Sen. John Marty

Jessica Lee

What is the most pressing issue to the University and how do you plan to deal with it?

The most pressing issue for the University is funding. I think the state and other public sources have dried up so much in recent years, the University has been cutting back year after year, and tuition is climbing way too fast. I think right now we have to start looking for ways to bring down tuition, not bring it up higher, and that’s going to require more funding.

 

What is your stance on the upcoming marriage amendment?

I continue to believe all people should have rights to marriage, and I strongly oppose this amendment.

 

What is your stance on the upcoming voter ID amendment?

I am opposed to it. I think people should have a right to vote. The photo identification requirement, authored by the Republican Party, makes it clear that they would accept no student IDs and no military IDs. I think it’s an absolutely ridiculous amount of time, money and hassle for people. The whole concept is a fraud on the voters, and it’s designed to stop certain people from voting.

 

Should Minnesota invest in alternate forms of energy?

Yes. We’ve already invested so much money in fossil fuels over the decade — especially through the federal government. At the presidential level, we desperately need to move to renewable energy and sustainable energy. We don’t have a choice. We can’t ignore the problem now, but the problem is getting worse fast and the consequence of climate change is something we just can’t ignore. We have to move more aggressively than either party is talking about towards renewable energy.

 

With the Central Corridor Light Rail set to be finished in the coming years, should Minnesota further invest in mass transit?

I think we should do a lot more investment in mass transit, but not so much with the high-profile, expensive projects. I think the first thing we should do is reduce fares. If we reduce fares to 25 cents a ride, we’d probably double ridership of every bus, of every light rail. It’s a much better deal. I’m a big believer of mass transit; I just say we ought to focus on increasing riders with more efficient service and lower fares instead of focusing on the expensive projects.

 

What would you do to spur economic growth in Minnesota?

The University of Minnesota is one part of that, not the whole thing. I think a quality education system would help create well-trained, well-educated workers — especially with higher degrees — and be the key to boosting the economy. Like with the University of Minnesota, there is so much research that is done that leads to new businesses and whole new fields of jobs.

I also am the author of the Minnesota Health Plan, which is a single-payer health-care plan that covers all Minnesotans for all their medical needs. Keeping workers healthy is one of the best things to create jobs and one of the best things we can do for businesses that are being bankrupted by high-cost health care. I think a lot of employers say the No. 1 reason they can’t expand is because of the costs of their employee health care.

 

As tuition rises, what, if anything, would you do to address affordability for students?

The No. 1 thing we ought to be doing is providing more state funding. We can look at both scholarships and grants for students but also lowered tuition.

In 1968, a student working at the minimum wage at the time had to work 6.2 hours a week during the school year in order to pay all their tuition and fees at the University.

Nowadays, you have to work more than 40 hours a week to pay for your tuition at today’s minimum wage. In other words, you have to work more than a full-time job just to pay for tuition and fees, not counting your books and living expenses. It’s way too expensive. I think we have to bring it down with more public funding. I think we have always made a commitment in the past generations to provide higher education affordably for people, and we’ve lost that in recent years.