The Bulletin asked legislative candidates the following questions:
1. What role do you think government should play in people’s lives?
2. As you see it, what are the most pressing local issues to the residents in your district?
3. Do you believe the state’s public unions, like Education Minnesota, should retain collective bargaining power? Explain.
4. Would you support a tax increase to help balance the state’s budget? Explain.
5. Will you be voting for or against the marriage amendment at the polls? Explain your reasons.
Here are Susan Kent's responses:
1. As I speak with voters, I see great commonality in people’s views on this question, and as their state senator, I would represent their views. What I hear is that our neighbors respect a proper and reasonable role of government. They want good schools to educate our kids and prepare our state’s workforce. Responsive public safety. Smart and well-maintained infrastructure. The good quality of life of parks, trails and libraries. They want leaders who focus on important issues that contribute to our state’s long-term success, they don’t want high taxes, but they recognize the value of government that works.
2. I see this through the eyes of the people of our community. The most pressing issues are remarkably consistent. Parents want their children to have a shot at the American dream – access to a good education that will open doors to decent jobs at decent wages. Too many parents of “children” of all ages are deeply troubled about their kids’ prospects. Folks want government to stop the divisive distractions and instead focus on the areas that will build toward a strong future and an economy that works for all: Jobs. The economy. Education.
3. Yes. Many people intuitively understand the role of collective bargaining for employees of big private companies – it just seems fair. But there is a great deal of misunderstanding about the need for public sector employees to organize “against” their employers. However, employees of government entities – state agencies, local schools, police and fire departments – are subject to different, yet very real, forms of workplace dynamics that may put them at unfair disadvantages, such as changes in political leadership, workplace bias, issues of safety and working conditions, and much more. The right to bargain as a group levels the playing field.
4. I don’t want a tax increase. But recent budget challenges – economic cycles, demographic trends, and policy decisions, including the irresponsible “shift” of $2.7 billion from our schools – have left our tax system out of balance, disproportionately reliant on regressive taxation, namely property and sales taxes. As a result, middle income families are paying a disproportionately high share. I hope cuts and reforms can be made without increasing taxes, and I would not support additional tax burdens on lower and middle income families. But above all, we need common sense, stable and balanced solutions that ensure our strong economic future.
5. I will be voting against the constitutional amendment regarding marriage rights. First, what is proposed is already Minnesota law, and in this time when serious matters face our state, I am troubled that this additional effort of pushing it as an amendment to our constitution is another divisive distraction, when we need our leaders focusing on our economic recovery. Second, I believe that constitutions are about ensuring and expanding rights, not denying them. Finally, marriage is about love, commitment and responsibility. For all couples.