Family: Susan, Michael, Samantha, Nicholas
Occupation: Retired Pilot American Airlines, Retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel
Previous civic and community involvement:
Big Brother while in college, Coached youth basketball and baseball, Boy Scouts, Served as member Arizona Foster Care Advisory Board, Chaired Arizona Foster Care Advisory Board, worked as an intern for the senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee. State Youth Director Minnesota BASS Federation. DNR Black Bass Advisory Board.
1. Why are you running for office?
There is a need for change in Minnesota leadership. I feel too many of our elected representatives are no longer in touch with their districts. I feel this is especially true here in Senate District 30. When you spend more time recruiting legislators to work for your PAC than listening to constituents it is time to go. I will be a voice of common sense and reason.
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?
Let’s not forget the GOP put school funding on a credit card and only want to make minimum payments. There is 2.4 billion owed the schools, 1.4 billion projected revenue shortfall, and almost 1 billion in inflation. That puts the state at a 4.8 billion shortfall. Budget cuts, yes. I would support the governors Nexus online sales tax provision.
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 I do. If the GOP had not blocked passage of the Northstar for years, it would be in St. Cloud today and it would have cost the state 60 million less that it cost to stop at Big Lake.
4. In general, are public schools adequately funded in Minnesota? If not, where should additional money come from?
What we need to do is change how we fund our schools. I would like to see the state live up to the constitution and fund schools 100 percent. Property taxes need to be removed from the funding equation. School districts need a number to build their budgets on. Any levy passed by districts cannot be used by the state to reduce district funding and all levy’s must have a sunset.
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?
No I would not. Who would determine which teacher is more skillful? What basis would be used to determine which teacher is more skillful? I keep on hearing this from the A.L.E.C. (Heritage Foundation) candidates, a lot of noise, but I do not hear any solutions. I guess it’s in vogue to trash our teachers.
6. Do you support passage of the two proposed constitutional amendments, Photo ID and the same-sex marriage ban, currently on the ballot?
7. Can lawmakers do anything to help improve the state’s economy?
The best thing we can do is get spending and the state budget under control. We need to ensure that our school system is top notch and use it to drawn industry to Minnesota. Programs like Minnesota Investment Fund are critical and more efficient at creating jobs than pure tax cuts. Lawmakers need to start thinking out of the box and bring new ideas to the table.
8. If you could sign three laws into effect today, what would they be?
1. I would require a super majority in the House, Senate, and at the polls to amend the State Constitution.
2. Eliminate the use of Property Tax in the school funding equation.
3. Restore the Homestead Credit to Minnesota home owners taken away by the 2012 GOP controlled legislature.
9. What legislation would you support to reduce the number of abortions?
I would support legislation that would help young women who find themselves in this overwhelming position, to continue with their studies if they are in school, maintain their employment if in the work place, and help them find families that would be interested in adopting their child if that was their choice.
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.
If a school district wants to have all day kindergarden it should first be optional for parents and second the district needs to determine how to pay for it. I feel that this levy is appropriate and would vote yes if I lived in the district.
11. What energy policies are needed in the state of Minnesota?
More green energy is needed. We also have to create new incentives for our fossil burning facilities to ensure they continue their need to produce electricity efficiently and as clean as possible. We also need to invest in research and technology that will increase the efficiency of transmission lines across the state and region.
12. What changes in health care reform would you push if elected?
Efficiency, Efficiency, Efficiency we need to make Medicaid faster, smarter, and leaner. Until we get away from our current procedure based health care system and move into a market based care system we will not be able to stay ahead. MA needs to be more responsive and more doctors will accept it. With more choices for families costs will go down.
Elk River Area Chamber of Commerce Questions
Would you describe yourself as “Pro-Business” and if yes, what makes you Pro-Business?
Yes I am, but who is not! I support the need to make business environment in the state healthy and inviting. Programs like Minnesota Investment Fund is an excellent example of what can be done, and how it attracts companies from around the world. I do not support old fashion tax breaks. I do support performance based grants.
What proposal do you have to ensure effective teachers in every classroom in the State of Minnesota?
We have to ensure that the certification for Minnesota teachers is not compromised. I support additional continuing education requirements for all educators including administrators. Teacher unions should create programs that are union backed and funded to help educators who want, get advanced degrees.
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?
We need to re-invest in Minnesota’s Vo-Tech’s and technical colleges. We use to be the envy of the nation until the last administration began to cut vast sum out of Vo-Tech budgets and the number of graduates across the state dropped. Anoka Vo-Tech produces 1/3 the machinists it did at its peak. This is an education area that is lost in cry over the increasing cost of four year education. Without these skilled labor sets our Vo-Tec’s and other technical colleges provide our state, we will not attract manufacturing jobs that are essential for Minnesota’s economy to grow.
What changes to the state’s property tax system do you believe are necessary to improve its competitiveness, understandability and administration?
One of the real concerns is that greater Minnesota property tax rates have been increasing at a greater rate than metro rates as those counties loose state aid money. This is a function of numbers and tax base that cannot be changed. Under the Pawlenty administration, those out state business rates have gone up 66% while home owners have seen a 99% increase. We must make Greater Minnesota more competitive and find a way to level the playing field for them. Perhaps it is time to take a long look at the viability of property tax and how it relates to county control or state control or if it is a tax that should be used at all.
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?
If there are pockets around the state that have higher electricity costs than others it will slow if not stop growth and business expansion or relocation to these areas. When customers across the state subsidize each other and rates flatten, it helps the entire states and especially Greater Minnesota’s economy to grow. This is and should be one of the goals in the states energy policy.
Is funding for Highway 10 improvements a priority? Why or why not?
Funding for highway 10 and improvements are a top priority. This is one of the busiest corridors in the state and needs to be kept at the leading edge to ensure businesses in the area have good lines of communication to move products to market and serve the people of SD30.