Address: 735 Hi Park Ave., Red Wing
Occupation: Small business owner and public policy consultant
Education: Undergraduate studies in biology and political science, St. John’s University; graduate studies in economics and public policy, University of Minnesota
Civic involvement: Minnesota Farmers Union; Minnesota Grape Growers Association; Rotary International; St. John’s University Class Committee (chair); St. John’s University Board of Regents (past term); Transportation Research Board
There has been a lot of discussion recently about the size of government. How do you view the role of state government?
I’m a strong advocate for local control and I tend to think our local communities know best how to prioritize government spending. However, I also recognize the regressive and destabilizing effects drastically increased property taxes can have on our small towns and property tax payers.
Local government aid and property tax equalization have served rural Minnesota well by providing resources for vital services, relieving excessive property tax burdens and strengthening small town and regional economies. Unfortunately, elimination of the homestead property tax credit, cuts to local government aid and “shifts” in K-12 education funding have pushed a greater share of funding state and local government onto property tax payers. This trend puts undue pressure on our small towns, rural economies and property tax payers alike — and it’s not a sustainable nor equitable means of addressing Minnesota’s ongoing budget problems.
Rather than debating the merits of small versus large government, I’d like to focus on smarter government that efficiently provides for strong communities and schools, as well as basic inputs to job creation and economic growth.
How would you balance the state budget? Would you make cuts and, if so, to what? Would you raise taxes?
First, let’s be honest about the problem. Nonpartisan groups such as the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities estimate a state budget deficit of $4.5 billion facing the next Legislature. This includes a current $1.1 billion deficit — plus the $2.4 billion borrowed from schools and $1 billion inflation costs.
We need honest discussion of what’s required to make Minnesota work effectively and efficiently. Significant additional spending cuts are necessary, but all options must be on the table. We can’t kick the can down the road any longer.
What, if anything, should the state do to fight invasive species such as Asian carp?
Invasive species such as Asian carp pose a threat to the economic and environmental health of our waterways. Reversing the spread of Asian carp should be a priority for us all. I encourage the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to continue engaging conservation groups, partner agencies and federal officials to stop this threat. I also support funding research to identify innovative approaches and best practices to guide our ongoing efforts.
Is income tax reciprocity with Wisconsin an important issue? If so, what might you do about it?
Until 2009, Minnesota and Wisconsin had shared a policy of income tax reciprocity for over 40 years. This approach made it easier for taxpayers in both states to meet their tax obligations. I support efforts to adopt a new reciprocity agreement between our states — and I believe it should be part of a larger tax reform package aimed at simplifying and streamlining our tax code. I am committed to playing an active role in this discussion.
What would be your top priority or priorities if elected?
We need to address Minnesota’s long-standing structural budget imbalance by advancing policies that promote sustained economic growth and stronger rural communities. This involves a focus on job creation, restoring the $2.4 billion cut to K-12 education funding and providing property tax relief for home and business owners.
I am also committed to offering southeastern Minnesota genuine legislative leadership on the issue of silica sand mining. We need to ensure that local leaders have the resources and information they need to make good decisions. We should engage the Dayton administration and appropriate state agencies on this issue — and we cannot waste another legislative day.