Minnesota has struggled for years with budget deficits. You can argue long and hard about the causes of these deficits, but the fact is that skyrocketing increases in spending, especially in the area of health care, have outstripped the increase in state revenues.
The solution, we believe, is not to keep ratcheting up the state's tax rates to match the runaway spending. We believe the sanest course is to address the issue of spending.
Two candidates for Legislature in this area best represent that idea - State Sen. Gary Dahms in the new Senate District 16, and Rep. Paul Torkelson in House District 16B.
These two Republicans also possess experiences that complement each other to represent this area very well. Dahms is a retired small business owner and former Redwood County commissioner, giving him first-hand knowledge of the impact of state policy on business and on local government. Torkelson is a farmer, active in the past in the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation. He knows the needs of the ag industry.
In the past four years, Torkelson has advanced into positions of leadership in the caucus and in his legislative committee work.
Their DFL opponents this year are hardworking and capable candidates. Ted Suss, who is running for the Senate seat, has a wealth of experience in public education, served four years in the Legislature in the 1970s and has been active in a variety of local government and community advisory boards.
James Kanne, running against Torkelson, is also a farmer, with much community involvement. Jerry "Pike" Pagel of New Ulm, running as an independent in 16B, also brings an enthusiasm to the race.
Two years ago, Republicans gained a majority in the Legislature just as the DFL gained the governor's office with the election of Mark Dayton. Dayton is not up for re-election this year. We believe it is important, in this year's election, to maintain the balance of power in the state capitol, lest Dayton's philosophy of taxing our way to a balanced budget become law.
We certainly wish the two sides would do a better job of working together, that the bitter acrimony that has marred state politics would subside. We think, however that cooperation comes from having two sides that recognize and respect each other, not by turning the government over to one party.
The Journal thinks Gary Dahms and Paul Torkelson can work with DFLers for the betterment of the state, and we urge voters to return them to the Legislature.