Green seeks to right the state budget

Published 9:34 am Friday, October 22, 2010

Out of a desire to get the state budget back on track, Kathy Green of Austin is seeking her first term as District 27 state senator.

She is running against incumbent Sen. Dan Sparks, a DFLer.

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Green, 53, a Republican, has been married to her husband, Peter, for 33 years. Together they have five sons.

Kathy Green

She and her husband are co-owners of Elrod, Green & Hyland dental practice in Austin, where her husband is a dentist and she is a dental hygienist.

She has served on the Austin school board for the past 11 years, is part of the Minnesota State School Board Association and is a trustee on the Public Employee Retirement Association Board.

She has also been involved with numerous other community organizations, including Boy Scouts, the Hormel Institute, First United Methodist Church of Austin and Mower County Relay for Life, among others.

Green said she has been following the actions of the state Legislature for the past 20 years and she has started seeing recently what impact the state government is having on school districts, cities and counties. She noted school districts have had $1.9 billion shifted, and as a result have had to spend $20 million in interest payments because they had to loan money. Local entities have also had to raise taxes because of losses in local government aid from the state, she said.

“I saw that the Legislature we had was putting our state in crisis mode rather than function mode,” she said.

Because of her professional, educational and personal experiences, she said she decided to step up to the plate and run for office.


Green said the first part of the budget process that needs to be addressed is the timing of when it is passed.

The Legislature starts the session in January, but the budget is not approved until May. She said she thinks it needs to be brought to the forefront and handled immediately.

“The decisions that have to be made are monumental,” Green said. “We’re electing leaders to do the work of the people. We need them to make those tough decisions.”

When it comes to actually making the decisions, she said legislators should get the assistance of experts who have knowledge in economics and finance.

The budget needs to be looked at in a comprehensive, balanced approach.

Any extras — the pork — need to be cut out, and legislators need to prioritize spending, with the core functions of education and protecting and maintaining infrastructure at the forefront.

Regarding the bonding bill passed last year, she said residents heard a lot about concert halls and other enrichments that were approved.

“When we have no money, that’s when we need to be pretty tight on our dollars as far as enrichments,” Green said.

She also pointed out the importance of having a solid budget in case of instances that happen beyond the state control, such as with the recent flooding and tornadoes that spawned a special session on Monday.

Job growth/economic development

Green said another part of fixing the budget is looking at how Minnesota is supporting and encouraging the private sector.

She said when she is door knocking and talking with farmers, she is hearing a lot about regulations and mandates. Business owners need to know they have the support and ability to grow, she noted. And if they are having problems with policy or regulation, they need to know they have a voice.

Green also talked about making sure tax burdens are not inhibitors for business growth.

She said the state needs to have a tempered approach — not a knee-jerk reaction — regarding business incentives and support.

Another key part of business growth and development in this part of the state is making sure there are good roads and bridges for agricultural businesses, especially, she added.


Green said she has followed education policy for close to 30 years and knows the curriculum being taught in the schools.

She said she has testified before at the state level for education and noted she thinks she could hit the ground running in this area if she was elected.

She called the No Child Left Behind Act a punitive approach to teaching and said that when it comes to education, it should be all about student achievement.

She noted she would be a strong voice for equity in education funding.

What’s next?

Green said for the next two weeks until the general election, she will be meeting nonstop with people and organizations to get to know people.

She said doorknocking has been a valuable experience for her in getting to know what people’s main concerns are.

“Anyone who’s elected in two weeks, it’s not going to be an easy road. There’s going to be a lot of really tough decisions,” she said.