Election 2016 Candidate Q&A: Pat Garofalo, House District 58B
1. What would you say is the top challenge facing the residents of your legislative district, and how would you address it?
State government spending is growing at an unsustainable level. As the “baby boomer” generation retires, more citizens will be consuming government services while fewer will be paying for them. In order to protect the integrity of those programs that help the elderly, it is important that we aggressively eliminate fraud and waste in our state welfare programs. It is an open secret that Minnesota has become a welfare magnet. We need to take action to make sure that we have a reliable safety net, not a safety hammock.
2. Why do you think you should be elected to the Minnesota legislature?
I am one of the few legislators in Minnesota who is endorsed by both leading business and labor groups. I have a proven track record of getting legislation signed into law. Our area has previously supported candidates who have fought for lower taxes, less spending and better accountability from existing government programs. I believe my legislative record is one that is consistent with those values.
3. What specific measures do you support to increase the transparency and reduce the gridlock of the lawmaking process?
It is important that Minnesota has “shared” government. Over the last 26 years, our state has had both Democrats and Republicans working together in 24 of those years. For only two of those years did one party have total control. Those two years gave us MnSure, a $90 million office building for politicians and other legislative failures. The best mechanism to increase transparency is to maintain shared government, so that all citizens and groups can have their voices heard. Giving one political party total control of our state is asking for trouble.
4. How would you approach developing a comprehensive plan and funding package for roads, bridges and transit?
We should dedicate a portion of the existing sales tax (not a tax increase) to fund transportation. Our state surplus is more than big enough to allow for this. The sales tax is stable and predictable. Some have advocated for a higher gas tax, but that is a legacy revenue source. As vehicles become more fuel efficient and move to use fuels other than gasoline, the gas tax will become less reliable for transportation funding. Before Minnesota puts one penny into building new trains, we should be focusing more on preserving our existing roads/bridges.
Age: Middle of mid-life crisis
Occupation: Network engineer
Education: Minnesota State University — Mankato
Family: Married, two children
Civic Involvement: Six term state representative, chair of House Jobs and Energy Committee, members of St Michael's Catholic Church