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State Senate Primary / Candidate's View: Tax incentives needed to help small businesses

From the column: "The increase in the growth of state government is out of balance with the needs of families and small businesses, causing economic hardship."

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Kelsey Johnson
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I live on land my family has continuously occupied for nearly 80 years in Gnesen Township. We’ve lived in Northeastern Minnesota since the 1870s and have proudly owned small businesses and held elected and vital community positions. My parents, Carter and Cheryl, were small-business owners, serving our community at Pike Lake Dental Center.

Seven years ago, I ran for Rep. David Dill’s seat in a special election. Then I accepted the presidency of the Iron Mining Association, where I saw the opportunity to help stabilize the economies of Northeastern Minnesota. When I started in 2016, many of the region's iron mines were idled. Slowly, with the help of tariffs and changes within the state and federal government, mines began reopening. Since then, we've worked collaboratively to stabilize the economies of Northeastern Minnesota for regional and statewide benefit.

From the column: "COVID-19 regulations and Canadian border restrictions deeply hurt many of our small, mom-and-pop businesses. Our tourism industry was severely impacted, and we are still recovering."

During my career, I’ve worked with local, state, and federal government agencies and legislatures in 27 states, including our own. I’ve also worked with professionals in health care, hospitality, long-term care, education (from K-12 to professors), farming, manufacturing, the building trades, electrical work, plumbing, the military, transportation logistics, business, nonprofits, and entrepreneurial pursuits.

When the Rainy River watershed began flooding, I volunteered for more than 30 hours to help friends, neighbors, and community members defend their homes against the floodwaters. I work for you; when you need help, I'm here to do everything I can to assist, including slinging sandbags and assembling volunteers.

When elected, I will work to get back to the basics of state government by reducing taxes and fees, especially property taxes on small businesses and families, while incentivizing small-business growth in our region.

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We must provide a world-class education to every student in Northeastern Minnesota by closing the achievement gap.

In the last 13 years, the state budget has nearly doubled. Meanwhile, family budgets have only increased by 25%. The largest increase has been in income tax and property tax collections, both nearly doubling. The increase in the growth of state government is out of balance with the needs of families and small businesses, causing economic hardship. I will work to cut taxes; eliminate excesses in state government; and ensure more money for you, your family, and your small business.

Small businesses grew into major Fortune 500 companies in our state. 3M was started in a small office space in Two Harbors. We have the ability to create the next Fortune 500 here in Minnesota. We must enable our community members to get their businesses off the ground. I’ll work to incentivize small-business growth here by providing tax and growth incentives.

Education is my priority. I earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in ethics and leadership from St. Catherine University in St. Paul. I have had the honor to serve on the board of trustees for my alma mater, and I currently serve on the Lake Superior College Foundation Board and STARBASE Advisory Board. Also active in the community, I’m a frequent volunteer and former church council member at Waters of Life Lutheran Church.

Education has been a longstanding point of pride for Minnesotans. K-12 education receives the most state money of any area of state government, and that amount has grown significantly in the last 10 years. Yet, kids continue to struggle. I will work to close the achievement gap and provide for our growing workforce needs by working to ensure our brightest days are ahead.

We need to get back to the basics of what we enjoy about living here because this community, region, and our future are worth it.

Working for you, I’m Kelsey Johnson.

Remember to vote for Kelsey Johnson on Aug. 9.

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Minnesota Senate candidate Kelsey Johnson wrote this at the invitation of the News Tribune Opinion page.

ABOUT THIS PRIMARY: In the Aug. 9 primary election, Republicans Kelsey Johnson of Gnesen Township and Andrea Zupancich of Babbitt are vying to face DFLer Grant Hauschild of Hermantown to represent Minnesota Senate District 3. The general election is Nov. 8. The district extends north from Proctor, up the North Shore and then west along the Canadian border past International Falls. Early voting for the primary begins Friday, June 24.

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