Minnesota House District 28B Candidate, Greg Davids
Tuesday, October 30, 2012 8:04 AM
Editor's note: Running for Minnesota House of Representatives District 28B (formerly 31B before redistricting) are incumbent Greg Davids (R-Preston) and challenger Ken Tschumper (D-L a Crescent).
The candidates were asked the following questions, and they have submitted their responses.
1. Top priority: If elected, what is your top priority for the 2013 Legislature? Why are you running for office?
Davids: I am running because 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. As with nearly every other legislative candidate, my top priority will be job creation, but I will also prioritize tax relief, and equitable K-12 education and nursing home funding.
2. Budget: Minnesota faces a long-term structural imbalance in its budget. What are your guiding principles for addressing continuing shortfalls? Do you favor spending cuts only, tax increases only, or a combination? Do you support expansion of the state sales tax to such items as food and clothing? If you support tax increases, be specific in which taxes you would increase.
Davids: 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 collection 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. The fiscal path we've chosen is succeeding; we shouldn't enact unnecessary tax increases just for the sake of doing it.
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-12 education, nursing homes, job creation, and continuing my quest to lower property taxes for home and land owners.
3. Education, K-12: Minnesota has one of the widest achievement gaps between white and minority students. How do you propose correcting this problem? Do you support legislation that would require districts to consider performance as well as seniority when deciding teacher layoffs?
Davids: I support local control and allowing our school districts to make decisions for themselves. The good news is that our area schools have some of the higher graduation rates and test scores than many schools in the Metro Area. Now that schools are receiving record amounts thanks to $650 million in new funding that was allocated to K-12 education, our schools and teachers should be able to continue doing what they do best: preparing our children for the future.
4. Education, higher ed: Many employers are facing a continuing shortage of qualified workers for the available jobs. How should the state address this workforce skills gap? What must be done to assure that our higher ed system is preparing workers for the available jobs in today's economy?
Davids: Last session, I carried the Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, which would have begun to address the continuing shortage of qualified workers issue, particularly in our region. One of the provisions, the Internship Grant Program, was aimed at attracting and keeping talent in Greater Minnesota, but Governor Dayton chose to veto the bill.
We need to make sure higher education institutions have the resources they need to make our college students more well-rounded and able to meet the needs of the marketplace. But we also need to make sure our colleges are hearing the voice of needy employers. They can help our students identify what specific jobs are readily available, and help create a seamless transition from college to productive employee.
5. Health care: Minnesota is taking steps to create a state-specific health insurance exchange, following the U.S. Supreme Court's affirmation of the Affordable Care Act. Should Minnesota create its own exchange or should it take no action to create an exchange?
Davids: I supported legislation for a bipartisan state health care exchange. To me, it makes more sense if you have health care questions to call someone with a 507 area code, and not a 202 area code in Washington, D.C.
6. Transportation: Is Minnesota adequately addressing its transportation needs - roads and transit? If more money is needed, what sources of revenue should be raised for what specific programs?
Davids: I would prefer to see more of our transportation dollars spent on rural roads and bridges as opposed to new light rail lines in the Metro Area. Not only is light rail expensive to build, it is expensive to maintain. At some point, we have to realize roads are what the majority of Minnesotans use very day, and that maintaining our roads and highways should be our top priority. My opponent helped enact a massive gas tax increase four years ago for this supposed purpose, so I would not be in favor of enacting yet another gas tax increase, especially with prices hovering around $4 per gallon.
7. Energy: What sources of energy do you support to meet the state's base-load energy needs? Is Minnesota doing enough to diversify its energy generation portfolio?
Davids: I support clean coal and nuclear energy to meet Minnesota's energy needs and support more oil and gas exploration.
8. Constitutional amendments: Do you support the voter ID amendment? Do you support the same-sex marriage amendment?
Davids: I voted to give residents the opportunity to decide if marriage should be defined as between one man and one woman, and 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 support both.
9. Other issues: Are there other issues you want to address?
Davids: My DFL opponent continues to distort reality on the property tax issue. He and Legislature 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.
10. Briefly summarize your personal background and qualifications.
Davids: I am a former school teacher and have been working in financial services since 1982. I have also served on the Preston City Council as well as Preston mayor, and have served for ten terms as a state representative. I'm also the chairman of the Minnesota House Taxes Committee.
Throughout my years of service, I've tried to maintain an open door policy to all area residents, and have fought 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. With your help, I will continue fighting for your needs over the next two years.
It remains a deep privilege to serve you at the State Capitol, and I humbly ask for your vote on Nov. 6.