GOP candidates prepare for battle
DETROIT LAKES - The Minnesota House of Representatives is controlled by the Democrats -- but come election time this fall, the Republicans are hoping to change that.
On Tuesday morning, the candidates seeking House seats in Districts 2A and 10B -- Steve Green and Mark Murdock, respectively -- joined House Minority Leader Marty Seifert at the Detroit Lakes Country Kitchen for an interview with Detroit Lakes Newspapers.
(Dana Olson, who is seeking the House seat currently held by Democrat Paul Marquart in District 9B, had to cancel due to a schedule conflict.)
Seifert said there are several areas where his party would like to make a difference -- rising health care costs and fuel prices, lack of jobs and affordable insurance being just a few of the more important ones.
In Minnesota, he explained, businesses experience a disadvantage that is unique unto the state -- the "single sales factor."
"The more people a business hires, the higher their corporate income tax rate goes," he said. "Punishing businesses for hiring more people ... that makes no sense."
What Seifert would like to do is to push for legislation that reverses that trend, "so the more people you hire, the better you're treated (under the law). That's one thing we can do to provide more jobs for people in the private sector."
Green agreed, noting that the current tax structure "is driving businesses out of Minnesota."
Marvin Windows and Polaris are two examples of Minnesota-based businesses that recently went elsewhere to build new production plants -- Marvin Windows in North Dakota, and Polaris in Iowa.
"That's 3,000 jobs Minnesota doesn't have," he said. "I'm tired of seeing our kids being shipped out to the metro (to find jobs)... and I don't think the DFL cares, because they continue to raise property and corporate taxes -- that's less money going into our economy, which stifles it."
Murdock, a Perham hardware store owner who is seeking to fill the District 10B seat that is being vacated by Republican Dean Simpson this fall, said he would also like to help stimulate the economy by easing the tax burden placed on small businesses.
"We need less government involvement, so businesses can spend their money on improving and adding jobs," he said.
"We have the best work force in the world, with the best work ethic,"
said Green. "If you're from Minnesota and you go to Alaska (for work), you will have a job, just by saying you're from Minnesota.
"But why not keep them (i.e., those seeking jobs outside Minnesota) right here?"
Green also doesn't believe it's the government's role to create jobs -- rather, the state government's role should be "to protect our borders (from illegal immigration), to keep our roads up and keep them safe, make sure our schools and nursing homes are funded."
Seifert, who lives in the southwestern Minnesota town of Marshall, would also like to see more equity in education funding for communities outside the Twin Cities metropolitan area.
"Northern Minnesota students are not treated equally (with regard to funding) -- the disparity ranges from $3,000 to $5,000 less per kid, compared to Minneapolis," he said.
Murdock said it was "surprising" to find out that education funding leaned so much toward the seven-county metro area.
"People out here in the rural areas don't know they're being underfunded," he said. "We have to work to improve that."
One way he would like to see that happen is by restoring state transportation aid to rural districts.
"The Bemidji (school) district is the size of Rhode Island," he said. "There are some really large geographic districts here."
With these sprawling districts, the cost of transporting students is often much higher than it would be for their (geographically) smaller counterparts in the metro area.
"The state should reinstate that (transportation) funding," he said.
Green, for his part, feels that northwest Minnesota "has a better education system than most -- but we're being cheated out of money (to fund it)."
Green, who lives in Fosston, said he had six children who attended public school there, and were raised to have a good work ethic by working in the family's greenhouse business (which he and his wife operated for 23 years, but sold a few years ago).
"My kids are being forced out of the community (to find work), and that bothers me a lot," he said.