Address: 2345 South Oaks Drive, Red Wing
Occupation: Businessman, property ownership and management
Education: B.A., criminal justice, St. Cloud State University
Family: wife Lisa (47), children Jack (16), David (14) and Katelyn (7)
Civic involvement: Former mayor of Red Wing, Minnesota Clean Water Council, Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, National Rifle Association, University of Minnesota Tourism Advisory Board, Kiwanis, Red Wing School Booster, Red Wing Wildlife League, Downtown Main Street, Chamber of Commerce, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, former Minnesota High Speed Rail commissioner, former Goodhue County Health and Human Services commissioner, Prairie Island Nuclear Storage Task Force.
There has been a lot of discussion recently about the size of government. How do you view the role of state government?
I believe that government has become too big, too expensive and too intrusive in people’s lives. The constant growth of government eats away at our freedoms and makes it more difficult to live, work and care for our families. I’m very proud to run on the idea of “reducing government’s footprint.”
How would you balance the state budget? Would you make cuts and, if so, to what? Would you raise taxes?
Two years ago we were faced with a projected $5 billion budget shortfall, and yet we were able to balance the budget and increase K-12 education funding without raising taxes. We did this by controlling the growth of government spending. It didn’t require cuts; it simply required reductions in growth.
Our efforts have been rewarded with an improved economic outlook — which improves the job market — and the fact that we are now projected to end this biennium with a surplus. And by limiting the growth of government spending and continuing to be more innovative and efficient, we will be able to balance the budget.
What, if anything, should the state do to fight invasive species such as Asian carp?
I’m very supportive of Gov. Dayton’s efforts to use Legacy Amendment money to help fund the fight against invasive species. Such species — particularly Asian carp — will wreak havoc on our fisheries and waterways.
I have partnered with legislators from other Great Lakes states to come up with effective strategies. Stopping them is too big a job for one state, however, and it requires a joint effort between all of the Great Lakes states, and Canada as well.
We also need to explore such tools as introducing predators, establishing electric barriers and, if necessary, temporarily closing some waterways.
Is income tax reciprocity with Wisconsin an important issue? If so, what might you do about it?
Because so much of my Senate district borders Wisconsin, this is an issue I hear about regularly, and one that I consider very important. As a member of the Senate Tax Committee, I will continue to work with the revenue departments of both states to find a resolution.
What would be your top priority or priorities if elected?
Jobs and the economy, education funding, balancing the budget and transportation. I began to build a coalition last session that included members of the Legislature and the governor to reform Minnesota’s tax system, and I continue to believe that’s a very high priority. By shifting to a more balanced tax structure — instead of our current over-reliance on income and property taxes — we can take much of the volatility out of our revenue projections, which makes it easier to provide stable funding for schools, roads and local government. The governor and I have had great discussions about this approach, and I look forward to continuing to work with him on a bipartisan basis to reform our tax system.