Maryjane Westra - Democratic-Farmer-Labor
I am a small business owner and executive director of an adoption agency. These two experiences have prepared me to read financial statements, balance a budget and pinch a penny when necessary. I have a Master's Degree in social work which taught...
I am a small business owner and executive director of an adoption agency. These two experiences have prepared me to read financial statements, balance a budget and pinch a penny when necessary. I have a Master's Degree in social work which taught me how to listen to all sides of a debate before making a decision or quick judgement.
I have served in many civic and religious organizations including AAUW, Rotary Board, Congregations Concerned for Children, Children's Justice Initiative, Past Moderator of the Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ, Past Chair of the Ottertail County Service Collaborative, Past Chair of the Children's Services Association, Serve on a Statewide Response Team for Misconduct Investigations, Founding Board of Turning Point Crisis Shelter (Illinois), was a Human Rights delegate to Chiapas, MX, Guatemala and the Phillipines.
My husband and I have raised 8 children, 10 foreign exchange students and 75 foster children.
AGRICULTURE: What specific actions can the Legislature pursue to boost the agricultural industry for the state and Otter Tail County?
Agriculture took more than its fair share of the cuts in make up the $4.5 billion deficit of 2003. I would work to restore those cuts to Ethanol producer payments, horticulture programs, Rural Finance Administration and the U of M Extension Service. I would work to pass a dairy investment tax credit and implement a dairy cow loan program to increase the dairy herds. I support the development of ethanol to hydrogen that can power fuel cells.
HEALTH CARE: What can be done to improve accessibility to quality health care and to slow the rate of skyrocketing health costs? Do you support a constitutional guarantee of affordable health care for all Minnesotans?
Health care access and affordability is of primary concern in my campaign.
I would encourage patients to engage in cost containment efforts through greater accountability for medical decision making. Patients, not insurance companies, need to decide when and where they will receive medical care and how much they are willing to spend on it. Doctors and administrators can help in this effort by creating a system of cost/benefit analysis, including alternative treatments, for patients' review.
I would favor building a fairer system of spreading the risk by requiring statewide community insurance ratings and preventing "adverse selecting" (dropping people from insurance) by insurance companies.
I encourage a system of pooling the buying resources of the state to cut prescription drug costs.
I would vote to put more public money into prevention and screenings, such as mammograms, colonoscopies, diabetes testing, family planning, etc.
Cuts to MinnesotaCare and co-pays for medical assistant recipients have put our most vulnerable population at risk for disease and encourages people to avoid early medical intervention and prevention. I would work to restore coverage to people dropped from MinnesotaCare in 2003 and increase the benefits of the plan.
I would work to tighten up requirements for treatment coverage for HMO's, MA and Insurance.
I would vote to allow small businesses and farmers to buy into the efficient MinnesotaCare program, thus allowing entrepreneurs to start a small business without fear of losing health-care coverage.
A combination of universal health care coverage, a competitive market and strong system of public health prevention programs will slow rising costs, improve health and give the best value for one's health care dollar.
In general, I am very cautious about constitutional amendments. However, health care should be a basic right and I MAY be able to support a well worded amendment regarding affordable health care.
CRIME: Are current state laws tough enough to combat high-profile crimes? If not, what new legislation would you enact?
Cuts to local government aid have contributed to the loss of over 100 police officers statewide. Crime prevention programs have suffered severe cuts also. I would work to restore funds for crime prevention and enforcement.
I oppose a frightening trend to try juveniles as adults and arresting younger and younger children. (I know a 6 year old who was arrested recently.) I would support more protections and treatments for juvenile offenders.
I would guarantee that the "worst of the worst" sex offender be sentenced to life without release and would provide more intensive monitoring and supervision for those, lesser criminals, who do get released.
STADIUMS: The Twins and Gophers received public funding for new stadiums in the 2006 legislative session. Should the Vikings also receive public funding?
If the law requires a tax increase to go to the voters for a referendum, then legislature should not override that law with a new stadium law. If Anoka County and the City of Blaine can agree on a way to finance a Vikings stadium WITHOUT state tax dollars, I'm fine with that.
TRANSPORTATION: Will you be supporting the proposed constitutional amendment on the November 2006 ballot that will dedicate 100 percent of the existing motor vehicle sales tax to transportation project? Why or why not?
I am not supportive the MVST amendment. It's unnecessary and dangerous to other programs that also needs funds. It locks in money and gives lawmakers no flexibility in the event of another budget deficit. We don't need the Constitution to lock in money. WE need to elect lawmakers (like me!) who are fiscally responsible with ALL of the various pockets of income.