Kuisle sits down for a Q & A with the Times
Former Minnesota Rep. Bill Kuisle visited the Times recently while on the campaign trail for Jeff Johnson, the GOP-endorsed candidate for Minnesota governor who's facing GOP primary challengers in August.
Johnson, who's married to Crookston native Sondi (Lee) and whose in-laws are Lloyd and Shirley Lee of Crookston, selected Kuisle as his running mate for lieutenant governor.
Kuisle, a third generation corn and soybean farmer from the Rochester area, served in the Minnesota House of Representatives from 1996 to 2004. He left the House to concentrate on farming and his family of four. Kuisle's wife, Lisa, is in agronomy research at the University of Minnesota.
Here is part of the Q & A session between the Times and Kuisle:
Times: There are a few things that potential Minnesota governor Johnson would change if elected including, "No Child Left Behind." Why does he think it's not working?
Kuisle: There is such a large achievement gap with "No Child Left Behind" and the school systems don't seem to have a choice. We need to make sure that children and parents are getting the education they deserve. Having so much state-mandated curriculum is not the way to do it. We see teachers concentrating more on state and national tests rather than finding the areas that actually need work. There's also a concern for minority students and in the special education department. We need to get more money to the schools and allow them to have some freedom in what is being taught.
Times: Johnson plans to repeal MNsure if elected. What type of program does he think would work better?
Kuisle: A market-based program would be a better option for Minnesota. The cost of MNSure needs to be controlled, but there's really nothing we can do about it for two years yet. There are a lot of people who are opting out of MNSure because the plans are not affordable nor do they make sense. The "platinum" program has a deductible of $6,000. Those who don't have a pre-existing condition are finding that they could just pay out of pocket for medical attention because of that high deductible.
Times: Another focus of the Johnson campaign is to cut back on railing systems and work more on bus transportation. Can you elaborate?
Kuisle: Buses seem to be a smarter mode of transportation because they are cheaper and they can move where the people are. The rail is a good system, but there are still a lot of people who have to drive once they get off the rail because it is not close to where they need to be. I think for seniors and lower income folks, buses make more sense. There are hybrid buses now that reduce pollution and there are many Minnesota bus companies that would benefit. Buses are also cheaper to make compared to the millions of dollars for rail systems.
Times: What are the plans for rural Minnesota if you and Jeff Johnson are elected?
Kuisle: Transportation is one of the top priorities in Greater Minnesota. We need to make rural roads 10 ton capable, keep up-to-date with construction needs and eliminate dangerous intersections. We also need to concentrate on being competitive with jobs and helping rural businesses achieve their goals. We want to eliminate consumers going across state borders to do their business and keep them right here.
Times: Has there been a lot of backlash on Johnson's recent statement about how he wants to "go Scott Walker" on Minnesota?
Kuisle: Reporters, mostly, are the only people that have heard of that quote. The last thing we want to do is handcuff the state. We want to be smarter and find things that work. I don't think Jeff wants to retract his statement. There was something to be learned from Scott (Walker). He accomplished some things.
Times: What do you think about the new $80 million dollar state Senate office building?
Kuisle: They could've easily used part of that money for something else. Half of that amount would have been fine for a new office building and $30-$50 million could have been put towards transportation.
Kuisle said that Johnson's schedule didn't allow him to make his way up to Crookston, but that the gubernatorial candidate is hoping to make a visit before the August primary.