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Paynesville Press - Oct. 27, 2010

Minnesota Senate District 14
Michelle Fischbach

Michelle Fischbach

Sen. Michelle Fischbach (R-Paynesville), 44, has served in the Minnesota Senate since 1996.

Why are you interested in serving in the Legislature? I would be honored to continue to serve the people of Senate District 14. I have had the opportunity to work with many people and groups across the district. I have been able to work with and help individuals, businesses, and cities in the district with a variety of issues and concerns. I want to continue to use my experience to help our area.

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. It is difficult to say exactly where and how much each area should be cut. The state is facing a large budget deficit, and the legislature needs to change the way it does business. Last session, I authored a bill to change the way the state handles it budget process. The state needs to adopt a zero-based budgeting approach. This would allow the state to look at each program that money is being spent on. Instead of looking at chunks of the budget, the legislature would look at each item. Then decisions can be made if the program is still a priority for state, if there is duplication, or if the money can be used more efficiently.

There are also outdated formulas that the state uses to distribute dollars. The LGA formula needs to be looked at. It is currently based on outdated measures. The LGA dollars may be able to be used more efficiently and directed at areas that have needs. The state also needs to address the funding formula for education. The current formula does not distribute funds evenly to school districts. We are adjusting to the "new" economy, and the state legislature has to re-think the way it is handling taxpayer dollars. With a zero-based budgeting approach, legislators and citizens will be able to see where the money is going.

What, if any, state revenue increases could you support? The revenues for the state are increasing, but state spending is increasing at a faster rate. The answer is not to tax more. We need to get the state spending under control, and zero-based budgeting can help the state set priorities and look for ways to be more efficient with the money that is spent. There may be some areas that the state could gain revenues from, including video lottery terminals, racino, state licensed casinos, or video pull tabs for existing charitable gambling.

Describe an out-of-the-box solution to help the budget. See Question #2.

If you were king (or queen), how would you balance the state budget? I would begin with adopting the zero-based budgeting process and immediately begin holding hearings to examine the entire state budget. This would not only to help legislators understand where the dollars are being spent but help the citizens of Minnesota understand more about the budget and have input on the state's priorities.

With the Vikings lease expiring after 2011, what state role do you support in building a new Vikings stadium? There has been discussion regarding a Vikings stadium. I don't support direct state taxpayer funding for the stadium. There were other solutions for the Twins stadium, including county funding. There needs to be discussion regarding the role that the state could play in building the stadium, but it is a difficult time to talk about taxpayer dollars while the state is facing a large deficit.

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