Three candidates on ballot in House District 36B

DFL State Rep. Melissa Hortman faces two challengers in House District 36B in Republican Andrew Reinhardt and Andrew Kratoska of the Independence Party. Kratoska did not respond to the questionnaire.

1. Biography.

Melissa Hortman
Melissa Hortman

Hortman: Melissa Hortman was born and raised in the north metro area and graduated from Blaine High School.

Melissa graduated from college at Boston University and worked in Washington, D.C., before returning to Minnesota to start law school at the University of Minnesota.

She and her husband Mark bought their first house on the street they still live on today.

Melissa and Mark’s two teenage children attend Champlin Park High School.

Prior to running for office, Rep. Hortman worked as an attorney in Minneapolis, practicing in the areas of employment law and civil litigation.

Before that, she worked as a legal aid attorney specializing in landlord-tenant and housing discrimination.

Hortman currently serves as general counsel for a small business in addition to serving in the Minnesota House.

Melissa served as a volunteer at Monroe Elementary School, on the Anoka-Hennepin Parent Legislative Team, as a Sunday school teacher, as a Girl Scout leader, on the Brooklyn Park Human Relations Commission and Citizen’s Long Range Improvement Committee and on the board of directors for an Anoka County nonprofit organization.

Hortman’s legislative accomplishments include a third lane on Highway 10, Northstar Commuter Rail, the Highway 610 extension and other road and bridge repair.

Andrew Reinhardt
Andrew Reinhardt

Reinhardt: I have a record of bringing people together, standing up for what is right and getting results.

I’m a Gulf War veteran with 9.5 years combined service in the U.S. Navy and Army National Guard and am a member of the Coon Rapids VFW.

After years of dedicated community service, I was honored to receive a Mayor’s Good Citizenship Award and Key to the city of Brooklyn Park, as well as an (Osseo Area Schools) District 279 Foundation Award.

I was chairman of the Parks Commission, serve on the Long Range Improvement Committee, represented the northwest metro on the Met Council Transportation Advisory Board and served on boards of the Brooklyn Historical Society and Brooklyn Park Lions.

This summer, when MnDOT forced the Palmer Lake VFW to remove U.S. flags honoring veterans over Highway 610, I organized a large patriotic flag rally, and went on radio and television in a PR barrage that helped to get Old Glory back up.

I’ve been a consistent voice for freedom, free-market, lower taxes and more efficient government.

I’ve been in the trenches showing leadership and solving problems.

I know the issues and am fully prepared to give neighbors strong leadership at the Capitol.

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? 

Hortman: The Minnesota Legislature should consider a balanced approach to solving future budget deficits – including cuts, reform and revenue.

Ideas from both Democrats and Republicans should be included in a compromise.

The impact on everyday lives of Minnesotans should guide the cuts, and cuts that increase the burden on middle income families should be avoided.

For example, in past years cuts to higher education have resulted in higher tuition.

Higher tuition makes it more difficult for middle income families to send their kids to college.

At the same time, a refusal to consider tax reform has kept the richest 3,500 Minnesotans paying a much smaller percentage of their income in taxes than everyone else.

Because of many recent budget deficits, billions of dollars have been cut from the state’s budget.

In some areas, the state has become too lean.

For example, K-12 education funding at the state level has not kept pace with inflation.

This has caused school districts to have to seek approval of levies and has increased our reliance on property taxes as a way to fund our schools.

Reinhardt: My first priority is creating jobs and improving the economy.

I’ll get Minnesotans working by creating a business climate allowing for the expansion of business and hiring of employees.

We must eliminate red tape, lower taxes and support private sector innovation.

The GOP Legislature erased a $6 billion deficit on a plan of not raising taxes, controlling spending and changing how government works.

Growing the economy so that everyone wins is the best solution to the “raise taxes or cut programs” debate.

I’m running on growing jobs, fiscal responsibility and limited, sensible government, while my opponent supported gas tax increases, sales tax increases, an income tax increase, authored a deed and mortgage tax increase and even authored a bill to start taxing clothing in Minnesota.

During tough times, raising taxes can be devastating to Minnesota’s economy.

Rather than government spending your money, I’d like you to keep as much as possible in your pocket to pay your bills, fill up your gas tank or put food on the table.

Rather than government buying expensive toys for politicians to highlight on campaign literature, I’d rather allow you put an extra toy under the Christmas tree for your children or grandchildren.

3. Should the Minnesota Legislature increase state funding for K-12 education? If so, how? If not, why not?

Hortman: Funding for K-12 schools should increase to keep pace with inflation.

Our schools should have the resources they need for smaller class sizes, technology and to offer special help to students who need it.

Minnesota’s highly educated workforce is the backbone of our economic success and our high quality of life.

It’s why our state is home to so many companies that compete well nationally and globally and why Minnesota’s employment rate outperforms the national average.

The 2013 legislative session should focus on strengthening and modernizing our schools.

It should also enact reforms to improve student performance in the critical areas that will define Minnesota’s economy in the next generation – like math, science, engineering and technology.

We can begin closing the achievement gap by making preschool and all-day every-day kindergarten available to every child in Minnesota by 2020.

We can bring down tuition at our community colleges and the University of Minnesota by providing greater state support to higher education institutions and by asking our higher education institutions to become more efficient at delivering instruction across the state.

Colleges should increase strategic partnerships with private sector employers to train students for careers in demand in today’s economy.

Reinhardt: We must fund our schools and adequately compensate our great teachers.

But if just “more money” was the magic solution, education problems would have been solved by now.

Average per-pupil funding in Minnesota is up dramatically in the past 10 years and is over $10K this school year (not counting federal money and local property tax increases approved by voters).

Simply put, for a classroom of just 25, that’s on average at least a quarter million dollars.

Subtracting a teacher’s compensation, rent for a space and basic supplies, parents and teachers should be asking where the rest is going.

We should examine how private schools and charter schools are achieving better results on either a fraction of the money or with larger class sizes.

Parents, teachers and local school boards can make the best decisions about education.

I’ll support more choice in education so parents may decide directly where funding for their child should be spent.

I’ll support keeping and promoting the best teachers by factoring in performance instead of only seniority (something my opponent voted against).

Finally, I’ll work to further close the gap of Minneapolis/St. Paul schools receiving much more per pupil than suburban schools.

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