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Vulnerable residents need more protection than wealthy

July 6, 2011
Marshall Independent

This might not go over well in a Republican-heavy area, but if Gov. Mark Dayton is right and his budget plan would do as much as possible to protect state services and prevent cuts to social programs, we're behind it - not because of his party affiliation, but because it's what's best for the people who rely on those services. If it turns out that the newly-formed independent commission comes up with a better plan to protect those people, we're all for that, too.

Even before the shutdown began, anyone who relies on public, social services was worried about what they would do if the government came to a screeching halt. Well, the state slammed on the brakes at 12:01 a.m. Friday, bringing those services to a halt or threatening to in the near future.

Our policymakers need to protect those services because doing so will protect our vulnerable residents. The Independent spoke with two people Friday who rely on public transportation for social and health reasons. A woman from Marshall feared that her way of living, her quality of life, will suffer because she wouldn't have a way to get around to do her volunteer work or get her meds. A man who lives outside of Tracy worried about how he will get his wheelchair-bound wife to Marshall every day for treatment and therapy.

Republicans are worried that if the top 2 percent of income earners - more specifically, businesses owners - are taxed more, they will leave Minnesota for greener pastures and take jobs with them. It's a plausible theory, but it seems more like speculation than fact. The cold, hard truth is that if social services are cut thousands of Minnesotans will hurt - and these are our neighbors we're talking about. This, we know, and the proof is evident right now under the shutdown. Take away these services, or cut into them, and you cut into people's quality of life. You know people who would suffer. You're probably related to one.

We're not about to hit the streets screaming, "Tax the rich! Tax the rich!" and no one wants to force the hand of business owners to the point of them packing up and heading to another state, but it's not right to pick on the little guy who can't defend himself.

This isn't about politics anymore - at least it shouldn't be. This is about people's lives, and the less they - you - are affected by however the final budget bill plays out, the better. Hopefully, the commission announced Tuesday to help end the shutdown will realize what's at stake for those who rely on social services, check their politics at the door and agree to limit cuts to those services as much as possible while protecting business owners as well.

That would be the ultimate compromise the Legislature and Dayton could only dream about during a forgettable six-month session.



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