Voters Guide: Tara Mack, incumbent, Republican, House District 57A
Age, address, occupation, family, qualifications: Not provided
1) An August report from the Minnesota Budget and Management Office says a $1.1 billion general fund deficit is projected for the 2014-15 biennium. Should the entire amount be closed with spending cuts?
No – economic growth is also part of the solution. Right now we are ahead of revenue projections for the current biennium. This higher tax revenue is due to increased economic activity. By not raising taxes and attempting to make Minnesota a more friendly place to do business, we gave job creators a reason to expand their business. This resulted in more economic activity, more job growth and higher tax revenues. This economic growth, combined with the slowing of state spending, will result in a budget solution, which again does not require tax increases.
2) Gov. Mark Dayton is proposing a discussion on tax reform in the 2013 session. What if any reforms do you support?
I support any reform that makes Minnesota a better place to do business. Right now we have one of the highest income tax rates in the country. Many small businesses pay taxes through the individual income tax. By reforming or closing some credits and deductions we can lower the rate and make Minnesota more friendly for job creators. The Corporate Income Tax is another area in need of reform. Currently, this tax is very regressive and results in less job creation and lower wages for Minnesota workers. We should reform this tax as well to help trigger more job growth.
3) The Minnesota unemployment rate was at 5.9 percent as of August 2012. What can the Legislature do to improve job creation in the state?
Tax reform is critical to showing businesses at home, in other states and abroad that Minnesota is open for business. By streamlining the code and lowering tax rates, the cost of doing business will be reduced. This means more jobs for unemployed workers and higher wages for Minnesota employees. We also need to cut red-tape and eliminate duplicative regulations which make it harder to do business in Minnesota. This issue has bi-partisan agreement, as evidenced by the permitting reform of last session. There is more to be done, however, to really make it easier to create jobs in Minnesota.
4) Would you support an increase to the state’s per-pupil funding formula? Why or why not? Are there areas of education funding or policy reform you support?
I am very proud of the work that was done over the past two years in regards to the per-pupil formula in education funding. District 196 schools saw an increase in the per pupil formula resulting in an additional $1.5 million each year for the biennium. For the first time we are seeing greater equity in funding for our south suburban schools, which is an issue that has been a priority for me since I was first elected. I will continue to work for reforms that put students first, empower parents and prioritize the dollars for better outcomes.
5) How should Minnesota address its unmet transportation needs in the future?
We need to look for ways to reduce the time and cost for highway construction. There is evidence that constructing a mile of highway in Iowa, for example, is much cheaper than constructing a mile of highway in Minnesota. Streamlining environmental permitting, as we did for counties in 2012 is one possible cost reduction that will free up monies to be used in other areas. In regards to transit, we need reform in who has the authority to do transit planning and return the decision making to local officials who are more responsive to the needs of their communities.
6) What issue or issues might you agree with your opponent on?
My opponent and I would agree that providing a quality education system is imperative to the future prosperity of our state. Investing in students ensures a better workforce, stronger and healthier families and more productive citizens in the future. We would both agree that borrowing money from the school districts to pay for state budget deficits is not good policy and that it should be a priority to pay the schools the money that is owed as quickly as possible.
7) What are other issues of importance to you and what can the Legislature do to address them?
The area of health and human services is one that I have spent a great deal of time on over the past several years. This area comprises nearly 40 percent of the state budget and has been consistently increasing at an unsustainable rate. In the past two years, I worked on reforms to bend the cost curve while delivering better services to people more efficiently. There is still work to be done in this area in regards to integrating technology, rewarding those who provide better outcomes in healthcare and reforming how we manage and pay for an aging population.