Minnesota Senate District 54 candidate: Dan Schoen
Name: Dan Schoen
City of residence: St. Paul Park
Occupation: Cottage Grove police officer
Education: Criminal justice
Family: Two children
Civic involvement: St. Paul Park Newport Lions Club; St. Croix Valley Riders
Q: Why should voters choose you over your opponent?
A: After 15 years in law enforcement in which I held positions as a paramedic, business liaison officer, use-of-force instructor, SWAT team hostage negotiator and narcotics/violent crime detective, I’ve had the unique privilege to serve our citizens when they needed help like most people never experience. I see what our citizens are going through and what they say will help them the most. I’ve also been involved directly in organizations which provide charitable help to our neighbors. After being in the House of Representatives, I’ve worked with our local communities to bring development especially in our [Cottage Grove] industrial park, providing over 230 news jobs in less than two years.
Q: Do you believe additional funding is needed for transportation projects? If so, what specific revenue source(s) do you support and how should new transportation funding be spent?
A: The current funding formula isn’t keeping up. And it has nothing to do with trains. It has to do with the immense amount of maintenance needed on the roads and bridges we have. We make more roads and make them wider, making those costs grow as well. Democrat and Republican lawmakers had a compromise to increase the license tab fees but it was blocked by Republican leadership. I wasn’t excited about the cost of our tabs potentially doubling in a short time. An increase in revenue from gas purchased is spread out over time and might be easier for families than a once a year $400 expense instead of $200. We also have to determine how we will get maintenance fees from electric vehicles, which don’t use gas but still use our roads.
Q: If the state is projected to have a budget surplus, what would you do with that revenue?
And if the state is projected to have a budget deficit, how would you propose the budget be balanced — spending cuts, tax/revenue increases or a combination of the two?
A: We had a $2 billion deficit when I was first elected. We raised taxes on those making more money than most of our neighbors make in several years. We’ve had a surplus now as well. Given the opportunity to actually get a tax bill and transportation bill to pass, we have opportunities there as well as putting some in reserves to protect Minnesotans in the event of a downturn, which will happen at some point unfortunately. It’s helpful to make it easier on the need for other revenue or cuts.
Tax increases aren’t the solution for every deficit and tax cuts aren’t always the answer to our state’s needs when we have a surplus.
Q: What would you do to reduce partisanship in the Minnesota Legislature?
A: The first way to reduce partisanship is to get the influence of dark money from large corporations and groups out of our political races so every speech or actions isn’t made for a campaign ad.
You can see how our local area is being inundated with negative ads about people we know to be decent. It has nothing to do with the truth. And those ads are from big groups who use scare tactics to protect their own individual interests and they likely don’t even live here.
I’ve worked in the majority and minority as a member of the House. I’ve had articles written about the work I’ve done across the aisle to get work done and I don’t plan to change. Approximately 95 percent of the legislation passed is bipartisan. No one fights about it, so it’s not newsworthy.