Opinion: Unleash the love, fund essential services

Mary Ann Dunwell

One of my favorite songs as we celebrate Valentine’s Day is the Beatles’ “All You Need is Love,” with its lyrics: “There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done … Nothing you can make that can’t be made … love is all you need.”

Let’s show our love and stop the devastating cuts to essential public services in Montana. Short term, consider emergency supplemental appropriation. Find the money. Stop the bleeding. Save lives. Sure, it’s bold and a short-term band-aid.

Let’s also do something sustainable. Elect a legislature that understands its job is to find revenue to fund essential public programs, so all Montanans can enjoy our state’s quality of life and opportunities to be the best they can be. All we need is love, not polarizing political pablum like, “no new taxes.”

We must modernize our outdated tax policy in Montana. We won’t have to further tax hardworking Montanans if we mine untapped revenue and make sure super-rich individuals and wealthy multistate corporations pay their fair share too.

During the November 2017 special legislative session, some in the tourist industry testified that they were willing to support — or at least not oppose — a slight increase in accommodations and car rental taxes. Senate Bill 6 would have generated millions of dollars and maximized public benefit from Montana’s yearly $4-billion-and-growing tourist industry. Yet powerful Republicans refused to even bring it to a vote. Where was the love in that?

Our Montana friends, family members and neighbors are being denied life-saving services because Republicans in the Legislature would not work across the aisle to generate new revenues for these services.

That’s not who we are as Montanans. We don’t turn our backs on our neighbors or communities. We volunteer to fight fires, we bring meals when someone’s sick, and we shovel the ice and snow for someone who can’t. Let’s melt the ice in our collective heart.

I’m not calling for Montana lawmakers to agree on everything. Who does? I’m asking Montanans to elect a legislature with courage to generate public revenues to meet the needs of the people.

The Beatles sang it so well. “All you need is love, love. Love is all you need.” Happy Valentine’s Day.

Rep. Mary Ann Dunwell is a Democrat serving her second term in the Montana Legislature. She represents House District 84, Helena/East Helena. You can reach her at rep.maryann.dunwell@mt.gov.

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