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Viewpoint: Government must show accountability, fiscal restraint

I am proud to call Woodbury home. We are a city with a strong middle class, excellent schools and a growing business community.

But while Woodbury offers a high quality of life, we cannot be complacent. State government must give us, and cities across Minnesota, an opportunity for economic expansion and job growth.

I believe life in our community can be even better, and improvement starts with our youngest.

Part of the reason my husband and I chose to move to Woodbury was for the great educational opportunities it offered our three children. I always encouraged my children to grow, learn and improve, and I believe there is a need for our education system to do the same.

I was privileged to work in education for years where I started my career as a public school teacher. After years of teaching elementary school, I moved to an administrative role and trained future educators in alternative certification programs.

During my time as an educator, I learned first-hand that students succeed when they have the best tools and the best teachers in the classroom.

Woodbury is blessed with great schools, but I fear there are still some kids across Minnesota who are falling through the cracks. Despite the state spending over 40 percent of its budget on education, Minnesota still has a significant achievement gap.

While state funding for education is vital, policymakers must also work to protect students by implementing high standards for teaching professionals and rewarding our most effective teachers. Additionally, we must do away with unfunded mandates that directly take money out of our classrooms. 

Woodbury students deserve every opportunity for a world-class education, and providing that is essential for a strong, healthy community. It also means our kids will have an edge when competing for and creating the jobs of the future.

And when looking forward, not only is having great schools vital to the health of Woodbury, but the community must also attract, maintain and grow jobs.

I am a member of various local civic organizations because I believe in our community, and want to see businesses continue to grow and thrive. Entrepreneurial innovation and job creation is key for a flourishing community, and state leaders should offer more common-sense, job-friendly policies.

In 2013, when the Legislature and Gov. Dayton enacted $2.4 billion in new taxes and fees, it negatively impacted Woodbury and our business community.

Not only did Minnesotans find the expense of living in Minnesota to be more costly, but many businesses across Minnesota and in border cities like ours were forced to cut jobs and consider a move across the border.

The 2013 sales tax on warehousing and storage services squeezed many small businesses and forced some to cut jobs. Policymakers ignored the warnings about the dire consequences of this tax and instead used it as an opportunity to spend even more of your hard-earned money.

The effects were quickly felt and some of the taxes were repealed on a bipartisan vote less than a year later. Policymakers need to remember that the laws they pass will have a direct impact on Minnesotans, small businesses and their employees.

I do not want to see Woodbury companies packing up and moving to Hudson –

I want to see the Legislature and governor work to create a better climate for job growth in 2015. Government must show accountability, more fiscal restraint and create a tax policy that works for all Minnesotans.

Additionally, the state can reduce the number of burdensome regulations and streamline the processes on everything from small business creation to licensing. Doing so can create jobs, encourage entrepreneurs and grow small businesses right here in our own community.

With common-sense government reforms like these, I see a positive future for Woodbury. Our community can continue to prosper and offer a great quality of life, world-class schools and a strong business community.

I pledge to work hard on behalf of our great city because with real leadership and innovation, we can make it even better.

Fenton, a Woodbury Republican, is the GOP-endorsed candidate for House District 53B