Rep. Kurt Daudt, GOP, is opposed by Ryan Fiereck, DFL, in House District 31A.
Daudt: I have lived on my family farm in Crown since 1995.
Elected state representative in 2010, I currently serve as assistant majority leader in the Minnesota House of Representatives.
I also served six years as an Isanti County Commissioner and was a Stanford Town Board Supervisor from 1999-2005.
Fiereck: Winona State University, business education, training and development; St. Mary’s University, masters in teaching and learning; St. Francis School District teacher with experience at elementary and secondary levels; local union leader, active Education Minnesota member; Bethel volunteer firefighter. Married (Kristen) with a one-year-old daughter Sydney.
The frustration of our political system has driven me to help find a way to improve what we have in place for politicians.
We have seen the downfall of partisan politics in the last two years.
We have seen a government shutdown and lack of compromise from incumbents in Minnesota.
The citizens of Minnesota need leaders in place that will work together.
Our citizens should accept nothing less.
These leaders need to be able to help drive us towards a future that meets their needs, while being responsible with their tax dollars.
I refuse to stand still, while the Minnesota of tomorrow shows concerns for my daughter’s future.
2. How should the Minnesota Legislature address future budget deficits – raise taxes, cut spending or both? What taxes should be raised? What programs should be cut?
Daudt: Budget deficits almost always come from poor budgeting and politicians not willing to make the tough decisions to control the rate of growth of state government.
They choose to delay payments into future budget cycles rather that make necessary reductions in spending.
It is easier to increase taxes than make the tough decisions to control spending.
The huge budget deficit of $6.1 billion going into 2011 included a 42 percent increase in just the HHS portion of the budget.
Nobody believes that growing government 42 percent in two years is the right thing to do.
The governor proposed raising taxes to make up for this budget deficit because it was easier to do that.
The right thing to do was to dive in and find efficiencies and reforms that would keep spending under control.
The GOP Legislature did that and kept growth in HHS to 12 percent instead of 42 percent.
We don’t need to increase taxes, we need to control spending.
I will always dig in and make the tough decisions to do what is right for the state before I will worry about my own re-election.
Fiereck: The Legislature needs to an active role on a shared approach to closing budgetary gaps.
Expenditures need to be constantly examined to see if effectiveness or existence is still needed.
If we are in a state of constant government reform, then taxes will remain low.
When looking at methods to reach a balanced budget, we need to examine the levels of taxes on online sales.
By doing this it also allows our local small businesses to remain competitive with online merchants that may or may not exist in Minnesota.
Representatives in Minnesota need to constantly be examining programs that are offered at the state level.
Minnesota needs to examine its government systems and find where the overlap is located. This overlap needs to be eliminated and streamline processes to help support the businesses of Minnesota.
Also, the cost savings of overlap elimination can be reduced or invested more appropriately.
3. Should the Minnesota Legislature increase state funding for K-12 education? If so, how? If not, why not?
Daudt: We need to pay the K/12 education shift back as quickly as possible so that our school districts don’t have to borrow money to cash-flow themselves, and we need to get it back to the normal 90/10 as soon as we can.
Once we do that, we need to cut the strings and mandates from the state to the local districts because they know better what their district needs and how best to spend their money.
We don’t need to increase K/12 funding until we have seriously reformed our K/12 system.
Our kids aren’t going to get a better education just because we spend more money on it.
We need student-centered reforms like teacher effectiveness, principal evaluations, teacher tenure reform and grading of our schools so parents can see how their school is doing compared to others.
If their school is not performing as well as it should, parents will get involved and force the necessary changes.
These reforms are getting great results in student achievement in other states.
Fiereck: Minnesota must fund a public education system in a way that allows the system to be both sustainable and predictable.
Funding schools through extended bank loans because of the state’s choices to shift funding is unacceptable.
As we increase the loan amounts, we increase the amount of money that is taken out of schools and put into interest that is paid to the banks.
I do not accept this as acceptable.
More money is taken out of the classroom and put in the pockets of banks.
The state must find a way to fund the future in a manner that doesn’t pit school districts against residents.
The funding of school districts is not currently working.
Districts are stuck in a constant cycle of asking residents for more funding to maintain status quo.
The state needs to provide a relief to this cycle.
By funding more effectively, schools will return to a public resource and not a public enemy.