School funding, state spending, job creation. Those are just a few of the issues that will drive voters to the polls on Nov. 6 to vote for their preferred candidate in local and state races.
To help voters learn more about Eagan City Council, House District 51A, House District 51B and Senate District 51 candidates, Eagan Patch asked all candidates to submit their responses to a set of questions regarding their views and accomplishments. Each candidate was limited to a 200-word response per question. We will publish their responses in installments leading up to Election Day. For ongoing political coverage, check out our 2012 Election Guide.
Without further ado, here are Senate District 51 Sen. Ted Daley's (R) responses.
Eagan Patch: What inspired you to run for re-election in Minnesota Senate District 51?
Senate District 51 Sen. Ted Daley: I have always had a strong desire to do public service. That is what motivated me to enter West Point and to serve our country for over 28 years in the Army, with service in both Iraq wars. Upon returning from my most recent deployment in Iraq, I joined the Eagan Planning Commission to help serve our local community. As I watched the trouble our state was entering with an overextended state budget, I knew that my financial skills learned as a CPA were needed at the state level. Clearly the legislature at that time was making commitments they could not keep with money that we did not have. That was a formula for disaster as too many welfare commitments would imperil our state’s commitment to give our children a world class education.
Patch: Tell me about your previous accomplishments as an elected official representing Eagan. What other relevant background experience do you think you could bring to the position if re-elected?
Daley: We turned the nearly $5.2 billion deficit left by my opponent and the previous Legislature into a $1.3 billion surplus for this biennium according to Minnesota Management and Budget. This surplus can be used, in part, to cover much of the deficit in the next biennium. With a $2 billion, or 6 percent, increase in revenue expected in the next biennium, we can reduce the projected 9 percent growth in spending. We will then be able to focus on priorities like education and paying back the school shift that was used by both the current legislature and my opponent and the prior legislature.
Patch: What is something you think the current legislature has done well?
Daley: Despite the $5.2 billion deficit last session, we were successful in providing a $200 per pupil increase in funding to our local schools. This demonstrated our commitment to education, which I hope to continue next session. While funding is important, we also need to focus on accountability to ensure those dollars are well spent and effective for our kids. I worked on bi-partisan reform efforts with fellow legislators and Governor Dayton and his staff resulting in the first bill (Teacher Basic Skills Exam) signed into law in 2012 for which I was the chief Senate author.
Patch: What is something you think the current legislature has done poorly?
Daley: We should address our transportation needs based on performance-based solutions which are best value: High-benefit options with a low cost. A local example of this is the Cedar Avenue Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. An assistant county engineer agreed this was the best choice for the Cedar Avenue Transitway as a means to reduce congested roadways with fewer community impacts and lower costs as well as shorter implementation timelines. It also provides the flexibility needed adjust to changing ridership and evolving public needs. I contrast this with the huge financial commitments needed to sustain the light rail commitments made during this legislative session as well as by previous legislatures. Unfortunately, those commitments will require high operating budgets and provide little flexibility in the future for changing ridership.
Patch: What are some of the most pressing, long-term issues facing Senate District 51? The state?
Daley: A quality education for all of our children is important to everyone. Strong schools today help create a strong economy tomorrow. Too often new programs are layered on top of old commitments in order for politicians to score points in the current election, with little consideration of their long term consequences. Over the years these new spending commitments will crowd out education funding and put an additional burden on our taxpayers. That tax burden will fall disproportionately on the people of this district. I also worry about the long term effects of Obamacare and other proposals that, if passed, would be a huge hit to local jobs. Proposals like the government run-health plan supported by my opponent would not only take away your choice of health plan, but they would eliminate thousands of jobs at large local employers like Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Delta Dental, Prime Therapeutics and others. Local families would lose jobs, their homes and everyone’s property values would drop even further.
Patch: Why should constituents vote for you in November? What distinguishes you from your opposition?
Daley: The first rule should be that government does no harm. When he was in the legislature, my opponent authored a bill to require all Minnesotans to buy a government run health plan. Besides taking away your choice of plans, this bill would have eliminated thousands of local jobs at Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Delta Dental and other employers. We need to create a business climate that encourages job growth in order to help small businesses be more competitive with other states and internationally. My CPA and business experience help me to evaluate the practical impact on business of various government proposals.
Patch: Anything else you would like to add?
Daley: My priority and focus since day one has been Minnesota jobs and our economy. It remains my top priority. Minnesota is a wonderful place to live and raise a family, and I want to make sure we provide a bright future for our children. To do so, we must continue to reduce government waste and balance the budget without further burdening the taxpayers of Minnesota. We need to stay the course and not go back to the same tax and spend pattern that built the record budget deficit my opponent helped to create. We should stop making promises we cannot keep with money we do not have. We need to continue responsible budgeting practices that do not automatically increase welfare programs, which in turn threaten to crowd out priorities like education. The good news is we are already realizing a positive turnaround with monthly revenues coming in above budget projections. I continue to see the amazing potential and the positive future we have here in Minnesota.
I would be honored to have your vote on November 6th. To learn more, please go to www.DALEYforSENATE.com. Thank you for taking the time to read this and have a great day!
Stay on top of the 2012 election cycle. Check out these other Q&As with our local Eagan legislative candidates:
- Q&A: Masin Believes Current Legislature Unable to Address Minnesota's Needs
- Q&A: Carlson Wants to Bring Back Ethics and Honesty Back into Politics