The recent letter critical of the Monday budget exercise with U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, held in Winona, needs more explanation.
The meeting provided ordinary citizens a process for dealing with real budget issues and consequences. The information was based on our federal budget and was provided by the Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan grassroots organization advocating generationally responsible fiscal policy since 1990. (www.concordcoalition.org)
The process was simple - groups of interested citizens, armed with finance information, work through the choices presently before Congress.
Does revenue need to be raised? How? Can the tax code be made more fair or simplified? What areas can be cut with the most fair consequences? Our table represented a university professor, a retiree, several college students, people working for nonprofits and educators.
Surprisingly we reached consensus as we worked through the options.
Mr. Walz was there to listen, not to make a presentation, rationale or campaign speech. There were about 10 other groups working through the same process. It was an exercise for doers, not complainers.
All of the groups recommended a variety of cuts, debating the consequences carefully but able to reach consensus at their tables. However, none of the groups was able to complete the task using only budget cuts. All of the groups had to recommend raising revenues to continue core services.
The solution was a combination of careful cuts and increased revenue. The most popular items for generating revenue - repeal the "Bush tax cuts" and also discontinue tax subsidies for the oil companies. This seemed to accomplish several goals - raise revenues fairly for necessary services and realign the tax code, since many benefiting from these tax cuts do not pay a fair share of taxes on their income, capital gains or dividends.
Should our Minnesota legislators make note of these citizen requests? In Minnesota we want services and careful cuts, but we recognize that we can't solve this with cuts alone. We recognize that a portion of our taxpayers (the upper 1 percent) do not pay a fair share. Leave your ideology outside the chambers and do what is right for Minnesota.