Name: Tim Kelly
Address: 31471 Hwy 58 Blvd., Red Wing
Occupation: Financial Advisor and owner of Discovery Financial Centers
Education: Bachelor’s degree from Mankato State in business – marketing, management and industrial relations with a minor in economics
Family: Wife Sue, children: daughter Jessica (Ben Whitcomb), Cole, Macy and Tait
Civic involvement: Served on the Red Wing School Board for five years and served as chair; served as representative in the State House for the last four years — member of the executive leadership board as assistant majority leader, vice chair of Education Finance Committee, Public Safety Committee; served as president and board member of the Youth Football Association for the last 17 years; member of Kiwanis; member of St. Joseph Church.
There has been a lot of discussion recently about the size of government. How do you view the role of state government?
I believe state government should help provide the best education system possible, protect its citizens, help provide a safe and reliable transportation system and help those who are physically and/or mentally unable to take care of themselves.
Obviously, Minnesota’s government does much more than this, so much so that prior to 2011, it had been scheduled to spend nearly $39 billion on all state government programs. During this past session, the Legislature stopped this out-of-control spending though government reform and saved roughly $5 billion in future budgets through this needed work.
How would you balance the state budget? Would you make cuts, and if so, to what? Would you raise taxes?
Minnesota’s economy has made a remarkable turnaround in the past two years. When Republicans took over the legislative majority in 2011, we were handed a projected $6.2 billion deficit. We chose not to raise taxes to eliminate this shortfall; rather, we forced state government to live within its means. Based on these decisions, that deficit became a $1.2 billion surplus in less than one year.
Since February, Minnesota has received nothing but positive economic updates as state revenue collections continue to outpace expected projections from the state economists. If this streak continues, it is not out of the question that our projected deficit for the next budget cycle may disappear entirely.
If this past session proved anything, it is that you do not need to raise anyone’s taxes in order to create a better economy. Forcing state government to spend only what it collects is what working families do every month, and Minnesota should be no different.
What, if anything, should the state do to fight invasive species such as Asian carp?
Last session, the Minnesota Legislature passed laws dedicating nearly $40 million towards preventing the spread of Asian carp. This includes barriers along the Mississippi River, inspections, research and enforcing aquatic invasive species laws. It’s clear the Asian carp will have a devastating impact on the Mississippi River, so I was pleased to support these laws that should help keep these invasive species out of Minnesota.
Is income tax reciprocity with Wisconsin an important issue? If so, what might you do about it?
Income tax reciprocity with Wisconsin is an important issue because without it citizens in Goodhue and Wabasha counties that work in Wisconsin have to file income taxes twice and are paying income taxes in both states. This is why I supported a taxes law in 2011 that reinstates the agreement. Basically, it is now state law that the agreement will resume in 2014. It’s a done deal.
What would be your top priority or priorities if elected?
Job creation has to be Minnesota's top priority. This includes policies that put more people to work and provisions that encourage private sector businesses to expand and relocate in our state. We’ve made great progress on jobs over the past two years, but there’s more work to be done. We passed a number of jobs bills during 2011 and 2012, and we then watched Minnesota’s unemployment rate fall from 7.5 percent to 5.7 percent. Minnesota now has more than 52,000 people working than when voters elected a Republican legislature in 2010, but we can and will do better.
K-12 education is also near the top of my priority list. As a former school board member and current vice chair of the Minnesota House Education Finance Committee, I understand the importance of investing in our children. This session I helped craft laws that put $650 million in new funding into Minnesota’s schools. Because of this, our schools now have more revenue than ever before. I also was instrumental in helping narrow the funding disparity gap that exists between rural and inner city schools and creating a number of bipartisan K-12 education reform laws including teacher and principal evaluation requirements, removing mandates forcing school districts to spend state money on programs outside of the classroom and providing early education scholarships to our best and brightest students.