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Letter: State must protect vital services.

Shane Sellner, a correction agent for the Departmnet of Corrections from Eagle Lake, reminds us that in a time of economic crisis, keeping Minnesotans employed should be a top priority for economic recovery:

Minnesota is facing a historic budget crisis. We must look for smart solutions to our problems. It is easy for Governor Pawlenty to say cutting government jobs is the way out of this, but it is important to look at what cutting jobs means — fewer services for taxpayers.

If state workers are furloughed, there will be less parole officers keeping track of convicted felons. There would be less people helping the unemployed get back on their feet. In this time of economic crisis, doesn’t it make sense to set priorities and make sure helping people recover is at the top of the list?

I am employed as a correction agent for the Department of Corrections. I supervise high-risk and high-need convicted felons in the community and provide investigative reporting to the court. Over two years ago, I was given the additional duty of supervising participants in the Brown County Alcohol and Other Drug Court. This allows individuals that would have otherwise been incarcerated to remain in the community, with a high degree of accountability, in an attempt to rehabilitate the offenders and break the cycle of addiction. The program has been successful in saving taxpayer dollars as well as giving many individuals a chance to improve their quality of life. Essentially, returning offenders to law-abiding behavior.

Let’s look at other ways to protect vital services during the tough times ahead. Locking these individuals up is only making the problem worse.

The Governor’s budget cuts will hurt middle class families, small businesses and the economy. His plan will cut the amount of money the state provides to cities and counties – that means cuts to government in all areas including education, public safety and healthcare.

The simple reality is that the Governor would rather place Minnesota’s budget burden on those families that are struggling to make ends meet rather than ask those who can afford to pay more to share the pain.

The Governor and state Republicans refuse to talk about a fair tax proposal. Instead, they would rather cut important basic services, like health care, education and food stamps for low-income families – victims of our poor economy – that have an unemployed adult in the household.

Take a moment to urge state leaders to think twice about cutting public services and make taxes fair.

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