Chesterton Tribune


Granquist vs Pelath in state rep district 9

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In the general election on Nov. 6, Democrat incumbent State Rep. Scott Pelath will defend his 9th District seat against Republican Dan Granquist. Early voting began on Oct. 9.

The Chesterton Tribune invited both to respond to candidate questionnaires.

The Tribune set word limits and reserved the right to edit for length.

The re-districting following the 2010 census placed portions of the 9th Indiana House District in Duneland.

(1) Age, place, occupation.

Pelath: Age: 42. Place of Residence: Michigan City. Occupation: Human Resources Director, Swanson Center.

Granquist: 59, Coolspring Township in LaPorte County, attorney.

(2) To Pelath: How many terms have you served and why are you seeking re-election? (75 words) Since 1998, I have fought to improve the lives of my constituents through common sense, practical solutions, and mainstream values. Over the past several years, our state government has become more ideological and less concerned for our middle class. I am battling to turn our focus away from extreme ideas and back toward rewarding hard work and ensuring equality of opportunity for our kids.

To Granquist: Why are you seeking election to this office? (75 words) Thanks to Republican leadership, we are in a period of growth and opportunity. Indiana is the leading state in the North. I love this state and have the desire, experience and understanding to protect and support the momentum that has been started by our leaders. I can meet this challenge by providing good leadership and right ideas and help Indiana continue to be one of the strongest state economies in America and attract jobs!

(3) To Pelath: Describe your accomplishments in office. (75 words) When your insurance company accountants deny you needed health coverage, you can now appeal their decision to actual doctors. That's because of legislation I authored and passed. One day, we will have less congestion on I-94 due to my sponsorship of the Illiana Expressway. I am also deeply proud of my sponsorship of the Great Lakes Water Use Compact, which will preserve Lake Michigan and its sister lakes for future generations.

To Granquist: Describe your qualifications for office (75 words) My experience as a small business owner and an attorney with three decades of experience helping entrepreneurs set up and start their businesses will guide me in making decisions that will create an environment that encourages job growth. I am helping the people in our community build businesses to provide jobs and am working with community groups and business leaders to provide information and education to those interested in starting businesses.

(4) Differentiate yourself from your opponent and indicate why you believe yourself a better candidate. (75 words)

Pelath: This is not about personalities; it is about balance. Since 1966, Indiana has had two kinds of government: government in which the Republicans control everything, and government in which both parties share power. In this state, the latter is less radical and more inclusive.

Granquist: Having represented and advised many small businesses over the years, and having owned small businesses myself, I understand the needs of business owners. The nation’s largest small-business advocacy group, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, has endorsed me. I will show up for work and be a strong voice for job development.

(5) What are the key issues in the race? (100 words)

Pelath: The working middle class is not sharing in our state's economic fortunes. The prevailing approach in Indianapolis has been to serve investors and corporations while ignoring our need for a stable force of workers who can buy things. Our state demands an alternative economic vision that values education, worker training, and wage growth as essential for future prosperity.

Granquist: Sound economic development strategies that will promote job creation and expansion and encourage free enterprise and entrepreneurship for all workers at all levels of the work force.

Sound educational plans that will prepare all students to become responsible citizens and get jobs, reward quality teachers who inspire students, and give parents the opportunity to choose the best education for their children.

Sound fiscal policies that will maintain a balanced budget and reduce burdensome regulations.

Sound social policies that will strengthen families and minimize government influence, protect the sanctity of life, and protect marriage between a man and a woman.

(6) What are your views on the best uses of the current state budget surplus? (100 words)

Pelath: Gov. Daniels primarily built the current budget surplus by supplanting traditional state obligations with federal stimulus dollars, by withholding school appropriations, and by “discovering” missing revenues. It was one part conservative (but sometimes callous) stewardship, one part timing and presentation, and one part mistake.

I have always believed in maintaining a reasonable surplus to hedge against future revenue shortfalls. But many of the school cuts turned out to be unnecessary, and dollars should be restored. Secondly, many people who often are overlooked—like senior citizens needing nursing care and the permanently disabled—have been adversely affected by past cuts. We should do better by them.

Granquist: The state received more revenue and spent less than was anticipated in the budget, yielding our surplus. The best uses would be to fund pension liabilities to the fullest extent possible, keep some as a reserve in support of reducing taxes, and provide funds to fire and police departments for acquisition of needed equipment. For example, I know some volunteer fire departments are in serious need of fire trucks and other life- and property-saving equipment.

(7) Do you consider the state’s school-funding formula—based on a calculation of “average daily membership” and “free or reduced lunches”—fair? Why or why not? If not, how would you like to see it changed? (75 words)

Pelath: The distribution of school dollars used to be a compromise between growing schools needing more teachers and schools with lots of "at-risk" kids and higher costs. The current legislature has broken that compromise to benefit the most rapidly growing schools around Indianapolis.

The old compromise must be restored. Our state taxes are no longer funding education programs here but instead in Central Indiana. This region's tax dollars should fund education basics in the region.

Granquist: School funding involves a fairly complex formula. In an attempt to be fair, it takes into account many factors. It is subject to the vicissitudes of legislative compromise. Since it is passed by legislators from all around the state, by definition it could be considered fair. Funding should reasonably include a factor based on the number of students. The formula could be improved by establishing state guidelines more appropriate than federal standards.

(8) In January 2010, the state cut the Duneland School Corporation’s General Fund by 4.56 percent or $1,569,219. How would you propose restoring that funding? (75 words)

Pelath: I have aggressively opposed school cuts from the beginning, including the ones that have hit Duneland Schools. The next governor can help by restoring $300 million in appropriations that the current administration refused to release to classrooms. Going forward, we need to reinstate principles of fairness and balance to the statewide distribution of dollars to school corporations.

Granquist: Well over half of the state budget funds education. It is not fair that some schools receive only a percentage of what other schools receive per student. It is fair that the state try to bring some parity to school funding. The best way to raise funding is to improve the economy, bringing in more business that provides more jobs so workers can earn money and pay taxes that increases the revenue to the state.

(9) Are you comfortable with the current Indiana tax structure? Which taxes are best for funding state government, which are worst? (75 words)

Pelath: The percentage of state revenue derived from corporate income tax is less than half of what it was a decade ago, and the number of jobs credited to this trend—if any—is not obvious. In any case, the result is that individuals and consumers have born a greater share of the state tax burden in recent years. The next time a tax cut is in order, they ought to be the first beneficiaries, not the last.

Granquist: I agree with Arthur Brooks’ definition of free enterprise: “the system of values and laws that respects private property and limits government, encourages competition and industry, celebrates achievement based on merit, and creates individual opportunity.” The best taxes are those (in both type and rate) that have least burden on free enterprise. Of course taxes must be paid, but they should be reasonable in order to attract business to this state.



Posted 10/12/2012