The following is my response to a very lengthy email from a constituent. I thought you might be interested in my response.
Dear Mr. ____
Thank you for the email outlining your views. I’ll try and answer some of your concerns.
First of all, I decided to run because the last four years when the opposition was in control, the state went from a $2 billion surplus to a $5 billion shortfall. You can blame the governor, but the DFL controlled the House 87-47 and they appropriate the money. So they share part of the responsibility-most in my view. I’m sure we will solve the problem this biennium and put the state back in some semblance of financial order. We are willing to spend about 5% more than last biennium but that won’t be enough to satisfy everyone. So, the DFL will campaign against us and we’ll probably lose our majority. Then the DFL will again be in control. Within a short period of time the state will again be in financial trouble and so it goes. All the while, the cry arises, “tax the rich.” If only the rich would pay their fair share, we’d have all our problems solved. I’ve been here less than three months and it’s the mantra, no doubt.
The problem is, if higher taxes were the answer, we wouldn’t have a problem. We already have the highest taxes in region. But, we could take the easy way out, raise income tax brackets and see what happens. Well, I was in a meeting this past weekend of the Tax Committee and we lowered the two lowest rates and left the highest rate. Of course, the DFL objected. They complain about everything but propose nothing-except to say “more.”
As for your statement that you don’t feel overtaxed, that’s good. But I have to tell you, I campaigned the past twelve months (before November 2010) all over Kanabec and Pine counties and that was a sentiment I never heard. The citizens in my district feel overtaxed and underserved. As a Kanabec Commissioner (along with four other public servants) we had no levy increase for the past two years. This was in response to decreases in county aid. So, even if the there are cuts to local aid, it is possible for local units of government to live without property tax increases. It is a local decision. And that is from a commissioner from Kanabec County (Pine did it too) that’s among the poorest in the state. We are usually in the top (or lowest) in unemployment rates and per capita income. If Kanabec and Pine Counties can do it, I assure you the larger cities and counties can do it.
Finally, I did read your lengthy email. I assure you, I receive a number like it weekly. I did not get in to this arena to represent some rich or powerful that you say control my party. I know I’m supposed to be some bad Republican who only represents those that make $100K/year and light their cigars with $100 bills. The problem is, I don’t know anyone who makes $100K-maybe I know a couple people who make $50K-friends of mine who are teachers or a sheriff or deputy. Nobody else-certainly no one in the private sector. The people who financed my campaign did it with small contributions. They knew me and thought I would represent them without regard to party, money or anything. I assure you, I will do that. I really have no illusions about serving a long time in the Legislature. I’ll do my best and if people disagree and vote me out, that’s OK-I’ll be able to sleep at night.
Sincerely, Roger Crawford