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This year’s election includes state legislature candidates for State House and State Senate to represent West St. Paul. Newly redrawn district boundaries divide West St. Paul in half, thanks to this year’s redistricting. The northern half of West St. Paul, roughly, is in District 65 and the southern half in District 53.
We’ve asked the candidates a series of questions to see where they stand on the issues. We’ll share one question and the responses at a time leading up to the general election on November 8. See our 2022 voter’s guide for more.
Minnesota ended the last session with an unspent $9 billion surplus thanks to a divided legislature. How do you think that surplus should be used?
Here are the candidates’ responses:
Candidates for House District 53A
Mary Frances Clardy
The surplus can be used to: eliminate the taxation of income derived from social security benefits of seniors, to invest in programs that make homeownership more attainable and expand affordable housing options, strengthen funding to public schools, and help to provide expanded access to mental health services.
Give the money back to the people who paid it in the first place.
For nearly 30 years I have been involved in Minnesota government/politics so must say I do not like the annual announcement of a “state budget deficit/surplus” which results in a mad scramble to secure new tax dollars or protect existing spending. The revenue estimating system should cause this type of hysteria – monthly “Cash on hand” statements should be the norm versus our current practice.
Regarding the $9 billion “surplus” I don’t consider it a surplus at all given our state government already has nearly $12 billion in authorized DEBT (Source: http://www.mn.gov – Office of Management and Budget) and our University of Minnesota has a $1.3 billion debt as of 2021 (Source: http://finance.umn.edu) so we would be better positioned to pay down debt and to contain spending.
Candidates for Senate District 53
I support using our generational surplus as an opportunity to lower property taxes and keep people in their homes, fully fund our schools and improve student:counselor ratios, build a green infrastructure to move toward a carbon zero state, and develop a highly professional law enforcement community which both ensures public safety and respects and uplifts every person in our state.
In addition to the initiatives mentioned above, this surplus is a historic opportunity to resolve homelessness in our state by expanding affordable housing incentives and fortifying our mental health resources.
We need to be fiscally responsible while recognizing that surplus is an overpayment in taxes. We should reduce overall income taxes on Minnesotans with permanent tax cuts.
Candidates for House District 65B
Kevin Fjelsted did not respond to our questionnaire.
The surplus should be reinvested in our communities. When we demand responsible government, we are told the budget just isn’t there. Our education system is underfunded, Minnesotans, including our children, are still suffering from homelessness and hunger, and our water infrastructure is past its expiration date. These conditions should be considered unacceptable in any community, but they are inadmissible in a state running a budgetary surplus. It is apparent that we have the resources for Minnesota to lead the nation in education, public infrastructure, and the ongoing creation of ladders of opportunity.
Candidates for Senate District 65
Paul Holmgren did not respond to our questionnaire.
I supported the compromise deal with the Republicans that would have allocated $4 billion in tax cuts at all income levels but especially eliminating taxes on social security, expansion of renters’ credit & childcare tax credit, increase in Local Government Aid, new state aid for soil & water conservation districts; additional investments in our schools, especially funding the special education cross subsidy; taking care of our nursing homes so they don’t close; better wages for PCAs who care for our disabled folks; and passing a robust bonding bill to address the infrastructure needs in our area and across the state.
Vote on November 8
See our 2022 voter’s guide for more on the candidates and other races.
Thank you to the candidates for taking the time to respond to our questions.
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