Former DFL State Rep. Alice Johnson is taking on Republican Sen. Pam Wolf for Senate District 37 seat. Wolf did not respond to the questionnaire.
Johnson: I am seeking this office because I believe we can do better. I believe it is time to end political gridlock and focus on Minnesota’s middle class families.
Instead of creating jobs and investing in our future, the current leadership has overseen partisan bickering and a government shutdown.
We need a Legislature that can work cooperatively for the best interests of Minnesotans.
As a resident of Spring Lake Park for 45 years, I have had the opportunity to listen to people. I am ready to fight for our core values. I can help restore Minnesota’s focus on its people, their education and good jobs.
As a volunteer mediator for Anoka County for 14 years, I have the experience of bringing people together and working out solutions that both sides can agree to.
I know how to build consensus and find solutions. For 14 years I served and represented the people of this community in the Minnesota House of Representatives.
I effectively chaired the K-12 Education Finance Division and served on the Transportation, Education and Tax committees.
I want to put those skills to work for Minnesotans. Working together, we can get back to a Minnesota that works.
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?
Johnson: Our biggest obstacle to deciding what services state government should provide and how those services are funded is the lack of willingness to cooperate and compromise.
The people of Blaine, Coon Rapids and Spring Lake Park are extremely frustrated over the partisan bickering and gridlock at the State Capitol.
We need a Legislature that acts responsibly and cooperatively towards a bipartisan plan. We must come together to do what is best for the people of our state.
An example of the unwillingness to compromise is when the current Republican majority in the Legislature would not support a common sense revenue generating idea for broadening the sales tax on Internet sales.
This would have leveled out an unfair tax policy that exists in Minnesota, whereby out-of-state online retailers can develop business partnerships with Minnesota-based retailers and avoid paying the state sales tax on purchases made via the out-of-state retailer‘s website.
This was supported by companies like Best Buy and Target, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and the Business Partnership. This provision is one of “evening-out the playing field” while also increasing needed revenue.
3. Should the Minnesota Legislature increase state funding for K-12 education? If so, how? If not, why not?
Johnson: A quality K-12 education system is a very important issue.
Without a quality education system we will not have a solid, trained future workforce that businesses need to create jobs. I will oppose measures to balance the state budget by borrowing billions of dollars from our schools.
I also believe the state should assure student academic success with strong pre-K programs.
It is not responsible for the state to push funding responsibility back to the local level, forcing referenda and levy elections to provide money for basic educational needs, thereby increasing property taxes. This is a back-door way to be able to say, “We did not increase your taxes.”
William Blazer, senior vice president at the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, told economic development officials in Anoka County, that the number two reason businesses choose to move out of Minnesota is the lack of skilled workers that can meet their needs.
The number one reason, Mr. Blazer said, was not taxes, but the lack of complementary businesses in the region to meet their demands. We need a well-educated workforce, one that is prepared for the future.