Invest in Education
We need to ensure that all of our children have access to high-quality education. Our children’s futures and our state’s economy depend on our educational system. We need to continue to adequately fund E-12 education and reduce the extraordinary costs of higher education that burden our students and their families with debt. (The average Minnesota college graduate faces more than $31,500 in debt.) We need to also ensure that all children have access to high-quality preschool to help make sure our students have the greatest opportunities to be successful.
We need to keep investing in education; our future depends on it.
As a small city mayor I have experienced how the loss of a large portion of state funding has hurt small cities and counties. Local Government Aid’s (LGA) purpose is to allow small communities to have equitable services compared to larger communities whose tax bases are larger. Local governments have been placed in a predicament of either cutting services or raising property taxes to make up for lost funding. Public safety could be at risk if city police departments are eliminated or reduced because of lack of funding. Raising property taxes too high is certainly a hardship for all people, but especially those on fixed incomes.
In 2013 the state legislature increased funding to cities, counties, and townships, but it is not enough. We need to continue funding our local governments to replace what was lost in past years. Increasing Local Government Aid is one of the best ways to reduce and keep property taxes down. LGA is a wise investment for Greater Minnesota to help provide a quality of life enjoyed by larger communities.
There should be no reason a person should have to go without health care because the cost is too high. Americans should not have to decide between medication or food. Medical expenses shouldn’t drive families into bankruptcy or squeeze elderly out of their life savings. Everyone should have affordable health care available to them.
Agriculture and Agribusinesses are the backbone of West Central Minnesota. We need to support and protect our most vital industry for our rural communities. Our farmers are stewards of the land, and we need to let them feed our nation and the world.
We as Minnesotans need to stand up for the places we love and environments we have valued and taken for granted. We need to protect and preserve our diverse environments for our future. The environment needs to be a priority for every Minnesotan, and I plan to make it one of mine by ensuring that our legacy funds remain intact to help clean up and protect our water and environment.
Small businesses in rural Minnesota have had a tough time competing with big box stores. With the change in the property tax structure in 2012, small businesses were hit with a large increase in property taxes. I support restricting the increase in property tax and returning to a tax system that would allow small businesses to remain open and be profitable.
Property taxes are up $414 million in 2016 and rural Minnesota gets hit the hardest. Property taxes are going up because there was not one dime invested in property tax relief in 2015. This happened because of partisan politics and the inability of legislators to reach a compromise that led to no tax bill being enacted in the 2015 session. There was no compromise because our political parties in St Paul were concerned about pleasing their own parties and not working for you back home.
We need to work together to provide meaningful property tax relief for rural Minnesotans. We need to fund Local Government Aid (LGA), County Program Aid (CPA), direct property relief (Homestead Credit Refund), and enact a 50% agricultural property tax credit on school building bonds. These are not Democrat or Republican issues, these are issues vital and important to rural Minnesotans. I will work with both parties to accomplish this legislation.
In our area roads and bridges are a vital part of our ability to get around and move our commodities to market. For decades politicians have refused to make the decisions necessary to fix the pavement under our feet and our economy will suffer because of it. Facing a projected $16.3 billion transportation shortfall over the next 20 years, it’s time to finally find the resources necessary to build better roads and bridges. I will work with both parties to find a comprehensive transportation solution that fixes the problem long-term and works in every corner of the state.
Border to Border Broadband
In today’s society access to high speed internet is extremely important to the success of education, business, farming, and the home work place. 99.9% of the people living in the metropolitan areas have access to high speed internet, where only an average of 80% of Greater Minnesotans have high speed internet with some areas in our district much lower or non existent. In order for Greater Minnesota to compete economically on the national and global markets, we need access to high speed internet.
I will push for state funding to be used to leverage the Connect America Funds, provided by the Federal government, to bring high speed internet to all parts of our district and all of Greater Minnesota.
There are two components needed before we can bring high speed internet to Greater Minnesota. First we need cooperation from our local telecommunication companies and secondly we need adequate funding from the state.
The availability of high speed internet has been compared in importance to the availability of electricity to rural Minnesota in the 1940s.