About negative ads
Sadly, voters in competitive districts are flooded with negative messages during campaigns. In our district we get negative literature in the mail and ads on TV and the Internet that are paid for by outside groups. I have not sent or paid for any negative material, and I don't condone it - on either side. As we get close to the election, the negative material gets more and more frequent, in a cynical attempt to make people give up on participating and voting.
Every piece of campaign material has to have a "Prepared and paid for by..." statement. It's usually fine print at the bottom or in a corner. If it doesn't say "...the Barb Yarusso Volunteer Committee," it didn't come from me. In fact, Minnesota campaign finance law prohibits candidates from getting involved in the decisions and materials of these outside groups. I don't blame my opponent for outside negative mail, either, by the way. In fact, we aren't allowed to spend the kind of money that is going into all the mail and TV ads.
Don't let negative campaign material take away your vote! See for yourself where I stand on the issues, and make up your own mind. Click on any of the issues on the right side of this page for more information, or on the "Issues" tab at the top. I've been working hard for our communities, and I need your vote to send me back so I can keep working for you.
Below are my responses to a few specific claims made in negative literature. It's just a sampling, because I don't care to spend too much time on it.
"...lower quality standards for teachers..."
I actually authored a bill that allows teacher licensure candidates to use ACT scores as an alternative to a Basic Skills test. The math level on the ACT is higher than on the original test. I combined ideas advanced by several people on the K12 Education Policy Committee, both Democrats and Republicans.
"...luxury office building..."
WCCO TV, in its "Reality Check" segment, called this claim "an insult to voters' intelligence". The negative ads have exaggerated the cost, used a picture that isn't the real building, and fail to mention that this is the building where citizens will meet with their State Senators and attend hearings. If I'm reelected, my office will stay in the 82 year old State Office Building.
"...spending $100,000 for a three week opera festival."
This money was part of the Legacy Arts and Cultural Heritage fund. In 2008, Minnesotans passed a Constitutional amendment that sets aside part of our sales tax for Arts and Cultural Heritage programs. (The amendment also provided for trails, wildlife, and conservation. You can read about it at http://www.legacy.leg.mn/.) The money must be spent on arts and culture. It cannot be used in the general fund.
"...make it easier to raise legislative pay..."
The bill actually offers a constitutional amendment (that you would get to vote on) to take legislative pay raises out of the hands of the legislators themselves and make it the responsibility of a commission that currently recommends the pay levels of other governmental positions.
One piece said the bonding bill spent 6 times as much on "government buildings" as roads. True. What are the "government buildings"? University labs and classrooms, schools, park facilities, hospitals, etc. The really silly, distorted thing about this claim is that the vast majority of road money wasn't in this bill. There was a separate cash adjunct to this bill - that's where the money for our two bridges over 35W is. And then there is the transportation finance bills in the 2013 budget bill and the 2014 supplemental bill. That's where my pothole repair bill was, along with most of the other money for roads, bridges, and other transportation needs. Total transportation funding for the biennium is $4.9 billion - 5 times as much as the bonding bill the negative literature mentions. Of that, a large majority goes to roads and bridges.
"...voted to advance her own narrow interests..."
Schools, highways, nursing homes, parks, libraries, universities, business expansions, and groundwater resources are for all of us. And that teacher licensure bill I fought for two years to pass? I'm going to lose hundreds of dollars of tutoring income because the alternative lets candidates purchase adequate review materials, unlike the current test.