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Three candidates have three views of budget solution

Each of the three candidates battling for the House District 31B seat offers a different reason for getting into the race.

Republican Rep. Greg Davids of Preston has served 18 years in the Legislature and said he wants to put the knowledge he has gained to work for residents.

"We've got a lot of work to do yet, and I want to be able to use my experience, my seniority to help the people of District 31B," he said.

Independent candidate Al Hein of Mabel said his primary reason for running is he believes there should be term limits implemented to prevent lawmakers from serving more than eight years.

"When you send incumbents back year after year, they are beholden to state interests — either state agencies, business interests or outside agencies," Hein said.

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DFLer Steve Kemp of Spring Grove said he has long felt the district has not been represented in the past and that he would do his best to listen to residents and come up with solutions.

"I am seen as the consensus builder on our city council, and I'm good at it, and I feel that is what the Legislature needs and why I'm running," he said.

Recently, much of the attention in the race has been on the discovery by the Fillmore County Auditor that Hein failed to get the 500 signatures needed to file as an independent candidate. Hein considered asking the state supreme court to determine whether his name should stay on the ballot but didn't because time was running out, he said. His name will be on the ballot, but that raises the possibility that a voter in the district could challenge the results after the election.

Kemp said he supports raising taxes to help balance the projected $6 billion budget deficit.

"I am only open to taxing the wealthiest Minnesotans a little bit more. I am not open to any increase or expansion of the sales tax whatsoever. I feel it hurts the middle class," Kemp said.

Hein said he would oppose any tax increases.

"Absolutely no tax increase because it enables the state to keep spending programs in place. If they think they have another revenue stream coming from different source, we won't be able to fix the problem," he said.

Davids said he has not signed any pledges to not raise taxes because he wants to keep all options on the table, but he believes now is not the time for tax increases.

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"Every economist I've talked to says you don't raise taxes during a recession and you don't take it out of the private sector and put it in the public sector," he said.

Hein and Kemp support the idea of a sunset commission to review the effectiveness of state agencies and look for ways to save money, possibly by eliminating or merging agencies. Davids advocates a proposal that would require health insurance companies that earn more than 6 percent profit on public business to give the excess profits to the state. The money would go to nursing homes.

All three candidates say more needs to be done to bring jobs to rural Minnesota. Davids backs value-added agriculture and bringing more agri-processing business to Minnesota. Hein promotes leveling the playing field for urban and rural Minnesota when it comes to attracting businesses, including offering more tax incentives in rural Minnesota to lure businesses. Kemp said supports green jobs and investing in rural infrastructure and tax credits to help create jobs.

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GREG DAVIDS

Age:52.

Residence:Preston.

Political party:Republican.

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Family:Married Bonnie, 3 daughters all married.

Education:Spring Valley High School 1976, Waldorf College, bachelor of science at Winona State University in 1979, worked on master's degree at Mankato State University.

Occupation:Financial planning business and own and manage the family farm.

Community involvement:Past president of the Preston Lions Club, Winona State Alumni Board, distinguished almuni Winona State University. Served on the American Red Cross Board in Rochester.

Website:None.

What would be your top three priorities?

1. Jobs and rural economic development.

2. K-12 education.

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3. Funding of nursing homes.

What should be done to solve the state's $6 billion budget deficit?

The Pawlenty line item vetoes should have been extended for more than one year. If you did that, you would knock the budget deficit in half. I would protect K-12 education, rural nursing homes, and I would push again for the Davids 6 percent solution.

What is one regional issue you would work on?

I would continue to work on value-added agriculture because by doing that you help small towns, you create jobs in small towns, you bring kids in so they go to school, and you are helping your retail stores. I would work very hard to get more agriprocessing in rural Minnesota.

Do you support tougher regulations aimed at limiting bluffland development?

I believe it's a local issue. If it is in a city, the city council should take care of it, if it's in the county, the county board should take care of it through their zoning, and if it's in the township, the township should take care of it.

Do you support reinstating the tax reciprocity agreement between Minnesota and Wisconsin?

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Yes, in fact I was the chief author of the bill to do that. As we moved through the process there was a study commission put forward because we could not come up with $130 million to reinstate it. Getting it reinstated will be one of my top priorities.

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AL HEIN

Age:62.

Residence:Mabel.

Political party:None.

Family:Married; 3 daughters.

Education:Winona State College — some senior year work before entering Army. Business major, psychology minor.

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Occupation:Farmer.

Community involvement:American Legion, Mabel Lions, past Minnesota State Corn Growers Board member, Fillmore County Corn Growers president.

Website: www.alhein.com

What would be your top three priorities?

1. Balancing the state budget by reducing state spending.

2.Term limits. Special interests now dominate all levels of government.

3. Open primaries.

What should be done to solve the state's $6 billion budget deficit?

Does anyone remember sunset laws? It basically states every state program or financial initiative needs to remain under scrutiny by coming back to the Legislature and selling its usefulness again in a dedicated amount of time, say five years. 

What is one regional issue you would work on?

Transportationwise, southeast Minnesota is the orphan child in Minnesota. We have the poorest roads and bridges in the state. Our incumbent legislators have failed us miserably here. State Highway 43 needs an upgrade. Highway 44 needs more than a resurfacing; it needs a complete upgrade.

Do you support tougher regulations aimed at limiting bluffland development?

No, I don't. If history shows that more government means less private initiative, why would we want to subject ourselves to one more economic hurdle now? Minnesota's 100 state agencies have made Minnesota one of the largest employers in the state. I don't think we should add to that.

Do you support reinstating the tax reciprocity agreement between Minnesota and Wisconsin?

Yes, I do. The tax reciprocity we had assured folks in bordering communities that they could not be taxed twice. This should be the golden rule for state fiscal policy for all state legislators: To promote sound fiscal principles, to promote economic growth and to protect citizens from uncertainty.

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STEVE KEMP

Age:55.

Residence:Spring Grove.

Political party:DFL.

Family:Wife Linda, son Christopher, daughter Rebecca, step-son Carl,

and step-daughter Hannah, 3 grandchildren, dog Gus.

Education:Attended UW-La Crosse.

Occupation:Safety consultant.

Community involvement:Spring Grove City Council member, member of Ye Olde Opera House Community Theater Board, various volunteer activities.

Website: www.stevekemp.org

What would be your top three priorities?

1. Solving the budget deficit with a balanced approach.

2. Creating new, well-paying jobs

3. Reworking how education is funded in Minnesota to help reduce the tax burden on local property owners

What should be done to solve the state's $6 billion budget deficit?

Everything should be on the table, looking at new revenue sources and looking at cuts that will make our government run more efficiently.

What is one regional issue you would work on?

Attracting new industries to southeastern Minnesota, like alternative energy, to renew our economy by creating new jobs.

Do you support tougher regulations aimed at limiting bluff land development?

Yes, the rains of 2007 and 2008 showed us that development of the bluff lands can have disastrous results. Development can be a good thing if we are careful about where and what we build.

Do you support reinstating the tax reciprocity agreement between Minnesota and Wisconsin?

Yes, my wife works as a nurse at Gundersen Lutheran in La Crosse, Wis., so our family knows first hand the negative effects of Gov. Pawlenty’s actions. There must be a way to develop a new agreement that will benefit both Minnesota’s and Wisconsin’s budgets.

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