Issues and Commitments for the Next Session:
As a Representative in the MN House, I, JoAnn Ward, believe that respectful, civil engagement is foundational to a successful democracy. That's why I joined the National Institute for Civil Discourse's campaign to Revive Civility. I have committed to the standards of conduct below and invite you to do the same, whether you are a fellow candidate, member of the media, or engaged member of the public. I am helping to revive civility because our democracy depends on it.
- Be respectful of others in speech and behavior
- Take responsibility for personal behavior, speech, and actions
- Speak the truth and act with integrity
- Promote civility in political discourse
- Run a positive campaign by focusing on supported and opposed policies
Join here. NICD is a nonpartisan organization and does not endorse any political candidate.
We must reform state government and our campaign finance laws to make both more open and transparent to the public. We are working to change the dysfunctional partisan culture at the Capitol. Clearly, much of the conflict is founded on differing ideas of the role of government, but we are all at the Capitol for one reason: to help build the strongest Minnesota community possible. Conversations among legislators and the public must be respectful and responsible in order to develop a positive, mutually acceptable direction for the future of our democracy.
Our safety, economic development, and recreational lifestyle depend on our transportation infrastructure. Much of that infrastructure has now surpassed its intended functional life and needs to be replaced. I am committed to finding a long-term, comprehensive solution to our state’s transportation challenges in a way that is fiscally responsible and sustainable (and does not bankrupt our schools or other state agencies in the process.) This will require a legislative commitment similar to that of our predecessors in the 1950s and ‘60s, when the Interstate Highway System was created.
Innovations in education
Life-long education is our strongest economic engine: from preschool to elementary school to high school, vo-tech, liberal arts, graduate research, continuing professional education, and career-change training. Minnesota must invest in high quality education throughout our lifetimes and career cycles. Tuition at Minnesota state colleges and universities is all but out of reach for many MN families. Too many vocational and licensed jobs are going unfilled for lack of certified candidates. Our current system of financing post-high- school education leaves too many graduates with all but insurmountable student debt. This debt prevents them from participating in the marketplace which in turn slows the entire economy. We must find ways to adequately support our world-class educational system without bankrupting students.
The process for teacher licensure is deeply problematic, especially for teachers moving to Minnesota with out-of- state licenses, experience, and education. Unless we can make this licensure process more efficient, effective and inclusive, we will continue to lose qualified, experienced teachers to other careers and other states.
We must continue to ensure availability and access to Early Childhood Family Education for all Minnesotans.
Improving Life for Middle-Class Minnesotans
Even though the larger economy has stabilized over the past eight years, most middle class Minnesotans are still struggling. Check out this article and this article for some of the ways in which middle class wages, wealth, and buying power have decreased dramatically over the past generation. Various tax credits and exemptions, and improved infrastructure can aid those impacted by this challenging economy.
We must invest in a Greater Minnesota for all by investing in infrastructure and proven economic initiatives (like tax incentives, education opportunities, and health care reform.)
We must provide paid family leave and earned sick time for every Minnesotan.
A Stronger Economy and More Jobs
What exactly can government do to "create jobs?" (Check out this podcast for a fascinating exploration of this question.) We do know that some things work in the long-term. Capital investments, like the bonding initiatives that funded the WPA two generations ago, make necessary infrastructure improvements while creating multi-year-long jobs for ordinary Minnesotans, who then reinvest their income in their local communities. Supporting a strong, diverse educational system that prepares a wide variety of people for a wide spectrum of work creates a multi-generation pipeline for business and technological innovation.
Economic Security for Women and their Families
Important initiatives were started in earnest a few years ago, and we still have more work to do to make good on this very basic social compact. Expanding career opportunities for women, equal pay, paid family leave and earned sick time, leveraging existing educational opportunities, and encouraging businesses to embrace flexible workplace policies helps all Minnesotans.
Economic, Education, and Health Disparities
The consequences of the economic, education and health disparities prevalent in our culture impact every member of society, our economy, and our communities. Many thoughtful conversations are underway to address and correct these disparities to the benefit of all.
We must reduce the costs of prescription drugs and health care delivery, and improve health outcomes for Minnesotans. Affordable, accessible health care is a basic human right. We’ve ensured that pre-exisiting conditions don't limit anyone's access to insurance coverage. We expanded young people’s ability to remain on their parents' insurance until age 26; this bridged what was previously a huge coverage gap. There is definitely ongoing, iterative work to be done for our entire health care system to function, but MNSure has been a big step in the right direction.