Address: P.O. Box 905, Prior Lake
Family: Married to Tina for 29 years. Two children Cameron (25) and Samantha (23)
Employment: Financial Services
Education: Univ. of St. Thomas, MBA – Finance, Univ. of Colorado, B.A. Economics, Prior Lake High School
Hobbies/Interests: Skiing, Football, Golf, Hunting, Walking/Hiking, Reading
Previous experience that would prove helpful in position: State Senator 2013-Present, Prior Lake School Board 1999-2012, Prior Lake Vision 2020 committee, Prior Lake Growth Committee, PLS Strategic Planning Committee, Academies of Shakopee Advisory Committee, Director at St. Gertrude’s.
Contact info for public:
Twitter: twitter.com/EricPrattMN Why are you running for this position?
Our state is at a crossroads. The pandemic and the response have triggered a severe recession where many Minnesotans are still unemployed or had their hours cut. Our state needs proven leadership to make the difficult decisions for a recovery, and a proven track record of working in a bipartisan fashion to get things done. Around 70% of the bills I’ve authored and the legislation I’ve passed, including Real ID and the Small Business Grant Program, received support from members of both parties. I grew up in this district and it’s an honor to serve you in the Senate.
What are the top three issues you would face during your term?
The first issue is the looming deficit, projected to be $6B, as the legislature and Governor work on the state budget. We need to get people back to work and assure that every Minnesotan has an opportunity. As chair of the Senate Jobs Committee I’ve passed legislation that makes Minnesota a great place to invest, increased apprentiships programs and removed barriers to employment. Second, we need to support growth in Scott County by improving our transportation system. Third, we must preserve and build upon the healthcare reforms passed in 2017 and 2019 that have reduced costs to families.
Have you been charged in the past year, or ever been convicted, of a misdemeanor or higher, or been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy or foreclosure?
Racial equity has been a topic of national interest in recent months. What are some bills or programs that you’d like to get behind that would specifically address equity issues in Shakopee?
What happened to George Floyd should not have happened. I was proud to support common-sense policing reform that included participation from all stakeholders. I connected with our local law enforcement officials to make sure the changes discussed were meaningful while assuring the needs of our officers were protected as well. Addressing the education and economic disparities are where I plan to put my focus. I’ve worked on bipartisan literacy and school discipline reform collaborating with advocates and school officials to close the achievement gaps. I also want to close the employment gap by removing barriers to employment.
The Shakopee School District says much of the reason for its budget shortfall is due to underfunding from the state, especially when it comes to state-mandated programs. Do you agree with this, and in what ways would you support education if elected?
When schools say funding hasn’t kept up with inflation, they generally look back before the last recession. The last five formula increases have been 2% each year, roughly the average inflation rate over that same period. Special Education costs strain school budgets because the legislature imposed unfunded mandates and the federal government has never funded the program to the levels promised. As a former school board member, I have consistently supported stable and reliable funding for schools. Additionally, I’ve been leading reforms suggested by special education teachers that would lower costs and increase the time teachers spend with students.
Several executive orders have been made in the past few months related to COVID-19. Which of these orders do you most agree or disagree with? How should the state move forward to continue protecting both its residents and the economy?
Addressing the Covid pandemic shouldn’t be a partisan issue, but unfortunately that is how it’s portrayed. Evaluating the Governor’s use of emergency powers should not be based on any one executive order, but instead evaluated over the last six months. Early on the legislature allocated $530M to respond to the pandemic and supported early efforts to flatten the curve, accumulate protective equipment and manage hospital capacity. After meeting with Federal Reserve President Neel Kashkari, I’ve been pressing to address the economic crisis at the same time and with the same urgency as the health crisis.
National discourse has been severely polarized between political parties. In what ways would you work across party lines to get things done?
The fault in the current political tone lies with both parties, so we both have responsibility for making it better. I’ve been successful at building relationships across the aisle and actively seeking bipartisan coauthors for my bills. I’m proud that the major pieces of legislation I’ve worked on passed with bipartisan votes. Of course there will be times when we strongly disagree, take party-line stances and make public comments. That’s why I helped to form the Civility Caucus, so that when we do publicly disagree, we do so in a way that’s respectful.
Affordable housing in Shakopee is scarce, and waiting lists are long. How do you envision mitigating this issue on a legislative level?
One key reason that affordable housing is scarce is because it costs more to build in the Twin Cities than in other regions. On a regional basis, the Met Council has limited the land available for development, causing land prices to rise faster inside the metro than outside. In addition, Scott County’s tremendous growth over the last 20 years has caused a shortage of buildable lots available. Builders are telling me the state building code is adding significant costs to construction, and I intend to see if we can lower the regulatory burden to help jumpstart new projects.