District 13B: Vogel says time for new perspectives
WILLMAR -- Bruce Vogel is running for the Minnesota House of Representatives seat in District 13B because he is concerned about the direction that the state and the country are headed, down the road of budget deficits.
"We need a change," he said. "We need to get some new perspectives."
Vogel, of Willmar, is a Realtor who has also been an independent contractor and businessman for 15 years. He's also spent eight years working as a youth pastor.
The challenger in the district representing Kandiyohi County pledges to work hard and learn fast if elected, and he has the background of working with both people and finances. Plus, he already works with both Republicans and Democrats. "They all have to buy houses," he said with a smile during an interview with the Tribune.
Handling the state's budget deficit must include spending cuts, he says, noting the state has a 3 to 7 percent revenue increase and an 18 percent spending increase. "We can't keep going down that road. We have to rein in the spending."
Vogel insists that cutting taxes will provide jobs. "By cutting taxes, you stimulate growth," he said. "If we don't stimulate grow, we aren't going to make it."
The Republican is also calling for welfare reform, noting that too many people come to the welfare system and then stay there. "We all care about those who are in need, like the disabled and the elderly," he said.
Vogel wants to restrict the use of EBT cards -- debit cards for those receiving assistance -- for purchases only inside the state. A total of $20 million in Minnesota money is spent in other states, all across the nation.
Vogel also called for a waiting period of at least 30 days, and possibly even a year, for people who move into Minnesota and seek assistance. He also wants them not to receive any more assistance in Minnesota than they would have received in the state from where they came.
"Lots of people come to our state to get on the system because it is generous," he said, adding that personal responsibility is lacking, with people not taking responsibility for themselves, their family, neighbors and community. "We've gotten into letting the state take care of them."
Vogel applauds the local efforts like community meals sponsored by churches and clothing exchanges. "Our community has done a great job," he says. "We've got a base started here, we are helping people."
Vogel says Minnesota must lower its business tax to keep businesses in the state. The 9.8 percent tax is the third-highest in the world, not just the country.
"That's why we have seen businesses flee our state," he said.
Rather, businesses want to come to Minnesota, Vogel says, to harness the state's hard-working labor force. "We need to get the private sector rolling," he said, by lowering the tax to a competitive rate.
The sea of regulations in Minnesota is also limiting business growth. Vogel cited a Clay County hog farm that wanted to expand. Officials told them it would be two to three years to get the permits, at a cost of $20,000 to $30,000. The farmers went to North Dakota with the expansion and the farm was up and running in less than six months with a $1.4 million payroll.
Vogel sees that outstate school districts are struggling, mostly due to unequal state funding on a per-student basis. He wants to look at equalizing the funding per pupil, and notes that previous bills have failed to do so. "We could eliminate the shortfalls if we received $2,000 more per student," he said.
Vogel doesn't want general tax dollars spent to build a new stadium for the Vikings, but agrees that something has to be done and that he wants the football team to stay here. He doesn't support a racino because he's seen gambling wreck families and is following the Republican Party platform, which opposes the expansion of gambling.
"We can figure out some way to get this (stadium) built," he said.