State Representative District 28B Davids vs. Tschumper

Gregory M. Davids

Age: 54

Town: Preston

Family: Married to Bonnie; three married daughters; one grandchild.

Years in political office: 24, Preston City Council, Preston mayor, state representative.

 

Why do you want to hold this office?

I want to continue serving the good people of Fillmore and Houston counties. It is an honor to act as their voice in the Minnesota House of Representatives, and I truly enjoy helping area residents with their problems and concerns and approving laws that improve the lives of Minnesotans.

 

What is your budgeting strategy in light of the fact that numerous state services are needed and relied upon, but money to provide such services is quite limited?

In 2010 we had a $30.5 billion budget, and in 2012 that figure increased to $34.2 billion. If we had done nothing, our budget would have approached $39 billion. Clearly this indicates we have a spending problem, not a revenue problem. Most folks in our area would say a nearly $4 billion spending increase, for $34 billion over two years, should be enough to fund the needs of state government and its citizens – and it is. We took a projected $6.2 billion deficit and created a $1.3 billion surplus in roughly one year, and every month since then Minnesota has collected more revenue than it had previously projected.

With this in mind, we need to continue realizing that we have plenty of money coming in to fund government, but we just need to prioritize how we spend it. And for me, those priorities are K through 12 education, nursing homes, job creation and continuing my quest to lower property taxes for home and land owners. Three times I presented Governor Dayton with legislation that would have lowered property taxes, and three times he vetoed them, most likely for political purposes.

 

What personal or professional experience can you draw from when making decisions for your constituency?

My years of service as mayor and city council member in Preston reinforced the theory that all politics are local, and that you must have an open door policy to all of your constituents and try to help them in any way you can. I’ve always tried to maintain this accessibility in the Minnesota House, and I continue to fight for the priorities of Fillmore and Houston counties each and every day. This past session there were many positive new laws that will directly benefit our communities, including the work to reinstate tax reciprocity with Wisconsin, our veterans’ cemetery in Fillmore County and allocating record amounts of funding to our rural schools.

 

If financing was not an issue, what state function would you change or improve?

I would go to the K through 12 school system and bring more equity in funding between the metro schools and rural schools. I would bring this number closer together.

 

Are you in favor or against the proposed constitutional amendment on marriage?

I voted to give residents the opportunity to decide if marriage should be defined as between one man and one woman. I will vote yes.

 

Are you for or against the constitutional amendment on voter ID?

I voted to allow residents to choose whether or not they believe photo identification should be presented before someone is allowed to cast a ballot. I will vote yes.

 

What did we not ask that you would like to address in 100 words or less?

My DFL opponent continues to distort reality on the property tax issue. He and fellow legislative democrats have no credibility on this issue.

During the two years my opponent served in the Minnesota House, property taxes increased by 13.7 percent. Meanwhile, in 2013 alone, homestead property taxes are projected to decrease by 1.6 percent.

I attempted to make property tax rates even more reasonable last session as I chief-authored three separate bills that would have lowered taxes for home and property owners, and Governor Dayton vetoed them all. With your support, I’ll take up this fight again in January.

 

Ken Tschumper

Age: 62

Town: La Crescent Township

Family: Married to Robin; two granddaughters, Lily and Katy.

Years in political office: Former state representative, 2007-08.

 

Why do you want to hold this office?

I feel I can represent this district much better than it currently is. I had the opportunity to represent Houston and Fillmore Counties in the Legislature in 2007-08. We made government work for everyone. We balanced the budget honestly, ended the session on time and didn’t have a government shut down. We passed a $6.6 billion transportation funding bill that resulted in tremendous improvements in local roads. We passed the “Freedom to Breathe Act,” which prohibits smoking in public places. In addition, I was the chief author of the disaster assistance bill that aided the residents of southeastern Minnesota after the August 2007 flood.

My goal is to represent the broad public interest not the narrow special interests. If elected, I will again focus on issues that are important to middle class Minnesotans. My top priority is to repeal the Greg Davids’ property tax increase! The Republican majority raised property taxes $1.3 billion. This is hurting local government, homeowners and farmers. Instead, we need to increase state funding to our cities, counties and school districts.

 

What is your budgeting strategy in light of the fact that numerous state services are needed and relied upon, but money to provide such services is quite limited?

Greg Davids and the Republicans have been misleading the public. They did not balance the budget honestly last year. They borrowed from our schools and robbed the tobacco settlement fund. These are accounting gimmicks and bad financial practices

They balanced the budget on paper but they created deficits in the lives of real people. They cut vital services like the programs in Fillmore and Houston Counties to help women and children who are victims of domestic abuse.

The next Legislature will face a $4 to $5 billion deficit when the February budget projection comes out. About $2.4 billion is money we need to pay back to our schools.

We need to make our tax system fairer. We need to reverse the reliance on property taxes for balancing the budget and funding our schools. High income Minnesotans are not paying their fair share of the tax burden. I support Gov. Dayton’s proposal to make our tax system fairer with a modest increase in taxes on higher income Minnesotans. I would like to see us reduce or eliminate the statewide business property tax but only if we increase the corporate income tax to make up the revenue loss.

 

What personal or professional experience can you draw from when making decisions for your constituency?

I’ve been a small dairy farmer for 36 years. Every day you learned to be practical and pragmatic. That is what we need in the Legislature – people who understand how to be practical and pragmatic.

I am a graduate of Winona State with a degree in biology and have a very good background in the natural sciences. That’s worth a lot because more and more of the problems we need to deal with in society have to do with science and technology.

In the two years I was in the Legislature I had a very good working relationship with urban and suburban legislators. That’s really important because rural Minnesota has a shrinking number of lawmakers due to population decline. You have to be supportive and work well with urban and suburban legislators if you want to get things done for rural Minnesota.

 

If financing was not an issue, what state function would you change or improve?

In addition to raising taxes on higher income Minnesotans, we need comprehensive tax reform. Our property tax system is way too complicated. We need to take a second look at programs like JOBZ to see if they are really working the way they were intended. We need to reduce or eliminate the statewide business property tax because it is just too much of a burden on small town businesses.

The area where we are going to see big changes is in the state health care programs like Minnesota Care and Medical Assistance (Medicaid). These are going to change because of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare as it is called. The Legislature is going to play a very big roll in making Obamacare work successfully here. This has real potential for saving the state millions of dollars and more importantly for significantly improving health care for lower income people.

 

 

 

Are you in favor or against the proposed constitutional amendment on marriage?

I plan on voting against the anti-marriage amendment and would encourage all voters to vote no.

People who are gay and lesbian are picked on every day of their life. They are constantly treated badly. They are bullied. They are made fun of. This amendment is just more of the same.

Greg Davids and the Republicans should be ashamed of themselves for putting the anti-marriage amendment on the ballot. This is not a debate about marriage. This is a debate about equality. Our constitution, and its promise of equality, isn’t just for some of us, it isn’t just for most of us, it’s for all of us, including people who are gay and lesbian. Our constitution has never been used to deny people rights. It has always been used to establish and expand people’s rights. There are 15 to 30 million gay and lesbian people in this country. Does anyone really think that 30 years from now they are not going have full equality?

 

Are you for or against the constitutional amendment on voter ID?

I plan on voting against the anti-voter amendment and would encourage all voters to vote no.

The anti-voter amendment is completely unnecessary. Because the Republicans lost two close statewide elections in recent years, they blame our election laws. So they have put this amendment on the ballot to make it more difficult for people to vote who may vote for democrats.

Voter fraud is practically non-existent in Minnesota. The worst thing about this amendment is that it will eliminate same day registration. For over three decades Minnesota has led the nation in voter turnout because we have same day registration. In addition, implementing this amendment could cost $40 to $50 million with huge costs to counties and townships.

 

What did we not ask that you would like to address in 100 words or less?

We need to put more money in to K through 12 education. There is a lot of discussion about evaluating teachers based on student test scores. We need to stop blaming and criticizing teachers for everything. I think there is too much emphasis put on high stakes testing. The best thing we can do to improve teacher performance and to raise test scores is to pay teachers more. But to pay teachers more the state must provide more funding to our local school districts.

The average student graduates from a university or college with a $29,000 debt. The cost of going to college is pricing a lot of young people out of their future. We need to make college more affordable by lowering the cost of tuition.

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