Q&A with House District 28B candidate Steve DrazkowskiDrazkowski: Create better service without spending more
Family: wife Laura, daughter Kinsey
Public involvement: St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church (Mazeppa), Lake City Sportsmens Club, Winona Area Elks Club, Minnesota DNR Youth Firearms Safety Instructor, Wabasha County 4-H Volunteer
Education: bachelor’s degree in agriculture, University of Wisconsin-River Falls; master’s in education, University of Minnesota
Work: Currently work in online marketing and sales for Vision Design Group in Winona. Prior work includes agricultural educator with the University of Minnesota Extension Service (14 years), Minnesota field director for Whitetails Unlimited, online business owner, grew up working on family farm.
Legislators once again will look to fill a gaping budget hole, and, if elected, you’ll be part of that debate. To what degree do taxes figure into your plans for a budget fix?
When you are in a hole, stop digging! Unemployed Minnesotans cannot afford to “fill the budget hole.” Our state’s job creators are struggling to keep their businesses operating in our high-tax, over-regulated state. We need to lessen the burden on businesses and stop chasing jobs out of our state. When we do, we will see Minnesota businesses create jobs again, rebuild our economy, and pave the road to prosperity. It is time that we redesign a smaller, more responsive, more accountable state government. We cannot forget that government is here to serve the people, not the other way around.
Would you be willing to commit millions in public dollars to keep the Vikings in Minnesota?
No. I will not vote for the government to take money from hardworking Minnesotans, against their will, and commit it to equity to be given to billionaire owners and millionaire players. Ideas that I have for helping the Vikings include: exempting them from the state sales tax to build the stadium (save $62 million on a $900 million stadium), offer operating tax exemptions for the Vikings’ operation of the building into the future, provide an exemption from the prevailing wage law, and sell Vikings license plates to people who want to voluntarily opt in towards paying stadium expenses.
Many Minnesota policymakers say education funding is a sacred cow that should be held harmless, despite ongoing budget crises. Do you agree?
Education, transportation, public safety, and caring for those unable to care for themselves should be priorities. Within the priority areas aforementioned, there are also great opportunities to create better service without increasing spending. Education comprises 40 percent of the state budget. We cannot continue to pay more money to educate less students. If we create a market orientation that allows the money to follow the children, we will bring forward an education system that focuses on the needs of the customers — children and their parents—allowing them to reward those examples of success that they seek.
What do you propose to spur economic development in the state’s rural areas?
We must reduce the tax burden on Minnesota’s families and businesses. This need could not be more prominent than it is in agriculture and other businesses that are central to our rural communities. Last year the limited market value blinked off for agricultural land. In 2008, the Legislature removed eligibility for the green acres property tax reductions for many farmers. These changes resulted in huge property tax increases for farmers. I plan to reintroduce the bill I authored last year, to reinstate limited market value for agricultural land ñ and to repeal the green acres changes of 2008.
Efforts are under way in Minnesota to institute similar immigration legislation as was enacted in Arizona. Is this something you support? Why or why not?
Yes. Last May 2010 I introduced the Arizona immigration language in the Minnesota House of Representatives. I plan to introduce a similar bill in the 2011 session. If Republicans control the Legislature, I am confident we will accomplish meaningful immigration reform. Currently, Minnesota taxpayers pay over $400 million per biennium to educate, medicate, and incarcerate illegal aliens. People here illegally have a much higher propensity for crime that people who come here legally. For the sake of our families, our economy, and our future, we must ensure that Minnesota does not become a sanctuary state for illegal aliens.