‘Voice of reason’ needed during legislative session

On Thursday, the State of Minnesota projected a $1.5 billion surplus for the next two-year budget period. It was good news because it gives Democratic Gov.-elect Tim Walz and the Legislature more room to negotiate spending initiatives, tax cuts or the combination of both during the upcoming legislative session.

But the good news has already launched the debate on how to handle the surplus. The debate is sparked by a political divide in Minnesota and throughout the nation. In Minnesota, it’s just not politics that creates a division. Rural cities and school districts would like to see a bigger piece of the pie. There is a feeling in Greater Minnesota that the Twin Cities get too much of the revenue pie.

Rep. Chris Swedzinski, R-Ghent, like other lawmakers in the state, quickly sent out a press release warning the Democrats that now control the governorship and House to avoid raising taxes. “Let’s do the right thing by using this surplus to provide tax relief to Minnesotans,” Swedzinski said in the release.

Meanwhile, next door in Wisconsin, there’s a clear example of what Minnesota lawmakers should not do. The Republican-controlled Legislature approved measures to weaken the powers of the governor and attorney general — both Democrats. Such power grabbing will only result in more deep political turmoil that will plague that state in its upcoming legislative session.

Hopefully, Minnesota will rise above such unproductive bickering. In his release, Swedzinski proclaimed he wants to be a voice of reason. Swedzinski will be a positive force during the next legislative session if he follows through with that pledge. Working to find common ground among the factions will benefit the state in the long run,

On Thursday, Swedzinski and state Sen. Gary Dahms, R-Redwood Falls, will be holding a joint town hall meeting 7:30-8:30 a.m. at the MERIT Center. This is a good opportunity for area residents to voice their concerns about the state surplus and other issues that affect southwest Minnesota.

To be productive representatives, both Swedzinski and Dahms need to hear from their constituents.