The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Election 2012

October 14, 2012

Woodard campaigning in new territory against Wolf

(Continued)

LE SUEUR —

Some of the problem was shifted into the next budget cycle, however, partly by delaying payments to K-12 schools, and more than $1 billion in red ink is expected to be facing the Legislature in January.

Woodard’s philosophy

“There’s still a lot to do,” Woodard said. “We’ve got to pay that school shift back.”

State revenue is projected to increase about 3 percent each of the next two years, which Woodard said should be enough to eliminate any deficit and pay back the school shift without raising taxes.

That no-new-taxes approach will only be followed, though, if Republicans retain control in the Nov. 6 elections, he said.

“What Dayton wants to do is raise taxes,” Woodard said. “Without a Republican majority, that sort of philosophy is what will prevail.”

Minnesotans already face a state and local tax burden that’s among the 10 highest in the nation based on figures compiled by the National Tax Foundation, Woodard said.

“Overall, our tax rate isn’t too low, it’s too high,” he said.

Woodard said he doesn’t preclude increases in spending on priority areas such as roads and bridges, K-12 education and programs for the most vulnerable Minnesotans. But that revenue must come by reducing or eliminating duplicative programs.

“Our top priority is the school-shift pay-back,” he said. “There’s some public safety concerns that need to be funded and need to be addressed. Certainly, our sex offender system needs to be reformed.”

He disagrees with DFL criticism of the elimination of the market value homestead credit, saying it was a good move because it provides more certainty for cities and counties and makes their budget decisions more transparent to taxpayers.

Local Government Aid, which involves state aid to cities to help minimize property tax increases, can be held constant in coming years, he said, with increases possible in the future when the state budget is stabilized.

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Election 2012