Q&A with House District 28A candidate Tim KellyKelly: We need to become a more business-friendly state
Residence: Red Wing
Family: Wife Sue; children Jessica, Cole, Macy, Tait
Public involvement (limited to five): Red Wing School Board, Blandin Leadership Group, Kiwanis, St. Joseph Church, Red Wing Youth Sports Association
Education: bachelor’s from Mankato State with triple major in marketing, management, industrial relations and minor in economics
Work: Discovery Financial Centers owner and financial adviser
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?
It’s been interesting to watch this year’s election as new candidates recite the political rhetoric that we have a regressive tax system. I urge those candidates to do a little research for themselves as they will find that our income tax brackets are clearly progressive. If you make more income you are in a higher tax bracket. If people want to have the discussion on property taxes or sales taxes and talk about the regressive nature of those, I will gladly listen. Simply jumping on the bandwagon to proclaim, “the rich have to pay their fair share” is divisive and unproductive.
The Vikings are nearing the end of their lease at the Metrodome and efforts to build a new stadium continue to fall flat. Would you be willing to commit millions in public dollars to keep the Vikings in Minnesota?
With the Minnesota Twins entering the post season, there have been numerous reports on the economic boost it is giving to the metro area. This does bring in revenue for the state but certainly the major benefit is the city of Minneapolis.
If we do something for the Vikings with public support, I would like to see it revolve around the area that receives the most benefit. Either a sales tax on merchandise sold for the organization or something along the lines of a Minneapolis city tax on the restaurant and entertainment industry.
Many Minnesota policymakers say education funding is a sacred cow that should be held harmless, despite ongoing budget crises. Do you agree, or do you think education should share in more of the pain?
From the moment I decided to run for this office back in 2008, I stated that I do not believe the problem is funding but rather the need to address the education formula that divides up those funds.
Here in the rural districts we are at a complete disadvantage because the funds are being hijacked at the state level and funneled into the metro area at a disproportionate rate. In 2010, Minneapolis will receive $13,951 dollars per pupil and if that same student should transfer to Red Wing, we would get $8,553. No one can justify a difference of $5,398.
Minnesota’s gubernatorial candidates now agree that Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s Job Opportunity Building Zones was an economic development bust. What do you propose to spur economic development in the state’s rural areas?
I think we need to remind ourselves of the many positives that our businesses bring to each of our communities in the district. These businesses get asked to support every campaign in our communities from school events to United Way to Church groups to the YMCA. Groups such as Downtown Main Street and the Chamber have done outstanding jobs in promoting Red Wing, which strengthens our whole community. However, we cannot sit back and believe that if the state continues to make it more and more difficult to do business in Minnesota that our businesses will survive. We need to create a business friendly state.
Where do you see the future of Local Government Aid headed? What changes, if any, would you make to the system?
The creation of LGA in 1971 was well intended but like many items it has been manipulated and used as a political tool. Some of the changes in 2003 were the most devastating. The elimination of the caps on aid increases for Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth meant that their distributions could consume a larger (and less predictable) portion of the allocation, decreasing aid available to other cities. We need to redo this formula and there is a 2008 bill requiring a study of LGA. We need a balanced approach that would require the state to reduce its spending by the same amount that we are asking of our local governments.