10/30/2012 1:17:00 PM Minnesota Senate District 28 Candidate, Jack Krage
Editor's note: Running for Minnesota Senate District 28 (formerly District 31 before redistricting) are incumbent Jeremy Miller (R-Winona) and Jack Krage (D-Winona). The candidates were asked the following questions, and they have submitted these responses.
1. Top priority: If elected, what is your top priority for the 2013 Legislature? Why are you running for office?
Krage: My top priority once elected is to work toward getting those looking for work reemployed. I will work toward legislation that helps them learn new skills so they are qualified to re-enter the ever-changing job market. I will encourage more cooperation between the industries and colleges to counsel their new students about career choices so that they may be better aware of the career openings in today's job market.
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.
Krage: I support job growth as an economic and revenue stimulus. If we can put more people to work, we increase revenue. I also favor increasing the tax on those at the top end of the wage scale. I believe all people able to pay taxes should pay their fair share. I am not in favor of a tax on food and clothing because this puts a heavier burden on the middle class consumer.
Along with these measures, I also feel that there are still cost savings measures that we can make to further trim the work force through attrition.
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?
Krage: We need to raise the test scores for all areas of the state. There is no area that has scores that we can truly be proud of. We need to reconsider what steps we need to take to ensure that the results improve. As far as the scores in lower income areas, a lot of these children are coming to school under nourished. If they are hungry they will not achieve on par with children who have had a good breakfast. We need to identify these children and make sure they have eaten before they start their school day.
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?
Krage: As I stated in an earlier answer, we need to work with counselors to make sure that students are aware of the potential of securing a job in the field that they chose. This will allow that student to make a choice of a different career before they have spent thousands of hours and dollars acquiring a degree that they may not be able to use.
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?
Krage: We should implement the health care program as it is proposed. There are too many uninsured people in our state to delay putting this into effect.
This issue has become an extremely divisive one and the real victims are the uninsured. The Legislature should stop playing politics and get it done.
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?
Krage: The roads and bridges are in poor shape statewide. If we continue to defer maintenance on them it will only cost us more later on. We need to set a long range plan targeting most dire needs and begin upgrading a portion each year. As we put more people back to work we can afford to pay for this project as we go. These road repair projects will also put workers back to work.
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?
Krage: We need to look at all available energy sources. But our main emphasis must be on renewable fuels. We have a constant supply of wind and sun. These areas must be concentrated on if we are ever to reach energy independence. Besides we can keep these jobs here in Minnesota instead of shipping our funds overseas. We need to work with energy companies and encourage them to implement a program of constructing new grids to handle the energy that can be produced by wind and solar. Too often the network cannot handle the increased usage from numerous wind generators.
8. Constitutional amendments: Do you support the voter ID amendment? Do you support the same-sex marriage amendment?
Krage: I adamantly oppose the voter I.D. amendment. It was put on the ballot to energize the Republican base and get them out to vote. There is no appreciable voter fraud in Minnesota. The cost of putting this in place will be in the millions and our budget is short already.
As for the marriage amendment, it is already a law in Minnesota and I feel it is redundant to place this on the ballot. It was put on the ballot to give the voters a voice on the issue and I will adhere to the outcome. I am keeping my vote on this issue a private vote.
9. Other issues: Are there other issues you want to address?
Krage: I will work to put the unemployed back to work by supporting legislation to help them learn new skills necessary to meet the ever changing workplace. I will work toward lowering the tuition for our students in two and four year state colleges so they are not saddled with debt for the next 20 years. I will stand up for the school children and adamantly oppose deferring state funding for the operation of their schools in order to balance our state budget. With your support, I will work hard to bring Minnesota back to the national forefront where it belongs.
10. Briefly summarize your personal background and qualifications.
Krage: Over the years, I have become increasingly disappointed with the strong partisanship that has evolved in the legislative process. Open lines of communication have been replaced by divisive hard-line stances, and the citizens of Minnesota needs are held hostage in this wrangling of political strengths. I feel that a politician is elected to serve the interests of their constituents instead of promoting their own political agenda.
For this reason, I am running for District 28 Senate. I have a diverse background that will serve well as a voice of SE Minnesota. I was born on a dairy farm near Ridgeway, Minn., and attended a one-room country school. After graduating from Cotter High School, I enrolled at WSU. In order to pay for my education, I worked two and sometimes three jobs at a time. Upon graduating, I taught H.S. social studies before returning to Winona to manage a grocery store for seven years. For the past 28 years, I have been a realtor, where I learned the skills of listening and negotiating in order to serve my client's needs. These life experiences well equip me to meet and understand the day-to-day struggles of the citizens of District 28.