House District 2B state candidates field questions
PARK RAPIDS - House Dist. 2B candidates sounded off about the economy, healthcare and education at a candidate forum Monday night organized by the League of Women Voters of Park Rapids.
Incumbent state Rep. Brita Sailer (DFL-Park Rapids) and Doug Lindgren, the Republican endorsed candidate from Bagley, fielded questions submitted by the audience.
Sue Trnka of the Minnesota Environmental Partnership also attended the event to provide information and answer questions about the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment that will be on the ballot Nov. 4.
Candidates discussed their views on education
"The education formula is very, very complex," Lindgren said.
"It needs help in funding," he said. "Will this be an easy fix? In no way will this be an easy fix."
But, he said there needs to be accountability and it is a big, big challenge.
"That's our future. We can't just throw more money on it," he said.
Sailer said the state has backed off of its responsibility to fund our schools.
"When we have too much reliance on local property taxes to fund our schools, we basically take away the opportunity to have equal education," she said.
A question was asked about what spending cuts each candidate would actively pursue.
"This year, we expect to be facing a deficit," Sailer said. "... I'm sure we'll be looking at some combination of cuts and where we can re-prioritize some of the initiatives, some of the programs that we as a state fund."
Sailer said she would not look to have any changes in economic development and job training because those are critical in the future of the state.
Lindgren said that a simple answer is to stop the increases.
He wants to fix the problem of an influx of people coming into Clearwater County and abusing the health system, he said.
The candidates shared their views on tougher penalties for the abuse of public lands by recreational vehicle users.
Sailer said there is a lack of adequate penalties and that is part of the problem.
"There is not enough enforcement, not enough conservation officers," she said.
It goes back to the judicial system, Lindgren said.
"If you have a judicial system that's not going to prosecute and take care of this, if all they're going to do is slap their hands, we need different judges," he said.
"The state of Minnesota needs to move toward healthcare for all," Sailer said.
The best thing is for the federal government to move forward first but the state of Minnesota needs to step up where it can, she said.
Lindgren said universal healthcare is needed.
"Healthcare is a challenge, and we should all have it," he said. But he doesn't think the government should be involved.
They also talked about the increasing unemployment rate in Minnesota.
Lindgren said he believes it goes back to taxes.
"Businesses won't expand if they don't have extra money," he said.
"I believe you can control your money better than those in St. Paul or Washington," he added.
Sailer said "we need to stimulate jobs. Energy is the answer."
Energy efficiency needs to be increased, she said.
Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment
The proposed amendment, if enacted, would be a 3/8 of one percent sales tax increase, Trnka said. It would be enacted July 1, 2009 and last for 25 years, she said.
If enacted, it will have some citizen control. Some of the funds would go to clean water for lakes, rivers, streams and drinking water sources in testing and recreation, Trnka said. Another portion would go toward natural areas and wildlife habitat. A portion would also go to parks and trails and another portion to cultural legacy arts education, she said.
Trnka was asked about the amendment setting precedent. She said Minnesota's constitution has been amended before and this isn't a new thing.
It has taken 10 years for this amendment to make its way onto the ballot, she said.
Sailer and Lindgren are both opposed to the amendment because of the concern that it will be there for years.
"My biggest concern is that it's an amendment and it takes a while to get it off again," Lindgren said.
He was also concerned about who would take charge of it. Instead of government officials, he would rather have a group of interested citizens take charge of the finances.
Sailer said that she doesn't think that the state should set financial priorities through amending the constitution.
"What prevents the library board ... from coming in the next 10 years for an amendment," she said.
She thinks that there is very little flexibility with an amendment.
Trnka emphasized that no matter which way someone votes, to make sure to vote because leaving the question blank is a "no" vote.