Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton (DFL), Jeff Johnson (R) and Hannah Nicollet (IP) debate the issues in Moorhead Minnesota on Wednesday October 8, 2014.
Topics/questions and the time on the video you will find them:
3 specific and significant bills you will get passed?
Address the needs of greater Minnesota
How to keep college grads from leaving the state?
Students ask about reforming state’s higher education system and should students have a greater voice in higher education decisions
Why do you want to be governor?
How will you reach out to the other sides?
Topic: High School League policy on transgender students to play on the gender team of their choice.
How would you handle a public health emergency such as ebola?
Are you in favor of an oil pipeline running through Minnesota?
Funding for rural schools
Fargo Moorhead flood control
What can you do as governor to mitigate flooding?
Is it time to admit Minnesota got fleeced in the Vikings stadium deal?
If raising gas tax is not an attractive option, how will you increase funding for transportation?
How do we keep our brightest from leaving Minnesota and taking their startup companies elsewhere?
Increasing high speed internet or broadband in rural areas?
What would you do to help border cites compete with lower taxes in neighboring states?
Dayton, Nicollet, Johnson
Transcript by Susan Maricle
ANNCR = Announcer, Dana Mach
MOD = Moderator, Don Davis
JJ = Jeff Johnson, Republican candidate
HN = Hannah Nicollet, Independence Party Candidate
MD = Mark Dayton, DFL Incumbent Governor
Q – Questioners
MOD: You are looking live at Hansen Theater on the campus of Minnesota State University Moorhead. Tonight, home to the second Minnesota Governor’s Debate. The candidates tonight are, the incumbent Democratic governor, Mark Dayton. The challengers (audience applause) Hennepin County Commissioner Republican Jeff Johnson (audience applause, cheers). And from the Independence Party, software developer Hannah Nicollet. (audience applause)
I’m Dana Mach from WDAY television. Our moderator tonight is Don Davis from Forum News Service. We’ll be taking questions from our audience. You can also take part through social media. You can tweet your questions at hashtag mngov. That’s hashtag m-n-g-o-v. Best of luck. Your moderator, Don Davis.
MOD: Thank you Dana, and thank you three for being here. Let’s start with a general question about specifics. Some people have said this Governor’s race has included very few specific proposals. Perhaps the fewest have heard in campaigns in a long time. Prove them wrong. Right here and now. Give us three very specific and significant bills you would push as Governor, or rules you would establish in the next four years. Again, make your answers specific, not just “pass the budget.”
For this question like most of them, you each have sixty seconds to respond, and then we’ll go back through thirty seconds and by a drawing ahead of time, Governor Dayton you start.
MD: Last session I proposed a childcare tax credit for lower and middle and middle income families to be better able to afford the the rising cost of childcare. Unfortunately the Legislature did not pass that bill. I will reintroduce it and push very hard for its passage.
Secondly, transportation funding, I am proposing make a specific proposal, including a sales tax on on gasoline that will raise close to the 6.5 million dollars that – billion dollars that we’re short for transportation funding over the next thirty – next ten years.
And finally, I’ll increase the childcare – I’m sorry about that – I’ll continue to increase the funding for the for the special education students who qualify.
MOD: Okay. Commissioner Johnson.
JJ: Ah thanks Don, and thank you all the hosts for having us tonight. Ah number one, I will start auditing all the programs. We will bring in an outside auditor and audit the programs the taxpayers fund. It’ll probably take us four years to get through all of them. And we’ll start with the Human Service programs because they’re the easiest ones to measure, and the ones that can prove that they are doing what we claim we want them to do, we’ll keep those programs, and the one that can’t, we will end th – the ones that can’t we will end those programs.
Number two is the Parent Trigger. It’s a it’s a bill that has passed in both New Jersey and California. And for schools that are chronically failing, it allows the parents of the kids in those schools to to give a vote of confidence or no confidence in the school. And if a majority or maybe a supermajority say they no longer have confidence in the school, then something statutorily has to change. Maybe the school becomes a charter or the administration is removed.
And then number three, ah would be to require that at least basic permitting, basic permits in this state meet a minimum time requirement that matches the states that surround us.
MOD: Thank you. Ms. Nicollet.
HN: So, first ah thank you for having me. And my my first reform I would want to eliminate the corporate income tax in in Minnesota to help spur on private sector job growth. And ah second I would like to change permitting and licensing so that the fees can never exceed the cost of processing the fees. And help facilitate moving permitting and licensing along. And then as ah my, for my part I would like to contribute to ah pardoning nonviolent drug offenders. At least to the extent that I’m able to do that with my vote.
MOD: Each of you have thirty seconds to rebut the other if you want. You don’t have to.
MD: Well Commissioner Johnson, you talk about your concern for education, and yet when you were state legislator, you voted to cut funding for K-12 education, the fiscal 2005-06 biennium, at a lower, by 76 bi – million dollars over the 2003 – 04. You voted twice against bonding projects that included here in Moorhead, the state university, totaling 29.7 million dollars. So your record doesn’t necessarily support your concern for education, except that you go back to the same tired proposals that have been around for the last decade, vouchers and parental triggers –
MOD: Thank you Governor.
MD: — et cetera.
JJ: Well I I must say this is frustrating. ‘Cause I brought this up at our last debate, Governor, that that’s not true and you know it’s not true. And the media has told you that it’s not true. I voted to increase education funding every single biennium that I was in the Legislature. A total of I believe over four billion dollars. And – I know it wasn’t as much as some people may have wanted, but to say that we cut, and by the way it’s gone from 500 million to 600 million, now tonight to 76 million. It’s simply untrue. You know it’s untrue. I wish you’d stop saying it.
Ah – I have a vested interest in public education. As someone who went to it and someone who sends my kids to public ed- to a public school.
MOD: Thank you. Ms. Nicollet, do you want to get into this?
HN: (laughs) Well ah, I see no need for rebuttal, since, yeah, I think it was covered.
MOD: Question two. We’ll start with you, Commissioner Johnson. A lot of our questions tonight revolve around greater Minnesota, because that’s where we are. Greater Minnesota has different needs than the Twin Cities. I’d like each one of you to explain in the next four years, how do you treat the two parts of the state, greater Minnesota and the Twin Cities, differently, if at all?
JJ: I think this is a fundamental difference between Governor Dayton and me. And part of that is because I spent the first half of my life in greater Minnesota. I was born and raised just down the street in Detroit Lakes. My wife is from Crookston. We went to Concordia in Moorhead, so the first half of my life was spent here, and I think that makes a difference. I think the the fact that my roots are here, that my family is here, ah actually gives me an appreciation of greater Minnesota that maybe the current administration doesn’t have.
And we’ve seen, in particularly in the past two years, greater Minnesota has been largely an afterthought coming from the Dayton administration. Whether you look at what we’ve done with LGA funding, whether you look at the K-12 formula, whether you look at how we’re spending transportation dollars on pretty much anything but rural roads and bridges, whether you look at some of the ah environmental regulations that are just killing our farmers and our manufacturing businesses in greater Minnesota, you’re gonna see much more of a focus from me on greater Minnesota that what we’ve seen in the past four years.
MOD: Ms. Nicollet.
HN: Well, when I see that we’ve spent the lion’s share of the resources on the Twin Cities, it’s obvious that there’s a fairness problem between rural Minnesota and ah and the metro area. When we’ve spent ah y’know that we’ve got the Vikings stadium, light rail, that Senate office building, all of those massive expenditures tend to happen within the metro area. So I would like to see us focus – that’s a good segue for transportation funding. Ah we y’know we need to focus our resources on transportation funding. We also need to focus on rural schools. They aren’t getting the funding that they need. Thank you.
MOD: Governor Dayton –
MD: First of all,
MOD: — sixty seconds.
MD: Greater Minnesota isn’t a monolith as you know Doug. The northeastern part of Minnesota has different issues from the northwestern, and southwestern and so on. But we, the facts don’t support that we have not given a priority to greater Minnesota as it’s needed it. We have in the last two bonding bills, 2013 and 14, thirty-eight percent of the funding went to Greater Minnesota, twenty-eight percent to the metropolitan area, and the rest were statewide, principally the State Capitol, which benefits everybody.
Ah we paid spent in the last few years almost a hundred million dollars on flood mitigation right here in Moorhead and the surrounding area of the Red River.
(Off camera comment by JJ, unclear)
MD: (gestures to JJ) Commissioner Johnson, on the other hand, voted against disaster relief for kids from county, voted against bonding for projects in this area, so for him to be accusing me of being not supportive of greater Minnesota, it just simply isn’t true. We’ve had economic development projects at Hawley and at Dilworth and here, right here in Moorhead. The unemployment rate here in Moorhead, in Fargo-Moorhead, is 2.8%.
MOD: Thank you. Thirty second rebuttal, Commissioner?
JJ: Well Don, I think the difference is really just a perspective and and life experience. As a guy who spent half of his life, the first half of his life in greater Minnesota versus somebody who never has lived outside of, I don’t think, Minneapolis or New York, I picked a running mate who is a lifelong farmer in rural Olmsted County. Ah the Governor picked a running mate who is I think spent her whole life in Minneapolis as well. And I think that just gives you a different perspective. You don’t really understand the differences in the special ah needs and struggles that greater Minnesota has.
MOD: Ms. Nicollet.
HN: Well, I think it’s obvi – when you look at the fundings, so Minneapolis spends twenty-two thousand per child, and rural areas of Minnesota, the state averages about ten thousand per student, and rural Minnesota is often getting five to six thousand per student. So, when you look at the flat-out numbers, it’s obvious that the funding at least for education is not is not even near equivalent.
Ah there’s also the transportation funding as I mentioned before, so that’s not that doesn’t when you build light rail, that doesn’t help anybody in rural Minnesota.
MOD: Governor Dayton, thirty seconds.
MD: Commissioner Johnson, being from greater Minnesota doesn’t automatically mean you’re for greater Minnesota. Yes, I was born and raised in the Twin Cities area and I’ve devoted the last thirty-six years of my career to working statewide. You, during your career are working and serving in Hennepin County. Which is fine, a very important county, but you chose to live in Hennepin County, you chose to be a County Commissioner, whereas I’ve been going statewide as United States Senator, as Governor, all to say I’ll match the number of miles I’ve spent traveling around Minnesota over the last twenty years over yours any day.
MOD: Thank you. Those are first two questions (audience applauds) let’s hold your applause, audience. We want to get through a lot of questions. And now, a special guest with Dana Mach.
ANNCR: Dr. Anne Blackhurst was just named President of MSUM. Dr. Blackhurst, the mike is yours.
(audience applauds, cheers)
Q: Thank you. Welcome to Minnesota State University Moorhead. My question is, what steps can the state of Minnesota take to keep our outstanding college graduates in our state, especially in outstate communities like Moorhead?
MOD: And the question goes first to Ms. Nicollet.
HN: What we have in Minnesota is an opportunity problem. As we have 49% of our employed individuals who are underemployed, so presumably making less than they expected and over-qualified for the positions that they have. We also are ranked, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we’re ranked forty-first in the nation, last in the Midwest in private sector job creation.
Therefore, we need private sector job creation, which is why I said that I would like to eliminate the corporate income tax. And that’s what I see in Ireland, when they they reduced their corporate income tax by twenty percent in the late nineties, and they saw an economic boom that got them nicknamed The Celtic Tiger. I would like to see something similar in Minnesota. I would like to see us increase opportunities for the students that are graduating so that they have good jobs, plenty of good jobs, available to them once they get out of out of university.
MOD: Governor Dayton.
MD: Well, jobs are obviously key to getting young people placed to stay in Minnesota, which most of them prefer and, as I said before, right now the unemployment rate in Fargo-Moorhead area is 2.8%. Now that’s obviously influenced by what’s going on in North Dakota. But in Rochester it’s 3.3%, St. Cloud it’s 3.6%, so we have economic growth pri- occurring all over the state.
I gotta respond to these these fictions about half the people in Minnesota are underemployed? The same study says two-thirds of the people in higher – graduate from higher education in Minnesota are underemployed. I mean, it’s nonsense. It’s just obvious and no one bothered to verify it with reality because everybody ignored it. This number’s been coming out for a decade, and everybody ignored it because it’s it’s just so obvious we were all, it came from DEED, Economic Development, but it started under Governor Pawlenty and I didn’t even bother to pay attention to it because it’s just it’s so clearly nonsense. Ah we have a lower underemployment as measured by economists than most other states.
MOD: Thank you. Commissioner Johnson.
JJ: Well, Governor, the number that you say is false and ridiculous comes from your administration. We get it every year from your administration, and and the number is accurate. About half the people in the state are underemployed. They’re overqualified for the jobs they’re in. And I hear this everywhere I go! As I’m traveling around the state of Minnesota. And to say it’s no big deal, I think is out of touch.
It’s a big deal to all of the college grads who are living in their parents’ basement because they they can’t find a job to pay both their loans and rent at the same time. Or to the middle aged man or woman who’s making maybe 60% of what they made five years ago when they were laid off because they can’t find a career in this state anymore. Or for the single mom who’s working two jobs because she can’t find one good one.
Ah underemployment actually matters and I think to to answer the question, that is the key to keeping our kids – not kids, I guess – our graduates in state of Minnesota. If we don’t have careers for them, good-paying fulltime jobs, they’re not gonna stay.
MOD: And do we want to go with some rebuttals? Ms. Nicollet.
HN: So, last I heard ah Minnesota was at four and a half percent unemployment, which sounds like a good statistic in theory. Unfortunately, all jobs are not equal. Pharaoh in ancient Egypt, had a hundred percent employment. So clearly, every job does not produce wealth. And that is my concern for Minnesota. Is that we need jobs that actually produce wealth. To produce y’know iPods, cars, whatever it is that they’re making, but stuff and services that people want. And that’s why the ah eliminate the corporate income tax. Thanks.
MOD: Governor Dayton.
MD: Well, the per capita income in Minnesota is $47,000, which is $6,000 a year higher than Wisconsin and ranks thirteenth in the nation. Ah underemployment, Commissioner, by that study, which started under Governor Pawlenty, so I’m not gonna alter what they do, but under that study, every police officer in Minnesota is quote-unquote underqualified. By that study, half of the nurses in Minnesota are underqualified. It it it doesn’t make sense in the real world. Y’know I had a fifth grade math teacher who said “Check your answer with reality. Make sure it makes sense.” This one just doesn’t and it ought to be ignored.
MOD: Thank you. Commissioner Johnson.
JJ: Well, ah I just I couldn’t disagree more. And I I truly think that you are out of touch with what’s going on in this state, because as I travel the state, I hear this over and over again. I hear people saying, “I am so tired of being told that everything is perfect. That we have the the lowest unemployment rate in the country, and everybody should be happy and all is rosy. Because it’s not for me.” I hear that over and over and over again. And ah to say that it’s irrelevant or silly or doesn’t matter or we should ignore it, ah I I I don’t think that’s the right path forward for Minnesota. We can do better than what we’re doing. A lot better.
MOD: I’m gonna do a followup on that question, with thirty seconds for each of you. Since we just heard a question about higher education from the Minnesota State University Moorhead President, let’s turn to a couple quick questions, thirty seconds each, for answers. From Minnesota state colleges and university system students.
First, the students want to know your opinion about reforming the state’s higher education systems. Second, they ask if students should have a greater voice in higher education decisions. I think you can probably guess what they want you to say on that second part. Governor Dayton, thirty seconds to talk to the students here.
MD: I appointed the two students and I just made new appointments to the MnSCU Board ah who are students in MnSCU campuses. I agree that they should have a strong voice in what goes on, they should have a strong voice in the regional economic growth summits that I’ll hold in December, where I’ll come to places like Moorhead and I’ll get the leading employers along with Minnesota State Moorhead and talk with them and students as well as to what the employment opportunities are for this particular region and what the college and universities in that area can be doing to meet those needs.
MOD: Thank you. Commissioner Johnson.
JJ: Well, of course they should have a strong probably a stronger voice than they have right now. Ah with respect to reform, I think there are several things we oughta look at. We oughta look at administrative expenses across the system. We heard of a a pretty disturbing report with the U of M a few years ago, they’ve made some changes, but could probably go further.
I think we should move more towards a Centers of Excellence model in ah the MnSCU system. I think we’ve gotta look at why it’s taking so long for students to graduate from the U of M. It’s one of the worst rates in the Big Ten. And I think the money we spend should more follow students –
MOD: Thank you.
JJ: — than go to administration.
MOD: Ms. Nicollet.
HN: So first of all I’d like to see some reform with the state universities in that they were originally created for poorer students, so that they would have an option, a no-frills option. So I would like to see us go back to a no-frills option so that y’know rather than competing with a private institution, you want the frills, then you go to a private institution. No frills, you can get a better, more economical education at a state university.
Second, yes students should have a say in ah in reform. I think we would have more innovation if they did.
MOD: Thank you. I have a second straight lightning round question if you will. This will go, be thirty-second answers, go to Commissioner Johnson first.
There’s so many things the three of you could be doing besides being a Governor. What you want to be Governor seems like it has a lot of problems, pains. This time I don’t want to hear about your specific policies. I want to hear about you and why you want to be Governor. Commissioner Johnson.
JJ: Ah this is going to sound really cheesy Don, but I truly believe that a Governor can change things for the better in this state, and I saw it when I was in the Legislature. When I look at the federal government, I’m not sure what we can to do ever fix that. But I do believe that one person who’s very focused, who’s very passionate about a few important things, can actually make the place better for middle-class, everyday Minnesotans who I think are largely being forgotten right now.
MOD: Ms. Nicollet.
HN: Mainly, well, I love my state. I’m a political junkie. I love to see what models work elsewhere and I would like to implement them here. And when I’ve seen what I like in my favorite Governors, it’s that they have vision, integrity and backbone and the ability to say “no.” So ah y’know so I believe that we could implement really good policy with somebody who has backbone and the vision to make it happen. And I would like to do that for my state.
MOD: Governor Dayton, you’ve dealt with the Capitol press corps for four years. Why do you want to put up with this more? (off camera laughter)
MD: Well I would agree with almost every word that Commissioner Johnson gave in his answer. Y’know I, devoted my career to public service, which is about trying to make this state and nation and world better for, especially for the generations to come. I have two sons and I now have a grandson. That’s a reason every day to get up and do what I can to make this world a better place.
I agree with him about Washington. I left the U.S. Senate after six years and became Governor because I think there is a chance here in Minnesota to really make things happen for the better. And I think they have in the last three and a half years.
MOD: Thank you. We’re going to go with a full question now, so you each get sixty seconds, and then if you want to rebut, thirty seconds. This is what I call my “get along” question. Commissioner, you may have noticed that your opponents call you Tea Party Republican Jeff Johnson. You’ve maybe noticed. Apparently that’s an attempt to paint you as too conservative.
Governor, you are widely regarded as pretty liberal and your opponents say you are too far left to serve Minnesotans.
And traditionally, the Independence Party ah says that it tries to take a middle ground, although that varies by subject. That looks to be the case again this year.
The 2011 government shutdown was the prime example of extremes not being able to come to an agreement. The next four years, how would you reach out to the other sides of the political aisle to get things done? Or is that even important? We’ll start with our Independence Party candidate.
HN: I believe that the reason that you get involved in politics is because you want to make the world a better place. I mean that’s the reason that motivates people to show up at caucuses and sit in those long meetings and – I mean, it feels like you’re on a thirteen-hour flight. You sit in tiny little chairs and you live on beef jerky. So, the reason we all do it is ‘cause we love our country . We love our state. And so that’s where I believe that, I believe that I can work with anyone who has a vision to make the world a better place also. If we recognize that y’know our means may be different but our goal is the same, then I think that we can work together.
And, as far as the Independence Party goes, y’know we are, we represent we represent a good chunk of Minnesotans in that we are socially live and let live and we are fiscally responsible. We wouldn’t ah spend money that we don’t have, believe in cost-benefit analysis, before doing an expenditure. So I would like to see, ah I would like to see Minnesotans represented better by a third option. And I think we are a good third option. We are also able to advance issues before they’re popular.
MOD: Thank you. Democratic incumbent Governor Dayton.
MD: Well, in the 40 years that I’ve been involved mostly in public service here in Minnesota, I’ve been called all sorts of things and given all sorts of labels. So I really have stopped worrying about what people say. I I worry about what can I do. And what are the results that I’ve been able to achieve as Governor for Minnesota. And when you get a hundred and sixty two thousand more jobs in Minnesota than when I took office, ah call that whatever label you want, but that’s real benefits for the people of Minnesota.
When you talk about all-day kindergarten, which I have sponsored in Legislature and finally getting in passed in 2013, that means almost 50,000 children in Minnesota have a chance to improve their education at the very beginning. Early childhood scholarships. Tuition freezes. Here at the University of Minnesota Moorhead –and Minnesota State Moorhead – and at the University of Minnesota campuses and all the other MnSCU campuses.
For two years. Those are the results, I think, that matter to Minnesotans and should I believe be the basis for how they evaluate me and what label they would want to attach.
MOD: Republican Johnson.
JJ: I think this is actually a good example of how the Governor and I differ. Ah I was in the House of Representatives as a Republican, in the Republican House, for six years while the DFL controlled the Senate. And every year I took one of the more difficult bills that we had as a Republican caucus. And not only figured out how to get it through the Republican House, but went over to the DFL Senate and figured out what do we need to do to actually get it through the DFL Senate and then have it signed by a Governor?
And part of that is about focus, part of that is about religi – ah relationships, and another part of it is about listening to the other side and figuring out what I’ve gotta do to get something done. The last couple of years particularly, probably the last four years in St. Paul, have been about as polarized as we’ve ever seen. We saw the longest shutdown in state history. With Governor Dayton as Governor. And I know you blame it on the Republicans, Governor, but you were Governor and you need to take some of the responsibility for that as well. And the last two years, I hear from Republicans all the time that we’ve been entirely ignored, and they’re moving forward with only one point of view.
MOD: Do you want a thirty-second rebuttal, Ms. Nicollet?
HN: (pause) I don’t need a rebuttal.
MOD: Governor Dayton?
MD: In 2011 I offered to meet the Republican majorities in the House and Senate halfway on the budget. We were three billion dollars apart. And I conceded to 1.5 billion and I asked them to meet me because I conceded 1.5 billion to raise taxes on the richest two percent of Minnesotans, rather than make further cuts in healthcare, human services and education. They absolutely refused. So we had to go through that shutdown because compromise is not a word that Tea Party activists believe should be a part of the political vocabulary. And that’s a big difference from when Commissioner Johnson was in the Legislature, when I was in the U.S. Senate even.
JJ: Ah well Governor, when you were campaigning four years ago you said you would never shut down government in order to get your tax increases. And you did! Is there blame to share? Of course there is, there’s always blame to share. But sometimes ya gotta take some responsibility. Ah when I’m Governor, the buck will stop with me
MOD: Thank you. We asked several weeks ago for people to email questions. And we got a huge variety of questions. If you want to go for four hours, we could ask email questions for four hours. But by far, the most emailed question, this’ll be, let’s do this for thirty seconds, so we can get to Dana.
The most common question by far asks about your stand on the proposed Minnesota State High School League policy which would allow transgender students to play on the gender team of their choice. Governor Dayton, thirty seconds.
MD: Y’know I think the high school league did the right thing by delaying it until they could give it further consideration. It’s a very complicated issue, and and giving transgender a choice of which team they want to play on I think is problematic. So I think they were wise to take it back for further evaluation.
JJ: Well, I – in the end it’s the decision of the Minnesota State High School League and I appreciate that. I will tell you, as a dad of two teenage boys, I don’t think it makes a lot of sense to have boys and girls in the same locker room.
MOD: Ms. Nicollet?
HN: I would also put it in the hands of the Minnesota State High School League and – y’know if harm is being, if there’s a demonstrable harm, then we can address that as it y’know as it comes but I would put it in their in their responsibility. They’re the ones who deal with it on a hands-on basis.
MOD: Well Dana, what’s happening? What questions are you finding?
ANNCR: Questions from social media. And by the way if you want to take part it is hashtag mngov. That’s hashtag m-n-g-o-v. This is from @martyhill_mn. How would you handle a public health emergency such as, if a case of Ebola was diagnosed in Minnesota. A man from Dallas just died today of Ebola, after having been diagnosed after flying back from Liberia. Commissioner Johnson, I believe you’re up first.
JJ: Part of it is leadership and part of it is preparation. And ah actually, something that I’ve been talking about the last few days because of the fear about Ebola and I think some of that fear is real and probably some of it is a bit sensationalized. But we ought to have an Ebola Task Force in this state of some of the smartest healthcare professionals and other government officials that we have in this state to prepare us for the event that that actually happens. So I think it’s more about preparation than about anything else.
MOD: Ms. Nicollet?
HN: I also think that the fears are sensationalized. But we’ve had quarantines in the past and we know how to handle those situations. Ebola isn’t necessarily anything new, we just take what is specific to Ebola and apply it with regard to y’know usually the National Guard is somehow involved, but ah quarantining is is part of it. And, we’ve done it before, we can do it again.
MOD: Governor Dayton, I think I saw a press release about this from you today.
MD: We have a hugely important responsibility, which we’ve had a Task Force now for since the beginning of my term led by Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard Richard Nash, who those who are the agencies who are responsible for responding in emergency situations. Tomorrow we’re having a meeting of those members of the Cabinet, the agencies that do share that responsibility and some others that we’re including. And that will lead into meeting next week with a wider group of people, health experts in the private sector and public sector, county officials from Hennepin County and elsewhere, and the Minneapolis Airports Commission is going to have to possibly deal with somebody landing on a plane.
So yes, this is very very vitally important and they’ve been meeting on this already, preparing for it, there are hazmat teams all over the state, prepared for response, but we can’t be too vigilant when something like this is could possibly land at our doorstep.
MOD: Rebuttal, Commissioner?
JJ: No, I don’t think so.
MOD: Anybody? Going once, going twice? Dana?
ANNCR: Second question. This comes from our studio audience. Are you in favor of an oil pipeline running through Minnesota? Ms. Nicollet.
HN: Yes I am. Right now we have, it’s the most environmentally sensible option. When we have ah in the 1970s, the Alaska Pipeline was, there were all kind of scares about that, that y’know building the Alaska Pipeline would would ruin the mating patterns of the caribou. Instead the caribou herds increased 450 percent and they started walking on the pipeline. They actually like it in the winter because it’s warm and so it it turned out that they worked alongside the pipeline.
What’s great about the pipeline is we would get rail, we would get oil off the off the rail. Right now which we have a crisis in moving grain and rail – and oil along the rails. Because of all the North Dakota oil. So I would like to put it in.
That pipeline, the Sandpiper Pipeline, would replace 1,951 rail cars. So that would be by far ah, the best solution environmentally. ‘Cause of course then you’re looking at reduced emissions, well and then also 500 trucks ah off the off the highways. So – best environmental option. And ah –
MOD: Thank you.
HN: Thank you.
MOD: Governor Dayton.
MD: We need to have a pipeline. Probably the Sandpiper Pipeline to transport this additional amount of oil from North Dakota. Y’know the oil production from North Dakota has more than doubled in just two years. So ah Ms. Nicollet’s correct about the capacities problem we have on our rail system.
It also needs to follow the statute that was set by the Legislature in previous Governors, which ah does everything possible to protect Minnesotans from environmental catastrophe if an oil pipeline should should leak. The pipeline route proposed by Enbridge goes through some of the most ecologically sensitive and inaccessible areas of northwestern and northern Minnesota.
So people who want to say “Well, speed it up and ram it through, so we can satisfy people who want to transport oil through Minnesota and make money on the East Coast,” is not something that I would agree to. The Public Utilities Commission is given by the Minnesota Legislature the responsibility to make this evaluation, make this decision, those are five full-time members, just give ‘em a chance.
MOD: Commissioner Johnson.
JJ: Well Governor, you can’t say you want it to happen because your administration is trying to kill it. We saw it just a couple of weeks ago from your three appointees to the PUC. I’m absolutely in support of it. We do have a process to get through but it seems like we we are we are slow walking that process in order to kill the thing. I was in Eldred yesterday or the day before, which is just south of Crookston, and I was speaking with some farmers in the grain elevator there. Danny Grunewald is runnin the grain elevators. He says, the farmers are getting killed because they can’t get their crops on the trains because the trains are full of oil. And they’re runnin straight across northern Minnesota.
We have a potential solution here. The Sandpiper would not only create approximately fifteen hundred private sector jobs, but more importantly it solves the problem that the farmers are having. And I don’t think that we can always hide behind the process and say “Well, it’s someone else’s fault and we’re just gonna push it out to decide a year or two or three years down the road.” Eventually we gotta take some action, stand where we stand, and get things done.
MOD: Thirty second rebuttal?
HN: Yeah, well if y’know, right now the studies are being done end on end, and they should be done simultaneously because we’re ninety percent there as far as, as far as approval for the Sandpiper. And it would happen a lot faster if there weren’t these ah if there weren’t the demand for delays.
MOD: Rebuttal, Governor?
MD: Well, Commissioner Johnson just clearly doesn’t understand the process in the statute. I appoint the members of the Public Utilities Commission, and then they’re independent. They have six year terms so they can operate according to their own best judgment.
I appoint judges. But I can’t call a judge and tell him or her how to rule on a particular case. I can’t call a member of the Public Utilities Commission and tell them what they should or shouldn’t do. And that’s to protect the people of Minnesota from any one person trying to run roughshod over the protections that other people need. And y’know if you’re gonna take on that responsibility Governor, I think you’ve made a big mistake.
MOD: Thank you.
JJ: Commissioner, thirty seconds.
JJ: I do understand the process, Governor. And what we have is a PUC, Public Utilities Commission of five members. And they voted 3 to 2 to delay this project in a way that the PUC has never done before. They are they are blazing new ground because they don’t want this to happen. They want to kill it. The three appointees that voted to essentially kill this project were your three appointees. The other two were appointees of a different Governor. And once again, I think as Governor we need to sometimes take responsibility for what’s happening in our own administration.
MOD: I, I want to jump in with a followup here, and we’ll make this a full question. Start with Governor Dayton. But because this is related to what you are talking about, when I was driving through Moorhead today, I didn’t see the oil trains but I saw two other big unit trains. So it’s not just the oil here. What I want to know is, be specific about what you would do to help rail congestion, to ease rail congestion and rail safety ah in the next four years. Governor Dayton.
MD: Well again, what’s triggered this has been the North Dakota oil production has doubled in the last two years. And most of that is going on a rail system and obviously you don’t build rail tracks overnight. And we don’t control how the railroads operate. They’re businesses and where they choose to direct their their traffic. So we have an overload, absolutely, of oil tankers, grain, propane shipments. Coal to Duluth and other places that need for electrical power generation –
MOD: So what would you do
MD: — and the system is overloaded. Well, within the limits of what we can do, I’ve met with Burlington Northern’s CEO twice, been on the phone, I’ve set up a conference call with Minnesota Power for next, early next week, to talk about their problems getting coal, we’re gonna have to manage this situation on a case-by-case basis. We’re not gonna have more rail tracks immediately. We’ve asked the Burlington Northern to give us their data on their capital investments for the next couple of years, but
MOD: Thank you.
MD: it’s simply going to take some time.
MOD: Commissioner Johnson, what would you do in the next four years.
JJ: Ah, I think a part of it is actually sitting down with the railroads. Not shootin off a tough-sounding letter to score some political points. But actually sitting down with them and saying “How can we solve this problem?” We need a Governor who is a problem solver, who is engaged, and who actually works with people that maybe have differing opinions. And you can do that in this case. Now, do we have control over them? Would I, as a Governor? Of course not. I don’t. They’re regulated by the federal government. But it’s it’s not just about tough-sounding letters. You gotta sit down with them and try to convince them that this could be a positive for everyone.
But I gotta go back to the pipelines again. Because that is by far the best solution by far to this problem. Yes, it’s not just the oil. But it is largely the oil that has caused the problem the last two to three years. And if we could get a lot of the oil off the rails, that would largely solve the problem.
MOD: Ms. Nicollet.
HN: I talked to, Tim Gieseke is my running mate, he’s a part-time farmer and he runs an ag and environmental consulting business. And I talked to him about this issue. Because it is at a crisis level. They’re not even giving delivery estimates for grain and oil anymore on the rail. So it’s clearly something that has to be addressed. And if we could get the oil off the rails then, because farmers are looking at a hundred million dollar loss this year because of because of crops going bad sitting on the rails, and if we could get the oil off the rails, then at least we could get the grain moving, and that’s – y’know, oil obviously isn’t gonna go bad, sitting on the rails, but the Sandpiper Pipeline would be, y’know that’s the equivalent of 1,951 rail cars, so that would clearly help us get that moving along.
MOD: Do you want a rebuttal?
MD: A lot of rail cars, and the pipeline, as I said before, is definitely needed to, but it’s gonna reduce the increase in the amount of oil transported through Minnesota in the years ahead. It’s not gonna solve the problem, but it’s an important part of solving the problem.
But we got a situation on our hands where the rail companies, by federal law, able to decide what they’re going to transport and what they’re not, what priority they’re going to give, and the only way to work with them is to work with them. I’ve met twice now with Burlington Northern, I’ve got another meeting scheduled for next week, and continuing to work with them to get this situation handled until we can have more capacity.
MOD: Thirty seconds, Commissioner?
JJ: Don, I’ll just reiterate that it’s it’s it’s tough to hear. Governor, you say “We’ve gotta get that pipeline done,” when your appointees are essentially trying to kill it. And again, I think that comes down to taking responsibility as Governor and appointing people who actually understand the needs of greater Minnesota rather than just the metro or a certain special interest such as the environmental special interest.
MOD: Ms. Nicollet, do you want the last word on this?
HN: I don’t need a rebuttal.
MOD: Well, let’s go to Dana and see what the real people are asking.
ANNCR: From our studio audience: “I come from a rural community. My father is a farmer. I want to be a farmer. The funding for rural education made my school go to a four-day week instead of five. What would you do for schools that are getting left in the dust? How can I have the same opportunities?”
MOD: Commissioner Johnson, sixty seconds.
JJ: This is a huge problem. And it – I think it goes to the bigger issue, particularly in the last few years, of greater Minnesota largely being an afterthought to this administration. We see it in K-12 funding. The average per-pupil funding in Minnesota I believe is about $10,700 dollars. A lot of schools around here are probably below that average. The Minneapolis schools spend upwards of $21,000. That’s almost twice as much. And the results are not good. At all. In fact, they’re terrible.
And, y’know, I believe money is part of education. But it’s not the only part of education. We have to start demanding results. And my goal would be to – I’ve got a bias when it comes to K-12 education funding, to move as much as possible to that per-pupil formula. So that a student is a student. You have to understand there are different needs in different parts of the state. So it’s never gonna be straight up that a student is a student. But we have gotten so far from that in the last few years, it’s really hurting a lot of families and kids in greater Minnesota.
MOD: Ms. Nicollet.
HN: Well Minnesota right now we spend 43% of our budget on education. So it’s it’s a good chunk of of the budget. But it could be reallocated. And that’s where y’know we are spending an awful lot in the Minneapolis Public Schools and we’re getting a 50%, less than 50%, graduation rate, which is which is dismal.
So ah we need to, we need to innovate. I mean it’s time to just recognize that y’know when kids come out of a school that 40% of them require remedial education once they get into college, that’s that’s one issue. There’s also y’know for rural schools we’re going to need to to recognize that there are some standards that are helping with regard to teaching. We have y’know if you’re a teacher, math teacher in Ohio, you can’t come to Minnesota and become a teacher. You have to go through licensing requirements here. So I think there are some and 90% of Minnesota principals surveyed said that they were having trouble finding good teachers to fill the roles. So if we’re having trouble finding teachers, then we need to loosen some of those restrictions that aren’t necessarily student focused.
MOD: Governor, one minute.
MD: We’ve increased state support for public education in Minnesota K-12 by almost a billion dollars. And most of that has gone into the increase in the per-pupil formula. And I agree with Commissioner Johnson that that should be the priority because that gives each school district the funding by which they can decide how best how best to allocate. We’re funding all-day kindergarten. It’s right here in Moorhead and across the state and it’s opening the doors for five-year-olds everywhere who were denied previously the chance, or whose parents were required to be able to afford to pay for kindergarten, the chance to get a fair start.
The funding for K-12 education went down during the time that Commissioner Johnson was voting against, for funding cuts, and also voting to increase the school shift – the borrowing from the school districts by almost a billion dollars. And that’s the burden that I inherited when I came to office. We paid off the school shift. We don’t owe the schools anything. They have that money that with which to operate. And we’ve increased per-pupil funding. And if I’m Governor, we’ll do more.
MOD: I’m betting we want some rebuttals. Commissioner?
JJ: Well Governor, you used the school shift twice to balance your own budget. So to claim that it’s again the Republicans’ fault is not taking responsibility. But the bigger issue of our funding formula, the problem with our funding formula is, number one, no one understands it, K-12 funding formula, because it’s so complex, and it’s been built over the years based on politics. How you get the votes to pass the bills is, you keep sending certain funding streams here there and everywhere. It should be simplified, we should put as much as possible on the per-pupil formula and give ah school districts more authority to spend it the way they see fit.
MOD: Ms. Nicollet, thirty seconds.
HN: Well clearly, one size fits all doesn’t work for for education. And so y’know for instance ah my daughter goes to French immersion. Why does she go to French immersion? ‘Cause she started reading at three and by five she was reading at a seventh-grade level. Good for her. So going to kindergarten and learning to read wouldn’t have made sense. And that’s why we need to specialize in education. So with regard to that, I’d like to see a home rule charter for counties. So that they’re able to fit give solutions that work with their students, and innovate, offer more distance ed options, and accept er make use of the technology that’s available.
MOD: Governor Dayton, thirty seconds.
MD: Well in 2011 I offered as I said earlier to meet the Republican leadership in the Legislature halfway. We were three billion dollars apart; I agreed to another 1.5 billion dollars in spending reductions; I wanted to raise taxes on the wealthiest two percent of Minnesotans, not on middle income Minnesotans. In fact, lower their property taxes. And I made that proposal and the Legislature absolutely refused. We went into a shutdown mode and finally, given their continued intransigence and the likelihood of an even longer shutdown, I agreed to something that I didn’t agree with: a proposal that they made before, and we borrowed 750 million from the schools and additionally and now we’ve paid it all back.
MOD: Thank you. I have a question and a followup, and then we’ll go back to Dana. In this part of the state, a major issue is a flood control project in the Moorhead Fargo metropolitan area. One of the controversies of course is how the water to be stored, farmers to the south don’t want on their land or don’t like the aspects of that. Another part of the dispute is Minnesota says some dikes are going up around communities before the state can do proper environmental studies. Third dispute, is what some see as under-representation for Minnesota on the governing body.
Given all that, what would you do as Governor about a Moorhead Fargo flood project in the next four years? Ms. Nicollet, sixty seconds.
HN: Well I actually talked to ah former Governor Ed Schaefer about this today, Governor of North Dakota. And we talked about the the two plans that have been offered and how the original plan didn’t actually require storing land and y’know taking out farmland after the fact. So ah so what he expects from, the total cost is about 1.8 billion. And he expects 800 million to come, well actually he thought about 600 million would come from the federal government. And then Minnesota would chip in a hundred million and North Dakota would chip in ah 900 mil – ah 900 million, so there’s your billion.
But ah but if that’s the case, then actually he said that the cost is could be cut down by a third if the federal government wasn’t involved. So, a third is about what they’re willing to chip in. It sounds like the federal government shouldn’t be involved. We can ah we can cut the costs, and but it is a necessary project. I mean flooding constantly in Fargo and Moorhead is obviously very undesirable, and we’d want to avoid it. So we need to pick a solution, but probably not with federal help.
MOD: Thank you. Governor?
MD: I’m are willing to work with the state of North Dakota, with the city of Fargo, to develop a permanent resolution to the flooding problems that afflict both Moorhead and Fargo. And the region around them. But I’m not gonna let North Dakota just run the project and run roughshod over the situation that it will create for Minnesotans, and actually North Dakota farmers as well that are south of Moorhead and Fargo. So that they can have additional land for development in South Fargo. And I’ve intervened, I’ve stopped that process, slowed it down anyway, I’ve insisted that there needs to be more representation from by Minnesotans on that authority.
There are seven to nine members now in North Dakota. I’ve insisted that they follow the Minnesota state law and wait for our Environmental Impact Statement to be completed next spring. Before they proceed on a project that requires Minnesota’s consent, an agreement to go ahead. And ah my actions so far, and I’ll continue to follow through, to be instrumental in bringing this so
MOD: Thank you.
(audience begins to applaud)
MOD: Let’s hold the applause, folks.
JJ: Ah well Don, first of all I’m always an optimist in believing that when good people who have differences can sit down and spend some time. If something is important they can get it done. This needs to get done. But. I will be a very strong advocate as Governor for property owners in Minnesota, and in in some cases I think that they’ve been overlooked in this process.
Here, however, is where you’re gonna see again a kind of a difference in style between the Governor and me. Because we we’ve known about this issue for years. And, the Governor had not been engaged in it until a few months before the election, when he came up here and held some town hall meetings and threw some bricks over at North Dakota and then decried why we can’t work better together. That’s not how you get it done. I would have been involved in this years ago. I would have been meeting with the Governor of North Dakota years ago to start talking about how can we get this done? Because both Fargo and Moorhead need it. But how can we get it done in a way that doesn’t hurt property owners in Minnesota? I think it’s possible. I don’t know the answer. But I think it’s possible if you work hard enough at it.
MOD: Thirty second rebuttal?
HN: Well, I don’t see that – ah, I mean Fargo and Moorhead both have, they both have something to benefit in not being, in not being flooded. And so and I don’t really see North Dakota as our opposition. They’re our neighbors. We would want to work with them to form a solution. Because this is like the Twin Cities is, y’know it’d be like opposing St. Paul and Minneapolis.
And so obviously we can we can work together to find a solution, and without the federal government we would be able to to do it as as states working hand in hand.
MOD: Thirty seconds Governor?
MD: Well I’ve been involved in this for years and, what was started out as a cooperative process veered off of that when first a new proposal came out of from the Army Corps, which causes harm to Minnesota farmers at the expense of, at their expense. So that land in south Fargo can be developed used for commercial development. We put up almost a hundred million dollars into flood mitigation here on the Minnesota side of the river. Most of that, since I became Governor, we’ve given a lot of attention
MOD: Thank you.
MD: and will continue give more attention.
JJ: I’ll just reiterate. I think it’s a difference in styles. I will be engaged, very engaged as Governor in most things that come along and I’ll be engaged early rather than late when things spin out of control.
MOD: Now my followup that I promised, being a greater Minnesota reporter, I’m always covering floods, it seems like, somewhere in the state. And I’d like to know, we’ll start with ah Governor Dayton. What can you do as Governor to mitigate the flood situation, prevent floods, help people recover faster from floods?
MD: Well you’re right Don, the the changes in topography caused by ah modern farming and by the development of other changes have put pressure on our water systems in ways that cause things that didn’t happen before. And it’s not one size fits all. Y’know down in Owatonna four years ago the houses flooded and they put in two holding ponds. And as a result this last flooding, nothing no no homes were damaged.
As I said in Moorhead we put in a hundred million, Breckinridge which was flooded years ago was not has not been flooded recently, Granite Falls has been spared, Montevideo has been spared, so the mitigation that we have applied over the last number of years has made a huge difference, and it’s made the difference between serious flooding and protection. Here in Moorhead I was up here sandbagging in 2009, then 2010. So far Moorhead’s been able to avoid that kind of catastrophe because of the efforts the city has made, the county and the state.
JJ: I think largely, flooding has been ah probably more of a nonpartisan issue than most issues in St. Paul. And I think that’s a good thing. And as somebody who has also sandbagged, has a student at Concordia in Moorhead two or three years of the years that I was here, ah I I recognize how devastating that can be. And obviously we’re doing a little better here in Moorhead than some places are right now. I think that the fund that was created for flood relief makes sense so that you don’t always have to call a special session I believe that was done in a bipartisan manner. And I think you’ll, and I think you’ll see regardless of the Governor, hopefully, a bipartisan approach to this issue.
MOD: Ms. Nicollet.
HN: Well, obviously the Governor isn’t God and can’t control the weather. But, to the extent that flooding is predictable and happens repeatedly, then yeah we would need to we need good infrastructure as a state, a new task. Engineers with with good bids ah y’know reliable contractors and and implement good solutions. And that’s what we’d like to see with the Fargo-Moorhead diversion and in any other areas like it.
MOD: Anyone want to rebut, especially her comment that Governor’s not God? (audience laughs)
HN: (laughs) Controversial statement. There you go.
MOD: Let’s go to Dana.
ANNCR: From our studio audience, and a concern with financing of the Vikings stadium. Is it time to admit Minnesotans got fleeced by Zygi Wilf and the Vikings?
MOD: Goes to Commissioner Johnson. (short offcamera handclap)
JJ: Yes. (audience laughs)
MOD: Thank you. Should we move on?
JJ: (laughs) No. I’ll keep going. The I think the biggest problem with the Vikings stadium was how it was done. I I think what we ended up with ah was about 500 million dollars of taxpayer funds. And and a promise was made early on that we’re never gonna use general fund money for the people’s stadium. We ended up using general fund money for the people’s stadium because we so embarrassingly miscalculated what e-pulltabs would bring in. I think they came in, Governor, at around 5%, or maybe it was 7% or 3%. Ah but we had to go back then and essentially use a new tax that would have otherwise gone into the general fund to to fund the stadium.
The the whole thing’s been a debacle from – Governor, you not knowing that there were seat licenses in there and expressing outrage at that, even though it was in the bill that you signed, to the fact that we didn’t seem to know the Wilfs had legal problems when we signed that bill, to of course the funding has just – it’s been a disaster from the start.
MOD: Ms. Nicollet, stadium.
HN: When I see us paying for a stadium, I think we must have all of our needs taken care of, right? As a state? And yet half of our roads are over 50 years old and need of repair. And the sewer systems underneath also need repair. And we also have a thousand bridges that are structurally deficient. So we have some needs as a state and instead –I don’t understand how we feel that we have the money to – I mean 640 million dollars is a lot of money to throw at a Vikings stadium.
And the y’know the way that it was done, I agree with Jeff Johnson that the way that it was done is concerning to me. That when y’know when the Twins stadium attempted to get a referendum passed and even though they outspent in their lobbying efforts, they outspent their opponents 10 to 1, they knew that this was not a winning issue. Sixty-eight percent of Minnesotans wanted the Vikings stadium entirely privately funded. So the way that they did it this time, is they had a backroom deal. They had four people in a room so that they never had to allow the press in those meetings. And when the press came knocking, they said they were talking about fishing reg regulations.
MOD: Thank you. Governor, do you have anything to say about this?
MD: Well, tell the 7,500 people who are going to be working on this project, and are now, 38% of whom are men and women of color, that this project is a debacle. Y’know it’s easy to sit on the sidelines, having had nothing to do with it, and take take potshots. But the fact is, we didn’t dictate this agreement. The Vikings held the upper hand with the lease set to expire at the Metrodome. They said, and were told by the Commissioner of the NFL, that they were gonna move somewhere else, so they had to agree to the deal which I negotiated along with. Two lead Republicans who were in the majority at the time, Senator Rosen and Representative Morrie Lang from the Moorhead area, did a phenomenal job of holding their feet to the fire. They asked again last night for another 50 million dollars, which they agreed to provide.
There’s as a result of that investment, there’s over a billion dollars of private investment going into projects that are going around the stadium that wouldn’t have occurred otherwise. If we hadn’t have done the stadium deal, the Vikings would be going, the Metrodome would be def dilapidated, and without anybody paying to rent it, and no economic development occurring in that part of Minneapolis.
MOD: You want to rebut?
MOD: Go right ahead.
JJ: Well – I have trouble hearing that “well, we really had no control over this, the Vikings the Vikings got to make the decisions.” I think that’s a, I think that’s a bad position for a Governor to be in. And I don’t think that it’s necessary. I think we need a Governor, I think we need a Governor, I think Minnesotans deserve a governor who owns his decisions ah and is engaged, knows what’s in the bills he signs, which did not happen here Governor, you said that you negotiated it, but you didn’t know what was in the bill. On two or three different occasions and I I will stand by my statement that this is a debacle.
HN: When my seven-year-old would throw tantrums and ask for candy, I stuck it out. I let her scream, I let her throw herself on the floor, it was sometimes really embarrassing because she loves sugar: ice cream, cookies, she didn’t want to eat any real food. But sometimes, it’s time to call their bluff. And that’s what a Governor with backbone would do. Because if the Vikings say that they’re gonna move, fine. Move. That’s – we’ll accept that and, y’know maybe someday a team that has more ah respect for for Minnesotans will move back to the Twin Cities.
MOD: I bet your daughter will thank you for that story.
Audience and HN laugh
MD: If you think it’s fine for the Vikings to move, then y’know that’s a different view from what I have and a lot of Minnesotans. I didn’t say that we didn’t have control. I didn’t have control. I just said that the Vikings had their say in this as well, that their lease had expired at the Metrodome. They were free to move. They said they were going to move. The Commissioner of the National Football League told us that if we didn’t reach an agreement in this session, they would move. So we made an agreement. We made an agreement that resulted in 7,500 jobs, over a billion dollars of private investment in the area surrounding the stadium, and economic growth
MOD: Thank you.
MD: that wouldn’t have occurred otherwise.
ANNCR: From our studio audience. If raising the gas tax to increase transportation funding is not an attractive option, how else would you increase funding to meet the current and future needs of the state?
MOD: Ms. Nicollet.
HN: Well, we’re looking at 7 to 9 billion, that’s according to MnDOT. And actually I spoke to a guy who works for MnDOT. And he said that for political reasons, they’ve tried to make it seem ah less dire than it really is. So the cost could be higher. However, y’know we could be looking at ah y’know Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa manage to do their roads. Y’know they have ah similar similar setbacks that we do. The freezing cold weather, for instance. And they manage to fix their roads for about half the cost that we do. So perhaps we should look into what they’re doing and cut our costs in half.
But ah but bonding for roads needs to be an option. And I would look at all nonessential spending. Get rid of all nonessential spending because right now we need to focus that to whatever extent we can of bonding on roads and bridges. And then at the end of the day, if we still don’t have enough, then possibly a gas tax increase. But I would hesitate to implement a gas tax increase unless all of our other options were exhausted. And we were no longer prioritizing little trains.
MOD: Governor, you mentioned gasoline sales tax earlier.
MD: The experts tell us there’s a six billion dollar shortfall, what we had expected from existing state and federal revenues, and what it’s gonna cost just to maintain our roads, highways and bridges in the condition they are today, which is significantly worse in many areas from what they were 25 years ago, when we stopped making the necessary investments in our highways, roads and bridges.
People say we’re gonna find efficiencies sufficient to deal with that, or re-order priorities. Ah I just don’t think we’re being candid with the people of Minnesota about how you’re gonna fill a six billion dollar shortfall. We need more revenues, we’re gonna have to come up with more revenues, if I’m Governor next session, transportation will be a major issue at the Legislature. We’ll talk about what we’re willing to commit as people of Minnesota to improve our transportation network, what it will cost, and then we’ll turn all the cards face up on the table. If we can save money, great. If we can re-order priorities, great. But we’re gonna need to come up with additional revenues or we’re gonna have to accept the fact that our transportation system will continue to deteriorate.
MOD: Thank you. Commissioner.
JJ: Ah well Don, I do believe that we should start bonding for roads. I think there’s no better definition of what should be in a bonding bill, which is supposed to be statewide or regional projects that are longterm, ah than roads and bridges. And here is the problem. It is priorities. It’s about priorities. We had the biggest tax increase in state history and we’re saying we don’t have enough money to fill potholes. That’s nuts.
We are all out of focus. All of the energy on transportation these last couple of years has been on everything but roads and bridges. It’s been on light rail trains and commuter rail trains and high-speed rail. And trolleys and streetcars and bike paths. And sidewalks and what are called complete streets, which is everything but the street, I’ve come to learn. We need to prioritize what everybody relies upon. Which are the roads and bridges. I just learned yesterday we could repair every single of the twelve hundred deficient bridges, structurally deficient bridges, in this state, for what it’s costing to build the Southwest Light Rail. We need to set our priorities, and to suggest that we gotta raise taxes again is wrong.
MOD: Do you want a second shot at transportation?
MOD: Go ahead.
HN: Well, so y’know if we manage to find the money for the Vikings, the Senate office building, light rail, ah y’know that’s several billion right there, then we can certainly find the money to fix the roads and bridges, and ah and definitely y’know good roads are expensive but bad roads are even more expensive. And we get a three to four dollar return for every dollar that we spend in a cost benefit on roads and bridges. So I would focus y’know try to do it any way we can, but at the end of the day I am not standing here and ruling out a gas tax increase because I don’t like to break promises. (unclear)
MOD: We’ll move a little more on transportation?
MD: Well I think Ms. Nicollet made a good point. Repairing them is expensive, not repairing them is more expensive, and becomes more costly to finally do so years down the road. So that’s why we’re inherited 25 years of avoidance of increased investments that Minnesota needed in its roads, highways and bridges, and public transit. And now we’re gonna have to work to catch up. There’s revenue that can be raised; it’s gonna have to come somewhere, it’s gonna have to come from Minnesotans, because the federal government’s not gonna be doing much more.
So y’know that we have the way. We just need to determine if we have the will, or if people want to allow the system to continue to deteriorate.
JJ: Governor, it can’t always be someone else’s fault. You’ve had all DFL control over the Legislature for two years. And I look at the Senate Office Building. There was more money dedicated to that than what you put into roads and bridges in the 1.1 billion dollar bonding bill. We could actually be moving on this. But we’re not, because the focus is somewhere else. And I have trouble believing that anything is going to change, Governor, if you’re elected again. We’re still gonna see that focus on everything but roads and bridges.
ANNCR: Thank you. This question from an entrepreneur in our audience. “I have seen many ambitious friends leave Minnesota for areas such as Silicon Valley. My question is, what can you do as Governor to help bolster innovation and startups to keep our brightest from leaving our great state?”
MOD: You have a minute, Governor.
MD: It y’know anecdotally, ah people leave, they go to California, they go to other places for other opportunities. But in the aggregate, Minnesota finds those opportunities, we have one of the growing high-tech industries concentrated in the metropolitan area but located elsewhere, we have agricultural technology in southern and southwestern Minnesota, in Worthington, Luverne, places like that that are have major projects underway that are shipping products all over the world.
And we have a great opportunity with what Mayo Clinic is doing, which Commissioner Johnson said he would have voted against. Ah in fact of that, I don’t what he’s going to do over the next 20 years to bring medical technology, more of it, into Minnesota, and if we improve the quality of the University of Minnesota Medical System, as I’m going to propose for the next session, Minnesota will be even more of a magnet for medical technology jobs, and that’s one of the fastest growing areas of our economy, and a good one.
JJ: Don, this is a huge difference between the Governor and me. I think you, this will be job number one for me. ‘Cause we are not creating the good jobs that are keeping people here. They’re moving elsewhere. We’re losing a generation of entrepreneurs to North and South Dakota, for heaven’s sakes. That’s crazy. This is a better place to live but we’ve become so unfriendly in the last couple of years to anyone who either wants to start a business or expand a business, that they are choosing to go elsewhere.
The Kauffman Foundation, which is a national nonprofit nonpartisan group that measures business startups, ranks Minnesota over the last four years last in the country. Per capita. For creation of new businesses. We’ve lost four Fortune 500 headquarters since the Governor was elected. We’ve gone from twenty-one to seventeen. There is no reason to suggest that that’s not going to continue. And this is kinda personal for me. I want my kids, after they go to college, here or somewhere else, I want them to choose either to stay here or come back here. But if we’re not creating the jobs, which we’re not doing right now, there’s not going to be a reason for them to do that.
MOD: Ms. Nicollet?
HN: Minnesota is ah is not setting ourselves up well for the future when it comes to job creation. Medtronic should have been a wakeup call to us. They told us that why they left. They said that they renounced their U.S. legal tax status because Ireland has a twelve and a half percent corporate income tax rate. And so they’re able to save a billion dollars a year. And I don’t blame them for doing that because the medical device industry is competitive. And that’s just the best thing for their business, for them to have done.
But ah we need to and I’ll flesh this out a little bit. Y’know we eliminate the corporate income tax, we put a sale on doing business in Minnesota. And historically speaking, that means that we receive an economic boom. And we broadcast it across the country that Minnesota is now open for business and will be business friendly. And we will see an increase in jobs as a state.
MOD: We have a lot of questions very long time. Do you three want to rebut?
MD: Yes I do.
MOD: Go right ahead.
MD: My opponents remind me of that old saw, y’know, “My mind’s made up, don’t confuse me with the facts.” I mean, the facts are Minnesota’s economy is improving faster than most other states. Forbes magazine, a business-oriented magazine, said, ranks Minnesota eighth for best business climates. Second for place to live and raise a family y’know. The career opportunities are there. We need to create more of them, absolutely. But y’know all I hear from Commissioner Johnson is denigrate Minnesota, denigrate Minnesota, denigrate Minnesota. We’ve heard very little about what you’re going to do to make things better.
MOD: I bet you want to say something, Commissioner.
JJ: Yes, I would, thank you. And I don’t denigrate Minnesota, I do denigrate the direction that you have us headed, Governor, and if you want to talk about facts, look at the most recent fact we’ve seen. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, two weeks ago, gave us the last year. And we are forty-first in the country in our job growth rate, and worst in the Midwest. Every state that surrounds us is doing better than we are. Yes, we we grew jobs during the first two and a half years of your term. Maybe that was part of the Republican budget that you hated so much. But once yours was brought up, we’ve hit a brick wall. We’ve gotta change directions.
MOD: Ms. Nicollet?
HN: There is no doubt that Minnesota has a fantastic quality of life. I love our artsy foodie culture that y’know it’s we have beautiful natural resources, gorgeous river towns; Minnesota has a fabulous quality of life which is no wonder that so many so many so many businesses would want to come here. But clearly, they’re not coming here. And so what I see holding them back is that we have ah we have been taking our businesses for granted. So, when I look at what we’ve got, corporate income tax is only four percent of total revenue. It’s a small percent of revenue. It eats up a lot of time in compliance. It’s the most costly to collect. Eliminate it.
MOD: Thank you. We have so many questions. And I’ll try to get back to you folks after the debate, some time in the next couple of weeks, asking some of these. But one thing we have to talk about, you’ve touched on it now and then – we have to talk more about taxes, everybody’s favorite subject. Give us an idea of how the tax structure in the state would look in the next four years if you were Governor. And I know a couple of you have heard me ask this. But especially on ag-related taxes, since this is a greater Minnesota debate, talk about the ag property tax and the small business tax which taxes, that affects people around here. That’s a lot to talk about. We’ve gotta hit that topic. Commissioner, you’re up.
JJ: Once again I’m very, I think there’s a big divide between the Governor and me on this issue. I believe that taxes in this state should be low, broad and simple. And the key word of those three is low. They’re too high in this state. And you can look at almost any of the taxes and they’re they’re probably too high. But ah I would start by looking at the corporate tax and the income tax, but also following up to see if there’s anything we need to change on the sales tax or the property tax. Including the ag property tax.
And y’know, we were told during the last session that part of the reason that taxes were gonna go up so high at the state level was that property taxes were gonna drop, I think your promise was 121 or 141 million dollar drop in property tax. That didn’t happen. Property taxes continued to increase. Ah just just taxing more at the state level is not gonna solve our property tax problem. It’s much deeper than that.
MOD: Ms. Nicollet, taxes.
HN: So, obviously y’know sometimes we make the mistake y’know you always get the question What are you gonna, what are you gonna cut if you’re going to y’know if you say that you’re gonna cut taxes you have to cut spending in proportion. That’s the wrong question. The revenue is not a fixed pie; it changes from month to month, year to year, it can change from the weather to anything else.
So, when with regard to property taxes, any other taxes, what I would like to do is implement strategies, strategic decreases in taxes so that we would see an increase in revenue as a state, and then respond with other drops in taxes. Because ideally, we would like to drop. Right now we have a situation with ah property taxes and farmers where y’know they’re paying a disproportionate share because because of property values. They’re not selling their property, they’re not actually receiving that value, but y’know at thirty to forty dollars an acre now, their property taxes are steep. And so they’re picking up the lion’s share. So maybe y’know we look at some fairness with regard to that, where y’know maybe their house and their property is looked at as the as the comparison with other residential properties, and the rest of their land is looked at as a tool.
MOD: Governor Dayton.
MD: Well, Commissioner Johnson, “low, broad and simple” is not a tax policy. It’s a slogan. And lowering taxes as you recited, for everybody for everything, is not a tax policy and it’s not reasonable unless you’re willing to say where you’re gonna cut one and a half or two billion dollars out of the budget. I went through this with the Republican Legislature in 2011. Y’know they campaigned, saying they we’re gonna cut taxes, cut taxes, and they didn’t wanna cut the spending in in in to the level necessary to accomplish that. So they raided money from the schools and from the cutbacks in Local Government Aid and bonding tobacco bonding.
My proposed policy has been straightforward: it’s turn budget deficits to surpluses. Raise taxes on the wealthiest two percent of Minnesotans’ income taxes. Cut taxes for middle income families, as we did in the last session. Keep property taxes down. The property taxes in Minnesota, in the ten years before I became Governor, went up by 86%! Now agriculture has had a special priority in the last ses- last spring (unclear)
MOD: Thank you. (to JJ) You’re not gonna give up rebuttal on this, are you?
JJ: No, afraid not. Ah and again, here’s a difference. I I don’t think this has to be as partisan issue as you do, Governor, because I know of some Democrats in both the House and the Senate who agree the taxes are too high in this state and they are really impeding the creation of good jobs. And I think that I can actually work together with them to to reform the tax code overall. Governor, you didn’t just raise taxes on the wealthy. You raised taxes on everyone in Minnesota. There’s a new healthcare tax, there’s a much higher cigarette tax, you created this wheelage tax that counties have put on people. Farm equipment tax, snowbird tax, warehouse tax,
MOD: Thank you.
JJ: you had to go back on some to (unclear)
MOD: Thank you. Ms. Nicollet.
HN: So, as I said before, revenue is not fixed, and what we know is that if we look at other models, ah there’s an article from the Wall Street Journal called Millionaires Gone Missing. And Maryland decided to raise taxes just on millionaires. They thought “Well, we’ll raise a whole bunch more revenue if we do that,” and what happened was that they had the means to leave the state. So they voted with their feet and suddenly they they actually collected less revenue in the end. So tax increases do not always mean more revenue, and tax decreases can often result ah I can give other examples but – I’m out of time.
MOD: Governor Dayton.
MD: Commissioner Johnson, if you want to move from rhetoric to reality, the increase of two percent on the personal income taxes for people making over 250,000 dollars a year in Minnesota would raise 1.2 billion dollars in the next ah biennium. So tell us tomorrow, whenever, where you’re gonna cut 1.2 billion dollars. Real money from the state budget. Education, human services, healthcare. Because you want to repeal that tax increase on the rich. Tell us where you’re gonna make the cuts. Tell us how much Local Government Aid will be cut, how much property taxes will go up as a result, ‘cause that’s what happened before under that approach.
MOD: Thank you. Thank you. We’ll go to Dana now and going to ask you to keep your questions as short as you can from here on. Your answers as short as you can. Questions short, too.
ANNCR: Good luck with this one then. (off camera laugh) From social media: what would you do about medical/recreational marijuana?
(slight audience laughter)
MOD: I’m sorry. Ms. Nicollet.
HN: And we have how many seconds for this one?
HN: Okay. (says under breath) Oh jeez.
Okay, so ah full marijuana legalization, absolutely. It’s a waste of resources. The societal cost is too much. We are we spend 456 million dollars on our prison system in Minnesota, and to the extent that anybody is sitting in a cage for a nonviolent drug offense, that is a waste of a cage.
Our last three Presidents all admit to having smoked pot. If they are criminals, then they should be sharing a cage too. And that’s an equal protection under the law issue.
MOD: Governor Dayton.
MD: Well I oppose legalization because I think there are already enough drugs and they’re affecting the lives of our citizens, particularly our kids. And I signed a legislation for controlled form of medical marijuana. There are companies now that are vying to produce the capsules that will have it on a limited basis and we will see how that works. And to the extent it’s going to help people who have serious medical problems, then all the more power to that project and proposal, but we’re not gonna turn our high schools and junior
MOD: Thank you.
MD: high schools over to marijuana peddlers.
MOD: Commissioner Johnson.
JJ: Well I also oppose recreational legalization of marijuana. However I I think the medical marijuana issue ah will, is gonna be revisited regardless of who’s Governor, and I would be willing to consider something more. I think where we ended up on this issue was more cover for the Governor than anything else. ‘Cause you said “No way I’m gonna do it” and then, then you actually told the mother of a sick kid to go buy pot on the street, which I think is nuts.
Ah and then they came up with a compromise that apparently would work. But it didn’t do much. So I’d be willing to go a bit further.
MOD: If you want to respond, you still have closings, so you can respond to each other. We’ll start this one, thirty seconds, Governor Dayton. Huge issue in lots of rural Minnesota. What would you do to, if anything, to increase broadband, high-speed internet?
MD: Well we very much need to increase broadband. We need to equalize the opportunity all over the state. Ah it costs, we were told, between 800 million and 2 billion dollars to do so. So it’s a big project.
We started last time, Legislature, bipartisan support, provide 20 million dollars to increase broadband into underserved/unserved areas of the state in greater Minnesota, that needs to be expanded once we can prove the effectiveness of it. We also need to figure out how we’re going to get the private sector to come in and shoulder part of that additional cost.
JJ: Well I talk about this a lot because I say we need to be more competitive when it comes to business creation. And if there are areas of the state that just don’t have access, we can’t be competitive. So it’s an important issue, I don’t happen to believe that government should be in the business of competing with the private sector. So I don’t think governments should be providing the service. But I do believe that there’s a role for government to play, to hopefully spur on the private sector to fill the gap that we have in certain parts of the state.
MOD: Broadband, Ms. Nicollet?
HN: I believe that broadband is important for rural businesses so that they’re able to compete, and I do see it basically like mail service, where it’s ah y’know it’s our mode of communication, our primary mode of communication.
However, we’re on the cusp of new technology so what I would like to see as far as the expense goes is that we focus on the areas that are not served at all and ah run cable to all public buildings, make them hot spots, and make sure that there’s a hot spot available in all rural communities.
MOD: Another question, thirty second answers unfortunately. A Moorhead resident wrote that my wife and I can sell our home in Moorhead, and move to Fargo, and the income tax savings alone will cover our house payment. What I’m asking you folks to tell us, in thirty seconds, is what would you do if anything to help border cities like Moorhead or several others compete with what this gentleman says are lower taxes in neighboring states. Not just North Dakota but others. Commissioner you have the first shot.
JJ: It’s not difficult. We need to be competitive with the states that surround us. I I think I’ve said that ten times today. And we’re not. We’re simply not. Every state that surrounds us, I’m told, has billboards up that says “North Dakota Open for Business. Iowa, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Open for Business.” They are bringing our people, our entrepreneurs, and and business expansion into their states because they are friendlier. They are more welcoming. Ah we’re we are just simply not welcoming enough, and we’ve got to lower overall our tax rate in this state.
MOD: Ms. Nicollet?
HN: We need an we need an attitude change from the state of Minnesota, where we see ourselves as a customer service. We are facilitation and customer service, not a bureaucratic top-down hierarchy. So y’know we get our state competitive with other states around us and we also make our state business-friendly. And then people wouldn’t want to, they wouldn’t want to leave. But as far as the income tax, specific taxes, people are always going to vote with their feet and as long as we have different incentives there will be people who will do that. So there’s not much we can do about border towns – when we have a high income tax.
MD: North Dakota’s a very special situation right now, and I wish the good Lord had given us the oil resources that they’re enjoying now in terms of their economic growth. And and that’s just the way it is.
The state of Minnesota has, except for North Dakota, surpassed its neighboring states, all four of them, in growth in gross, in state GDP in the last three years, in growth in personal income. Our personal income our per capita income is about $47,000 a year, y’know in Wisconsin it’s $41,000 a year,
MOD: Thank you.
MD: Iowa and South Dakota are lower than that.
MOD: I have a whole lot more questions. You have a whole lot more answers. But we can’t go on. It’s time for closing. And before long it’ll be time for the public to vote on one of you, or whoever else they want. We’re gonna have two minutes for closing statements, and by the luck of the draw, Governor Dayton, Democrat, starts.
MD: I was born and raised in Minnesota, I’ve lived most of my life here. The state’s been very very good to me and to my family. I started running for Governor in 2009 because I saw the state headed in the wrong direction. I employed many of the policies that Commissioner Johnson now espouses. Our economic growth, relative to other states, had worsened. Our per capita income had fallen. Our unemployment rate was 6.8%.
I came in and we’ve taken a balanced approach, cutting and spending with Republican leadership in the Minnesota Legislature in 2011, raising taxes on the richest 2% of Minnesotans, closing corporate tax loopholes, allowing large corporations to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, and we invested that money in economic development incentives and mostly in education. And in closing the deficit to repay the school shift.
So we balanced the state books, we’re on a sound fiscal platform now, we have a looking at a 627 million dollar projected surplus for the next few years as opposed to deficits before, we’ve repaid the 2.8 billion dollars we owed the schools, we’re in a sound financial position, to keep moving ahead and as I said earlier, we have 162,000 more people working in Minnesota today than when I took office, we’ll continue that kind of leading economic growth, and that’s my commitment and that’s what I’ll continue to provide.
The priority again needs to be education. We need to invest in education, we need to invest even earlier in for kids who have disadvantaged backgrounds, so that they have a chance to be successful and realize the American dream. We’re gonna make sure the all-day kindergarten applies, congratulate Moorhead as one of the areas that before the state funding, was already providing all-day kindergarten because the Moorhead school officials knew how important that was. Now it’s gonna be available everywhere in the state.
Ah reading by the end of third grade initiative. Another one we started and are carrying out. It’s crucial to giving every child the preparation to be successful.
MOD: Thank you.
MD: That’s my goal.
MOD: Hannah Nicollet, Independence Party candidate. Two minutes.
HN: Well so I would, I’d like to follow up on the on the marijuana issue. Because we do ah y’know if the drug war, waging a literal war, not treating drugs as a public health issue but treating them as a criminal issue, we don’t treat any other addicts like that, but if it’s really about reducing drug abuse, Portugal decriminalized 12 years ago and they were able to cut drug abuse in half. So that’s a pretty staggering statistic.
And ah now, as to my as to my closing, my vision for Minnesota is that we would have a fabulous economy that would be the envy of the rest of the nation. And I believe that we can do that. We can do that with great team building, that’s what I would like to do, I like to find talent and put people to task solving problems. I was a software developer, I like to solve problems, and that’s what I would like to do for the state of Minnesota.
Ah further but I think we have a trust problem. Integrity is is crucial in politicians. We have a trust problem in politics. We’ve brought we’ve come to the point where it’s hard to even get angry anymore when we are promised something and there is no delivery on that promise. When we were told that we would have the most open and transparent administration ever, and instead we got more FOIA denials than any other administration ever. When we were told that the mission was accomplished, when we were told that we ah we’re going to end warrantless wiretapping for instance as a nation.
And it’s hard to even bring ourselves to be angry about those things anymore because we’ve grown so accustomed to it. So I was talking to a guy at the fair, and he said “I can tell that you’re passionate and you’re honest.” And he said “But how do I know that once you get in, you won’t change?” And I’m gonna tell you what I told him. Which was that, I have I have one dash. I I think about my legacy every single day. I have my birth date and my death date and my dash. And my integrity is not for sale, and neither am I. And none of those interest groups put me on this podium today. I didn’t raise that kind of money. And I would never sell out my state. Thank you.
MOD: Jeff Johnson, Republican.
JJ: Thanks Don, and thank you all for being here, regardless of who you support. Ah we all appreciate that. It’s good to be home – ah we’ve lived in the Cities now for awhile, but northwestern Minnesota for both Sondi and me, will always be home. And I think we would be served really well as a state by a Governor who spent half his life in greater Minnesota and half his life in the metro. Somebody who understands greater Minnesota, who cares about greater Minnesota, whose family and roots are in greater Minnesota. Because it really does seem, at least recently, like we got two states here. One is the metro, and one is everybody else: greater Minnesota. And I think that if we have a Governor who understands what it’s like to be here, I think we can better bridge that divide and I think we’d be a better state.
And that really fits well with my vision for Minnesota. It’s a vision of a state where every child, regardless of where you live, whether it’s in the metro, or in Minneapolis, the suburbs or in greater Minnesota, has access to a great education and to great teachers. And where healthcare decisions are made by patients and doctors, not by patients, doctors, insurance companies and government bureaucrats. And where entrepreneurs can run their business and farmers can farm their land, and teachers can be creative and innovative in the classroom without worrying every minute about the government sticking its nose into their business.
And it’s a vision of a state where people who work in government understand that their job isn’t to control and to regulate and to punish, but it’s actually to serve the taxpayers who pay our salary. Government should be a servant of the people and not the other way around.
And most importantly, I have a vision of a state where we have ended this bitterness and envy over income differences, and this belief that the poor are poor and the rich are rich and all we can do is move around the money. And instead we’re celebrating people who are successful. And we are never giving up on people who are poor. And we are preaching every day a sincerely held belief that the poor can become the middle class, and the middle class can become rich. That’s my vision, that’s why I’m running for Governor. Thank you for being here and I’d love your support.
MOD: I thank you three for being here. I also want to thank a special person who made this possible from Minnesota State University Moorhead, Elizabeth Evert Karnes, and her volunteer student staff, set this stage up, it’s a beautiful presentation, we thank you, we thank MSUM, now take us home Dana.
ANNCR: The election is four weeks away, November 4th. We now hope that you are better informed because of this debate. Debate Number Two by the way, the first one was in Rochester. The second one tonight, the third one October 14th in the city of Duluth. Our thanks to our studio audience, our thanks to people who took part through social media, and of course our thanks to the three candidates. As one audience member said tonight, and I quote, “Thank you for coming to MSUM. It is very cool not to see you guys on TV.” (audience laughs) In other words, it’s great to see you in person.
For our entire crew of Forum News Service, thank you for watching. And good night. From Hansen Theater on the campus of MSUM .
(Applause, candidates shake hands)