EDITORIAL: Our choice for House: Kulp, McNamar
It's time for changes in the Minnesota House.
The last session, marred by partisan bickering and an inability to compromise, was not a productive one, even though legislators had a $900 million surplus to work with. A bonding bill for public works and transportation funding failed to materialize. A tax bill fell victim to the governor's veto because of a $100 million typo.
The GOP-controlled House also failed when it came to providing adequate funding for Local Government Aid, a lifeline for rural cities like Alexandria that use it to provide essential services at a reasonable tax rate. The DFL-controlled Senate proposed a $45.5 million increase, restoring LGA to 2002 levels. The House wanted to cut $85 million in LGA to Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth while giving no additional aid to other cities.
We believe DFLer Gail Kulp of Alexandria would be a strong catalyst for change in House District 8B. Although she'd be a newcomer to an elected office, she has a solid background in health care and working with families of children who have disabilities. She led The Windmill Project for 11 years.
She's proposed good ideas to ending gridlock and the last-minute rush to pass bills at the Capitol. She supports legislation to require lawmakers to set targets for all categories of the state budget no less than 14 days before adjournment. She also wants to increase transparency in the process by ensuring that final bills are published no less than 24 hours before they are voted on, allowing notice and opportunity for testimony.
Kulp would bring a calm, reasoned and respectful tone to the Legislature. That came through during a debate with District 8B incumbent, Mary Franson. Kulp said she'd work with the other political party to build relationships and find common ground for the good of the state — something she said she's not hearing in Franson. "There's that tone that is always accusing the other party that I hear in her (Franson's) voice," Kulp said. "It troubles me. It doesn't sound like it is welcoming or looking for common ground. It sounds like she is looking for a reason not to agree and attach some blame at the same time."
In that same debate, Franson dismissed legislative gridlock as a myth. In reality, gridlock is an apt description of the Legislature's repeated failings to get its work done. It's hard to solve a problem if one doesn't admit it exists.
Kulp deserves the opportunity to bring new solutions to the Legislature as District 8B representative.
Another House district in Douglas County, District 12A is a rematch between Republican Jeff Backer of Browns Valley, now the incumbent, and challenger Jay McNamar of Elbow Lake.
We believe that Jay McNamar has a better sense of bipartisanship to end the gridlock in St. Paul. Backer's campaign seems fixated on blaming Gov. Dayton and metro legislators for the session's failures when it should be focusing more on solutions.
McNamar, having served as a mayor, has a good grasp of the importance of LGA. He realizes that a transportation bill must include a dedicated funding in order to fix roads and bridges.
McNamar is also a strong advocate for border-to-border broadband to help businesses, schools and farmers who need access to high-speed Internet.
McNamar has also demonstrated a concise understanding of MNsure, noting that it is simply an online marketplace to buy insurance, not a scapegoat for rising health insurance rates.
McNamar's reasoned commonsense, experience and ability to see how the art of compromise can result in better outcomes for all of Minnesota make him the best fit for District 12A.
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Echo Press editorials represent the opinion of the Echo Press Editorial Board, which includes Jeff Beach, Editor; Jody Hanson, Publisher; and Al Edenloff, News/Opinion Editor.