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Paynesville Press - Oct. 27, 2010

Minnesota House District 14B
Larry Hosch

Lary Hosch

Larry Hosch (DFL-St. Joseph), 33, has served District 14B since 2005.

Why are you interested in serving in the Legislature? I have a strong belief that good things can happen in St. Paul, and I want to work towards positive solutions to the challenges facing our state. I believe that I can make a difference by working with constituent concerns and issues and being a voice for these individual concerns in St. Paul. I have seen firsthand how the legislature, or a individual legislator, can make a difference. It is this ability to make a difference that continues to drive me to run for re-election.

What, if any, state revenue increases could you support? Unfortunately, I think most of the gubernatorial candidates are relying too much on any one particular approach to solving our budget deficits. Our deficit is projected to be $5.8 billion, which is 19 percent of our state's budget, and this is after cutting our state budget by 7.9 percent during the last legislative budget. Therefore, I believe an all-cuts approach will be extremely difficult while adversely impacting property taxes. Property taxes have already gone up $3.3 billion over the last ten years while at the same time schools have had to rely more and more on local property tax levies to fund the basics of our schools. I also think that we can not simply raise revenue as a way out of our budget deficit. While I have and continue to support a increase in income taxes for our highest earners, mainly due to the fact that the top five percent of earners pay 8.9 percent of their income to state taxes, while those of us in the middle pay 12.5 percent on our income to state taxes.

I do have concerns to the level that some proposals have called for increasing taxes. I also have concerns with expanding the sales tax, as this would impact the middle and lower income earners, which would be especially hard due to the lack of confidence many have in our current economy.

I believe that we need to have a balanced approach toward addressing our budget deficit. We need to make strategic cuts and incorporate revenues. Another revenue source that I support would be gaming revenues through a state-run casino or racino.

Describe an out-of-the-box solution to help the budget. I would support a sunset commission that would be responsible in reviewing state agencies and legislatively-mandated programs for their effectiveness and original intent. Instead of simply making appropriations that essentially go in perpetuity, we should establish sunset clauses that would force us to reevaluate expenditures and programs that have been in existence while not receiving due oversight.

If you were king (or queen), how would you balance the state budget? This question is a combination of several of the previous questions that I have answered. I believe that we need to have a balanced approach toward addressing our budget deficit. We need to make strategic cuts and incorporate new revenues.

When making budget cuts there are a few standards that I have. First, I will not support a cut that simply passes off state responsibility for meeting a mandate onto a local government. Passing cuts that then fall to local governments is irresponsible and only puts greater pressure on property taxes. Secondly, I will not support a cut that will ultimately cost the state more in the long run due to missed-opportunity costs. For example, we know that investments in early childhood education saves the state money in the long term due to reduced special education costs, reduced use of the criminal justice system, etc.

With the Vikings lease expiring after 2011, what state role do you support in building a new Vikings stadium? I do not support state funds for the building of a professional sports stadium. With the historic budget deficit the state is experiencing and the near certain cuts that we will be making, I can not reconcile how we could give a billionaire state tax dollars while cutting essential state services at the same time.

With this said, I recognize that the Vikings are extremely important to us as a state, and we should attempt to find a solution to keeping the Vikings in Minnesota. One example that could be used is the Twins model, which used no state money to build the stadium. Currently, Minneapolis uses a portion of their local sales tax for their convention center. Once their convention center is paid off I could see the state allowing for this existing revenue source to be used for the Vikings stadium.

Such a approach would use only local resources which are already in existence and would not impact that states budget in any way.

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