Earlier this month, Patch invited readers to pose questions to District 46 candidates. We sent your questions to the candidates, along with some of our own, and will be posting their answers to help you know how they’d tackle the challenges ahead and where they stand on key issues.
Below are the responses from John Swanson, Republican challenger in House District 46A.
What blend of taxes and cuts will you support?
I believe we need to first redesign, reduce, and eliminate programs before we consider tax increases. Our economy is still very weak and any taxes will further slow the recovery and delay hiring. I would be pleased if we could cut $3 for every $1 in tax increases and delay the tax increases as long as we can. My opponent has stated and I quote, "I've voted for every tax increase I could." He also has indicated that he wants to raise several taxes if re-elected including an increase in business taxes.
What are your plans and/or past actions to support small businesses and their owners and workers?
The best step we can take is to keep business and income tax as they are today and not raise taxes on small businesses and their owners. To encourage business we could reduce business taxes especially given the fact that the US has the highest business tax rates in the world with Minnesota ranking # 5 for the worst tax environment for businesses in the US. The federal government is increasing taxes on Minnesota's most successful industry, the medical device manufactures, which will hurt our economy.
How will you approach public school funding?
I believe school funding is the most important responsibility of our state. We need to reduce or eliminate unfunded mandates, give schools more flexibility in how they spend their money, reduce administrative burdens, provide better support for the best classroom teachers, and encourage parents to play the key role they have for student achievement. Funding needs to continue to grow based on student populations and inflation. We should pay the schools back for the "borrowing" that was required and eliminate the shift in the future.
What do you consider adequate funding for our schools?
School funding needs to keep up with inflation and the increase in the number of students. I would like to see the best teachers paid the most.
How can you change the conversation in St. Paul to work toward compromise? I have more than 30 years of experience working for consensus and compromise in large companies with many different political forces. I will work to do the same in St Paul by bringing new ideas, a willingness to listen to all sides, to agree whenever I can, and if I disagree to do it in private with a soft voice. My opponent is know for using the floor of the State House to aggressively attack the opposition party and even individuals. Individuals from both parties in St Paul have shared that he is hard to work with. That's not a formula for compromise!
Are you open to compromise with members of the opposition party?
Absolutely! It is the only way to solve our most difficult problems. I hope and pray that our political leaders in St Paul will work together after this divisive election. Please vote for me so I can help build the consensus needed to solve our major problems.
What does compromise look like to you?
Compromise means each side makes sacrifices so that the citizens of our community receive good solutions.
Do you support or oppose the marriage amendment and why?
I am sorry that a marriage amendment is necessary to keep the current definition of marriage. I believe the citizens of the state should make this important decision and not the courts as has been done in other states.
Do you support or oppose the voter ID amendment and why? Unfortunately, we all know that folks in society cheat, break laws, etc. and that includes when they vote. Our present law makes it much, much too easy for folks to cheat. So, I support the voter ID amendment to help us all have confidence in the our election results. The proposed amendment contains the 3 features recommended by Jimmy Carter (former Democratic President) in a 2004 federal commission including: 1. A picture ID 2. The ID is free to those who don't have one. 3. If you don't have a picture ID, you can still vote and get your ID after the election. In states with voter ID, voting has increased. If I'm elected, I'll make sure that everyone who wants to vote will have a picture ID.
What role should state government have in caring for the less fortunate?
My volunteer work with 'at risk' children and mothers gives me a compassion and understanding of what needs to be done.The state should give the less fortunate a "hand-up" to the extent possible rather than a "handout". A hand-up gives more dignity to the person. We should also take more steps to prevent poverty and other social ills. Some of our welfare programs actual promote single motherhood which is a leading cause of poverty. These programs need to be redesigned.
What relationship should state government have with cities, counties and other local government entities?
There are important roles for all levels of government and responsibilities and laws need to be clear so each government body can work effectively and efficiently while cooperating as needed. I believe that the best government model is one that gives local government the most responsibility and control for their own communities. State and county government should be limited to what only they can do best such as the transportation infrastructure (roads, trains and public transit), laws governing business, courts, and support for education as all levels.
How well does the Southwest Light Rail Transit project fit the needs of the region?
I believe that this project could be very beneficial for the communities served if the increased housing density needed to make the project an economic success is developed in a timely manner. Questions on how operating funds are provided, what city zoning changes are needed, safety for schools and railroad crossings, issues by nearby homeowners, parking for commuters, etc. should all be addressed before construction begins.
What financial incentives do you favor to encourage the establishment of high tech business in your district?
As a general rule, government should not attempt to pick winners and losers in the business world. I'm not in favor of the government giving some businesses special incentives at the expense of other businesses. Our federal government has shown how foolish it is to promote some industries and even particular companies such as Solyndra which went bankrupt. To encourage business we should reduce business taxes especially given the fact that the US has the highest business tax rates in the world with Minnesota having one for the worst tax environments for businesses in the US.