Herald Journal - Voters' Guide 2010
Herald Journal / Dassel-Cokato Enterprise Dispatch / Delano Herald Journal

State Senate Dist. 47

Julianne Ortmann (R)

This candidate did not submit answers to the questions sent her by Herald Journal.

Bruce Schwictenberg (R)

This candidate did not submit answers to the questions sent him by Herald Journal.

Jim Weygand (DFL)

Why are you running for state senate?

I am running for the senate because I believe our current legislature is unwilling to provide the needed investment in our education system and infrastructure, and too willing to provide and maintain income tax breaks for our wealthiest residents.

The current legislation is too willing to shift tax burden from income taxes to property taxes.

Minnesota has been a leader in economic strength and quality of life, because we have been willing to invest in our people, our youth, and our state. The current legislature is failing to continue to make those investments.

What do you believe are the top two issues facing District 47, and what are your proposed solutions?

The issues we face are at the state level, not just at the district. We are seeing degradation in our k-12 education system, our higher education is becoming unaffordable except for the wealthy, and we are not keeping up with our statewide infrastructure needs. These failures are the result of underfunding by the state.

State aid for k-12 in 2011 – taking into account inflation – has fallen $1,300/pupil behind the 2003 levels. Tuition at Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, and the University of Minnesota are rising as state support declines.

As a result, many of our young people are leaving higher education with record debt.

We should be making higher education affordable for all, because a good education is a benefit, not only to the student, but to all of us.

Minnesota has done well, because of a well-educated workforce, and we need to continue to support education and continue that tradition.

The same is true of our infrastructure. It is not just an expense; it is an investment in the future.

The collapse of the 35W bridge caused death, injuries, inconvenience, and economic loss, but it also damaged Minnesota’s reputation worldwide, and probably resulted in loss of new businesses and jobs here.

New roads, bridges, and rail are an investment in our transportation system and our state economy.

What specifically can this unit of government do to cut costs and operate efficiently, while still maintaining service to taxpayers?

This is a poor question. The question implies that the problem is inefficiency in government. Yes, there is inefficiency in government, but after spending 40 years in industry, there is inefficiency there, also.

Despite the general opinion, I am not sure that government is any better or worse.

Whether business or government, we have to continually work to do a better job

The real questions are what functions should government provide, and what is the best way to provide them?

Minnesota has evolved a tradition of the state providing aid to k-12 education, and Local Government Aid (LGA) helping to keep property taxes down. Unfortunately, because of income tax cuts and poor economy, the state aid to k-12 and LGA have not kept up with inflation, and property taxes have gone up to fill the gap.

The trouble is, property taxes put more burden on those with little or no income, such as the unemployed, seniors, and new or struggling businesses.

We need to shift the burden back to income taxes, especially to the top income brackets that have been getting a big tax break in recent years.

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