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Letter: An open letter to Rep. McNamara

Dear Denny,

I'd rather see you decline your legislative salary than accept it and donate it to Regina Hospital or any other nonprofit. By accepting your pay and donating it, you stand to get money back on your taxes (assuming you itemize on your state and federal taxes.) I think it's a shame that any legislator is accepting a payroll check when your work was never completed. Yes, the legislature passed a spending bill early in this year's session, but you and your party leaders knew immediately that the governor would not sign the bill. With more than three months left in the session, your leadership, and even you as our representative, should have sat down and worked out a compromise bill. The word "compromise" is the key word to keep in mind here, because our state constitution (and certainly our federal constitution) was framed by our founding fathers with the idea that compromise would prevail when differences occurred between the liberal and conservative parties. That is what I learned in school when I studied American history and political science. To not compromise cuts against the grain of the spirit of our country, our state and our constitutions.

Everything I have read in the news points to your party's leadership being unwilling to put forth a compromise that would recognize and respect the proposals of the loyal opposition. You are not dealing with the enemy here. You are dealing with the loyal opposition that has the best interests of the state and its citizens in mind just as you do.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon with a friend and her family. Her name is Jolene, she works for the Department of Health, and she has lost a week's pay because of the shutdown. That's a week's pay she will never get back. But her family still needs groceries, has to pay the mortgage and must pay the utility bills. You and the legislature are messing with the financial lives of people. There's an old saying that applies here: "You don't screw around with someone's pay."

You had three months during the legislative session to reach a compromise on the state's budget and you couldn't do it. You have a governor who was duly elected by the people. Just because he is a member of the opposite party is no reason to ignore his ideas and views. That is childish and egocentric. Governor Dayton wants the top 2 percent of wage earners to pay their fair share of taxes. As a percent of income they pay less in taxes than I do. I do not mind paying my fair share of taxes, but I do mind that someone else is not paying their fair share as a percent of their income. That is not childish. That is reality.

Then you have the audacity to tell us you are donating your legislative salary to a nonprofit, as though that makes you immune from scrutiny. That is appalling. Your donation will give you a return of roughly one dollar for every three dollars donated on your federal return and a dollar for every three dollars donated on your state return. What will you do with that portion of your tax refund? I can give you Jolene's phone number if you'd like to help her out.

Dogma has no place in politics. Our country and our state have a fine history of respecting the views of the loyal opposition. The rights and opinions of the minority are the hallmark of our society and our laws.  As a member of the Hastings City Council, I have to deal with differences of opinion from my fellow council members and the citizens that come before us. Dogma is the farthest thing on my mind when I sit down for a meeting in our council chambers. What is in the forefront is cooperation and compromise. I would suggest that the legislature, of which you are a part, has  not just dropped the ball, but has lost its way. You would do well to refuse your pay. That reflects more of what you have truly done at the capitol building.

Keep in touch!


Joe Balsanek