Ron Shimanski :: Minnesota House of Representatives






2010-06-15

Where I Stand

The State Budget
A robust state treasury should come as a result of a robust state economy, not at the expense of a struggling economy.  All Minnesotans are feeling the effects of our current economic situation.  As each and every family and person are having to make difficult decisions, we must apply the same fiscal responsibility in St. Paul. 

Jobs
We have great natural resources in our state.  We have one the most highly educated workforces in the country and a rock solid work ethic.  However, as the economy and business climate have changed over the years we have not made the necessary changes to stay competitive in the global economy.  We have taken steps in the wrong direction.  In 2007 I voted against the Renewable Energy Act.  It was politically popular at the time, but it was a sure job killer.  Since then energy companies have been rushing to comply with the regulations, and along with that has come increasing energy costs that make it difficult to compete here.  We need to streamline our permitting processes, and bring our costs of doing business back down to encourage new companies to come to Minnesota and succeed with us. 

Taxes
As a state, we boast the 3rd highest business tax rate in the industrialized world.  Our business tax comprises only 2.8% of the general fund revenue, yet it stands as one of the greatest barriers to new business development in Minnesota.  It can and should be reduced substantially, immediately.  Our income tax rates have served to drive our snowbirds out of Minnesota completely.  Our tax rates must be brought down to enable those who have worked in Minnesota their whole life to retire in Minnesota for the rest of their life.  Our income tax rates have also turned cities like Sioux Falls, La Crosse, River Falls, and Superior into tax relief shelters for Minnesota workers.  Lastly, we are one of only a few states who still tax military pensions.  Our veterans served our country and we owe it to them to treat them at least the same way nearly every other state in the country treats them.  

Education
Education spending makes up nearly 40% of the state budget.  Steps must be taken to ensure that education dollars are spent wisely and stay in the classroom.  I fully support a voucher system that would allow parents to choose where to send their children with their own tax dollars.  I believe the state has a responsibility to provide access to a quality education for children in Minnesota.  However, I don't believe that the state has a right to a monopoly on education.  We have to stay on the cutting edge of technology in providing education to ensure that our children have the skills and opportunities to succeed in the 21st century. 

Transportation
At the core of a robust economy is its ability to move people and goods freely and efficiently.  Public transportation plans must make economic sense and be viable on their own.  I oppose any expansion of light rail transit that is not economically viable on its own.  We cannot afford to continue building systems that will not sustain themselves.  We simply do not have the money.  96% of Minnesotans get around using our roads and bridges as their primary method of travel.  Transportation dollars should be allocated as such. 

Taxpayer Funded Stadiums
No.  How can we in good conscience make cuts to education, local government aid, and social services and yet find money for stadiums?

Energy
We must repeal the Renewable Energy Act.  I was one of only 10 legislators in the house who saw the economic damage that would result from this bill and voted against it when it was politically unpopular to do so.  It has served to drive up electricity prices and has barred us from purchasing clean affordable energy from our neighbors.  The Renewable Energy Act has driven up the cost of manufacturing and is becoming a real threat to our manufacturing sector jobs.  We also need to end the nuclear energy moratorium.  The senate passed a bill repealing the ban and it failed in the house by only five votes.  This has bipartisan support and mine as well. 

Voting Rights
Our right to vote is the core of our democracy.  We owe it to every voter in Minnesota to ensure that their vote is counted and not canceled out by fraudulent behavior.  Today, you cannot buy a pack of gum with a credit card without having your ID checked.  We must apply the same scrutiny to our most sacred protection as citizens, our right to vote.  I fully support the implementation of photo ID verification when voting.  I fully support ending the practice of same day registration.  To ensure we have fair and accurate elections, the Secretary of State's office must have time to validate voter registrations prior to election day. 

Natural Resources and the Outdoors
Clean air and clean water are not partisan issues.  However, the path we take to get there has become partisan.  It is not enough to catapult bags of gold at the problem and call it a day.  I fully support investing our resources in projects that will directly contribute to clean water and clean air.  Simply transferring land titles from private land owners to the DNR is not the answer.  We must take steps to steer resources to flood mitigation and buffer strips.  We must invest our resources in reclaiming the waters that have been overrun by non-native species and protect those that haven't.  I believe strongly in the spirit of private citizens and their commitment to the same goals.  We need to work more closely with the people of Minnesota who still own 75% of the land, not just the 25% of the land that is owned by the federal and state government. 

 
 

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