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Incumbent's view: We’re back on track, with more to do

Two years ago, Duluth's District 7B voters elected me to represent them in St. Paul. I went to the capital on your behalf to advocate for Duluth- specific issues and to help correct a structurally deficient state budget. I am extremely proud to s...

Two years ago, Duluth’s District 7B voters elected me to represent them in St. Paul. I went to the capital on your behalf to advocate for Duluth-
specific issues and to help correct a structurally deficient state budget. I am extremely proud to say we accomplished those goals - and so much more.
I was humbled with your trust and the opportunity, and I ask again for your support for another term.
I never try to hide that I am a fairly liberal Democrat with a strong labor background. When it comes to social policy, the environment, or supporting the needs of the middle class or the less fortunate, there should be no surprises in how I vote.
However, as some of you know, I also went to St. Paul to help build a better Minnesota. I am fully aware of the economic principles that encourage or support business development and/or expansion, especially in areas of Minnesota outside of the Twin Cities. I certainly understand that without a strong economy, good-paying jobs and a world-class education system, there will be shortfalls in Minnesota’s revenue.
I was proud to author legislation providing $20 million in grant funding to improve broadband capabilities across Minnesota. It was but a beginning; however, it was the primary need Minnesota businesses and municipalities were asking for. This technology is the present and the future, and Minnesota cannot fall further behind in critical infrastructure provisions. The law capitalizes on maximizing public-private partnerships and is designed to award grants in areas where our state will see maximum return on its investment.
I also was able to work closely with other partners to rewrite the Local Government Aid formula. We took an outdated and complicated formula and replaced it with a formula that truly measures each city’s unmet need. In addition, we secured $80 million into the formula, providing cities such as Duluth a much-needed increase. We all know that without Local Government Aid, Duluth’s property tax burden would skyrocket, and services to the public would decrease. That same story plays out all across Minnesota.
Yes, I voted for an income tax increase, but only by adding a fourth tier for the 2 percent of Minnesotans who earn the most and by increasing the cigarette tax. I also supported closing corporate tax loopholes that unfairly were punishing our small-business community. For the rest of Minnesotans, most will see a tax reduction, primarily due to a revamped property tax credit system. If you are a renter or a property owner making less than $105,000 a year, you probably are eligible for a refund paid directly to you.
As Duluth residents, we all understand the terrible impact the Last Place on Earth had on our community, from an economic perspective for our downtown business community and from an individual and community health impact. Thanks to a creative law passed earlier this year, no other community in Minnesota will have to deal with the presence of a retail establishment selling illegal synthetic drugs.
For these reasons and many, many more, I ask for your support for a second term. The state and its cities face a tremendous challenge in developing a transportation funding mechanism that is capable of investing up to a billion new dollars annually into roads and bridges. We must do so with the awareness that we are all a part of the solution, and we must find and support a progressive way to accomplish this. I have talked with so many throughout the district who understand this.
More importantly, you appreciate that Minnesota is back on track. I agree.

Rep. Erik Simonson, DFL-Duluth, represents District 7B in the Minnesota House and is Duluth’s assistant fire chief. He wrote this exclusively for the News Tribune at the request of the Opinion page.

What about the challenger?
The News Tribune Opinion page also invited Rep. Simonson’s Republican opponent, Travis Silvers of Duluth, to write a commentary about his candidacy. Silvers didn’t submit anything.

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