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Paynesville Press - Oct. 27, 2010

Minnesota Senate District 18
Hal Kimball

Hal Kimball

Hal Kimball (DFL-Cokato), 39, is a sales accout executive who ran for the Minnesota Senate in 2006. (Incumbent Sen. Steve Dille (R-Dassel) is retiring from the legislature.)

Why are you interested in serving in the Legislature? I'm running for state senate because we need leaders at the capitol who are willing to put aside partisan affiliation to do what needs doing to get Minnesota back on track. We've been lucky in our area to have that in Steve Dille for years, but sadly that brand of leadership has been on the decline in St. Paul for a long time now.

The state of Minnesota is projected to face a $6 billion shortfall in the coming 2012-13 biennium. Please rate these areas of the state budget and what spending reduction you would support. As the next senator for District 18, I'll work to advance solutions that work for our communities and for our state. I've never backed down from a tough fight, and I certainly won't back down when confronted with party politics as usual at the capitol.

In our campaign, I've met with many hundreds of residents, and I've listened carefully to their concerns. Across the spectrum - Democrats, Republicans, farmers, commuters, small business owners, etc. - people don't expect government to do everything. They simply want basic fairness and a good return on their investment. That will be my mandate as the next state senator from our area.

What, if any, state revenue increases could you support? We will need a combination of spending cuts and revenue increases. I support adding new revenue sources such as a Racino, which is projected to produce $250 million a year in fees paid by users.

Beyond that, however, I'm leery of getting sucked into a revenue debate until three basic principles are accepted: 1. The middle class cannot afford any tax increase, including property taxes. 2. We cannot increase the corporate tax rate and should do away with it as soon as possible. 3. We must consolidate and/or eliminate state services that provide no value.

Describe an out-of-the-box solution to help the budget. The Racino is a great idea. It will provide more than 2,000 jobs and $250 million in revenue. But what's most important is returning to an open, honest, and transparent budget process. We're in the mess we're in because for too long politicians at the capitol were afraid to make the tough choices. Not only did this put off big problems, it compounded them.

If you were king (or queen), how would you balance the state budget? For starters, I'd listen to Marty Seifert, the former House Republican leader. He said recently that a cuts-only solution wouldn't be particularly palatable to most Minnesotans. Beyond that, I'd order the Legislature to cut pork barrel spending, end the practice of borrowing funds from school districts, and do away with budgeting practices that would be illegal if used by a publicly traded company.

With the Vikings lease expiring after 2011, what state role do you support in building a new Vikings stadium? I'd only support a bill that does not take money out of the general fund and makes those that directly benefit from the stadium pay for it. Furthermore, any benefit the Vikings get at taxpayer expense must be repaid.

What can an individual legislator do to bring about bipartisan compromise in St. Paul? I'll be a senator who will sit down and listen to all of my colleagues. It's a strategy Steve Dille used as our senator, and it was very common throughout the capitol in the closing decades of the last century, when Minnesota emerged as a national leader in growing jobs, health care, education and protecting our environment. I realize it sounds simple, perhaps even na•ve, but I do believe the solutions are out there. It's just a matter of finding common ground at the capitol. If we stay true to the values of those who send us to St. Paul, that consensus will be easier to locate than most of the pundits would ever expect.

What should the legislature do to minimize abortions? Education is critical. We need age-appropriate education that includes abstinence (the only 100-percent effective way of preventing unwanted pregnancies). Education also breaks the cycle of poverty and provides young people with choices and hope for the future. Access to health care is important not only for preventing pregnancies, but also for pre-natal care to ensure healthy births. Simplifying adoption rules can help match loving parents with children.

What would be your personal priorities if elected? After addressing the budget - and the bad practices that helped create this problem - I'll be defending greater Minnesota. We have been sacrificed to support demands from the Twin Cities and that must end. The real battle that will happen at the state capitol in the next several years will not be between Democrats and Republicans but rather between rural Minnesota and metro Minnesota. Cuts to LGA don't hurt Eden Prairie or Woodbury, but have a real impact on our towns and counties. We can't afford to pay for suburban tax cuts. Steve Dille provided a great example of serving the interests of our district without regard for party politics. I hope to emulate his example of what public service is and how public discourse should be conducted.

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