Monday, October 30, 2006

Conservation funding proposal collapsed under weight of DFL add-ons

A vote to re-elect Sen. Terri Bonoff would be an endorsement of her vision of a big-government utopia, including a government-subsidized Twins baseball stadium, government-subsidized light rail, and constitutionally-mandated, government-subsidized funding for the arts. If you don't share this vision, you should carefully consider your vote before sending Bonoff back to Saint Paul for four more years.

Her challenger, Plymouth mayor Judy Johnson, believes in asking the voters, as required by state law, for permission to raise local option taxes. Johnson has a comprehensive plan for highways and transit without light rail. She believes in transparent ballot questions, not tag-on amendments like the conservation/arts funding question that was defeated in the last legislative session.

No vote for Bonoff
To the Editor:

Sen. Terri Bonoff, when running last fall, said that she would help to simplify government.

To me that meant not having "tag on unrelated amendments" attached to meaningful legislation. I very specifically asked Sen. Bonoff to support the natural resources clean water bill without any tag on amendments, which included funding for the arts.

Her response to me was that she already had supported the bill with tag on amendments. Those amendments were not related to the bill and helped to kill the bill. This was just what the Senate majority leader planned...not to give the citizens of Minnesota, Plymouth and Minnetonka a voice in the matter! What this means is that all of Sen. Bonoff’s constituents do not have a voice, and we are not able to voice our opinion in the fall election by having the bill on the ballot.

I even suggested that there be two separate bills on the ballot, one bill was for natural resource funding and the other for the arts, and I received no response.

I do not see any help in the Senate. Vote for common sense in November! Sen. Bonoff will not receive my vote!

Roger Elias
The notion of combining conservation with the arts: Conservationists, at whatever cost, must never allow this to occur again in any consideration of dedicated funding. The shotgun marriage of the two, foisted upon the Legislature by Sen. Dick Cohen of St. Paul and his DFL colleagues, was embarrassing on many levels, not least the unseemly begging for a spot at the public trough that ensued by Bill Kling, president of Minnesota Public Radio...

In the end, however, the arts and its supporters proved themselves not only bad partners, but poor sports — seeking money in amounts that likely would not have survived public scrutiny before the November election, had dedicated funding for public radio and TV, among others, been achieved at levels sought by the DFL.1

The polling data I've seen, and my experience, tells me that the more focused a constitutional amendment proposal is, the better its chance of passage. I don't believe the arts brought added value to the bills. —DNR Commissioner Gene Merriam2

1 "Changes needed if funding is to pass," by Dennis Anderson, Star Tribune, June 12, 2006.

2 "Merriam still optimistic about dedicated funding," by Dennis Anderson, Star Tribune, June 22, 2006.

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