We’re down to the wire here, with less than a month to go. There have been many forums over the last two weeks, including the 3 Links Forum, League of Women Voter’s Candidate Forum, and the Chamber of Commerce Forum.
At the League of Women Voters Forum, one thing that stood out was the way the Republican candidates distanced themselves from the Republican party, Republican politics, and Republican leadership, by stressing that they were “independent.” What does that mean? Particularly in Ray Cox’s case, it’s confusing, because he voted with Speaker Sviggum 92.5% of the time. Speaker Sviggum has been aggressively pushing an extremist agenda, solidly Republican, albeit ‘new’ Republican, and Ray Cox has been voting right along with him. Yet he, and the contender for 36A, both want to distance themselves from the Speaker. Cox’s ‘spokesmen’ Neuville and Jones join the effort to distance Cox from Sviggum and try to explain away that 92.5% figure. On one hand, I’m glad that they’re taking the time to read the ad in the September 29th paper, it was buried on page 2 of the Sports section, and it was very fine print, so I can see they paid close attention. But for Jones to characterize Ray Cox’ representation as ‘progressive’ in the face of his alignment with Speaker Sviggum and Republican policies, well, it’s just not supported by Ray Cox’s voting record. They don’t take issue with the facts of that ad, they aren’t saying I’m misrepresenting, because they can’t, because I’m not! The issue for them, though, is the reality of Ray Cox’s party status – that he is a Republican, that he votes with extreme Republican politicians for extreme Republican policies. That’s a problem, because he wants to be regarded as a ‘moderate’ when that is not an accurate characterization.
Here’s the ad in its entirety, from the Northfield News, September 29, page 2 of the Sports section:
How am I different? I am a Democrat!
I’ve been asked, “How are you different? What would you do differently for those of us in House District 25B?”
Who best represents your beliefs?
This election is about who should represent you, about who best represents your beliefs. It’s about how you were represented in St. Paul. It’s not about whether I helped your child get through high school, or whether Ray Cox built your home, and of course, we’re both ‘nice guys’ who you’ve known for years! This election is about what Ray did at the legislature in the 2003 and 2004 sessions, what I would have done differently, and what I will do going forward.
I am a Democrat. Ray Cox is a Republican
As a Democrat I would not vote for Rep. Sviggum as Speaker, and I won’t join any Speaker for a press conference at the dump. I would not vote with Speaker Sviggum 92.5% of the time in St. Paul. I will tell you where I stand. If I changed my mind, I would give you the explanation you deserved.
Health Care and Human Services must be funded.
I believe that funding Health and Human Services is one of the most important responsibilities of the Legislature. I would not vote to cut the human services budget as my opponent did in both 2003 and 2004 (SSHF6, HF1681), and I would not say in a community forum that I voted the other way (8/19/04 Community Forum). The 2003 bill, HF 437, SSHF6, eliminated health coverage for 38,000 Minnesotans, cut payments and shifted costs for hospitals, cut child care assistance by $90 million, reduced funding for senior nutrition and senior services by 15%, increased the nursing home surcharge that results in a $2,000 annual increase for private pay patients, repealed expansion of the Senior Drug Program, increased fees for families with disabled children in need of services, cut $18 million of funding to nursing himes that will cost them another $24 million in federal funding, and shifted human services costs to counties, which will cover it through property tax increases. The 2004 bill, HF1681, took $71 million from the Health Care Access Fund and $40 million from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grants to balance the budget, eliminating funds for services to those least able to withstand loss of those services.
I would have voted for the Thao Amendment to increase nursing home staffing levels from 1:12 to 1:8, and I would not have voted with the Speaker to table it, as Ray Cox did (Thao amend HF1681) I would have protected family farms utilizing life estates and joint tenancy from health care and human services liens, but Ray Cox voted to allow liens (HFSS6).
Recently, Ray Cox was billed in an editorial as “a friend to nursing homes.” I believe that nursing home residents should have the full range of remedies that any person whould have if injured through negligence. Insurance companies have been saying that it is lawsuits that are causing the high insurance rates, but that accounts for only about 2% of premium cost, and insurance companies are instead trying to recoup market losses by charging personal and commercial consumers. Ray Cox helped the insurance industries through is co-authoring of bills such as one that limits civil actions against long term care providers and caps punitive damages, and which limits joint and several liability (HF429, HF610, HF2471). The two lobbyists that Ray Cox received campaign contributions from in 2002 also represent nursing homes. Has Ray Cox been a friend of vulnerable nursing home residents?
Communities must benefit from jobs and economic development.
As a Democrat, I would have voted for an increase in minimum wage to $6.65 by July 2005 (HF102), and to continue federal overtime provisions (HF2952)..
I wouldn’t say that I supported Pawlenty’s JOBZ in my Legislative Report when I had voted against it. I wouldn’t call a program that gives tax exemptions to corporations “economic development” when it provides nothing to the communities – economic development is more than subsidizing low wage jobs.
I would vote to restore LGA funding for communities like Northfield, cuts that were made in order to cover new spending in suburban communities.
Investment in education is true economic development.
As a teacher, I know how to help our students and public education system succeed, and I know we’re headed in the wrong direction. I would work to fix Minnesota’s implementation of NCLB, the federal education initiative that Cox supports, because it erroneously labels schools, misleads parents and hurts students. Ray Cox supports standards (HF2 co-author, HF302). I would vote to fund education, not cut funding or shift from one funding source to another, which was the case in the inequitable increases in property taxes. In a time of budgetary crisis, I wouldn’t waste time and money changing the Department’s name.
As a Democrat, I would budget for the increased costs education incurs due to inflation, not ignore it, as Republicans have done. Ray Cox voted against reimbursement to districts for costs of compliance with Standards (HF2558) and against a discretionary levy and $80 increase in the per pupil formula (amend.HF1793).
I opposed confirmation of Yecke as Education Commissioner and submitted testimony, and Ray Cox supported her confirmation. I would vote to fund all-day kindergarten, but Ray Cox voted against (HF1793). Because federal law requires internet filtering at schools and libraries, I would not waste state time and money promising a similar state law (HF2832), as Ray Cox did.
As a career union member, I support use of union agreements and prevailing wage requirements in school construction, and Ray Cox does not (part 1 of Davnie amend to HF1404). Ray Cox also voted to authorize use of private contractors for non-instructional services (amend HF1404). He also voted to weaken labor’s position by instituting deadlines for contract settlement and requiring use of arbitration through changes to PERLA (Sykora and Davnie amend, HF1404).
I believe that Head Start has clearly demonstrated, dollar for dollar, that it is the best program for preparation of Minnesota’s children, yet Ray Cox voted to look at redistribution of these crucial funds to other programs (Slawik HF1404).
On Early Childhood Education Issues, Ray Cox received a 33% rating from the CDF (Children’s Defense Fund) Action Council on its Minnesota Legislative Scorecard.
Who’s protecting the environment?
I would vote to retain the right of citizens to request an Environmental Worksheet for feedlots under 1,000 animal units (HF1202). Ray Cox voted in the Environment Committee to eliminate use of citizen Petitions for an EAW, where it passed out of Committee with just a one vote margin (4/3/03). This one vote counted, and is one of those that lead to a 60% rating by the League of Conservation Voters (which then endorsed Cox!). It is also one that lead to the 50% rating from Minnesota Farmers Union.
I believe that utilities must be carefully regulated and that the state must not give up its regulator authority. I would not co-author Excelsior Energy’s coal gasification powerplant bill, with a grant of $10 million and unprecedented ‘incentives,’ including eminent domain and Certificate of Need exemption for electrical generation and transmission. I would not accept campaign contributions from two Excelsior Energy lobbyists, as Ray Cox did (p. 5, CF Board report filed 1/29/03).
I would work to increase the state’s reliance on renewable energy and carefully sited distributed generation, which puts generation where it’s used, rather than support a coal plant twice the size of our state’s largest nuclear plant (HF964). I believe garbage should not be categorized as renewable fuel, based on pollution of the LaCrosse and Red Wing garbage burners and the planned Preston tire burner. Ray Cox voted to classify garbage as a renewable fuel (HF208).
I believe in examination of the consequences of proposed legislation. The phosphorus bills or wind energy credits that Cox has co-authored, if passed, do not counter the massive damage that will be done to the environment by coal plants and garbage burning.
I would fund and support Minnesota Planning, because we need to plan to accomplish our goals and to spend our money wisely, and local governments need this agency’s expertise to utilize their powers of local control.
I support fair and clean elections.
I support Fair and Clean Elections and have signed the FACE pledge. I also support and abide by the League of Women Voters “Minnesota Compact on Campaign Standars.”
I believe voting is the most fundamental right, and as your Representative, I will work to keep voting as simple as possible, to utilize technology to the greatest extent possible while maintaining the integrity of the voting system. Because of the irregularities in the 2000 election, and the recount in 25B in 2002, I will work to assure that any electronic voting system results in a traceable paper trail. Ray Cox voted against requiring a paper trail (Kahn amend. HF1119).
I believe push-polling is a negative campaign tactic and do not use or condone it. I would require push-pollers to disclose the party paying for the poll and whether the candidate benefiting from it authorized the poll. Ray Cox voted against an amendment that would require disclosure by push-pollers, as did Steve Sviggum and Lynda Boudreau (Mariani amend HF1427), yet despite these votes and unwillingness to require disclosure, the all accused the DFL of push-polling in a press conference at the Rice County dump.
I believe that like workers, students should be allowed time off to vote (Sertich amend. HF1119). Ray Cox voted against allowing students time off to vote.
Because of the experience in Florida in 2000, I believe that the powers of the Sec. of State to remove voters’ names from the registration list should be limited (Kahn amend HF1119). Ray Cox voted against limiting the SOS powers to remove voters.
Where does the money come from?
I would not, as my opponent advocated at a community forum, depend on working families to carry the tax burden (8/19/04 Community Forum). Instead, I would look beyond workers for revenue, and would close corporate tax loopholes. Ray Cox voted against an amendment to close corporate loopholes (Pugh amend HF2540). We must reallocate burdens to commercial and industrial properties, and return to more progressive taxation of those with individual incomes over $200,000 annually. I would increase the gas tax to pay for the roadwork we need and decrease consumption. I would reverse the Republican shift of education funding to property taxes. I would reverse the cut to utilities for personal property tax on fossil fuel and nuclear generating plants and transmission.
I am opposed to the Racino because gambling is not the way a state should raise revenue, and we have perpetual agreements with sovereign Indian nations – a deal is a deal. Ray Cox is a strong supporter of Racino (HF646).
The state economist predicts that we will face a $1.5 billion dollar deficit in the coming sessions and that’s with the prediction that the economy will pick up. If not, we’re in even worse economic straits. We must be willing to face up to the problems we have and solve them. We can eliminate corporate loopholes so that when corporate profits are up we will not wonder why state coffers are empty.
Ray Cox got an 83% rating from the Minnesota Taxpayers League, higher than some others who took the ‘No New Tax’ pledge, including Rep. Lynda Boudreau. We can spread the tax impact more equally so that those most able to pay can contribute. We can correct inequities in education funding that occurred when the state assumed the cost of school funding. We must be honest with Minnesotans about the costs of services they have come to expect and be clear about the way we intend to ask them to pay for services.
How would I get through the political stalemate?
In order to improve the climate of cooperation, we need to focus on issues that improve people’s lives and stop wasting time on social issues that promote gridlock and polarize us. I would find venues for legislators from different perspectives to talk about our goals and work together to make them happen. I have been told by several people in the school district that I have had a strong positive impact on the contract negotiating climate, and I can use this approach in the legislature.
I will work to assure that every Minnesota family has the ability to support itself with a wage-earning job that will keep them from being dependent on the State for help. I will work to improve early childhood, K-12 and post-secondary education. I believe economic development must attract good jobs to Minnesota’s productive workers with the necessary skills gained through a strong education system. Economic development must be statewide and must contribute to a community’s tax base, not drain it through subsidies and tax exemptions. I will work to mend the safety net that has been damaged by recent decisions and I will work to assure that all Minnesotans can get the health care they deserve.
We’re overdue for change
It’s time for a change. As we learned in the last election, every vote counts. Vote for me, David Bly, for the Minnesota House of Representatives.
Produced and paid for by the David Bly Campaign, Chris Ennis, Treasurer, 907 W. 2nd St, Northfield, MN 55057