Electing same leaders will get same results

Published 10:00 am Thursday, October 28, 2010

Kathy Green, Guest Column

On Nov. 2 you will have the opportunity to send a message to incumbents in both parties.

I’m Kathy Green and I’m running for Minnesota Senate because we need new leaders who can fix the budget and grow jobs. I’ve lived in Austin for nearly 30 years and have spent my life actively working to improve our community and state as a small family business owner, school board member and parent of five boys. I’m running because I care deeply about creating a brighter future for our small businesses, farmers, schools and children.

Kathy Green

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The state budget is broken. As I talk with local residents they are fearful of the economy and lack confidence in our government. Minnesota faces a nearly $6 billion deficit, despite the fact that our revenue actually increased 7.6 percent last year. This is on top of previous deficits of $1 billion and $3 billion. Clearly, there’s a fundamental problem in state government that incumbents from both parties have refused to deal with over the past eight years.

How did we get here? State spending has increased 51 percent since my opponent took office eight years ago. In just the past year this spending has included things like a gorilla exhibit at the Como Zoo, a concert hall in St. Paul and a Minneapolis sculpture garden, all coming in with a price tag close to $30 million. My opponent voted for all of these, and none of them created any benefit for southeastern Minnesota, nor were they core functions of state government.

Wasteful spending threatens our ability to fund truly vital needs like education, roads and bridges. Southeastern Minnesota has the largest percentage of roads and bridges rated in “disrepair” in the entire state. This has real consequences for local businesses and farmers. Property taxes have gone through the roof because state leaders have taken the politically easy route and kicked the budget can down to local governments.

This has real consequences for schools, seniors and homeowners. Sadly, our incumbents in both parties have ignored these problems for years — electing the same people will get us the same results.

I’ll fix the budget crisis by making the tough decisions to prioritize our spending. I’ve heard you loud and clear: Fund our vital needs and don’t waste dollars on frivolous projects. I am the only candidate with a proven record of reform.

When I was first elected to the Austin school board 11 years ago, our district was facing potential bankruptcy. I worked together with my fellow board members to make the tough decisions that put us on a solid financial footing within three years — all while improving student achievement. We’ve maintained that solid footing every year since. As a member of the Public Employees Retirement Association Board of Trustees, last year I worked across party lines to craft a law that will save our state’s public pension funds $2 billion over the next five years.

This is the kind of common sense leadership I will bring to St. Paul. We have to look at everything and work together to determine what core and non-core functions are most important to the state. Taxes should only be an option of last resort because they carry a real cost to local businesses, farmers and families.

I’ve worked closely over the years with fellow parents, business owners and government officials on numerous projects to improve our community and region. These include chairing the successful levy committee that renovated Austin schools in the 1990s and serving on the Austin Charter Commission, Minnesota Academic Standards Committee and Minnesota Early Learning Foundation. I’m active with our local Boy Scouts troop, the Hormel Institute, the Morton Cure Paralysis Fund and our local church.

I ask for your vote on Nov. 2. You can send the message that we want new leaders who can solve the critical problems facing our state. I will be a strong voice for southeastern Minnesota as I fix the budget and grow jobs. Our best days are ahead of us and a vote for Kathy Green is the first step to getting us back on the right track.

Kathy Green is the Republican challenger for Senate District 27. She and her family reside in Austin.