UNDATED -- In the race for State Senate in District 13 incumbent Republican Jeff Howe is being challenged by Democrat Michael Willemsen.

Howe won the seat during a special election two years ago. He says at first he was on board with the governor's decision to shut down the state in response to COVID-19.

But since then, after that first 30 day extension, I think that this is all politics now.  We need to be involved in this process and we need to work toward the legislative process, not one person making these decisions.

He says the state legislature is facing a big budget deficit next year because of lost revenue and increased spending this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Howe says the state needs to start addressing the deficit now instead of waiting until the regular session begins.

The two biggest pieces of the budget are Health and Human Services, which are the people that need help the most, and Education, which everyone wants to fund.  That's about 75 percent of the budget.  You can't dodge that.  So if we make those tweaks now we'll probably be able to minimize the effects on the budget later.

Howe says its also important to get the economy clicking again to bring in more revenue.

Jeff Howe, photo by WJON.com's Alex Svejkovsky
Jeff Howe, photo by WJON.com's Alex Svejkovsky

Howe says, if he gets re-elected, he'd like to continue to put more money into expanding broadband access across the state.

Take a look at the need we have for broadband, we don't have that everywhere.  Even the people in the inner city of Minneapolis can't afford to have broadband, so we need to address that fact which will provide opportunities for all the kids to participate.

Howe says with a lot of adults shifting to working from home at least part-time this year it's important for adults to have reliable access to the internet as well in order to keep the economy going.

Willemsen declined the opportunity to be interviewed for this story.

Absentee voting for the general election is underway right now. Election Day is Tuesday, November 3rd.

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