Friday, August 29, 2008

Reinert’s response to Hillsider Questionnaire

1. Health care
Minnesota needs universal health care. We must lead on this issue and stop waiting for a Federal solution. It is stifling our economy, choking local governments, and leaving a wide variety of people (including myself) without health care. I endorse the Minnesota Health Plan introduced by Sen. John Marty and will actively support it as a Legislator. It addresses the insurance side of the equation and makes health care affordable by getting everyone back into one large health care pool. It ensures all Minnesotans are covered, provides for quality care including mental, chemical dependency and dental coverage, and allows patients to choose their own providers.
2. Livable Wage
I support a statewide Living Wage Ordinance and Business Subsidy Act similar to the one I have voted for in Duluth. I support requiring projects to create at least one full-time living wage job for each $25,000 of public business subsidy. A subsidy is a grant, loan below market rate, contribution or assistance that is given to a business intending to create or retain jobs. Currently that living wage is defined as 130 percent of the Federal Poverty Standard for a family of four ($13.25 per hour for 2008) or, if the employer provides basic health insurance benefits then 110 percent of the federal poverty rate for a family of four ($11.21 per hour for 2008).
3. Federal and state aid to cities, and taxes
The federal government must restore cuts to the Community Development Block Grant program and begin reinvesting in America. And Gov. Pawlenty needs to remember there IS more to Minnesota than just the suburbs and restore cuts to local government aid. Both CDBG and LGA are critical to basic services local governments in Minnesota, like Duluth, provide. The drastic cuts to both are being felt by all of us. I also support regional cities across Minnesota joining together in the Legislature to change the laws that stop us from doing simple things like charging non-Duluthians who use our library a small fee for a library card.
4. Racial inequities
We should continue existing affirmative action hiring programs. They are needed. Yet the only lasting way to address issues of racial and cultural inequities is through strong public education. We must redesign Minnesota’s funding of education. Reliance on local levies is creating schools of “haves” and “have nots.” Minnesota should also create a program that allows residents to attend a public college for four years free if they maintain a “B” average or above in high school to encourage more at-risk students to remain in school. And I support continuation of MHFA programs to provide incentives for minority home ownership. Owning a home helps build personal wealth as well as economic security.