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Viewpoint: Wanted - Leaders who see how taxes add value to families

Thirty-eight dollars.

That's how much I estimate the gas tax passed by the Minnesota Legislature last session will cost me each year: $38 (based on a five-cent per gallon increase, driving my minivan 12,000 miles a year with an average 16 mpg.)

For $38 a year, I get road improvements, extra driving lanes, safer bridges and improved transit between Woodbury and the rest of the working world.

I couldn't fill a pothole in my driveway for $38.

Yet, during the recent League of Women Voters debate, both Kathy Lohmer and Lee Bohlsen stated their vehement disagreement with this new tax, and with taxes generally.

(Kathy Lohmer and Lee Bohlsen are challenging current state legislators Julie Bunn and Marsha Swails respectively.)

Lee Bohlsen said the vote "did increase our taxes and it was shameful."

Kathy Lohmer said she would "defend and protect our families by relieving the tax burden."

Thirty-eight dollars shameful? Even the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce supported the gas tax, as a well-working transportation system is critical for the success of our small businesses.

Asking me for $38 a year is endangering my family?

I'm still haunted by the image of that school bus standing in the wreckage of the I-35W bridge.

When we're trying to protect our families, is $38 really so much to ask?

I want the kind of leaders that are not afraid to say that government has a positive role to play in maintaining our infrastructure -- and yes, that we should actually pay for it, not charge it to the next generation.

I want the kind of leaders who are willing to work across the aisle to make a meaningful difference for our community.

Ones who realize that asking voters for $38 a year is a minimal and wise investment to support our local businesses.

And our commuters.

And our children.

What's shameful to me is to see candidates proudly proclaiming that "protecting pocketbooks" is their first priority.

We've all seen first-hand the good that our taxes do and the value they add to our families.

Taxes fund our teachers, our police, our firefighters, our national guard, the healthcare providers who serve the neediest among us.

To continually perpetuate this belief that somehow taxes are the death of communities is simply absurd -- and dangerous.

Are we really a community that believes $38 a year is an unreasonable investment for safe and adequate roads?

I hope our community will be more reasonable than that -- and will vote to re-elect Julie Bunn and Marsha Swails.

Witte is a resident of Woodbury.