Bills files for U.S. Senate

By T.W. BUDIG – ECM Capitol Reporter

ST. PAUL – Rep. Kurt Bills gave a simple assessment to his children about running for U.S. Senate after formally filing for office earlier this week in St. Paul.

"It’s all just work from here," said Bills, Republican-endorsed U.S. Senate candidate, leaving the Secretary of State’s Office after finishing the paperwork.

Bills is challenging Democratic incumbent U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar.

In taking questions from the media, Bills, 42, cited the federal budget proposal by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, as the budget platform for his candidacy.

"It’s a solid plan," said Bills, a high school economics and government teacher at Rosemount High School, of the Paul proposal. "We need to start putting forward solutions."

The Paul proposal, among other provisions, calls for the elimination of four federal agencies – the Department of Commerce, the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the Department of Housing and Development.

Some of the functions of these departments would continue.

For instance, in education, the federal Pell Grant program would continue at 2008 funding levels under the proposal.

The Paul plan calls for means testing in the federal agriculture commodity program – why do big producers get to cash in the subsidies? Bills asked.

The budget proposal includes a flat tax – a tax only on consumption and not "savings."

Advocates have long heralded a flat tax as allowing taxpayers to complete their tax returns on the back of a postcard.

"Clearly something we can look at doing," said Bills of the flat tax proposed by American economists Robert Hall and Alvin Rabushka.

Paul’s budget proposal freezes foreign aid funding at $5 billion – Israel would receive about half of the amount.

Bills indicated he did not understand why the U.S. borrows from China in order to give money to other countries.

The Paul proposal would have the U.S. running a federal government surplus within five years, according to Paul.

"We can’t solve debt with more debt," said Bills.

Bills indicated that he has not signed a no new tax pledge, but is considering it.

He expressed hope that presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney would campaign in Minnesota.

He invited the former Massachusetts governor to "stand next to the bus," referring to Bill’s official campaign school bus.

Bills, though suggesting that on some issues he would not budge, indicated willingness to compromise on other issues.

"You don’t come here to be a dictator," he said of serving in the Minnesota Legislature.

Bills is a freshman member of the Republican House.

"You will never be at the apex of all knowledge," Bills said of continually learning more about the issues.

Bills, with his wife Cindy and their four children gathered around him, explained that he would not be campaigning alone this summer.

"We look forward to it as a family," he said of touring Minnesota.

So far two other candidates, Democrats Dick Franson and Jack Edward Shepard, have filed for U.S. Senate.

Klobuchar is expected to receive the State DFL Party endorsement at the party’s state convention in Rochester on Saturday.

Bills indicated he expected Klobuchar to advance a federal budget agenda.