want to assure readers that these messages don’t fall on deaf ears.
Last night I stayed on the House floor, fully anticipating the governor to call us back into special session, pass the half of the budget we had agreed on, and pass a “lights on” resolution to avoid a shut down. We weren’t called back.
I appreciate and ask for your thoughts and prayers that we end this soon. Humility might be the best thing to pray for right now. We’ll continue working here, on a job that should have been done a month ago already.