jerry_head_sqAs a candidate for State Senator I promise to listen to you to learn what issues you feel are important to the people of St. Cloud and the surrounding area. I encourage you to contact me with your thoughts and concerns so I have a clear picture of the things I can do as your State Senator for the residents of Senate District 14.  As I go forward, I will provide specific ideas not only about what I find to be important issues but also how I would seek to resolves those issues as your State Senator.

Some of the issues I see facing us in Senate District 14 include:

Transportation:

  1. We must take a long-term view of our transportation infrastructure. This means we need to develop a comprehensive long range plan that will allow more efficient use of the State’s bonding power to finance needed improvements such as the I-94 corridor between St. Michael and St. Cloud.
  2. John Pederson’s bill to capture the motor vehicle lease tax, sales tax on auto parts, and rental car tax revenues and redirect them to the Highway User Tax Distribution Fund (HTUDF) for a total of an extra $261 is a viable alternative to raising the gas tax.  The gas tax is a dying tax.  As vehicle become more efficient, less gas is used.  Changing the tax to a percentage will create massive fluctuations due to the fluctuation in gas prices.  The existing sales tax will be a stable if not increasing source of revenue and provides a more efficient way to fund infrastructure maintenance and improvement without creating the burden of new or additional taxes.
  3. The NorthStar rail line needs to be brought to St. Cloud if it can be done in a fiscally responsible manner. This will ease the burden on our roads and reduce congestion in the metropolitan areas. Public transportation is a legitimate cost of government, however, transportation dollars must be spent efficiently and effectively. It appears the trackage now exists and we have the rolling stock.  The extension may require more cars and operators but that can be a win/win since it would create more job opportunities. I pledge to thoroughly investigate the benefits to the St Cloud area and weigh them against the actual costs involved both at inception and as part of the ongoing operation of the service.
  4. The St. Cloud Regional Airport is a valuable asset to the community.  I will support efforts to bring regular, reliable commercial air service to St. Cloud.

Budget:

We need to control spending so that the tax burden on all people in the District does not present an obstacle to growth. I endorse the use of zero based budgeting as one method to help control the burgeoning cost of State Government. I further believe when budget surpluses exist, all or a substantial part of that money should be returned to the taxpayers.

Education:

  1. It is important to return to local control to schools and school boards.  We must end Common Core to allow teachers to be able to teach to higher standards, not standardize teachers and make them teach to standardized tests. The uniqueness of our schools is a strength, not a weakness and curriculum decisions should be controlled at the local level subject only to rational minimum outcome objectives.
  2. Such minimum requirements include assuring grade school children are proficient at reading.  Where such deficiencies exist I support remedial programs to help all students achieve a minimum reading proficiency by the end of third grade.
  3. High School students must demonstrate measurable reading and mathematics proficiency.  Even students who are not seeking post-secondary education need certain minimum skills to be able to succeed in life.
  4. Teachers should be allowed to teach not fill out paperwork.  I support the Republican initiative that seeks to reduce the administrative paperwork burden currently placed upon teachers.
  5. We need to Increase parental choice by giving families at all income levels access to alternative education for their children.  I would favor expanding the education tax credits as one method of providing such alternatives.
  6. The liberals want universal mandatory pre-K.  This is simply another step to creating cradle to grave control by the government.  Moreover, where a parent wants to keep the child in the home during the important formative years, Universal mandatory pre-k would remove that option.
  7. I support early childhood education scholarships that allow low-income parents to give their children a fighting chance at the school of their choice. The liberal universal pre-K plans, in contrast, will put private schools and daycares out of business, leaving fewer options for families.
  8. Additionally, the nurturing environments created by small day care facilities are being threatened by increasing regulatory burdens on these such facilities.  Rational regulations designed at insuring the child care environment is safe without placing an unreasonable administrative burdens on these vital day care providers must be explored and implemented.

Health Care:

Health care insurance premiums and deductibles are growing at a rate that far outpaces people’s ability to pay, taking more and more of the income those citizens would otherwise have to spend on improving their lives.  While Obamacare must be dealt with at the Federal level, there are things that can be done at the state level to help bring costs under control.  Competition across state lines is one step to reducing those costs.

I also believe quality health care for our Veterans should be a number one priority.

Jobs:

  1. Small business generates the majority of job growth in Minnesota and across the country. Removing regulatory barriers to the creation and growth of entrepreneurial enterprises and reducing the tax burden placed upon them is critical to producing good, high paying jobs for Minnesotans.
  2. Minnesota businesses pay a statewide property tax levy in addition to the local property taxes. This levy places an additional burden on smaller business not found in neighboring states.  I support a reduction in this statewide levy to make Minnesota more attractive to small business owners.
  3. I also support expanding and simplifying well managed low cost loan, tax credit and financial incentive programs which provide startup capital and financial support for small businesses at little or no net cost to the public.
  4. Jobs are going unfilled in the St Cloud area due to a lack of qualified people to fill them. Support for expanded programs at the Technical and Community College level needs to be explored. Additionally, Community/School partnerships need to be explored to give schools and students in the Middle and High school levels a chance to identify and experience skills that are in demand and assist in providing curriculum changes to develop these skills.