State Senator, District 66

JP Leider

.Ellen Anderson, DFL, incumbent

What are two or three of the most important issues to you in the election?

One of the key issues that I am extremely focused on is clean, sustainable energy policy for our state’s future Ö an aggressive renewable energy standard and aggressive goals for energy efficiency and conservation and some way for us as a state to limit our carbon dioxide emissions.

Secondly, I’d say health care. It’s an absolutely critical issue. As I’ve been campaigning Ö it’s clear we need a fundamental overhaul of our health care system. I would support dramatic changes to try to reduce the waste in the current system through our bloated insurance system.

The third is education. For me, education is critical from early childhood through higher education. So, the key things I would like to accomplish in that area is to have universal early childhood education. I’d like to restore adequate funding for our K-12 system using state dollars rather than local property taxes and to roll back the tuition increases and restore funding to the higher education.

How, specifically, would you change health care in Minnesota, if at all?

We need to remove the layer of bureaucracy that is inflating health care costs, because we spend far more on health care than any other developed country and we get less for it.

I support a single-payer health care system, but I also understand that, politically, we have to take incremental steps to get there. We can start by making sure all children are insured Ö (and) by aggressively negotiating fair drug prices with pharmaceutical companies.

Where is the line separating funding public interests from special interests?

A lot of nonpartisan observers would say that we have more powerful private interests controlling our political system than we’ve had in 100 years. I’ve always been one who speaks out for public interest, and I think that’s our job as elected officials.

Stadiums are a very good example of a privately-owned, extremely wealthy industry that we should not be using scarce state resources to subsidize.

Do you think the state needs to invest more money in highways, mass transit or neither?

Yes, I think they do. I think our road infrastructure has been under-funded. Transit is even more critical. I support the Central Corridor, but I also know it won’t be successful until we have an actual network of good transit options.

I would think that we need to have more trains, light rail, commuter rail and buses, so people can live, work and recreate without having to have a car. That’s not the case in Minnesota. Any kind of major metropolitan area needs that infrastructure to be successful and we are woefully behind.

I do support the transportation amendment on the ballot; I think that will help us move in the right direction.

Should higher education be more affordable? And, if so, how?

Yes, it should be more affordable. Budget cuts to the University have caused tuition to go up some 80 percent in the last few years and that’s simply wrong.

The priority needs to be funding public institutions so everyone in our state has the opportunity to pursue higher education.

Would you support an amendment banning gay marriage?

No. Absolutely not. I’m very proud of my Senate colleagues for keeping that issue off the ballot in Minnesota year after year. I would also say that I believe not only is it discriminatory, I think efforts to have a same-sex marriage constitutional amendment are a really cynical political strategy by the right wing to turn out very conservative voters. That’s another reason to be opposed to it.

Would you change Minnesota’s tax policy? And, if so, how?

Yes. Our tax system has gotten dramatically more regressive under the Pawlenty administration and the Ventura administration.

It’s time to reverse that. I believe in a progressive tax system and we need to have more reliance on a progressive income tax that’s based on an ability to pay.

Those in the highest income bracket have had millions of dollars of tax cuts in the last few years and the result of that has been shifting more expenses that benefit everyone onto the shoulders of property taxes and low- and middle-income people, and I really disagree with that.

Warren Anderson, Republican

What are two or three of the most important issues to you in the election?

Security: security in our homes, security in our neighborhoods, our communities, our city, our state.

I’m a Republican that believes in mass transportation. I know light rapid transit is the wrong way to go. The right way to go is personal rapid transit.

Security is the No. 1 issue, it’s got to be. That’s the government’s responsibility. But really, when you get down to the issues that I’m pushing and I feel have the biggest impact on the people at the state of Minnesota and my district, it’s personal rapid transit.

I believe very much in education, but I have to be shown that education dollars have been used wisely. I do not believe they’ve been used to a good effect in St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Once I’m shown the dollars they’re receiving are being used wisely, are going 70 percent to the students and teachers in the classrooms, I will do everything I can for the classroom, not for administrators. Teachers deserve higher pay.

How, specifically, would you change health care in Minnesota, if at all?

I support the Newt Gingrich program, which relies on health savings accounts (and) health retirement accounts.

I’m very much against government running anything. Government can’t control the borders; how are they going to run health care?

Where is the line separating funding public interests from special interests?

Stadiums, but I would include (the new Guthrie Theater).

That’s the same thing. Those are special things that a few people use and those are the people that should pay for it. In the case of the stadiums, especially, when you have billionaire owners and millionaire players, the hell if a single dollar of anybody’s money should go into that, and that includes the University of Minnesota stadium.

I like the idea of citizenship ownership like the Green Bay Packers. There’s nothing wrong with that. Let’s do it that way with the stadium or the team, but no money for stadiums or the little Guthrie.

Do you think the state needs to invest more money in highways, mass transit or neither?

Personal rapid transit is the way to go. The more you expand the highways, the more they get used – they are still bottlenecks. We need to have highways that are safe and sufficient for trucks and travel as needed, but I think we need to offer the people something like (personal rapid transit), which gives them the freedom of movement, the ease of movement and the cost-saving of movement.

Should higher education be more affordable? And, if so, how?

Students have to pay for what they’re using. The way I would make higher education more affordable – I’m not going to pump another dollar into it – I’d cut sports teams, I’d cut coaches’ salaries. No coach should earn more than the highest-paid professor.

If they want to have that fun and excitement, people need to pony up. That’s not the purpose of a University. It’s to increase education.

Would you support an amendment banning gay marriage?

Yes. Let’s put it this way: I support what the people have to say. I believe people have the right to vote on this. If they decide gay marriage is fine, then that’s what happens.

Would you change Minnesota’s tax policy? And, if so, how?

That’s why I’m running.

Maybe that’s flat taxes or a super sales tax where there are no income taxes. Maybe we can get rid of or reduce considerably the property tax.

If you buy bread and milk and eggs for your family, maybe there is no tax on that. But if you’re buying some caviar or Dom Perignon, you can bet your life you’re going to get taxed on that.