The Issues

I believe in investing in what will make Minnesota a leader in the nation and the world.  Providing a world-class education, having affordable living conditions for senior citizens, properly funding nursing homes, taking care of infrastructure (road and bridges), protecting the environment, and having affordable health care are important issues.

Education

Public education is the backbone of the future.  It’s time to fund education adequately to provide each child with the knowledge they need to be productive members of society.  Education funding has not kept up with inflation.  When schools get a 2% funding increase and their heating, electric and other costs go up by 5% or more it doesn’t take long to figure out that there isn’t enough money and that programs are going to get cut.  I teach at the Princeton Middle School, which has about 800 students.  In the last few years the school district has cut, just from this one school, the Technology Education (industrial arts) program, the Family and Consumer Science (Home Ec.) program, Sixth Grade Reading, Math Enrichment, half of the art department (there is one art teacher for 800 students), half of the phy ed department (there are two phy ed teachers for 800 students), the librarian position, and a remedial math/reading position.  Unfortunately, this scenario of disappearing programs is happening at many schools across the state.  This is what happens when funding falls severely behind the rate of inflation.  In Minnesota, we are not providing a well-rounded education to our students like we used to in previous generations.

Testing is absolutely out of control in schools.  Everything is based on how the students will do on the annual tests.  We have done a great job training the students how to take the mandated tests at the expense of providing a well-rounded education.

Minnesota school districts are having a hard time finding substitute teachers.  Why?  It’s simple.  People can make more money at other jobs than they can at subbing.  The solution, according to Republicans, is to make it easier for someone to get a substitute teaching license.  Hogwash.  I don’t want someone teaching my kids who can’t qualify for a regular Minnesota teaching license.  The real solution is to pay people what they are worth.  There are many people with teaching licenses who would choose to sub again if it paid a competitive wage.

Higher education funding and students loans are destroying the economic future of many of our young people.  Imagine having to take out huge loans to pay for college and then not being able to afford a house later in life because the student loan payments are way too high.  That’s what is happening to our young people.  It used to be that someone could work their way through college, but you never hear of that anymore because it is impossible to do.  It’s time to make college affordable for our young people.

Senior Citizens

The rising costs of utilities, food, and housing has hurt our elderly.  Many senior citizens are struggling just to get by.  That’s not how a person should be spending their golden years.  It’s time to invest in providing our seniors with a affordable options.

Nursing Homes

When some fast food restaurants are paying $15 an hour why would anyone want to make $13 an hour at a nursing home as a nurses aide?  If we want to provide quality, stable care to nursing home residents we must invest the funds needed to attract and keep the best employees.

Infrastructure

Many of our bridges are falling apart.  How many more tragedies like the I-35 disaster that happened in Minneapolis are going to happen if things aren’t taken care of?  Many of the bridges have overlived their life expectancy.  It’s time to invest in providing safe, new bridges to replace the ones that are falling apart.

Environment

We are fortunate to live in a state that has great water supplies and many natural areas to explore.  Let’s make sure it stays that way.

Health Care

No one should ever be turned away from getting medical treatments because they can’t afford them.  No one should ever be forced into debt due to medical bills.  No one should ever avoid taking themselves or their children to the doctor because they know it is going to cost more than they can pay.  Health care needs to be available for all people no matter what their income level is.

Families

Minnesota working families need to have low taxes so that they can survive.  I do not believe in tax breaks for the rich at the expense of the working people.

Worker’s Rights

My family has a long traditional of union membership.  My grandpa was a member of a meatpacker union, my dad was a member of the United Auto Workers, I am a member of Education Minnesota, and my oldest son is a member of a trade union.  As a former local union co-president and negotiator I saw first-hand why unions are necessary to protect worker’s rights, provide safe working conditions, and to negotiate wages, benefits, and working conditions for workers.  Right-to-work is wrong and I will fight any attempts to make Minnesota a right-to-work state.

Internet Availability

There are many areas in Minnesota that do not have quality Internet.  So much of what occurs in the world is now done online and having access to quality Internet is needed in so many aspects of life and being unable to get it puts people and businesses at a huge disadvantage.

Overview

Bottom line:  I’ve given you my thoughts on what it would take to make Minnesota better.  My opponent’s party calls these expenses “wild and reckless spending.”  I call it investing in a better Minnesota.

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