MN Governor Debate With A Senior Perspective

Candidates for Minnesota Governor talk about issues impacting older Minnesotans. Tom Emmer, Tom Horner and Mark Dayton debated Friday night at Twin Cities Public Television (TPT). The debate was sponsored by AARP and hosted by Mary Lahammer. With a start on the budget, Mary turned the discussion to taxes, jobs, education and healthcare, with a senior’s perspective.

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When you’re done watching Almanac, stay tuned to TPT for the #mngov debate. Weigh in @ The UpTake’s live blog at #mn2010

Tonight’s debate on TPT is sponsored by AARP, focuses on older adult issues. The UpTake will replay later. Blog: #mn2010

The debate has begun on TPT. Mary Lahammer hosting, The UpTake to replay later. Live blog: #MN2010

Now hearing from attendees at the State Fair. Cutting taxes, getting along, paying for services among concerns. Watch on TPT. #mn2010

Q: Will LGA cuts make property taxes go up? Emmer: that’s for local govts to decide. #mn2010

Horner to Emmer: when you were on Delano City Council you voted for a 16% prop tax increase. Were you being irresponsible? #mn2010

Emmer asks Horner why cities are cutting police/fire. Horner: because there’s nothing else left for them to cut. Watch the debate at

Horner is on the offensive tonight. If you can’t catch the debate live on TPT, we’ll have the replay later. #mn2010

More comments from state fair: unemployment, underemployment, age discrimination. Next Q, how will candidates help jobseekers over 50.

Dayton: I’ll focus on jobs for all ages, green energy. Horner: Beef up higher ed, fund 2-yr schools. Emmer: Would support a bonding bill.

“What you’re proposing is the last 8 yrs on steroids.” Horner, after hearing Emmer job plan. #mn2010

Emmer asks if Horner will tax garage sales. Horner: the only reason we have to worry is if you or Dayton gets elected & everyone moves

Question on living will: Dayton, Horner have. Emmer: no. Leads to a discussion on end of life issues, follow-up on early opt-in #MN2010

Next Q, how will each candidate shore up support. Dayton talks about federal, state agency experience, respect, democracy = differing views

Emmer on courting support w/ DFL, in own caucus: be honest, people will respect you. Says his agenda will be embraced more than other 2

Horner: I’m willing to be 1-term. Dayton: voters willing, 2 terms, Emmer: I don’t have a living will, I’m taking it 1 day at a time.

The #mngov debate has ended. Thank you to TPT, AARP, bloggers. The UpTake will have replay of the debate later. #mn2010

Partial transcript (It’s a work in progress)
If you’d like to volunteer to help us transcribe send an email to

ML:Good evening I’m a Mary Lahammer and welcome to this governors forum. It’s a partnership between TPT and AARP. For the next hour we’re going to talk to the three leading candidates for governor about issues of special importance to Minnesotans older than fifty. But many of these issues, the state budget
the economy, health care are important to all of us. So don’t go anywhere, the debate begins in just a few seconds.

Announcer: Governor debate older Minnesotans speak is a co-production of AARP, online and TPT’s Minnesota Channel.


ML:Thanks for joining us, and a special welcome to those listening to this debate tonight on radio stations across the state. Let’s hit the ground running. With us tonight are the three top candidates on the ballot for governor. They’re here because each has received more than five percent support in an independent statewide poll.

The rules tonight are simple: This is a conversation, not a formal debate. You won’t see any podiums, no stopwatches, no robert’s rules of order. So let’s get going.

Here are the candidates in alphabetical order

Mark Dayton is the Democrat running in the race. He’s a former US Senator

Tom Emmer is the Republican on the ballot. He’s currently a state lawmaker. Tom

Horner is the standard bearer for the Independence Party. He’s a long-time twin cities public relations executive.

Well first question gentlemen.

Kind of the news of the week, we all got more details on each of your budget plans and it all presented some hurdles too, for you ahead. Let’s start with you Representative Emmer because you’ve released the third and final part of your budget and one aspect that could be difficult going forward is cutting education –higher education in Minnesota. So how does a candidate for governor run in Minnesota saying you’re going to cut education, specifically higher ed?

TE:Well actually Mary what we did this week is we put out the only balanced budget that has been presented. I think it’s more than anybody… I’m told it’s more than anybody’s ever done in running for an office like this. We put out budget targets in every area of government. For instance in the K-12 area, I know you’ve talked about higher ed, we’re adding five hundred million dollars. If you look at…

ML: Your opponents may differ with that.

TE: If you look… well they might try to but the reason they’re going to defer is because you’re really looking at two different ways of doing this. One we believe that the state has to live within its means.

ML: Right

TE: You have to start purchasing the services that people expect from government within the revenues the government has. And the reality is that the next Governor, the next legislature will have almost seven percent, seven to eight percent, more to spend, than the current one, about 3 billion more.

ML: OK, how about specifically on higher ed? It’s a four hundred million dollar cut. Isn’t that fair?

TE: That is. That is.

ML:Is it going to mean higher tuition?

TE:Well I sure hope not. I mean we will challenge both the uh the university
of Minnesota and the MNSCU system, we will challenge them to work within what
we’re talking about and try to come up with efficiencies. The idea is to make sure that we all live within our means not just uh one entity of government.

ML: OK. Senator Dayton you also had the department of revenue runyour tax increase plan and it came up short,nearly two billion dollars short. Tell me what you think you’re going to do to fill that hole for the revenue. Are you going to have to increase said income tax more, drop down to lower earners workers, go to other tax increases, more cuts? what are you going to do to fill that hole?

MD:The reason that it came up short was because of the income levels I set for beginning any tax increase would affect, the Department of Revenue said, three point eight percent of taxpayers in Minnesota, so…

ML:Do you disagree with that?

MD: No. I agree with their analysis, it’s certainly… others have said that I know this is about the taxing middle-class and in fact it’s clear that my proposal would affect…would not affect not over ninety six percent of taxpayers…

ML: But are going have to dip down and affect the middle class?

MD:So I’ll look for other sources of revenue. We’ll have to look for additional cuts. And that’s what I’m in the process of doing now.

ML: OK, let me jump in. What other sources of revenue, you know sales taxes? What other taxes?

MD: Well, this is just one component, is raising the income tax rates. So we’re looking at other ways of making taxes more progressive in Minnesota and that’s my commitment

ML:Other taxes, but…

MD:And if I become Governor, I’ll work with the Revenue and other authorities to find areas where we can continue to look to make revenues come on a more progressive basis. And that’s the real difference between myself and the two gentlemen here.

ML:Are you committed to leaving your income tax increase proposal as is. Could it go up higher? Could you reach down lower?

MD: No I said I would keep the rate below the top rate in the country which is eleven percent. These two scenarios we ran were 10.85 and 10.95 percent but again affecting less than four percent of all taxpayers, only the very top four percent .

ML: Other taxes you won’t specify yet what you’re looking at?

MD: You know I’m looking right now.


MD: We’ll see.

ML: Speaking of other taxes, Mister Horner, you talked about other taxes and this week you came out with a jobs plan.

TH: Right

ML:People mention that you didn’t know how many jobs it would create and you also got a little criticism for saying they were old ideas and it wasn’t out of the box for this third-party candidate who needs to be out of the box.

TH: Well I didn’t say they were old ideas. I think some of the %uh the folks from the Democratic and Republican parties have said they were old ideas.

You know, it, it’s a collection of good ideas that says that Minnesota is not going to grow, we’re not going to have economic expansion if we’re Johnny-one-notes. If we just believe that we can cut our way to success or we can tax our way to success. So my tax plan that says that we ought to encourage businesses to invest and so the the tax proposals I have in there are tax cuts that are are paid to companies that are investing in research and development. Buying new equipment…

ML: Is that new? Is that innovative? Is that out of the box?

TH: It is the kind of proposal that people say will grow the economy. Now where I do have some innovation uh is is in saying that as a state we ought to fund research at the University of Minnesota at other two and four year schools. I’ve created some innovation funds so that we are open to new ideas.

ML: How about jobs? Do you have a tally yet on how many jobs…a ballpark?

TH:No, but, but lookit, I mean all of us have put out jobs programs and none of us has been able to to say specifically it will create this many jobs. You know I think what, what Minnesotans have from the three of us frankly is is a very good sense of how each of us would govern, of the priorities each of us would set.

Um, and and in my case I think that that Minnesota needs to have a balanced approach. I think we need to make investments in education, in the future and grow jobs that way.

ML:Okay we’re going to talk more about the state budget in just a minute. But first let’s hear from some Minnesotans on the topic. We went to the state fair a few weeks back to talk to voters about the economic issues they were most worried about here’s what we found out.

Woman at State Fair:
I think it’s important that the candidates are able to cross partisan lines to be able to solve the budget crisis and not really become entrenched in agendas in order to help frame the issue on the budget.

Man at state fair:
I think one of the things they need to do is look at cutting the taxes. Lower the taxes especially for businesses. Cause the more money that’s flowed into the
the community they’re eventually going to come out ahead money wise with it I believe.

Man at state fair:
It’s reality. If we if we expect services, they need to be paid for and uh uh if the if it takes taxes to do that um that’s the way it has to be.

Man at state fair:
Given the condition of the economy right now I don’t think raising taxes makes any sense at all. While the economy in Minnesota is nowhere near as bad as it’s is in Arizona or Nevada We’ll still have trouble here and raising
taxes or only hurt that. We have to learn to cut spending and we have cut waste.

Woman at state fair:
It would be nice to reduce some expenditures. And there again, unless you’re right there with the books in front of you, you can’t just off the cuff say “we’ll cut this, cut that” because you don’t want to hurt people either.

Man at State Fair
I’m very uncomfortable with extreme views on either end of the spectrum and I believe that %uh a win-win situation needs to occur for the populace to %uh really benefit from any of the programs.

Man at state fair:
Is he going to increase taxes? Or is he going to increase revenues or what? What’s going to go on? I’d like to know just exactly how he’s going to balance the budget.

OK, let’s talk taxes more here and specifically how some of that tax impact could
Hit folks over fifty. That’s that focus tonight.

Let’s start with you, Tom Horner and your plan to tax services. Sales taxes on services…

TH: Well, but, but keep in mind in the overall plan is lower the tax rate, so those people buying big ticket items appliances, furniture actually are going to pay a little bit less in in sales tax

And then yes that would expand the to to clothing and and services. Not business the business services, some personal services. That’s in line with other states…

ML: How about the personal services. Might seniors use more personal services? Could it effect them disproportionately?

TH:No,I think it’s going to affect everybody fairly

ML: Is it? OK.

TH:Because I do have 350 million dollars in there to make sure that we’re not taxing low income middle income unfairly. You know, my budget says look we’re all in this together were all going to have to share a little bit of the sacrifice to dig out of that the six billion dollar hole that is being left to the next governor. I think that’s the responsible way to go.

ML: Representative Emmer, you’re going to be cutting local aid and local government aid cuts under governor Pawlenty, many say resulted in property tax increases. Could property tax increases disproportionately hurt seniors and folks over fifty?

TE: Well, you asked me two different questions. I mean if local units of government are going to insist on that giving raises that are out of line it to the private sector. I mean I ask people all the time, Mary when I go in, how much of a raise did you get this year? And most people say I didn’t get a raise or I don’t have a job right

ML: But a lot of mayors are saying that property taxes could go up under your plan.


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