What is the most pressing issue for the University and how do you plan to deal with it?
I think the biggest thing for the University is the budget. I agree with President Kaler’s, his strategy of asking for money and then freezing the tuition because I think you have to balance, first of all, state funding.
… As the state’s budget gets smaller, all the budgets get smaller. Unfortunately — and I think this is short-sighted they’ve cut education across the board.
…. I think we need to — I think it’s best for everybody — to increase some of the funding at the U and then balance it.
… We want an educated work force to attract jobs and to attract businesses here, and so we can’t keep cutting education if we want an educated work force.
… I think we need to maintain a strong university and the research that’s done here if we want to be competitive.
… Basically, we need to balance the budget with tuition and I think his proposal’s a good one.
What is your stance on the upcoming marriage amendment?
I am vote no.
… Minnesota was one of about eight or nine states that never had any laws on the book about banning interracial marriages, and so … there’s a law on the books right now and this amendment doesn’t change anything, it doesn’t change any laws.
It’s not necessary.
What is your stance on the upcoming voter ID amendment?
It’s unnecessary, it’s costly, it’s an unfunded mandate to the local governments.
There’s four things right now that the constitution says: if you’re old enough to vote, if you’re a U.S. citizen, if you have a felony then you can’t vote and then if you’re not under guardianship you can vote.
This kind of goes against all that.
Should Minnesota invest in alternate forms of energy?
I think we should.
… I think we do need to keep pushing it. I think that there’s more green jobs, and green energy is, I don’t want to say the way of the future, but there needs to be a balance. I think we need to look at those.
… And there are certain companies and ideas out there that reduce the cost, and so I think we need to just keep looking.
With the Central Corridor Light Rail set to be finished in the coming years, should Minnesota further invest in mass transit?
… I think it needs to be a transit system, not just a line or lines on paper, I think we need it to be a system.
And I think, again, it’s not roads or transit — I think it needs both. We need to be able to move goods and people if we want to have a strong economy, and I think that’s just another alternative. And it’s cost-effective and cost-efficient, and a good way to move goods and services.
I lived in D.C. and it was just so easy and convenient to have that transit system, and so I think once people get used to a system it’s fabulous, it’s exciting.
What would you do to spur economic growth in Minnesota?
There are several things that Gov. Dayton proposed that I supported in the past session and I think we need to continue looking at that. Some of it is for larger companies and companies to promote jobs — he had some investment credits and some tax credits for people to hire veterans.
We have a large population of veterans that are not employed when they come back, we have a lot of students who are having a hard time getting a job and then we have people who … either the factory closed or they’ve been long-term laid off.
So some of Gov. Dayton’s proposals [were] to give people credits for that.
… We do have some jobs that are not being filled so again it’s just promoting those and making sure people are trained for those jobs, like some of the machinist jobs.
Some of it is connecting people, some of it again is education, and then you have between tax credits and … investment credits, and then just working a lot with the cities and partnering with others.
As tuition rises, what, if anything, would you do to address affordability for students?
Again part of it is that, like President Kaler said, where it freezes it and letting them know what tuition is.
… [The Office of Higher Education is] kind of looking at different situations that would provide even more grants and more loans.
… We have, like for doctors and specific fields [like doctors and dentists and veterans] where there’s not a lot in rural Minnesota, where they get kind of some partnership and they get on-the-job training, and then maybe get a write-off of their debt or some things, and they go out and work in rural Minnesota and some places where they have a lack of dentists, where they need dentists and veterinarians.
And so, it provides jobs for those people in those areas, it helps the communities, and it keeps those communities vital and growing. And then looking at: do they get credit? do they get a write off of some of that debt?
So … a bunch of people are looking at other different creative ways.
You don’t want [education] to be cost-prohibitive so we have more of the haves and the have-nots.