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 House District 51A Rep. Doug Wardlow's (R) responses.
Eagan Patch: What inspired you to run for re-election in Minnesota House District 51B?
House District 51B Rep. Doug Wardlow (R): We accomplished a great deal last session, balancing the budget without raising taxes, streamlining permitting and licensing for job creators, increasing funding for Eagan schools, and setting the conditions for private-sector job creation. But there is more work to do. My wife Jenny and I have two kids, Winston, age 2, and Annabelle, age 5 months. I am running for re-election because I want to make sure that they and all of our community's children grow up in a free and prosperous Minnesota.
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?
Wardlow: I chief-authored and passed legislation reforming civil lawsuits to reduce the costs of frivolous litigation for job creators. I helped negotiate budget targets that led to a balanced budget. I helped prevent the largest proposed tax increase in the history of our state, saving countless jobs and preventing Minnesota from slipping into another recession. For my efforts, I have been awarded the NFIB's "Guardian of Small Business Award." Job creators have endorsed my candidacy, including the MN Chamber of Commerce, the Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the National Federation of Independent Business.
Patch: What is something you think the current legislature has done well?
Wardlow: We made tough choices and balanced the budget without raising taxes. As a result, the economy in Minnesota is growing faster and unemployment levels are falling faster than the national average. We also increased funding for excellent suburban schools, including Eagan schools, helping to level the funding disparity between urban and suburban schools.
Patch: What is something you think the current legislature has done poorly?
Wardlow: We have more work to do on comprehensive tax reform. We need to reduce tax rates while eliminating certain tax preferences in order to stimulate economic growth. We need to stop double-taxing business property. We attempted to phase out this unfair tax, but the bill was vetoed. Also, I voted to pay back the "school shift," but the bill was vetoed. It is important to note that there has been a lot of misinformation about the "school shift." In fact, Governor Dayton first proposed a larger school shift (moving from 70-30 to 50-50), which the legislature rejected. We compromised at 60-40. Nearly half of the shift from 70-30 to 60-40 has already been paid back as a result of higher-than-anticipated tax receipts due to Minnesota's growing economy.
Patch: What are some of the most pressing, long-term issues facing House District 51B? The state?
Wardlow: We cannot continue to increase spending year after year. We must develop a sustainable budget, which means prioritizing spending so that government can continue to fund priorities like law enforcement, the courts and education at sufficient levels. If we hold tax rates where they are and hold spending at current levels (no cuts), we will have a $2.6 billion surplus next biennium. We can use the money to pay back the rest of the "school shift" in its entirety.
Patch: Why should constituents vote for you in November? What distinguishes you from your opposition?
Wardlow: Constituents have a clear choice in November, because my opponent and I very different ideas about government. In my view, we cannot overcome challenges with more government spending or more government programs or control. Rather, to build lasting prosperity, we need a limited government that focuses on core functions—law enforcement, education, and providing a safety net, for example. We need fiscally-responsible government that lives within its means. To unleash the job-creating power of free enterprise, we need a government that trusts each of us to pursue our dreams, build our families, and help our neighbors in need. I believe that we will succeed as a state if we unite around our founding principles—freedom, limited and efficient government, and personal responsibility.
Patch: Anything else you would like to add?
Wardlow: It is critical that we continue down the path of fiscal responsibility and private-sector job creation. We also need to reward excellent teachers and schools and focus education dollars in the classroom. Our future prosperity depends on it.
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