Commentary by Jenifer Loon

The following article appeared in the Eden Prairie News.

Since making the decision to run for office, I have had the pleasure of walking Eden Prairie’s neighborhoods, talking with thousands of fellow citizens, and learning about the issues important to you. In asking for your vote on November 4th, I think you have a right to know what I believe, and the principles that would guide and shape my decisions, if I am honored to represent you at the State Capitol.

Our State, like the rest of the nation, is struggling with the effects of a recessed economy. In talking with Eden Prairie residents over the past several months, I know that many are anxious about their financial future and the security of their jobs. The cost of food, gas, and other necessities are rising. People have seen their retirement savings eaten away by an unstable financial market. To add to the pain, Minnesota is one of the highest taxed states in the nation by virtually any standard of measure, and government spending has grown by 65.5 % over the past 12 years. I believe our government needs the same kind of fiscal discipline Eden Prairie families are applying to their own budgets, and must live within its means.

My vision for keeping Eden Prairie and Minnesota among the best places to live, raise a family, and retire revolves around enhancing the vitality of our economy. The private sector creates prosperity, government does not. We must identify ways to grow our economy, not government. Recognizing that government policies can help, or hinder, economic vitality, I believe our focus should be three-fold:

  1. enacting fiscal policies that encourage small business,
  2. providing results-oriented investment in quality public education that prepares all children to compete and succeed in a global economy, and
  3. developing innovative, market-based solutions to our transportation, energy and health care challenges.

For the past 16 years, I’ve worked in the legislative arena on government policies that impact small businesses. This experience has provided me with invaluable insights into how tax and regulatory policies often impede these job creators. If elected, I will champion measures at the State level to relieve some of these burdens and the stifling impact big government can have on small business growth.

First, to encourage and assist new small businesses I would provide for a gradual phase-in of tax liability to allow start ups to plow more capital back into their businesses for the first five years. Second, the current sales tax exemption policy, which requires businesses to pay the tax up-front on capital equipment purchases and file paperwork to received a refund at a later date, must be eliminated. And finally, we need to provide incentives for research and development to truly make Minnesota a high-tech “incubator” for research-intense businesses such as those in the renewable energy, biotechnology and medical-device fields.

As a parent with two children in our public schools, I know that educating our children is the most important thing we can do to maintain our quality of life. Eden Prairie’s schools have done a great job, despite receiving less than the state per-pupil average in funding, and less than surrounding suburban districts. Fixing the funding formula to address this inequity is critical, but we also need to tackle the gaps in student achievement and insure that all of our kids are well-skilled, prepared to meet the demands of tomorrow’s jobs. However, the conversation must not be exclusive to funding. Establishing rigorous standards, measurable results and changes in how we recruit, train and pay teachers must all be part of the solution.

I am running for office because I believe it’s time to change the dialogue on government spending. To be certain, investment of taxpayer dollars is necessary on items that are critical to our future—education, transportation and infrastructure, and research and development that will lead to new technologies, businesses and good paying jobs. But taxpayers need to be assured they are getting the best value for their money. It’s time for leaders to get creative, working in a bipartisan fashion to craft new approaches rather than propping up old, failed solutions of the past.

Representing the people of one’s community in elective office is a privilege and a tremendous responsibility. It takes courage to question the status quo, and suggest new ways to achieve better results and bring greater accountability to government spending. In addition, it takes experience to know how to work effectively in the legislative process and actually get results.

The time has come for a new public servant to carry the values and priorities of the Eden Prairie community to the State House, working with other lawmakers to craft solutions to the important needs of our citizens. I’m honored to be one of the candidates for your consideration, and I hope to earn your support.