I’ve got a dozen questionnaires sitting on my desk unopened. Until this election I always filled them out without fail. This time I’ll wait to see if I get past the primary.
I just filled one out however for the local organization that lobbied long and hard to skyrocket our taxes for the Red Plan. It seems they’ve suddenly discovered fiscal restraint.
Here are the questions they gave me and the answers (under 50 words) I returned. Too bad they can’t keep their questions to 50 words.
1. Minnesota faces a large fiscal deficit. Does business pay its fair share of taxes, yes or no? What would you cut or increase to make it fairer?
Tax increases are inevitable but no state spending should be sacred. A six billion shortfall will make LGA hard to justify. I’d give local government greater authority to adjust property taxes and direct them where needed. School building bonds should always be approved by referendum to keep school districts in check.
2. What is the role of government when it comes to regulatory issues? For instance, is it the role of government to tell hospitals what the nurse to patient ratios ought to be or should it be up to the hospitals and their accrediting agencies? Secondly, would you agree that state agencies ought to give permits in a timely manner or should those permits be automatically issued if the state is not timely?
When the state pays the bill it will play a part in such decisions however, in this case I’d incline toward neutrality. There should be a timely permitting process but permits should no more be granted under rigid timelines than murder suspects freed when speedy trials fail to materialize.
3. How can the legislature improve school outcomes without increasing funding?
I’m skeptical of the potential for success of, though not opposed to, merit pay. Paying students would be more effective but is not politically acceptable. I believe that public education has benefited from Governor Rudy Perpich’s Charter Schools which effectively broke up a monopoly.
4. What is the role of government in promoting private sector jobs?
Usually ham handed. Oh, you asked “what” not “how.” I think the prime generators of jobs ““ small businesses ““ should be cut some regulatory slack and offered tax breaks.
I answered the League of Women Voter’s questionnaire tonight. I’d started filling it out a couple days ago but kept getting interrupted. They asked a series of momentous questions which a serious answer requires an expert and a book but gave us a 50 word limit. I was considerably shorter. I will not make a habit of filling out questionaires in this campaign but this one wasn’t from one of the mindless “I’ll give up when you pry my cold dead fingers off the trigger” type organizations.
Its lengthy and some of my answers are pretty flip but I’m no expert on many of the querries:
What is the role of the federal government in encouraging exploration and innovation for future energy needs?Â (50 words) Its regulatory role is preeminent to assure that there is minimal environmental degradation.Â Only the government can be trusted to enforce the reduction of carbon and methane. Â Its role in fostering energy conservation is also critical but it must not place unnecessarily burdensome requirements on private industry. Are market forces sufficient to ensure a clean environment?Â If not, what regulatory actions would you support?Â (50 words) No they are not. Environmental degradation is a hidden tax on the future. How should the costs of maintaining national parks, historic sites and national forests be paid?Â (50 words) The national parks are natural treasures that should be primarily dependent on taxpayers for support. User fees should only augment their upkeep. How can immigration policy balance US economic needs, the interests of US workers and security?Â (50 words) Â Not easily What are the long and short-term impacts of the deficit on the economy?Â (50 words)The short term impact has been to prime the economy for the political benefit of incumbents. The long term consequence is a great burden placed on the shoulders of the next generation which is already facing huge demands from the increasingly geriatric baby boom population. If Social Security and Medicare place significant burdens on future budgets, how would you make up the balance?Â (50 words) By a combination of raising the age for payouts and raising the taxes to pay for the promises made and the sooner the better. What steps, if any, should the government take to make health care more accessible and affordable?Â Explain.Â (50 words)
There should be a greater national role in providing health care so that there is less effort by the medical community to shift costs. How can we ensure effective response to disasters and/or pandemics?Â (50 words) For one thing by making sure that competent professionals take over the agencies that oversee this responsibility rather than political cronies. How can civil liberties be preserved while giving our government necessary tools to fight terrorism?Â (50 words) By not criticizing the motives of people who are pointing out the continuing erosion of long established rights. How best can elected officials foster separation of powers as laid out in the US Constitution?Â Â Explain.Â (50 words) By honoring that separation rather than denying it. Does the current system in Congress allow for fair and thorough review and judgment of ethics charges brought against its members?Â (50 words) Probably not.
The official source for all the blather of the eccentric Harry Welty – Duluth School Board member, off and on, since 1995. He does his best to live up to Mark Twain's assessment: "First God created the idiot. That was for practice. Then he invented the School Board."