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Bunn: Decisions are guided by policy, not politics

Julie Bunn is a Democrat but said political affiliation has little influence over her decisions as a state representative.

Bunn, who is seeking a third term in the Minnesota House District 56A, said she often votes against her own party, including on tax issues, and stakes out other moderate or traditionally Republican positions because she believes they are good policy.

"It is who I actually am," said Bunn, who grew up in a Republican household. "It's about good policy. It's not about party positions."

The Legislature next year should consider spending reductions and new revenue to balance the state budget and erase a projected $5.8 billion deficit, Bunn said.

"We absolutely should have to do more (spending) cuts," she said.

That undoubtedly will include cuts to state health care programs. That could be done by changing eligibility requirements to reduce participants or by ending other programs, she said.

Despite the "wrenching stories" of people who rely on public programs, Bunn said health care represents about 30 percent of the state budget and is growing. Such a large area of the budget must see reductions, she said.

In addition to spending cuts, the next budget should include new revenue, Bunn said, though she will not say which taxes or fees she would support raising. She has voted against Democrat-written tax bills that included income tax hikes in recent years.

Bunn said she would consider a proposal to expand the sales tax to cover more items and, at the same time, lower the sales tax rate, because it is good economic policy to have a broader tax revenue base. Some lawmakers and a commission appointed by GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty have recommended a broadened sales tax changes.

Any revenue increases should be accompanied by business tax cuts, commercial/industrial property tax reductions or other "pro-business" tax incentives, Bunn said. However, she added, they may have to be phased in because tax cuts would mean less revenue for the state at a time when it already faces a budget deficit.

Health care has been a focus of Bunn's legislative efforts. She serves on health care finance and policy committees. She includes among her chief accomplishments passage of a state health care reform package in 2008 and a related community-based health improvement grant program that has rolled out over the past year.

Bunn and Lohmer actually agree on one hot-button health issue. Each candidate said she would oppose efforts to create a single-payer, government-run health insurance system in Minnesota, as some lawmakers have proposed. They also agree in principle that consumers should be able to purchase health insurance from companies outside of the state.

Bunn said she has been successful at building bipartisan coalitions in St. Paul. She said she also is responsive to constituents and interest groups within the district.

"I believe my voting record and the breadth of my endorsements demonstrates that I truly am an independent voice for this district who is highly effective representing the people of this district," she said.