Two candidates are on the Nov. 3 ballot for Minnesota House of Representatives District 49B. Democrat Steve Elkins of Bloomington is the incumbent. Republican Joe Thalman of Bloomington is challenging for the seat. The district includes parts of Edina, Bloomington, Eden Prairie and Minnetonka.

Candidates were asked to provide biographical information and answer two questions. Their answers were edited for length and clarity.

Steve Elkins

Steve Elkins

City of residence: Bloomington

Education: B.A. Economics, University of California, Berkeley

Occupation: Economist, IT information architect

Community involvement: Representative - House District 49B, City of Bloomington (Planning Commission, City Council, Housing and Redevelopment Agency), Metropolitan Council member, Bloomington School District (three task forces), MnDOT (3three advisory committees), Citizens League, League of Women Voters

Contact information: elkinsforhouse.com

How should the 2021 Legislature handle the budget issues and meet school and societal needs caused by COVID-19?

Both our schools and health care systems are being stressed by the COVID-19 pandemic and should be bolstered, not cut, until the danger has passed. The largest part of our healthcare budget is the state’s federally mandated share of Medicaid payments, and support for nursing homes and personal caregivers is also critical. Since three-fourths of the state General Fund budget is spent on education and health care, this will make it very difficult to balance the state’s projected $4 billion plus budget deficit for the next two fiscal years without adding new tax revenue into the mix. Historically, the state has balanced its budget during lean years by pushing the burden down to local governments and school districts, which just shifts the tax burden from the state income tax to local property taxes. I would rather that the state honestly balance its budget by cutting its administrative budgets – which are actually a very small share of the overall state budget – and by temporarily rolling back some of the income tax cuts that we enacted in 2019. In addition, the state gas tax should be increased for the first time since 2008 to cover shortfalls in gas tax receipts due reduced driving during the pandemic so that projects like the 494 and 35W expansion do not have to be postponed.

Will you support the passage of a bonding bill in 2021 or 2022? If so, where should the priorities be?

The current Legislature should pass the bonding bill, now! Both Normandale College and the South Metro Public Safety Training Facility in Edina are badly in need of modernization and are included in the 2020 bonding bill, as are two new Bus Rapid Transit lines, including the D line serving Bloomington and Richfield. I strongly support an additional special session this year to pass the bonding bill that’s on the table.

Joe Thalman

Joe Thalman

Address: Bloomington, MN

Education: Bachelors degree in finance, University of Utah

Occupation: Retired

Community involvement: 3M Open, Herb Brooks Foundation, SD49 GOP, candidate for Minnesota House of Representatives, Operation Underground Railroad, American Red Cross, Blexit Backs the Blue, endorsed by Minnesota Police & Peace Officers Association and Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis

Contact information: joe@joeformn.com

How should the 2021 Legislature handle the budget issues and meet school and societal needs caused by COVID-19?

All legislators who assemble in St. Paul next year should come with a spirit of negotiation and compromise and expect to be content with a smaller slice of a smaller pie. The brutal truth is that we went from a comfortable surplus to a substantial deficit of between $4.5 billion and $6 billion. We simply need to work our way out of this situation by reopening our economy and doing everything we can to induce businesses to reopen.

Will you support the passage of a bonding bill in 2021 or 2022? If so, where should the priorities be?

I would reserve judgement until we have a better idea of the state’s financial condition. There is also the very real prospect of additional aid coming in from the federal government, which could be a tremendous benefit to all of us.

Load comments