I want my daughters to grow up in a Minnesota where every kid has an opportunity for success. As I was growing up in Coon Rapids, my parents taught me that if I worked hard there was nothing I couldn’t accomplish. I believed them then, and I still believe it now. But too many people in our state don’t feel that same sense of possibility. And I worry that kids today, including my own, won’t grow up with the same opportunities that I had.
Minnesota is a prosperous state, but we can do so much more to make sure our economy is firing on all cylinders and creating new jobs. We need to invest in our infrastructure: roads, bridges, water systems, airports, and mass transit. Improving infrastructure will help our existing businesses to grow and expand and will create good paying jobs in the construction industries.
In addition to creating new jobs, we can improve our economy by improving the jobs we already have. Zack supports a guarantee of paid family leave for every Minnesotan who works full time. No one should lose a job because they have to take care of a new baby or a sick parent. Zack also supports raising the minimum wage to make sure that every working family does not live in poverty.
To build a Minnesota where everyone has an opportunity for success, we need to restore our world class education system. Education is the silver bullet, and Zack believes that our shared commitment to superior public education is what has made Minnesota the special place it is. But our education system has not kept up with the competition, and we need to fix that. Zack is committed to:
- Universal, high-quality early education. Study after study tells us that education begins long before kindergarten. High-quality preschool education improves students’ performance in school and generates $4 to $16 in return for every dollar we invest. Investing in early education will benefit our children, build the workforce our state needs to succeed in the future, and relieve pressure on middle class families struggling with the ever rising cost of childcare.
- Rigorous K-12 education. Ask a foreign exchange students what surprises her about American education, and she’s likely to mention the lack of rigor in our schools. Our students need high expectations,and our schools need the support to get the job done. Today, state funding for schools is $1,000 less per pupil than it was in 2003. That is unacceptable. And when a local school district tries to make up the difference by raising property taxes, it increases burdens on middle class families and retirees.
- Varied and affordable higher education. Not every kid is going to go to college. But we need to make sure that those who choose to go aren’t saddled with mountains of debt. We also need to a better job supporting our vocational and technical schools. Last, we need to do a better job connecting our high school students with all of the educational options open to them after graduation, from vocational schools and certificate programs, to community colleges, and our public and private colleges and universities.
Minnesota’s heritage is deeply rooted in our environment. Our way of life depends on our abundant natural resources, including agriculture, the iron ranges, and our bodies of freshwater. Minnesotans from all walks of life love to enjoy our lakes and woods. Hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation is an essential part of our culture and a tradition we pass from generation to generation. Zack understands that protecting our future means protecting the Earth and all it has to offer. We must take an active role in leaving our children a state as pristine and beautiful as what we enjoy today. Zack believes we must:
- Recognize the evidence of climate change. The threat these changes pose must not be underestimated, and Minnesota should lead the country in our response. Championing ideas that reduce carbon emissions should be a priority, whether that means supporting electric vehicles, more rigorous research, or sources of renewable energy.
- Ensure clean water for all. From lakes and streams to the Mississippi River, Minnesota’s most valuable natural resource is water. Keeping our water free of pollutants is crucial not only to our agricultural and environmental success, but also because we all have a right to clean drinking water.
Minnesotans need a health care system that is reliable, accessible, and affordable. While our federal government continues to fail to act on health care, people across Minnesota are stuck in limbo. They wonder if they will be able to afford the health care they need. They worry that their insurance will be taken away. We can’t wait any longer for the federal government to figure it out. Minnesotans deserve the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you’ll be able to see a doctor if you or a loved one gets sick. Zack believes that all Minnesotans should be given the option of buying into MinnesotaCare. Right now, only people who have limited income can sign up for MinnesotaCare, but the people who have MinnesotaCare are very happy with it. And opening MinnesotaCare up to everyone will provide families with stability and save them money with no ongoing cost to taxpayers. Middle class families should have the option of buying into MinnesotaCare if that is what makes the more sense in their individual situation.
As a prosecutor, Zack is deeply committed to making sure that our community is safe. People love living in Champlin and Coon Rapids because of how peaceful and safe our cities are. But to preserve that quality of life, we need to be proactive in addressing public safety concerns. That means confronting the epidemic of opioid abuse that is growing around our state. It also means keeping guns out of the hands of violent criminals, the dangerously mentally ill, and domestic abusers
Our community is aging rapidly. There are currently over 800,000 senior citizens in Minnesota, but that number will rise to over 1.3 million (or 20% of the state's population) within the next two decades. Zack believes that Minnesota needs to do more to prepare for this reality.
To begin with, Zack supports measures that will help Minnesotans afford retirement. That means making it easier to save for retirement and keeping our state run pension plans strong. Zack will fight against increases in local property taxes and supports state programs designed to help local governments avoid property tax increases.
Recent news reports have revealed how vulnerable Minnesotans living in assisted living facilities and nursing homes can be to financial and physical exploitation. As a prosecutor, Zack aggressively prosecuted caregivers who exploited senior citizens and believes we need to do more to stop this abuse. Minnesota currently has significant gaps in its licensure and regulation of assisted living facilities. Zack believes this needs to change. Zack also support limits on how much assisted living communities can increase rent on an annual basis.
Taxes and Spending
Minnesota has benefited greatly from it’s investments in education and infrastructure. But we pay a lot in income, sales, and property taxes, and we need to be certain that every dollar is being invested wisely. As a prosecutor, Zack believes in accountability and has no tolerance for waste, fraud, or abuse. In the Legislature, he'll work hard to make sure that every tax dollar goes to improving our state's quality of life.
Zack also feels strongly that middle class and working class families are already paying their fair share in taxes. In particular, Zack believes that the state's failure to adequately fund our education system has forced our local school district to raise property taxes on middle and working class families. As a State Representative, Zack will work to prevent future property tax increases.