“We need to ensure that public education is a top state priority.”
As a teacher with more than 12 years of experience in the public school system, Jim knows that nothing is more important than a high quality, fully funded public education system that supports and challenges every student. Jim has worked to defend Minneapolis school funding from attacks. He led the fight for emergency funding for schools hit hard by the energy cost spikes in 2001-2002 and has argued for guaranteed inflationary funding increases in K-12 education. Jim supports all day everyday kindergarten, full funding of special education and English Language Learner programs as well as extended day and extended year opportunities. He wants to reform state graduation standards while retaining the existing basic skills tests but is concerned with the increasing reliance on standardized testing
“We need to ensure the quality of life right here in Minneapolis.”
Urban sprawl raises our taxes, pollutes our air, and destroys woodlands and farm fields. It damages the quality of life in the core cities and inuring suburbs, and threatens small towns outside the metropolitan area. Here in Minneapolis the core question is “what kind of community do we want” Jim supports a walkable community with housing and greenspace, small businesses that meet community needs, and varied housing options for people at different points in the life cycle. Jim supports funding for redeveloping polluted industrial sites, which will expand job opportunities. He backs effective statewide land use planning. Additionally, he believes that outer ring suburbs must adopt inclusive zoning laws that reign in sprawl.
“We need to protect our air, water and natural areas for future generations.”
We owe it to future generations to protect and preserve the state’s environmental resources. When people pit jobs against the environment we must challenge them to find the solutions that preserve both. Jim has worked to promote alternative energy sources and to safeguard our water and air quality from the metro area’s five coal fired power plants. Where energy issues are becoming more important we need to have a vision of smaller more broadly distributed power generation that meets our energy needs while protecting the power grid. He will continue to work to protect our rivers through buffer land funding.
“We need our system to prioritize people, not HMOs.”
For too many Minnesotans, affordable health care is out of reach. Jim has emerged as a strong advocate for access to basic health care as a top value. Jim will fight to expand MinnesotaCare until everyone has access. He will work for a tough patients’ bill of rights, including the right to sue an HMO that has denied care unjustly. He’ll push for access to affordable prescription drugs. He’ll fight arbitrary limits on mental health care. Jim has been a leading defender of woman’s right to choose from a full spectrum of reproductive health services.
“We need communities where everyone feels safe and secure.”
Public safety should be a top priority of government. We must work together to ensure everyone’s safety by expanding community based initiatives. Jim supports initiatives such as the Hennepin County Drug Court and Third Precinct Community Court because they more effectively coordinate with social services. Jim believes we should expand restorative justice models and strengthen community-oriented policing across the state. In the state legislature, he has supported an integrated criminal justice information system that gives courts and the police access to criminal databases across jurisdictions. One of the state’s emerging challenges is to find funding for the Minnesota State Gang Strike Force in a time when local municipalities are less able to shoulder the expense and gang activity is on the rise.
“We need a regional transportation system that addresses to people’s needs.”
The lack of a transportation bill is the single greatest failure of the last legislative session. Transportation is critical for the quality of life in the cities, suburbs, and rural area’s. We need a comprehensive plan to integrate, coordinate and strengthen our system so that it better meets the region’s needs. That won’t happen without more funding. We must also mitigate airport noise and stimulate airline competition. Jim believes downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul will remain dynamic only if they are the area’s transportation hubs. Light rail offers an opportunity to explore a variety of transit options, including a regionwide system that links with commuter rail and revitalizes neighborhoods throughout the region. The Northstar Corridor commuter rail line from Minneapolis to St. Cloud should be built. We must protect bus funding and clear up highway bottlenecks. Jim also supports efforts to meet the needs of elderly and disabled people who rely on Metro Mobility.
“We need to handle these difficult times in a fiscally responsible way.”
Two year’s ago, when Jim was first elected, we had a multi-billion dollar surplus. Now we have careened into a multi-billion dollar deficit. While some of the deficit is an outgrowth of the recession Jim knows that much of it was created by the ill-conceived tax reform that has raised property taxes for many in District 62A while underfunding education and other state services. Jim believes that we must have a real conversation about the size and scope of government that we want in Minnesota as well as about the structure of our tax system. He believes that Minnesota has moved too far away from a progressive tax system based on ability to pay.
“We need to make affordable housing available to all Minnesotans.”
Minnesota’s housing crisis was due to our strong economy, changes in federal policy and years of neglecting our affordable housing stock. While we now seem to be through the crisis stage Jim is leading the discussion towards more long term strategies for maintaining affordability. Across the state, we need to ensure that decent housing is within everyone’s reach. Jim believes that affordable housing, particularly in mixed-income communities, is essential for job growth and community stability. Jim knows that we have to be good stewards of scarce public dollars and focus on density bonuses, land trusts, and other strategies that create affordable housing without significant public funds. Jim believes that affordable housing is more than bricks and mortar; it requires social services that people need.