Commentary by Swackhamer: Standing up for water in the state's budget debate
The following was published by MPR. To read the article at the MPR website click here.
"As a professor, I've been taught to show no bias, to resist making judgments and to avoid playing the advocate.
But the desire to protect public health and our water resources is an underlying value in my work. Which makes me an advocate -- an advocate for the common good of water.
As our governor and state legislators stare each other down in their final days of budget negotiations, I'm compelled to advocate.
Allowing water quality to degrade as a result of relaxing standards to save money is not only counter to the common good, it's shortsighted and will cost Minnesotans far more in the long run by leading to expensive and unintended consequences.
In 2008, Minnesota taxpayers voted to increase the state sales tax in part to protect water resources. The decision should be honored by our leaders and decision-makers.
Furthermore, restoring degraded water resources costs far more than protecting them in the first place. If we change course now, the money we've invested in the Clean Water Fund will have been squandered.
Minnesotans should not have to pay a second time to clean up waters that were on their way to being restored.
The Clean Water Fund was predicated on the shared value of the common good of water for our citizens. It should not be used as a political pawn. It should not be used to backfill regular government functions.
It should be used for its intended purpose -- to protect, restore, and enhance our invaluable water resources."