Mike Starr, MN Senate 31

Mike Starr
Website: http://starrforsenate.com
Age: 59
Family: Married to Sue for over 28 years. We are the proud parents of three sons. My wife is a subsitute teacher for ISD 15 (St. Francis) for over 15 years.
Occupation: Retired military after 25 years of service. Working as a substitute teacher for ISD 15 and in the summer months I work for the MN Twins at the ball field as one of two Alcohol Compliance Officers.
Previous civic and community involvement: Community Volunteer, “Volunteers make it happen” Lions Club since 1981, Chairman for many fundraisers over the years such as: 24 hours Kamping for Kans for the food shelf, 5K runs, triathlons, One Minute Shopping spree, and the Elvis Dinner/Show. Volunteer for Employer Support Guard Reserve, Cub Scouts Den/Pack Leader, Sunday school teacher, Church Council member, Church co-chair for Elvis Gospel/Christmas Show, Church Co-chair for our All you can eat BBQ Steak dinner, prepaired meals at the homeless shelter. Because of my volunteer work I was one of ten ND residents to carry the Olympic Torch in 1996. Former School Board member for ISD 15.
1. Why are you running for office?
Because the current elected officials in St. Paul are dysfunctional, they cannot make decisions for the betterment of Minnesota citizens. They have no common sense, no leadership and do not know how to compromise. They have tunnel vision and are making decisions for special interest groups. I can no longer sit on the side lines, time to make a postive difference for people
2. Current state budget projections, when inflation is factored in, foresee an upcoming state budget deficit. If a deficit occurs, should that be remedied solely through budget cuts? If not, what revenue generators would you support?
Open and honest discussions have to be made for spending cuts and tax revenue. To support our local business owners and to level the field I support the collection of sales tax on internet purchases. I support a Fair Share tax code. The middle class is paying a higher percent of taxes than the rich. All income earners need to pay their fair share of income taxes.
3. Do you favor expanding Northstar Commuter Rail to St. Cloud, assuming ridership improves? Was the decision to establish a commuter rail line in the transportation corridor a good decision or bad one?
Yes, Northstar should be expanded. Mass transit is important, rail, bus, highway, and bike trails all play an important part of moving people and goods. Growth in the metro area is expected to be over 600,000 in the next ten years. Plan now or sit on the road to and from work. Business will move out if they can not move their goods or they will not come to Minnesota.
4. In general, are public schools adequately funded in Minnesota? If not, where should additional money come from?
No, the schools are not funded adequately. The school funding formula needs to be re-done. Currently there is a group looking at the formula to recommend changes to the system. As a former school board member I know that the school funding formula is so complex only but a few people really understand it.
5. Do you support so-called Last In, First Out (LIFO) legislation that could allow school boards to call back a laid-off teacher with less seniority over another with more, if the teacher is deemed a more skillful teacher?
Until MN Education develops a standard performance evaluation for all teachers, what documentation would you use to say who is more skillful? Until evaluations are approved, seniority has to be used to prevent lawsuits.
6. Do you support passage of the two proposed constitutional amendments, Photo ID and the same-sex marriage ban, currently on the ballot?
No on ID – (R) Mike Parry on WCCO said, “pass the amendment this year and the next legislature will have to work out the details of the amendment.” All voters including those not voting in person must be subject to substantially equivalent identity and eligibility verification prior to a ballot being cast or counted. What does this mean? No one knows.
#2 No, Discriminates
7. Can lawmakers do anything to help improve the state’s economy?
Yes, no more sunset clause for taxes. Taxes have to be permanent for business owners to project 5 years out for cost. Double hit for business property taxes be re-worked. Federal corporate income tax needs to drop to 22 to 25 percent to compete with other countries.
8. If you could sign three laws into effect today, what would they be?
1. A new Fair Share income and business tax code
2. Equity funding for all school districts and payback of the $2.4 billion owed to our school districts
3. State wide gang Task Force to stop drug dealing, rape, murder, robbery, burglary, sex traffic which will improve the quality of life in the neighborhoods when inside or outside of your home.
9. What legislation would you support to reduce the number of abortions?
I am pro-choice. Women have the right to make the choice they feel is right for them.
10. The Elk River Area School District is seeking an operating levy renewal and an additional levy to in part provide for all day, every day kindergarten. Is that appropriate, or should the state provide the funding for this endeavor.
School Districts and communites who want all day, every day kindergarten should support the cost. State funding will be given for each student enrolled in school. Extra cost above this is supported by the school district. I support school districts be given taxing authority. Local control is important because they know their needs better than the state or the federal govt
11. What energy policies are needed in the state of Minnesota?
Clean coal plants.
Ethanol should be looked at for cost effectiveness.
Solar and wind power sources needs to be promoted.
Nuclear power plants expaned.
12. What changes in health care reform would you push if elected?
Universal health care.
Promote Individual Responsibility for a healthy life style
Prevention vs. treatment is a cost saver.

Elk River Area Chamber of Commerce Questions

Would you describe yourself as “Pro-Business” and if yes, what makes you Pro-Business?

Yes. ‘Pro-Business” Small business is the center point of the state economy. I have a 7 point plan:

Fed. corporate income tax drop to 22-25%

Permanent tax base for business owners to project 5 years out

No sunset clauses on taxes, can not project costs

I support sales tax for internet purchases to level the field

Double hit on business property tax re-worked

What proposal do you have to ensure effective teachers in every classroom in the State of Minnesota?

Perfomance Evaluations are a must. Without documentation, without the opportunity to improve or make changes, school districts will be subjected to lawsuits. If we do have ineffective teachers where is the leadership in the school to correct the problem? Instead of the teacher being fired, maybe it should be the core leader, the school principal or the distrcit superintendent? Or should the student and parents be held accountable for not doing their part to learn or to behave in school? Lots of problems at home are brought into the schools which affects learning.

What policy changes would you support in higher education that will lead to an emphasis in producing people ready for work in the jobs available while also closing the skills gap?

Parents involvement. The school district can not do everything for the student if the parent does not get involved. We have to ID those students who are not going to attend a four year university. Provide job shadow programs for students to see and experience what they want to do. To work with business owners to make sure students receive the training needed to prepair them for “the real world” Those who are planning to attend a four year school make sure the schools have the classes athe teachers needed to get them ready for a university.

What changes to the state’s property tax system do you believe are necessary to improve its competitiveness, understandability and administration?

Again the double taxing of business property needs to have a complete overall. If this is done, how and where does the state make up the loss of property taxes from the business owners? Curently the state tax commissoner is traveling around the state and will present his report in December. I hope part of his report will cover this very important question.

Should energy rates be set to reflect the actual costs of serving a group of customers in a specific class instead of having one class of customers subsidize another?

I do not know. Without a briefing from both sides of this question to get a better understanding of this issue, I have no answer for you.

Is funding for Highway 10 improvements a priority? Why or why not?

During my campaign, my biggest question I like to ask people is “What do you want from your government, and how much are you willing to pay for it?” Highway 10 has a river on one side and a rail road on the other side through Elk River. I would look at any Highway engineer plans to improve Highway 10, yet what would the cost be for a bypass running East of the railroad or for a bridge running above Hwy 10? If a bypass is built around Elk River what happens when the traffic hits Big Lake? As a fiscal conservative I will always ask “Where is the money coming from?” or I ask “ How do we pay for it?”