To the editor:

My state senator, Karla Bigham (DFL), portrays the senate budget as not reflecting MN values. Some of the priorities she mentions are funded by the 2% medical provider tax that's supposed to expire, by law. Other funding is automatically increased, by law. The DFL is asking for a bigger and bigger pile of money. Senate Republicans are not willing to give in to the request. Thank goodness we have divided government. I've watched the Minnesota House and Senate debate on public TV. I know, get a life, right! With the debate, there are games that both sides play, introducing amendments that they know will never pass. Some amendments are so ludicrous that they get withdrawn after debate. Most of the amendments are there to make a point in public view, or to get politicians on record. Ammunition to be used during election season to promote themselves or pummel their opponent.

Let's not listen to the hyperbole about values. The bargaining and gamesmanship has just begun. A lot of the opposition to a set of ideas is providing bargaining chips in conference committees. If the state government can waste hundreds of millions of dollars on MNLARS, on child care fraud, and who knows what else - MNsure, a new Senate office building - was it really needed or just nice to have? There is enough money, if spent responsibly.

I wonder what we don't know? Why does it take investigative journalism to uncover the fraud and waste in government? This is something government should be doing and reporting, on their own, not after the fact or in response to outside findings; $100,000 bills are thrown around like they're pennies. Do we really want a 20 cent gas tax hike, higher license tab fees, higher tax on cars, and an increase in the sales tax?

Thank goodness for divided government. Someone needs to be held accountable for how taxpayer dollars are spent. Government spending should not grow more than the rate of inflation. But there will be compromise, on both sides. The way it should be.

Mike Waibel