Q & A: House District 40A: Will Morgan and Pam Myhra

Savage Pacer
Submitted by Nancy Huddleston on October 15, 2010

Will Morgan

Age: 43

Family: Wife, Denise. Sons: Jack, Sam and Charlie

Party affiliation: DFL (incumbent in District 40A)

Employment: Physics and chemistry teacher, Burnsville High School (20 years)

Education: B.A., physics, Carleton College. M.A., Education, St. Mary’s University of Minnesota

Community involvement: Teacher and coach since 1991. Two-term state representative.

Address and phone number: 409 Oakland Lane, Burnsville; (952) 892-5788

E-mail address and website: willmorgan84@comcast.net, www.votewillmorgan.com

Q: Why are you running and what special skills or attributes do you bring to the job?

A: I’m running to make our state a better place to live, work and raise a family. I believe we should keep government focused on its four key functions: education, transportation, public safety and public health. Residents need those functions done efficiently and effectively to maintain our quality of life. Though we have faced many recent challenges, and we still have some ahead, I believe the solutions to these challenges will be found in the middle, not at the extremes.

Q: The state is forecasting a huge deficit in the next biennium. How would you increase revenue or eliminate expenses?

A: We must look at every line of the budget. The people of our community expect me to eliminate unnecessary or wasteful spending. They expect me to deliver necessary services more efficiently and effectively. They expect me to make thoughtful decisions not based on ideology, but rather with a long-term consideration for the economic stability and prosperity of our state. I will continue to work hard to meet these expectations of the voters.

Q: Where do you stand on the use of taxpayer money for a new Vikings stadium? Do you support allowing a Racino at Canterbury Park, and, if so, under what circumstance?

A: I will not support using general fund money for a Vikings stadium. I will look carefully at any other stadium proposal to examine the relative contributions by the private and public sector and the relative benefit to each. I have always resisted an expansion of gambling because of the unintended social costs that come with it. However, in these unusually challenging times, I think taxpayers expect us to at least consider options we wouldn’t ordinarily consider.

Q: How can the state encourage business growth?

A: I think we should continue working to provide targeted tax credits for job creation. We should continue to work with business leaders to eliminate or reduce unnecessary or duplicative mandates and red tape. We should continue to find creative ways to help small businesses afford health insurance for their employees. And, of course, we should always consider the long-term economic impact of all the budget decisions we make.

Q: Does Minnesota’s tax system require restructuring? Do you support proposals that would lower the corporate tax code or expand the sales tax?

A: The corporate tax is a regressive tax that is also the most volatile revenue generator in our tax code. If Minnesota does restructure our tax code, I would certainly support significant reform or even a phase out of the corporate tax. I would look skeptically at proposals to expand the sales tax.

Q: Name one way the state can become more efficient:

A: I supported a bipartisan bill to establish a Collaborative Governance Council that is instructed to propose means to remove obstacles to collaboration across various levels of government. I look forward to passing legislation based on recommendations from this group that will further reduce unfunded mandates, eliminate duplicative services, reduce wasteful, redundant spending and help cities, townships, counties and the state work more effectively and efficiently.

Q: One gubernatorial candidate has recommended reducing higher education funding to around $2.5 billion (a reduction of approximately $300 million) to help resolve the state deficit. Others contend that college education must be protected so unemployed workers can be retrained and the University of Minnesota can maintain its reputation for research. Where do you stand?

A: Minnesota’s well-educated workforce is the primary reason we have the highest median income of any Midwest state. Certainly we must always look for better, more efficient and more effective means to deliver key services in every area of government. But, we can’t have a state college and university system that is priced out of the range of middle class families.

Q: Some school districts feel they are kept hostage during contract negotiations because they are financially penalized if they don’t reach an agreement with teachers unions by the state deadline. Should this policy be changed?

A: I think describing it as being “kept hostage” is inflammatory language that dishonors the important efforts of school board members, administration officials and teachers who very often work collaboratively to complete the negotiations process in a reasonable time frame. Everyone is penalized when negotiations drag on too long. Reasonable deadlines, known far in advance by everyone, are a good part of any productive work environment.

Q: Would you support consolidating some of the state’s 87 counties?

A: This is a proposal worthy of consideration. Another option may be to further coordinate services between some of the smaller counties in the state.

Q: The Metropolitan Council is often criticized as a thorn in local governments’ side and for being an unelected body with taxing authority. What should be the proper role and function of this regional agency?

A: I have supported proposals to make the Metropolitan Council an elected body. I think any body with taxing authority should be directly accountable to the voters. I am very concerned that the Met Council is making decisions that negatively impact our suburban transit providers. I’ve authored a bill that would make sure providers like the Minnesota Valley Transit Association get their fair share of the dedicated transit money added to the constitution by voters in 2006.

Pam Myhra

Age: 53

Family: Married 29 years to Chuck Myhra, three college-age children

Party affiliation: Republican endorsed

Employment: retired educator; Certified Public Accountant, inactive; former manager at international accounting firm KPMG

Education: Graduate of Burnsville High School; University of St. Thomas, B.A., Business Administration

Community involvement: Served in a variety of community volunteer roles including teen service group coordinator, parenting class teacher, and girls club director; Burnsville and Dakota Chair/Co-Chair of presidential campaigns; graduate of Minnesota Excellence in Public Service Series; active member, Bethesda Church

Address and phone number: 13220 Elm Lane, Burnsville; 952-894-0544

E-mail address and website: pam@pamforhouse.com; www.pamforhouse.com

Q: Why are you running and what special skills or attributes do you bring to the job?

A: I am running for state representative because I believe in the need for sensible state spending within its means, the creation of an economic environment that allows businesses to start and stay in Minnesota and create jobs, and the need to protect family incomes from the barrage of added taxes. I have extensive business and management experience. I am characterized by my dedicated and effective service to others and willingness to listen. I commit to take a conservative, pro-jobs, limited-government voice to the Minnesota Legislature.

Q: The state is forecasting a huge deficit in the next biennium. How would you increase revenue or eliminate expenses?

A: In the next biennium state revenues are projected to increase over 7 percent to $32.9 billion; however, projected automatic spending increases are over 25 percent, taking spending to $38.7 billion resulting in a $5.8 billion projected deficit. Minnesota does not have a revenue problem; it has a spending problem. How many Minnesota households will see a 7 percent income increase and then increase expenditures over 25 percent? The automatic projected spending increases are unsustainable. State government needs to set responsible priorities, commit to sensible spending, and operate within its means.

Q: Where do you stand on the use of taxpayer money for a new Vikings stadium? Do you support allowing a Racino at Canterbury Park, and, if so, under what circumstance?

A: While the Vikings are important to Minnesota and I am an avid Vikings fan, I am opposed to spending general taxpayer money on a new stadium. However, I would not be opposed to a stadium partially financed through user fees on ticket sales, concessions and dedicated parking facilities. I am not in favor of expanding gambling in Minnesota.

Q: How can the state encourage business growth?

A: In a recent article in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, 64 percent of business owners and managers identified taxes and 29 percent identified health care as the biggest barriers to job creation. State taxes and regulation on businesses are like a dam on a mighty river. We end up with a stagnant economy and the drying up of job opportunities. We need to open the flood gates by reducing the tax burden on businesses and allowing for competition in healthcare, so businesses can flourish and the job market can grow.

Q: Does Minnesota’s tax system require restructuring? Do you support proposals that would lower the corporate tax code or expand the sales tax?

A: Currently, Minnesota has the third highest business tax in the country. Business taxes, which kill jobs, need to be reduced. Lower business taxes will promote job creation resulting in a larger workforce and more opportunities for Minnesota residents. Tax revenues will increase as a result of vigorous business activity, without placing new burdens on Minnesota families and businesses. I oppose expanding the state sales tax to basic necessities such as clothing.

Q: Name one way the state can become more efficient:

A: One way the state can become more efficient is to reform and streamline the delivery of government services by coordinating and merging state agencies performing similar functions and duties.

Q: One gubernatorial candidate has recommended reducing higher education funding to around $2.5 billion (a reduction of approximately $300 million) to help resolve the state deficit. Others contend that college education must be protected so unemployed workers can be retrained and the University of Minnesota can maintain its reputation for research. Where do you stand?

A: I believe fair funding at the K-12 level of education is our highest educational funding priority in Minnesota.

Q: Some school districts feel they are kept hostage during contract negotiations because they are financially penalized if they don’t reach an agreement with teachers unions by the state deadline. Should this policy be changed?

A: Yes, this policy needs to be changed and there should not be an imposed deadline on contract negotiations that favors one side of the bargaining table. Eliminating the state deadline will force both school districts and the teachers’ union to negotiate on equal terms.

Q: Would you support consolidating some of the state’s 87 counties?

A: I believe consolidation of Minnesota counties should be studied with a careful analysis of the impact on individual Minnesota communities before any action is taken.

Q: The Metropolitan Council is often criticized as a thorn in local governments’ side and for being an unelected body with taxing authority. What should be the proper role and function of this regional agency?

A: The scope of the Metropolitan Council should focus on its original purpose of coordinating the delivery of services in the seven-county metro area that cannot be effectively delivered by any one city or county. Examples of these services include water and sewage treatment and regional public transit.