Several candidates for area political offices answered forum-style questions recently at Ogilvie High School. Among them were Minnesota Sen. Dave Brown (R-District 16) and his DFL challenger, Ogilvie native Sally Knox.
During her introduction, Knox explained why she is seeking public office.
“I looked at my kids and I thought the time is now,” she said, adding that the state needs common sense solutions and lawmakers who can work across party lines. “So that my kids and your kids inherit a better Minnesota than I did.”
Brown used the time to point to his positions on various Senate committees, including the agriculture and rural economics, capital investment, commerce and consumer protection, energy, utilities and telecommunications and higher education. He said his plans would improve the environment for jobs and supports a flat tax in Minnesota.
Q: Minnesota’s unemployment rate is lower than the national average. What are we doing right?
Brown: He said that although the joblessness rate is lower, the state could be doing better.
“What oil is doing for North Dakota, mining will do for Minnesota,” Brown said. A faster mining permit process would create more jobs now, he added.
Knox: She agreed that the state could be doing even better than it is.
“The fact remains that people are still unemployed,” Knox said. “One of the ways we can put people back to work is making sure they can go back to school to learn the skills they need.”
She also said the state could use a better small business climate.
Q: The state’s Medicare program is under federal investigation for over-payments to HMOs. How far back should this audit/investigation go?
Knox: “Government should absolutely be good stewards of the people’s money,” she said. Knox said the audit should go back as far as it needs to in order to uncover the waste.
“Just because an HMO is a non-profit doesn’t mean it isn’t owned by a private corporation,” she said, adding that state-run programs shouldn’t be operated by private corporations in the first place.
Brown: He said the audit should go back at least 20 years when the HMOs began managing the program.
“I’m not going to be here bashing our private sector,” he responded. “We need to find out why the health department failed in its job to provide oversight on these programs. They need to pay it back, but the private sector is a very important part of Medicare.”
Q: Property taxes are high for many Minnesotans. What are your plans for Local Government Aid?
Brown: “My plan for property taxes — we need to get the economy going again,” he said, stating that a strong economy would lessen the reliance on local property taxes.
Brown said a trust should be created that would pay down this type of taxes.
Knox: “Whenever we did away with the homestead credit in the Legislature, we hurt a lot of farmers and a lot homeowners,” she said, calling the move “unprogressive” and wrong. “LGA helps, especially in rural Minnesota.”
For the full story, see the Thursday, Sept. 27 print edition of the Times.