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home : news : news May 26, 2016

11/1/2012 9:51:00 AM
Q &A Voters Guide State Races

Julie Bunn State Senate District 39

1) The Minnesota State Fair provides a booth where people are surveyed on legislative issues and the House Information Office summarizes what fair-goers had on their mind. For this first set of questions based on the state fair input, just a yes or no answer is sufficient: Note to editor: I do not provide simple “yes” or “no” answers to complex questions related to taxes and business for which I have not seen the actual language of a bill or heard testimony and which may come before me as a legislator. • Motorcyclists ought to be required to wear helmets. No. • Liquor stores ought to be able to be open on Sundays. Lean “Yes”, but would want to hear the arguments and testimony. • State sales tax ought to be extended to items purchased on the Internet. Lean “Yes”, but would want to hear the arguments and testimony. • The legislature needs to make it so more than just a simple majority vote is needed to put an amendment on the ballot, when seeking to amend the constitution. Yes

2) Talk a little about recent bills introduced to restrict women’s access to the RU486 pill. One bill tried to mandate a medical doctor be present when “administering” this pharmaceutical. And, more broadly, explain your views on the role that government has in dictating healthcare options for women? Once a medical procedure or pharmaceutical is deemed safe, effective and legal by the federal government, it should be left to healthcare professionals, based on health and safety requirements, to determine who should be present when performing the procedure or administering a pharmaceutical. Decisions regarding whether a woman uses legal healthcare options should be arrived at through an exchange between a woman and her healthcare provider. State legislators should not insert themselves into adult women’s healthcare decisions.

3) Last year it was reported in a session of the Jobs and Economic Development Finance Committee that business pays about 31 percent of the state’s incoming taxes and residents (via income, property tax, etc.) about 65 percent. Legislative leaders and campaign materials can’t talk enough about reducing Minnesota businesses’ taxes. Assuming you agree business taxes need cutting, what is the preferred percentage of our state budget that business should support, and how do you get there? As someone with knowledge and experience of state revenue and taxation issues, I would not frame the issue in terms of a percentage. Most business taxes are passed through to others: to workers in lower wages, to consumers in higher prices, and to investors in lower returns. We call this the tax incidence (MN Revenue publishes tax incidence studies). The corporate tax is for example, more regressive than the residential property; we the citizens end up paying both. The more relevant questions are the following: Does business property taxes in Minnesota appropriately reflect the public services that businesses actually consume or is the business property tax subsidizing the residential sector or vice versa? And, do our business property and corporate tax rates make us competitive regionally and nationally in terms of attracting and keeping businesses in our state? Based on answers to these questions, I support lowering both Minnesota’s business property tax and corporate tax rates. I also support a modernization and reform of our overall tax system to provide a more adequate and stable foundation for state government as we cope with the rapid aging of our population -- which causes revenues coming into to flatten while demand for services to increase dramatically, leading to an ongoing structural budget deficit under current law.

4) What’s your philosophical stand on what’s commonly called Local Government Aid? Should the state collect revenues from well-serviced and developed areas where large industry and commerce wants to locate, and redistribute revenues as aid to poorer cities and counties? And, please don’t just respond that LGA is a broken system, and can’t be applied fairly at all. How do you react to the premise? Is it even a good idea? Whether it be to ensure that all children have access to a Constitutionally mandated general, efficient and “uniform” system of public education, or to ensure that all citizens, whether they live in communities with significant retail centers and/or have wealthy residents or communities with few such resources; Minnesota has a long tradition of trying to ensure that all citizens have access to “uniformly” good schools and to basic community services. Whatever its current flaws, Local Government Aid was originally developed as a mechanism both to limit and provide greater stability to property taxes. LGA was created to ensure that every city have the revenue to provide for basic services like fire and police no matter what their local property wealth. Philosophically, I agree with this tradition. Minnesota is better and stronger when all its children and all its communities have their basic needs met. These are essential ingredients for an opportunity society, where through hard work and vision, any child or person has an opportunity to succeed and prosper. Due to financial constraints at the state level, funding for LGA has not been stable in recent years, and its goals may need to be achieved through alternate means or design, but the vision behind it continues to have merit.


Karin Housley State Senate District 39

1: The Minnesota State Fair provides a booth where people are surveyed on legislative issues and the House Information Office summarizes what fair-goers had on their mind. For this first set of questions based on the state fair input, just a yes or no answer is sufficient: ~ Motorcyclists ought to be required to wear helmets. NO, they should be free to choose. ~ Liquor stores ought to be able to be open on Sundays. YES, if they so choose. ~ State sales tax ought to be extended to items purchased on the Internet. This is a complicated issue, and needs to be looked at every angle. Taxes do need to be fair, and we need to be sure that we protect our jobs, which many of them are provided by our bricks and mortar stores, though I am not interested in raising more revenue for the state thru taxes. This is part of a bigger tax reform discussion that we need to have. We need to make sure our tax reforms are business friendly and promote jobs. ~ The legislature needs to make it so more than just a simple majority vote is needed to put an amendment on the ballot, when seeking to amend the constitution. I don' think that's necessary. In the end, the majority of the people of Minnesota get to decide, and that's what is important to protect.
2: Talk a little about recent bills introduced to restrict women's access to the RU486 pill. One bill tried to mandate a medical doctor be present when "administering" this pharmaceutical. And, more broadly, explain your views on the role that government has in dictating healthcare options for women? I don't believe that taxpayer dollars should be used to fund abortions. Currently, they are, yet there are no taxpayer dollars being used to fund the Pro-Life choice. I think if a human life is being ended, a doctor should always be present.
3: Last year it was reported in a session of the Jobs and Economic Development Finance Committee that business pays about 31 percent of the state's incoming taxes and residents (via income, property tax, etc) about 65 percent. Legislative leaders and campaign materials can't talk enough about reducing Minnesota businesses' taxes. Assuming you agree business taxes need cutting, what is the preferred percentage of our state budget that business should support, and how do you get there? Isn't not about a percentage, it's about the tax code making us competitive and a tax code that spurs investment hiring. We can get there by lowering our businesses property taxes. We can get there by giving businesses a capital investment credit instead of a rebate. This is a paper-shuffling, shell game. When businesses make a capital investment, for example buying a large piece of machinery, why should the business have to pay the tax on this machinery up front just to get it back through a rebate months later? It's another case of government dipping in, causing everyone more paperwork, where it just isn't necessary. Give the credit up front, save a lot of time, money and make the bureaucracy much more efficient.
4: What's your philosophical stand on what's commonly called Local Government Aid? Should the state collect revenues from well-serviced and developed areas where large industry and commerce wants to locate, and redistribute revenues as aid to poorer cities and counties? And, please don't just respond that LGA is a broken system, and can't be applied fairly at all. How do you react to the premise? Is it even a good idea? The LGA formula does need to be revisited to provide for a more equitable solution. We can provide some basic level support for local governments but it should not undermine the efficiency or consolidation of services, because in its true form, LGA is a redistribution program. Taxpayers should expect a local/state partnership to provide core services including education, public safety and transportation - but, taxpayers should also demand budget accountability at all levels of government.

Bob Barrett State House District 32B

1: The Minnesota State Fair provides a booth where people are surveyed on legislative issues and the House Information Office summarizes what fair-goers had on their mind. For this first set of questions based on the state fair input, just a yes or no answer is sufficient: ~ Motorcyclists ought to be required to wear helmets. no ~ Liquor stores ought to be able to be open on Sundays. Many store owners I have talked with at my St. Paul office don’t want to be open on Sundays because of increased costs. ~ State sales tax ought to be extended to items purchased on the Internet. Some internet purchases are currently being taxed. Tax reform needs to happen, we just can’t make taxes more burdensome on families. Our goal should be to reduce our tax burden. If done without other tax reform, extending taxes to internet purchases is not wise. ~ The legislature needs to make it so more than just a simple majority vote is needed to put an amendment on the ballot, when seeking to amend the constitution. It’s an interesting idea that would need further clarification in order to answer definitively.
2: Talk a little about recent bills introduced to restrict women’s access to the RU486 pill. One bill tried to mandate a medical doctor be present when “administering” this pharmaceutical. And, more broadly, explain your views on the role that government has in dictating healthcare options for women? Government’s role in health care has historically been related to public safety. I am currently on a task force charged with updating Minnesota’s Medical Practices Act used by the Board of Medical Practice which licenses and, when necessary, enacts disciplinary actions on Minnesota’s medical doctors for unsafe practices. It’s vital that these medical practices stay current to keep up with a changing society. In addition to public safety, government’s role in health care also extends to helping the elderly, disabled community and those who cannot provide for themselves. However, government’s role expanded greatly from this in 2010 with the 2,400 page Obama Care law which some believe “we need to pass to find out what’s in it”. Now health insurance (and relatedly health care) is mandated by the federal government under penalty of a large tax. Regarding healthcare options going forward, the law also created a permanent non-elected federal agency (called IPAB) that has enormous powers to control health care costs (and therefore options). IPAB recommendations have to be enacted by Congress by Aug 15 each year. If not they become law without either congressional approval or the signature of the President. Through controlling payments to doctors and providers this law will heavily control what treatments are given to patients. This is the ultimate example of “dictating the healthcare options for women” as well as men. Regarding this newspaper’s question about RU-486, State Rep Joyce Peppin authored a bill requiring a doctor to be present when administering the medical process for RU486 (which involves taking the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol). There have been at least 14 reported deaths due to septic shock and several hundred women have been hospitalized as a result of this medical process since 2000. RU486 has never been approved for use in Canada as a young woman died during a clinical trial there. Government, according to our constitution, is instituted “for the security, benefit and protection of the people”. This obligates is to do everything we can to keep our society safe which is why I chief authored a bill making it more difficult to sell dangerous synthetic drugs to Minnesota’s youth. 3: Last year it was reported in a session of the Jobs and Economic Development Finance Committee that business pays about 31 percent of the state’s incoming taxes and residents (via income, property tax, etc) about 65 percent. Legislative leaders and campaign materials can’t talk enough about reducing Minnesota businesses’ taxes. Assuming you agree business taxes need cutting, what is the preferred percentage of our state budget that business should support, and how do you get there? I have not seen this particular report so I cannot comment on the details and percentages used in it, however, Minnesota currently ranks 45th in the country in business competitiveness according to the The Tax Foundation. South Dakota, who we compete with for business, is ranked
#2. The state of Minnesota produces a bi-annual Tax Incidence Study that attempts to answer the important question of “Who Pays Minnesota’s Taxes?” The study does this by attempting to allocate all Minnesota taxes, business and personal, to all Minnesota families. According to an analysis of the report, business taxes are allocated to poor families and middle-class families at a more burdensome rate than they are to more affluent Minnesota families, who have more income. So, whether your concern is tax fairness or business competitiveness, the answer to both concerns, based on an understanding of the facts in the “Tax Incidence Study”, is to reduce the tax burden on small business in our state. This will grow jobs and produce a healthier, more productive Minnesota economy. According to the most recent monthly report, Chisago County’s unemployment rate in September dropped to 5.3%, a 58 month low. More people having jobs is good for families. It also means more income, sales and gas tax collected by our government. However, we need more jobs locally so people don’t have to travel to the twin cities to work. My “border zone” bill which would have allowed Taylors Falls to attract lower-taxed Wisconsin companies was vetoed by Governor Dayton last year. The question posed by this paper related to tax percentages misses a greater truth which is this; we don’t need a government report or legislative committee to know that both businesses and families are overtaxed in Minnesota and many families, even with a dropping Minnesota and Chisago County unemployment rate, are still struggling to get by.

4: What’s your philosophical stand on what’s commonly called Local Government Aid? Should the state collect revenues from well-serviced and developed areas where large industry and commerce wants to locate, and redistribute revenues as aid to poorer cities and counties? And, please don’t just respond that LGA is a broken system, and can’t be applied fairly at all. How do you react to the premise? Is it even a good idea? Local Government Aid (LGA), when it was created, was an example of the ingenuity of Minnesotans, reflected by its government, manifested in how we solve our problems with innovation, creativity and compassion for those who have fewer resources. LGA was meant to reflect this compassion. We should always strive to improve longstanding government programs like LGA. Doing so makes government run more efficiently. We need to do this in order to provide resources where they are most needed. Many, many times these resources are more productive staying with Minnesota families. Because of the community spirit our state has, Minnesota will always care for those that, through no fault of their own, need our help. The key to health care, tax revenue and many other problems our country faces is to increase economic opportunity through creating an environment where there are more jobs rather than fewer jobs. With Chisago County’s unemployment rate decreasing from over 11% in 2010 to less than 6% in 2012 we are definitely heading in the right direction. I would appreciate your vote on November 6.


Rick Olseen House District 32B

The Minnesota State Fair provides a booth where people are surveyed on legislative issues and the House Information Office summarizes what fair-goers had on their mind.   For this first set of questions based on the state fair input, just a yes or no answer is sufficient: ~ Motorcyclists ought to be required to wear helmets. No. ~ Liquor stores ought to be able to be open on Sundays. No. ~ State sales tax ought to be extended to items purchased on the Internet. Yes. ~ The legislature needs to make it so more than just a simple majority vote is needed to put an amendment on the ballot, when seeking to amend the constitution. Yes. 1: Talk a little about recent bills introduced to restrict women’s access to the RU486 pill. One bill tried to mandate a medical doctor be present when “administering” this pharmaceutical.   And, more broadly, explain your views on the role that government has in dictating healthcare options for women? Bills like those to restrict access to RU486, and other extreme legislation introduced across the country are polarizing and limiting. (And will most likely end up at the Supreme Court). I would rather see legislation focused on preventive measures that could reduce the use of RU486. I believe the government does not have a role in dictating healthcare options for women (or men!). Government can provide the many options available today to support women dictating their own healthcare options, with their doctor and their families. 2: Last year it was reported in a session of the Jobs and Economic Development Finance Committee that business pays about 31 percent of the state’s incoming taxes and residents (via income, property tax, etc) about 65 percent.   Legislative leaders and campaign materials can’t talk enough about reducing  Minnesota businesses’ taxes.  Assuming you agree business taxes need cutting, what is the preferred percentage of our state budget that business should support, and how do you get there? On my campaign materials, you will see me say that I support reinstating the Homestead Credit. While homeowners in Chisago County saw big increases due to the legislature repealing the Homestead Credit, businesses saw even bigger ones. With business property taxes accounting for more than 45% of business taxes (and are forecasted to increase) repealing the Homestead Credit was devastating to many of our local businesses. Reinstating the Homestead Credit—which will lower business property taxes, is my top priority. 3: What’s your philosophical stand on what’s commonly called Local Government Aid?  Should the state collect revenues from well-serviced and developed areas where large industry and commerce wants to locate, and redistribute revenues as aid to poorer cities and counties?  And, please don’t just respond that LGA is a broken system, and can’t be applied fairly at all.  How do you react to the premise? Is it even a good idea? LGA was implemented in the late 60’s and early 70’s because a number of communities in the rapidly growing suburbs saw property taxes go up drastically. Cash-strapped cities and counties were looking at imposing their own sales and income taxes. Then as part of the “Minnesota Miracle,” the state legislature made a decision to provide local governments with additional revenues outside of what they generated via the local property tax. This decision was made to ensure that every community has the ability to provide its citizens with basic necessary services. This system has worked for over 40 years. However, when Governor Pawlenty did his un-allotments he cut LGA and the program has suffered since then. Rather than taking money from high tax capacity cities (who generally don’t qualify for LGA—therefore leaving funds in the pot for the communities LGA was intended for) I think we need to rededicate funding to LGA. As we face state budget deficits, LGA has been an easy target. However, it is important to remember that when the state faces a deficit, the communities we represent are likely also struggling--especially those in areas of low tax capacity like Chisago County. Having served at the school, county and state level here, I have a strong understanding of the unique challenges communities like ours face—as seen in my top priority of reinstating the Homestead Credit which hit Chisago County harder than any county in our state. Funding and supporting LGA will be another top priority on my list.

Paul Gammel House District 32A

1: The Minnesota State Fair provides a booth where people are surveyed on legislative issues and the House Information Office summarizes what fair-goers had on their mind. For this first set of questions based on the state fair input, just a yes or no answer is sufficient: ~ Motorcyclists ought to be required to wear helmets. No, this should be a choice ~ Liquor stores ought to be able to be open on Sundays. Yes, as long as the workers have a day off, we are losing a lot of tax dollars to Wisconsin. ~ State sales tax ought to be extended to items purchased on the Internet. Yes, I agree the marketplace should be fair. ~ The legislature needs to make it so more than just a simple majority vote is needed to put an amendment on the ballot, when seeking to amend the constitution. No 2: Talk a little about recent bills introduced to restrict women’s access to the RU486 pill. One bill tried to mandate a medical doctor be present when “administering” this pharmaceutical. And, more broadly, explain your views on the role that government has in dictating healthcare options for women? HF2341 lacked a companion bill in the senate, and there are reasons why. I think it is one way to deteriorate the choices women have with regards to theeir own reproductive healthcare. It could create an unnecessary cost and waiting time for someone to care for themselves. I understand and support the idea that safety is a concern but the follow up care is more important than the initial administering of the pharmaceutical. I stand on the side of women choosing whats best for their own health without additional red-tape. 3: Last year it was reported in a session of the Jobs and Economic Development Finance Committee that business pays about 31 percent of the state’s incoming taxes and residents (via income, property tax, etc) about 65 percent. Legislative leaders and campaign materials can’t talk enough about reducing Minnesota businesses’ taxes. Assuming you agree business taxes need cutting, what is the preferred percentage of our state budget that business should support, and how do you get there? We need to reduce overhead so that small companies can plan ahead and do better as the economy gets better, lowering property taxes on small business' would be a great starting point. Loopholes that exist for larger companies could be eliminated, or adjusted so there is still balance. In general people don't want to pay higher taxes, but where is the tipping point between taxing people and taxing companies? We need to make sure people have enough income to buy things from companies. We need to have jobs with livable wages, that too could lower the amount of taxes paid by business. 4: What’s your philosophical stand on what’s commonly called Local Government Aid? Should the state collect revenues from well-serviced and developed areas where large industry and commerce wants to locate, and redistribute revenues as aid to poorer cities and counties? And, please don’t just respond that LGA is a broken system, and can’t be applied fairly at all. How do you react to the premise? Is it even a good idea? In 1858 Minnesota was granted Statehood, our state as a whole needs to provide for the whole state. Yes LGA should be dispersed throughout the state. Local property taxes can only go so high and highly developed areas can certainly aid those that are trying to build on infrastructure. When our infrastructure expands we as a state expand, better roads and services allow communities to grow. They allow small businesses to grow. When LGA is at a better level our seniors on fixed incomes can stay in their homes longer, our middle class can keep the fridge full. Remember Paul Wellstone “We all do better, when we all do better.”


John Bruno House District 39

1: The Minnesota State Fair provides a booth where people are surveyed on legislative issues and the House Information Office summarizes what fair-goers had on their mind. For this first set of questions based on the state fair input, just a yes or no answer is sufficient: ~ Motorcyclists ought to be required to wear helmets. No ~ Liquor stores ought to be able to be open on Sundays. Yes ~ State sales tax ought to be extended to items purchased on the Internet. Yes ~ The legislature needs to make it so more than just a simple majority vote is needed to put an amendment on the ballot, when seeking to amend the constitution. Yes 2: Talk a little about recent bills introduced to restrict women’s access to the RU486 pill. One bill tried to mandate a medical doctor be present when “administering” this pharmaceutical. And, more broadly, explain your views on the role that government has in dictating healthcare options for women? This is a Constitutional Rights issue. The Supreme Court in 1973 ruled that women should be allowed to obtain abortions. This is no different. If we begin to restrict constitutional rights for one individual or group based on their race, sex, gender, religion, ethnicity and/or age, then we begin to walk a slippery slope that threatens democracy. Democracy is about choices and about being able to make those choices. If we dictate healthcare for women, should we dictate healthcare for men too? If you believe that the government has no role in telling you what to do with your personal life, then you should be able to make your own choices. We don’t have to agree on each other’s choices, but that doesn't mean we have to restrict them either. Last year it was reported in a session of the Jobs and Economic Development Finance Committee that business pays about 31 percent of the state’s incoming taxes and residents (via income, property tax, etc) about 65 percent. 3: Legislative leaders and campaign materials can’t talk enough about reducing Minnesota businesses’ taxes. Assuming you agree business taxes need cutting, what is the preferred percentage of our state budget that business should support, and how do you get there? Let’s clarify the business tax rates. In 2007, the corporate tax rate made up 5% of all taxes. By 2013, the corporate tax will make up on 3.1% of all taxes. A Finance and Commerce article (5/3/10) has Minnesota businesses taxes as 15th lowest in the nation and would have to increase by $940 million just to reach average. Minnesota currently only collects 30 cents on every dollar of the 9.8% corporate tax rate. Credits and exemptions erase the rest. We need to level the playing field, broaden the tax base, close the loopholes and find ways to support small main street business. 4: What’s your philosophical stand on what’s commonly called Local Government Aid? Should the state collect revenues from well-serviced and developed areas where large industry and commerce wants to locate, and redistribute revenues as aid to poorer cities and counties? And, please don’t just respond that LGA is a broken system, and can’t be applied fairly at all. How do you react to the premise? Is it even a good idea? Local Government Aid (LGA) is distributed to help Minnesota Cities bridge the gap between the cost of essential services and the ability to raise revenue. The last time LGA was funded at the full formula level was 2007. It helps the areas that do not have the economic base to afford essential services. Many small towns depend on LGA to support their essential services programs. We need to fund LGA to keep our cities safe and protected.





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