The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

February 8, 2013

Johnson wants to focus on fixing budget if elected to House seat

— It’s time for Minnesota’s leaders to set aside the temporary patches, forgo the accounting gimmicks, abstain from shifting the burden to property taxes and create a balanced budget that will stay balanced, Clark Johnson says.

“I’m fed up with the budget,” said Johnson, the DFL nominee in the Tuesday special election to fill the vacant state District 19A seat in the state House of Representatives. “We’ve been playing with deficits for a decade. And without a stable budget, the state can’t move forward.”

A North Mankato Democrat and Minnesota State University professor, Johnson wants to succeed Terry Morrow, a St. Peter Democrat and Gustavus Adolphus College professor who resigned his seat last month to take a job in Chicago.

Fixing the structural imbalance in the state budget, which has created recurring shortfalls in the past 10 years, is what motivated Johnson to run. But he lists other priorities as well, including improvements to Highway 14 and unsafe facilities at the St. Peter Regional Treatment Center, a fairer state tax system, a commitment to education, a desire to help young entrepreneurs. ...

Fix it for real

There’s a reason Minnesota’s state budget has leaked red ink repeatedly in recent years, Johnson said. The problem has been short-term thinking that results in temporary fixes in each two-year budget, such as delayed school payments and attempts to shift costs to local governments — which drives up property taxes.

“We’ve got to set that straight,” he said. “And that’s really why I’m running.”

Democrats are running state government for at least the next two years with Mark Dayton in the governor’s office and voters on Nov. 6 giving the DFL solid majorities in the House and Senate. The projected shortfall is $1.1 billion, smaller than some years but still substantial.

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