Eden Prairie News
by Leah Shaffer
Though this is her first run for office, Jenifer Loon is no stranger to halls of government. Loon, the Republican candidate for the House 42B seat, has worked with legislators as an advocate for small businesses.
Loon, 45, notes that her work has really revolved around looking at government policies as they impact small businesses. She has been involved with work at U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Small Business, and has advocated for small businesses through her work with a trade association.
Loon has always had an interest in politics since she worked as a page in the South Dakota Legislature in high school.
From there, she got her degree in government and international affairs at Augustana College.
“I understand the legislative process very well,” she said.
Her priority at the Minnesota Capitol would be tackling the economy.
“Small business really holds the potential in Minnesota to help pull us out of this recession.”
She notes that Minnesota has gotten lax on keeping businesses in the state.
“I think Minnesota needs to take a hard look at what policies we have, what we could put in place to perhaps reverse the trend of businesses leaving.”
When looking at the issue of tax cuts, she said the state must also be mindful of the revenue picture. One possible focus for tax cuts could be start-up business.
If Minnesota had a phased-in tax liability for the first five years of a business, it would not take away revenue, but would also nudge some new businesses to start up, she said.
Loon, who has two daughters in Eden Prairie public schools, is also keenly aware of the challenges the state’s education system faces.
“New funding is going to be tough,” she said.
Loon added that she thinks Eden Prairie “does an excellent job at squeezing the value out of every penny that they get for funding.”
She said that the school funding formula is outdated and inequitable in terms of its distribution of funding.
In terms of increasing funding for schools, she said the Legislature needs to make sure it has enough to cover the increased costs from inflation at districts. Another place to look would be the mandates that are really hurting districts, she said.
If Minnesota could at least fully fund special education mandates, “I think that would help dramatically.”
Loon said she would not have voted for a gas tax increase, which passed the Legislature last session.
It would have been a tough call, she added.“We have definite infrastructure needs.”
What concerned her about that proposal was that it was coupled with other taxes. It allowed the metro counties to increase sales tax for transit, while outstate areas would have to hold a referendum for such an action.
“It really set up a double standard for metro versus outstate taxpayers.”
In terms of public dollars for stadiums, Loon noted that people comment on it both ways, but funding stadiums is not right with the budgetary picture the state now has.
“It becomes a matter of what’s an appropriate investment of taxpayer dollars.”
In terms of the skills she could bring to the Capitol, Loon noted that her professional and volunteer work has involved pulling groups together and figuring out a process or next step forward.
She said she understands what it takes to be effective in the legislative process, that it takes building coalitions around a concept.
“I work well with people.”