Letters to the Editor for June 30

Health bill will have disastrous effect

To the Editor:

After weeks of secret meetings, Americans and all members of the US Senate were finally given a chance to see the Senate version of the American Health Care Act.

As the founder and CEO of an organization providing life sustaining services for people with disabilities and seniors, I am in great opposition.

This bill will have a disastrous effect on Medicaid and the critical care millions of children and families, as well as people with disabilities and the elderly rely on every day.

As drafted, this bill gives $600 billion in tax breaks to the wealthiest people. This is not a fair exchange.

This bill is un-American. In the end, it will cost taxpayers more money and unfortunately could also cost lives of the most vulnerable.

I urge members of the US Senate to vote no.

Dr. Mary Tjosvold
Founder & CEO of Mary T. Inc.

A historic legislative session

To the Editor:

Recently, the legislature completed our balanced budget, and the governor signed all of our budget bills into law. With $650 million in tax relief, billions for roads and bridges, increased education funding, and the prioritization of local projects, this session was a victory for our area and for the state as a whole.

On the transportation front, we passed the largest investment in our road and bridge infrastructure ever without a tax increase. We were able to do this in part by redirecting some general fund dollars (from existing transportation-related revenues) toward transportation projects.

Our tax relief package includes more than $650 million in meaningful middle-class tax relief for families, seniors on social security, college graduates with student loan debt, farmers and businesses across the state. To put this in perspective, this is the biggest tax cut for Minnesotans in nearly two decades!

We’re extremely proud of the schools in our district, and the education they deliver to our young learners. To ensure their continued success, we’ll invest $1.3 billion more into schools which puts more money in every classroom across Minnesota. Along with this new funding, we also passed reforms to make sure we have the best, most capable teachers leading our classrooms. Our plan puts Minnesota students in a position to succeed for years to come.

Lastly, we had some smaller provisions that were signed into law that are important to our districts. Funding to clean up the WDE Landfill, money to fix the Hanson Blvd. rail crossing, and increased dollars toward safety and security renovations at the Anoka Metro Regional Treatment Center are all projects that received funding in our bonding bill.

We’ve appreciated listening to residents of our district, and being a voice for them at the Capitol. Looking back, this was a historic session that saw bipartisan compromise lead to middle class tax relief, new transportation funding, and more money for students in every corner of the state.

Rep. Peggy Scott, R-Andover
Rep. Abigail Whelan, R-Ramsey

 

Stop asking the government for more

To the Editor:

When I first heard about governmental health insurance I asked myself, why? My understanding of health insurance was simply a benefit thru my employer or if I didn’t have an option of getting it through the employer I would go out and find the best health insurance plan on my own.

Then I heard some people saying it was their right to have health insurance. Really?

Assume it is everyone’s right to have health insurance. The term everyone is pretty demanding.

Like so many socialist ideas, the working people would have to have their premiums increased so the people who won’t or can’t pay, will have health insurance.

As it has been said, socialism works, until you run out of someone else’s money.

Here are some of my ideas to reduce our medical cost:

1. A basic thing such as families helping their own family members with health cost should always be the first effort in lieu of expecting the government to pay the cost.

2. Churches used to be a source of helping their own members. We need to get back to that type of thinking.

3. All citizens should be required to put a percentage of their income into to a tax deductible health saving plan.

4. Tort reform, which limits lawsuits or the amount of lawsuits against doctors and hospital. Why? Because doctors and hospitals have to have liability insurance to pay for patient lawsuits whether they are justified or not. Patients do need protection against “bad” doctors and hospitals, but the question is how much and where does it end.

5. Freedom of selecting insurance across state lines with national regulations.

6. Insurance companies, hospitals and doctors would need to have a higher degree of regulation. Why does aspirin cost $50?

7. Research institutions have to be more accountable and show tangible results for all the grant money they receive.

The national debt of about $200 million is a huge factor. Individually we have to stop asking the government for more and more, accept a tremendous tax increase or get ready to stand in soup lines.

Gene Hodel
Oak Grove

County Board ignores turnover problem

To the Editor:

The continuing departure of employees in Anoka County demonstrates that the controlling members of the County Board are jeopardizing the safety of the public and needlessly spending taxpayer dollars.

Doug Fischer, County Highway Department Division Manager, stated in an email sent to the board that, “It is my opinion that the pay plan for my technical and professional people are completely out of sync with not only the private sector but the public sector as well.” He complained that former employees in Anoka County are recruiting the current employees, and stated, “It is hard to keep a highly motivated staff when they have one foot out the door or feel stupid for staying here when they see their former colleagues doing so much better elsewhere.” Amen.

This shortsightedness is also reflected in the arguments made during the Law Enforcement Labor Services Union Contract Arbitration. The County claimed that members shouldn’t receive raises because it was not budgeted. In response, the arbitrator rejected the argument and quoted from Sheriff Stewart that the pay rates in Anoka County have unequivocally resulted in “a recruitment problem” that is “hands down” attributable to non-competitive wages. The arbitrator also cited a 10 percent vacancy rate in the sheriff’s department because of higher wages in neighboring counties and cities.

The public safety issue was raised when a recent letter to the editor reported that a 911 caller reporting an out-of-control drunk driver was put on an extended hold reflecting a worker shortage.

Finally, Sheriff Stewart testified that the retention issue is getting so great that the sheriff’s office has “…become a training ground for cities like Fridley.” His testimony was supported by six affidavits of employees who left the sheriff’s office for better pay. The arbitrator stated, “It is clear that the salary range is not sufficient to attract qualified candidates for employment, and there is a pattern of turnover that can be directly linked to establish compensation levels.”

Our County Board needs to address this issue that is costly and unsafe.

William A. Erhart
Ramsey

Fear-mongering at heart of letter

To the Editor:

The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Yup, you’ve got it. More hysterical nonsense from Ms. Barb Anderson (June 2, Push for Islamic Changes).

After 60 years of consistent legal opinion on the issue of church/state separation, Ms. Anderson still doesn’t understand that teaching about religion is a legitimate and important public school function and is supported by all, including the ACLU. The problem occurs when the government promotes religion. This is not a difficult concept for anyone willing to do their own thinking.

And there’s the rub. Ms. Anderson reports what others tell her and leaves it at that. She takes no personal responsibility for the inflammatory nature of her words. When she implies that a social studies unit on Islam will result in terrorist attacks, she’s not reporting on a reasonable scenario. She’s fear-mongering. She’s ripping at the fabric of society by turning neighbor against neighbor. This is not what Jesus would do.

Ms. Anderson needs to understand that the Anoka area condemns her venomous attacks on our neighbors. We want a community that welcomes all faiths and those without faith. We want neighbors who feel secure that their personal identities will be respected and who feel free to fully participate in community activities.

I therefore offer a warm welcome to the Muslims in our community along with a reminder. Not only do you have the same religious freedoms granted to all citizens, you also carry the burden of reminding the rest of us that the world is bigger than conservative Christian Anoka County and that our views are too often merely customary – some might say inbred – rather than accurate.

Salam Alekum.

Rod Kuehn
Ramsey