Early Childhood Alliance Holds Minnesota Governor Forum (CC)

DFL’er Mark Dayton and Independent candidate Tom Horner participated tonight in a Minnesota gubernatorial candidate conversation at the Weyerhauser Chapel at Macalester College, which was sponsored by an alliance of early childhood organizations. Republican Tom Emmer did not attend. The “Candidate Conversation on Early Childhood” gave both candidates an opportunity to engage directly with voters. Unlike in a debate forum, both Dayton and Horner appeared before the audience and discussed strategies for improving school readiness and healthy development of young children. Minneapolis Star Tribune editorial writer Denise Johnson moderated the discussion.

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Early Childhood Alliance Holds Minnesota Governor Forum-Transcript And Captioned Video

Early Childhood Debate, Macalester College, St. Paul, MN
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Speakers: Mark Dayton, DFL candidate; Tom Emmer, Republican candidate;
Tom Horner, Independence Party candidate; Denise Johnson, Moderator;
Andy Overman, Todd Otis, Ready 4 K.
Transcription by Susan Maricle

Video program by The Ounce explores at-risk issues that can impact children during the first five years of life and the results of early childhood services.

Girl: This is my first birthday. That’s my Grandma. My cousin Tanya, and boyfriend Kevin. We all live together. It’s cold and crowded. I hope we move soon. I don’t like Kevin. He’s always yelling.
Boy: This is my second birthday. We’re all in daycare. Strapped in watching TV again. I wish I could just run around.
Girl: This is my third birthday. My brother William’s taking care of me while my Mom sleeps. She works the night shift. So we can’t turn up the TV. But we get to go to bed whenever we want.
Girl: This is my fourth birthday. We’re sleeping at my aunt’s this month. I don’t know when my Dad’s coming home. But I’m hungry, And I miss him.
Boy: This is my fifth birthday. This is my first year of kindergarten. I’m tired. I’m hungry. I’m unprepared. Because I didn’t get the right start.
A different child says each line: I’m twice as likely to be in special education. Thirty percent more likely to never go to college. Seventy percent more likely to be arrested for a violent crime. Become a teen parent. Drop out of school. Never hold a job. Spend the rest of my life in poverty.

Or…if we invest in programs that promote learning beginning at birth…the statistics will change…our stories will change…our future will change.

Girl: My mom plays with me all the time. She smiles a lot now. And she knows she’s not alone anymore.
Girl: Grandma, Tanya and Kevin read me a story every night before I go to bed.
Boy: I go to my school every day. Or I get to run and play. And see all my new friends.
Girl: Will and I go to preschool together. Today we learned about dinosaurs. And played a counting game!
Girl: Every morning, my Dad and I brush our teeth and eat breakfast together. We have our own place now. And I know we’ll always be together.
Boy: This is my first day of kindergarten. I’m rested, I’m eager, I’m confident, I’m curious, I’m prepared. I’m ready. I am your future. Change the first five years and you change everything. Anyone interested in investing? 03:19

Good evening. I’m Professor Andy Overman from Macalester College and I’m also fortunate enough to serve on the Ready 4 K Board. I want to welcome you to our campus, and welcome you to what is a very special, I think, and important evening. Because in this election season I don’t think there’s any more crucial issue for us and for our vote and there’s no more future issue for the future of our state than early education. So before us tonight is a weighty matter. I’m so glad that you came to join us, and you’re able to join in as the evening progresses and questions and give and take. Thank you to the candidates for coming, and I look forward to the dialogue and discussion that ensues. Let me introduce and invite to come forward now the President of Ready 4 K, and a leader and champion of the early education issue in our state, Todd Otis. Todd.
(applause) 04:25

Todd Otis: Thank you Andy, and thank you Macalester, for letting us have this wonderful space. We really appreciate it and it is a momentous event. This is a really important election year. And as you all feel, I’m sure, this is a really important issue. I think the video reminds us why we’re all here. The two paths that kids can take, one way or the other. Many of you are involved in helping
the kids get on the right path. But we still have a long way to go. So. I so appreciate the fact that we have two of the major candidates here today to talk about this issue. They go through so much as candidates and as you know this has been an extremely tough campaign. But they have been speaking out in ways that are new to campaigns for governor in the state. And it’s highly significant. And highly hopeful. As you know, the format tonight’s going to be a little different from how the candidates have been during the course of the election. There’s never been this many
debates in, I don’t think, Minnesota history. And we’ve formatted the evening tonight more like a conversation, more like let’s hear what you have to say and how you believe in what you think about this issue, and then let’s have some questions for you and the audience about it. So we’re not here to make anybody look bad or confront. We’re here to try to understand and reason together. And we have a wonderful, I think, couple of candidates to do that with. 06:06

I’d like to just make a couple of comments about public policy because the governor, our next governor will be the leader in our state for determining public policy that’s going to have an impact on these little kids. And so it is important, but it’s not the only thing. And there’s nothing more important than the parents. But public policy can help give kids what they need. In ways that many of you are already living in your work lives. So what we’ve done in the last year and a half is try to put together a common policy agenda with eight organizations to lobby at the legislature. And so what we have called this agenda is Minnesota’s Future. And i’d just like to read to you the groups that have been involved in formulating these ideas. Because it’s significant and important that for the first time, everybody has come together to identify the common ground
common ground that we share on policy. Here are the groups that participated: Childcare Works, The Minnesota Association for the Education of Young Children, Minnesota School-Age Care Alliance, Minnesota Association for Family and Early Education, Minnesota Child Care Association, Minnesota Child Care Resources and Referral Network, Minnesota Coalition for Targeted Home Visiting, Minnesota Community Education Association, Minnesota Head Start Association, and Ready 4 K. This group has met and worked together to forge a common policy agenda that’s made up of five parts. I’m just going to tell you very briefly what they are. The first deals with parent empowerment. Parent education and home visiting for parents that are in need of that kind of support in their home. Parents are central to all of this and they need the support we need to give them. We also want to double the access to quality early learning for low-income kids in our state, so that more and more kids have access to the kind of quality that happens in high-quality child care or Head Start or preschool programs. We need to double how many kids have that kind of exposure. We need a quality rating system, and this is being worked on by a number of people. But right now The Minnesota Early Learning Foundation, The Department of Human Services, and other groups are formulating the core idea for that. 08:33

We need community partnerships as we’ve seen in northern Minnesota and all over the state. So
much energy can happen when people work together. The program up in Grand Rapids, Invest Early, is a classic example of that. And then finally the Minnesota’s Future alliance is recommending the creation of a Cabinet-level position reporting directly to the Governor, so that there is that strict and strong line of accountability. And it’s elevated as a really important public issue. 009:04

The issue is growing in momentum. And it’s so important who we elect. The foundations in this state have been working on this for, in some cases, decades. But now we have multiple foundations: the Initiative Foundations, the Early Learning Foundation, the traditional foundations that have created the early childhood, early childhood partnership as well as the school readiness group of foundations. The business community is getting more involved. The Early Learning Foundation, Minnesota Business for Learning, individual Chambers of Commerce, have gotten more and more involved, like TwinWest in the western suburbs. And the Legislature’s created an Early Childhood Caucus, which is now numbering over 140 people. There’s momentum for this issue, and so many pieces are falling together. And what is needed now is a Governor. There’s no state in which this motion, this issue hasn’t moved without the leadership of a Governor. So who our Governor is, and how that person really feels about the issue, is critically important. 10:15

So tonight we’re lucky to have Denise Johnson moderating our conversations with Tom Horner and Mark Dayton. Denise has been a reporter with the Miami Herald and the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and is now a very well-respected editorial writer for the Star Tribune. And so our format will be to have Denise and Tom come up, and talk about early childhood. Thank you so much, Tom, for coming, and Denise for moderating this. 10:44 (applause)

Denise Johnson: Thank you Todd. What I’d like to do is, first of all thank you for inviting me to to address this very important issue. I’ve been writing and reporting about early childhood education for a number of years, including back when Minneapolis was one of the early, the first schools
to do preschool screening, and now of course the state is doing that and we know a whole lot more about where our kids really are before they show up for kindergarten. I’d like to go over sort of, give you an overview of the ground rules, how we’re going to proceed this evening. We have given all the questions in advance to the candidates so they know, they’ve had a chance to think about them, and have kind of prepared remarks. We’ll, we’ll devote about 10 minutes to asking 3 questions, which means you’ll have about 3 minutes per question. 11:44

Tom Horner: Right. 11:44

Denise Johnson: And then the last 10 minutes with each candidate, we’d like to open it up for questions. So as they are talking, if you haven’t already, written questions on the cards that are provided, please do so as the candidates are are responding to these questions and we’ll get some of them in at the end of their remarks. 12:03

All right. Let me introduce the candidate, our first candidate. Tom Horner. Was born and raised in Minneapolis, he’s a graduate of the University of St. Thomas, worked as a reporter and editor for the Suburban Sun Newspapers following some time spent in New York. In 1978 Tom joined Dave Durenberger’s staff as Press Secretary, during the Senator’s first campaign for the U.S. Senate. Then joined the newly elected Senator in Washington. Tom served as Press Secretary and Chief of Staff to Durenberger until 1985. 12:33

After returning to Minnesota, Tom and former state Legislator John Himle launched the public affairs firm of Himle and Horner Inc. In 1980, in 1989, where he’s worked until recently. So thank you for being here and welcome. 12:46

Tom Horner: Thank you. 12:47

Denise Johnson: And I will start by asking the first question, and that is children learn and grow most effectively in the context of strong families. As Governor, how will you support parents to be their children’s first and best teachers? 13:03

Tom Horner: Well, thank you for that, and first of all, thank you for the opportunity to to talk about these important issues. I also need to comment and make sure everybody understands that when Todd talked about the number of debates that we’ve had this year, being the highest number ever, you understand he was talking cumulatively in Minnesota’s 152-year history, that we’ve topped that. (audience laughs) And we still have another 15 to go. 13:30

Denise Johnson. Oh. 13:31

Tom Horner: Although, it seems as if the crowds on the dais are getting smaller with each debate. 13:36

Denise Johnson: Laughs 13:38

Tom Horner: So, to strong families. I think there are a number of things we can do. And one of the things that I think we need to be particularly mindful of is that when we’re in a crisis, the priorities that are most important to us are the ones that do surface. The ones that do elevate. And so I think it really is important to look at the budget proposals of each of the candidates, to see where each of us has allocated new money, where we have set priorities. And in my budget, a couple of things that I think are very important to Minnesota’s future, to our growth, to our health as a state, and specifically to this issue. Are that strong families start with healthy families. And so we do need to make sure that families have access to health care. I’ve set aside money to do the early opt-in to Medicaid. I think that’s important, that we expand access to health care, that we make sure that families to have the opportunity to to stay healthy. I think we also need to make sure that families have the opportunity to have a good economic livelihood. And it’s not enough simply to say that we’re going to cut taxes and and everything will be wonderful and will grow. We understand, in this kind of an economy, in this kind of an environment, that we do have to invest in skill development and training, in job skill enhancement, and those are the kinds of programs that I think that are very very important. We need to make a commitment to lifelong learning, and so programs are our two year schools in particular, I think become very very important to make
sure that that we have healthy families. We also need to acknowledge that we are in economic upheaval. And I think we’re going to see more and more families in crisis before we hit the bottom
and and turn around. And so I do have again new money in in my program for families in crisis, families in transition, particularly families that might be spiraling into homelessness. Where we do have to put an investment in in supportive services. The shelters certainly are important, but we also need to make sure that we have money for supportive services to help those families. And then on some of the programs specifically for families with children, I think that ECFE, ECFE is
an incredibly important program. My wife, who is – there’s Libby, back there – I have to tell you that, as you mentioned, I started my political career with Dave Durenberger. Went out to Washington, Dave was elected in the special election. Two days after the election, he and I flew out to Washington. The very first person I met in Washington was Libby, who had been a staff person for Senator Muriel Humphrey, and before that for Senator Hubert Humphrey. So as we tell people we were bipartisan way before bipartisan was cool. (audience laughs) 16:25

Denise Johnson: A long time ago. Well let me move on for a second – 16:26

Tom Horner: – but that was an important, just quickly, that was an important program for us and even more important for others who maybe don’t have the resources we did. And then lastly, I do think the home visits program starting in in pre-natal are very very important to strong families. 16:44

Tom Horner: Sorry, I got all my stories out of the way. 16:45

Denise Johnson. That’s all right. Second question. Second question. Research shows that children from at -risk families benefit most from high-quality early childhood programs. They include well-trained teachers, evidence-based curriculum, low ratios, and parental involvement. As Governor, how would you increase the quality of early care and educational programs? 17:03

Tom Horner: Well, and I think that starts first and foremost with the governor himself to hold the administration, the programs accountable for quality, to make them transparent, to have very clear measurements, very clear outcomes that we want to achieve, and then it’s up to the Governor to hold those programs accountable. But I think we also are blessed in the state to have organizations like the Minnesota Early Learning Foundation and the organizations it’s working with to really do a rigorous study of what it takes to have a quality program. What are the elements of a quality program. As Governor, it is my commitment not only to follow the recommendations of what comes out of that effort and other efforts that are evaluating equality,
but also to put some teeth into to those standards, into upholding those standards. I think it is important that we start with programs to incent the use of of high quality providers, but I think then we have to transition to having some restrictions, particularly in public funds, so that we we don’t put money into programs that aren’t showing value. So it’s got to be both the carrot and the stick. 18:19

Denise Johnson: And question number three. The high cost of early childhood education makes it difficult for many families, especially those with low incomes, to afford quality care that can help children get ready for school. As Governor, what will you do to make high-quality learning experiences more affordable for families? 18:38

Tom Horner: Well, so let me cite three areas. And y’know, first and foremost and I think everybody in this audience certainly would acknowledge it, we need to put more money into the programs. And so I do, even in a six billion dollar shortfall budget, I do have new money that I’m proposing for early childhood learning, for these kinds of programs that do pay such high dividends. So that’s the first step. The second step, though, is that we do have to be innovators.
We have to look at the kinds of programs that are leveraging dollars, that are taking advantage
of dollars. Todd mentioned what’s going on in Itasca. Everything from the coordination, the one-application process, that simplifies things. I was talking to some folks who are in the back row there, from the Osseo district. A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit Fair Oaks Elementary School, age three to grade three school, I think that’s the kind of innovation that we need, to engage kids early, make them part of the school curriculum early on. I know there are similar programs like that in St. Paul and elsewhere around the state. I think those are important programs. I’m proud of the role I played on my service with Serve Minnesota, the AmeriCorps
Board in Minnesota, to help create Minnesota Reading Corps. A public-private partnership that is engaging mentors to help students, reach grade level in reading by third grade. I think that’s an important kind of program. And there are a number of others. So it’s innovation. And then thirdly, we need a Governor who’s going to be an advocate, to better integrate all of these programs
and particularly to make sure that we can integrate state funding with federal funding, we can
break down some of the programs – some of the barriers that don’t allow us to easily leverage dollars in one program. To help fund similar achievement, similar outcomes in other programs.
So I think it’s really those three areas that are most important going forward. 20:41

Denise Johnson: All right. Well, with that we’ll entertain some questions from the audience. Let’s look through here. Here’s one. “Given the state’s challenges to funding K-twelve and MnSCU and the U of M, where specifically are you going to find the essential funding we need to invest in our youngest learners? 21:01

Tom Horner: Well I think that’s the the critical question. And so where I’ve found the funding,
because I think part of the answer to that is it’s not just finding the funding, it is making sure that we have a budget stability. One of the areas where I do disagree with Senator Dayton is his reliance on the income tax. Because I think that what we’ve seen in Minnesota is that the income tax is a highly volatile source of revenue. It does contribute to the high peaks and valleys that we’ve had in Minnesota, and does cause us to go through these wild swings: we can fund this
this year and we can’t fund it next year. And so I’m pleased that somebody, some of you may have heard of, Art Rolnick has looked at the three budget plans from the candidates and has said that mine’s the best, in part because it does bring stability to to our ability to fund. And so where I find the money, we are going to have to drive new revenue, new tax revenue. I think though that it has to be in the form of tax reform, and that’s why I think we need to go to more of a consumption-based tax, lower the rate on the sales tax so that people buying big ticket items will pay less, and then expand it to include clothing and some personal services. I’d still exempt groceries, medical services, prescription drugs, those kinds of essential services. We can do some protection for low-income on clothing, maybe it’s exempting children’s clothing or items
a hundred dollars and less, but it’s a stable source of revenue. It is a source of revenue that is going to allow us to make long-term commitments to these kinds of important programs: early childhood education all the way through, including post-secondary opportunities. 22:51

Denise Johnson: I think you said about 360 million you want to put into a combination of those things: early childhood, 22:56

Tom Horner: Yes. 22:56

Denise Johnson: education, how much of that 360 million specifically would go to early ed
and where would that come from? That would come from that same pool? 23:04

Tom Horner: Right.

Denise Johnson: Funds?

Tom Horner: Right. And, and, you know, we are going to have to do some spending cuts and I’ve been very up front on that. I think that we need to cut some of those programs that aren’t providing value. Some of the subsidy programs like ethanol and JOBZ. I think there are better ways to create jobs, to spur economic development in Minnesota, than those subsidies. So some
of the money is going to come from new tax revenue. Some of the money is going to come from spending cuts. Some of the money is going to come from doing things better. 23:32

Denise Johnson: Next question. Minnesota’s rural communities have unique challenges delivering early learning services. How will you insure rural communities’ needs are addressed? 23:44

Tom Horner: Well again, I think we do that in part by making sure as it has been suggested
and I certainly endorse, going to a Cabinet level council on children. That we make sure that that it has the Governor’s ear, that the Governor becomes the leading advocate for statewide delivery of these services. We can’t have a strong state without strong, healthy rural communities. And so we do need to make sure that these services are available throughout Minnesota. That means that we are going to have to address the pay issue, so that providers are able to operate in rural
Minnesota, they’re attracted to rural Minnesota. It means we’re going to have to make sure that we have strong education programs, a strong ECFE- and other delivery programs throughout Minnesota. I think it’s an area where programs like I’ve been involved in, Minnesota Reading Corp, have particular application to rural Minnesota. So it’s all of these things. But I’ll also say that to make sure that we have strong programs and early childhood learning in child care, in all of these areas, we do need a rural Minnesota that has a strong, healthy economy. And so part of that is going to come in investments that we make in the infrastructure for rural Minnesota, in making sure that we’re not abandoning our rural health care providers that – look what’s happening right now. With General Assistance Medical Care, the disastrous decisions that were made there by Democrats and Republicans, then the fallout that that’s going to have on the the vitality of rural Minnesota communities. These are all pieces of the whole. And if we allow one piece to collapse, then we’re going to see the whole collapse. And so we do need a strong economy, a strong health infrastructure, a strong physical infrastructure, a strong
education system in rural Minnesota. All of these things are part of it. 25:42

Denise Johnson: Studies show that return on investment is higher with early childhood than all-day kindergarten. Where will you put your investment with limited resources between the two of those: 25:54

Tom Horner: Well and I’ve been very clear. I think the first dollar has to go into early learning and that’s where I put my money, that’s where I put the priorities. I think that is where we’re going to get the best return. And again, part of it is, and for political purposes, I bless Art Rolnick for coming up with a formula. I mean, it is very very important, but we also need to look at it in terms of where are we going to help the citizens of our state, the residents of our state, to be the most successful. And I think it is, in in early learning, particularly with some of the creative programs that are coming on line now. 26:32

Denise Johnson: All right. Attention to early childhood issues is often focused on ages three to five. Yet the science indicates that a quarter – a quarter? a GREATER return on investments targeted to prenatal to three. How would you work to ensure a more equitable distribution of resources toward very early development? 26:55

Tom Horner; Yeah, and I’ll be honest with you, well, I think the prenatal to three is a high priority, it ought to be funded, I think the home visits are incredibly important. When you talk about a more equitable distribution of resources, that’s where I’m going to need the expertise of of people like those in the room and others. That’s where we have the value of a Governor’s-level Children’s Cabinet position to help guide me, to help make sure that as I take advantage of the bully pulpit,
as I use the resources of the governor’s office, to be an advocate for all of these programs. I also want to be a smart advocate. So I need people who are smarter than I am on some of these specific issues. 27:40

Denise Johnson: Okay. Would you support a loan forgiveness program for degreed early childhood teachers? 27:47

Tom Horner: Um, maybe. I mean I think it’s certainly worthwhile looking at. We have to see what the cost is, we have to see how it fits into the other priorities, we have to see where it fits into a six billion dollar shortfall. I think those are exactly the kinds of innovative programs though that
that we need to look at to make sure that we are getting the highest quality people into the service. I think when you look at what we’ve been able to do, for example, in health care with some of the loan forgiveness programs, particularly to get health care providers into rural Minnesota. Y’know the University of Minnesota-Duluth Medical School is, I believe, the nation’s
leader in providing physicians into rural Minnesota. Because of some of these creative programs.
Is it important at the same level that we have not only healthy bodies but healthy minds? Minds that are able to get a good start in life through these kinds of programs? Absolutely. So we ought to look at it. We ought to be creative. We ought to look at the long term. You know one of the things that I keep raising to every group is that we need to more and more, to ask the question of “What for?” not just “How much?” What are the outcomes that we need to achieve? What is it that’s going to make Minnesota a successful state? An economically prosperous state for all Minnesotans? That’s not, that’s not a question that gets answered if all we’re asking is “How much are we going to spend?” We need to ask “What for?” and then how do we use our dollars most efficiently against very clear outcomes? 29:26

Denise Johnson: Does early childhood education have a claim to funding that is equal to the K-12 claims? 29:32

Tom Horner: Oh, equal to, sure. I mean, I think that, and I’ve said this to all groups. I think we need to more and more look at education as a seamless lifetime process. I think that we can’t any longer sort out and say “This piece of education is more important than that piece.” When we see that the data are compelling. That if we don’t have healthy children by age three, if we don’t have children prepared for success by the time they come into kindergarten, if we don’t have kids reading at age level by grade three, you just move right up the ladder. And so to pull out any one piece of it and say “This is more important than that” or “This is less important” destroys the whole. We can’t afford to do that anymore. So we do have to look at it as a seamless process. And again, I think that’s what you get to get to when you start setting outcomes. What is it that we need to have an economically prosperous state? And I think in Dane Smith, in his op-ed this morning, addressed one of those outcomes. We need more Minnesotans who have some post-secondary certification: degrees, training, some kind of connection to post-secondary education.
I think that’s one very important outcome. But I think a second important outcome that we need as a state is that we ought to make available, affordable, accessible, to all Minnesotans, lifelong learning. Skills development, job training. We’re in an economy, in an age, where we can never stop thinking about education. And if you start with those two outcomes, lifelong access, and more degreed Minnesotans, more certified Minnesotans, then you just back up and follow the process. And each piece is important because you don’t accomplish the next step if you haven’t done the preceding step. 31:30

Denise Johnson: Too often, early childhood issues have fallen to the bottom of the list in previous Legislatures and I’m wondering how you’ll change that. 31:40

Tom Horner: By being a different kind of Governor than what we’ve had. 31:44

(Denise Johnson, audience laugh)

Tom Horner: I mean, again, budgets are strategic blueprints. And one of the things that I believe all three of the candidates for governor this year have done well for the voters of Minnesota is that not only the 12,000 debates that we’ve done or whatever number we’re up to (moderator and audience laugh), but that we’ve also put out very specific proposals. Y’know, do some of them have some gaps here, some gaps there? Absolutely. But are they pretty clear strategic blueprints of the principles, priorities of each of the gubernatorial candidates? I think so. And so you can look at mine, at Horner2010.com, and what you’ll see is new funding for exactly the kinds of the programs that we are talking about. There are other programs that I think also are important that I don’t have new funding for. I’d love to be able to say that we’re going to go through and we’re going to rebuild every road and we’re going to do a billion-dollar bonding bill. I don’t think we can afford a billion-dollar bonding bill and still do this. I don’t think that we can say, as some have said “What a tragedy,” and I think it is, that that per pupil funding has been effectively reduced by some 1300 dollars per student over the last couple of years. It is. I agree with it. Can we afford to do that? Not in a six billion dollar shortfall. Not with these other priorities. And so you can’t promise everything to everybody. And you can’t promise to do nothing for anybody. You have to take a budget and say “Here are my priorities.” And I think people will look at my budget, and what you’ll see is exactly what I’ve talked about: new money for the early opt-in to Medicaid, new money for early childhood education, new money for families in crisis. All of the things that I’ve discussed here, I have in my budget proposal very specifically, and with those priorities, I’m also very clear in telling other constituencies, as much as I love them, that there’s not money for their priorities right now. Doesn’t mean we can’t get to it until – at some point in the future, but right now we do have to set priorities. And when everything’s a priority, nothing’s a priority. And I think what’s going to be most important is a Governor who understands that Republicans, Democrats, Independence Party, if that next Governor doesn’t have the ability, the commitment to engage the 60, 70% of Minnesotans who have been pushed to the sidelines exactly on issues like this, we’re never going to accomplish anything in the next four years. If we wait for the legislature to forge
consensus of these difficult issues with a six billion dollar shortfall, we’re going to be waiting a long time. It is going to take a Governor who has the ability, the commitment, the passion, to reach out, forge consensus in the public’s mind on these critical issues, and then bring that consensus that legislature. That’s what I’ve done in my 40 years of community service, of public service, of professional service That’s what I offer as the next Governor of Minnesota. 34:54

Denise Johnson: How would you help poor, I’m sorry the working poor people, making $20,000 to $40,000 a year afford quality early care and education? 35:04

Tom Horner: Well again, I mean I think one of the things that we have to do is look at it holistically. And so we do have to make sure that the working poor, for example, have access to health care. We can’t, they can’t afford to spiral down even further. So health care becomes a an important component of it. I think secondly we do need to make sure that they have the opportunity for training, to get the skills to get into good jobs. You look at our great two-year schools around the state, and there are terrific programs that are providing skills for jobs that
exist, jobs that are good, well-paying jobs in Minnesota. So we need to make sure they have access to those kinds of programs. But then thirdly as I said, you know the bottom line is affordability for many Minnesotans on some of these quality programs comes down to our ability, our willingness, our commitment to fund the program. That’s why I have new money in there. Now I also have new money, and one of the things I’m most proud of in the budget, a budget that does balance by the way, is I have money in my budget for what I’m calling innovation funds. Three funds in academic success, health care, and community vitality. In which we can fund innovation. We can take great ideas, and we can say “Here are the resources to pay for it.” Because we can’t be a state that’s always looking in the rear-view mirror, figuring out what worked ten years ago, and let’s just replicate that. It’s a different economy, it’s a different
population, it’s a different everything. We need to be looking ten years to the future, and I think one of the things that that these innovation funds do is really spur boldness among Minnesotans. Because we’re not a state that suffers from a lack of creativity, a lack of great ideas. We’re a state that right now suffers from a lack of leadership, and a lack of political will. And so as we move more and more to what I think are important priorities in how we budget, in how we govern, to start to manage our priorities around very specific outcomes, I think these innovation funds give us the opportunity to really be creative and take on some of these issues an entirely new ways. 37:23

Denise Johnson: How will you support the development of children’s creativity, given that lifetime accomplishment is correlated with creativity when people are young? 37:36

Tom Horner: Yeah, well let me just give you one example, and I’m sure there are many others. I think we as a state are going to have to have a very very honest conversation about No Child Left Behind. I think one of the things NCLB has done that we wouldn’t have today is that it has highlighted the disparities in education. It has highlighted the achievement gap. But look. We have schools right now that that don’t suffer from a lack of creative teachers, don’t suffer from a lack of expert teachers, great principals, engaged parents. We have schools that suffer from
the rigidity that has been imposed upon them by things like No Child Left Behind. And as a consequence, we have thousands of Minnesota kids that aren’t even showing up at school! I mean, it’s not a matter of “How would we make them more creative?”, it’s a matter of “How do you get their butts in the seats?” (audience laughs) And you know, and and that’s the reality of It.
We have thousands more kids who are completely unmotivated, who have just tuned out. And again, that’s not the fault of teachers. We have great teachers! But when teachers are said, “Here is a very rigid procedure that you have to follow, a very rigid curriculum,” their hands are tied. And so, one answer, I believe, is we’ve got to have an honest conversation about whether or not No Child Left Behind is working for us, whether or not the teaching to the test is the right answer, and I think we’re losing a lot of opportunity to engage kids creatively, to engage them in project learning. And in doing so, to motivate the students. I mean, we keep thinking about education productivity, the issues by only looking at one half of the labor equation: the teacher. The other half of the labor equation are the workers, the students. And we’d better engage them. Physically by getting them back into schools, emotionally and mentally by making schools engaging, motivating, creative. We have the teachers who can do that. Now we need to give them the authority, the economy, to let teachers teach. 39:40

Denise Johnson: Here’s a question for you. As a third-party candidate, how will you bring all the established players to the table? To pass early childhood initiatives, when without the same kind of party base that other Governors have had in the past? 39:55

Tom Horner: Well, I suppose the obvious question back to the audience would be, “How well has it been working the last several years?” (moderator, audience laugh) The more thoughtful answer would be, I think it’s only an Independent who can do that. Because again I think on these kinds of issues, in this kind of an environment, with a six billion dollar shortfall, with a lot of competition for very few resources, it is not going to be the legislature. It is not going to be the interest groups,
as talented as committed as passionate as you are. It’s going to be engaging parents, engaging businesses, engaging the other stakeholders in figuring out what’s best for our state. And when we take an honest look, a scientifically rigorous look at what’s best for the state, these issues pop up right to the top. That’s what a Governor can do. That’s particularly what an Independent Governor can do. We’ve got to engage the 60 to 70 percent of Minnesotans who have been pushed to the sidelines. Gridlock, y’know is not just Tom Emmer and Mark Dayton, the Democratic caucus, the Republican caucus. It is everything behind them. And the only way that we’re going to break through that is if we have a Governor to engage you, and to engage the five million people of Minnesota behind you, make them part of the solution, engage them. And then secondly, a Governor who says “Now I have a consensus in the public, I have the public support.” Now that we need is a Governor who says, “Look, I would never go into this office promising to be a one-tern Governor. You can’t be a lame duck from day one. But I’ve always said this. I will go in with the commitment that I’ll be the political lightning rod. I’ll bring, with the support of the public, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, to the table, and if they’re willing to take the tough votes, if they’re willing to do the right thing, I’ll give them the political cover. And we’ll get minnesota moving in the right direction. And if the consequences of that are that I’m not re-elected for a second term, Libby’s really good with that. (audience laughs) 42:01

Denise Johnson: So be it. Well, thank you…

Tom Horner: Thank you!

Denise Johnson: – for being here. We appreciate it so much.

Tom Horner: I’ve enjoyed the conversation very much. And thank you all.

Denise Johnson: And thank you for your questions! 42:10

(Begin Mark Dayton segment)

Denise Johnson: You know something about the ground rules here. You’ve been given the questions in advance. I’ll ask each of them, each of those three questions to you. And try to keep your responses to maybe about three minutes for each question. And then we have questions from the audience. All right? 42:25

Mark Dayton: Okay.

Denise Johnson: Just by way of introduction, Mark Dayton was born in Minneapolis and raised in Long Lake. He attended Long Lake Elementary School and Blake School in Hopkins. He graduated cum laude from Yale University, where he notes he also played Division One hockey. After college, Senator Dayton taught ninth grade science for two years in a New York City public school. He served as Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Economic Development, and of Energy and Economic Development in the Perpich administration, as State auditor from 1991 to 95. And as the United States Senator from 2000 to 2006. Welcome. 43:01

Denise Johnson: So why don’t we, why don’t we plunge right in with the questions. The first one

Mark Dayton: Well, let me just say, since you brought up hockey, Denise, that I played high school against Todd Otis. (audience laughs)

Denise Johnson: Who won? 43:10

Mark Dayton: I won’t tell you what happened, (moderator laughs) but I haven’t, I haven’t forgiven him yet for that. 43:17

Denise Johnson: Ahhh…. (laughs) Okay. Well, the first question. Children learn and grow most effectively in the context of strong families. As Governor, how will you support parents to be their children’s first and best teachers? 43:33

Mark Dayton: Well, my two sons are 30 and almost 27. But I can still remember when they were first born, and how overwhelming those new responsibilities seemed to be. So I sympathize with the inherent nature of that, and I’m looking to see a rival right over there, that’s really appropriate for this. And y’know, for parents whose lives are even more overwhelming than mine, the experience can be more thus, overwhelming for them. So y’know, the kind of programs that are already underway, where we support parents, whether it be through early parenting programs or whether it’s through the nurse partnerships in 17 counties, it may be a different approach in different family situations, but certainly the goal ought to be that every parent would have everywhere in Minnesota would have the support that they need to be the kind of parent that they want to be. Perhaps the kind of parent that they never had themselves. And so that every child
can have the quality parents that he or she deserves, and needs. 44:45

Denise Johnson: All right. Research is the second question. Research shows that children from at -risk families benefit most from high-quality early childhood programs that include well-trained teachers, evidence-based curriculum, low ratios, and parental involvement. As Governor, how will you increase the quality of early care and education programs? 45:07

Mark Dayton: Well, quality is essential, because again from my own experience, you can’t ask a one-year-old or eight-year – an eighteen month old, well, y’know, “How was your day at daycare?” And my wife Alida and I had the horror when my older son Eric was about four, taking him to a summer program, and he almost drowned the first day because of the inattention of a couple of young and inexperienced staff. And of course we took them immediately out of that program, but it was almost too late. And I don’t want any parent to ever have to experience the horror that we narrowly avoided that day. So, quality, and particularly if we’re going to make additional investments in expanding these opportunities as we will if I’m Governor, assuring quality is absolutely essential. And how that’s best achieved, whether it’s through the pilot program that’s now being undertaken in terms of quality assessment, whether how it, who best performs it; I don’t want it to become overly bureaucratic as some of these quality assessment devices do, they just sort of overload that process. But we do need quality assurance, and especially as I say if we’re going to increase and expand the opportunities that we need to be able to ensure that we’re providing parents and children with quality, and I would deter to the experts in the field. Whether it’s through this, the early family council that’s now Early Childhood Council that the Governor established, Governor Pawlenty, or whether it’s through some other group, or whether it’s the creation of a new entity to help guide us through this expansion. 46:47

Denise Johnson. Okay. And the third question. The high cost of early childhood education makes it difficult for many families, especially those with low incomes, to afford quality care that can help children get ready for school. As Governor, what will you do to make high-quality learning experiences more affordable for families? 47:06

Mark Dayton: Well, we’re going to need to increase the public investment. And we will if I’m Governor. We (unclear) to partnering with, with businesses, with non-profits, with the foundations, and create public/private partnerships that will help expand access and the affordability of quality early childhood care. Some people would say we can’t afford it, I would say we can’t afford not to do it. Because the stakes are so high in terms of the kind of adults that these children, eventually young people, will become. So, so whether it’s the 180 million that has been estimated to double the number of at-risk children by the year 2015, and I would hope that goal could – at times it’s a worthy goal, and I would hope if anything that timetable could be accelerated. Because there are so many children whose lives are literally at stake in this undertaking. And where those resources would come from, again with the budget situation we face in the state, I mean obviously everybody knows that the general fund is going to be hard-pressed, but hopefully, as the economy improves, as more people are going to work, as the Vice-President assured us today, they will be, with their efforts, that we’ll have more resources, and this certainly early childhood on with, I’ve also proposed state funding for optional all-day kindergarten, along with funding for K-12 education, education starting at birth. And the support of families in providing those educational experiences certainly ought to be our top priority. And y’know, the people of Minnesota have shown with the Legacy Amendment, they’ve shown with their support of various school referenda that they’re willing to even vote to increase their own taxes selectively for causes they believe in.
And I believe if it’s necessary to be creative, it’s certainly possible. I would certainly be willing to look with those involved to make the case to Minnesotans that early childhood education and this goal of doubling the access in Minnesota is a worthy one, and one that’s worthy of their support. And I believe that Minnesotans would support this. If they knew that this is where the resources were going, that the quality had been assured, and that the result was going to be that we could double that opportunity. 49:13

Denise Johnson: Senator, you’ve said that you would not, or you would support the two million dollars into early childhood education that the Governor, the current Governor, vetoed. Where would that two million dollars come from and what specifically would you use it for? 49:28

Mark Dayton: Well, I believe you’re referring to the bonding bill he, that Pawlenty vetoed for 19 different facilities, early childhood facilities, and for the life of me I can’t imagine why he did that. Y’know, these were, what I’m told, projects ready to go, so-called shovel-ready projects, the ideal ones in terms of putting people back to work in the building trades. My commitment, if I’m Governor, is to move the bonding bill traditionally from the even year to the odd-numbered year, to next year. I’d like to ask the Legislature to take it up in January and pass it in early February so that all those projects could be ready to go by the beginning of the next construction season. And I’ve said that the projects that were vetoed by Governor Pawlenty would be the first in line in my provision for it. And obviously the Legislature would have to concur, but they did last time, so I have every reason to believe they would again this time. 50:22

Denise Johnson. Okay. And we’ll go to some of the questions from the audience that were collected. “Given the state’s challenges to funding K-12 and MnSCU and the U of M, where specifically are you going to find the essential funding we need to invest in our youngest learners? 50:37

Mark Dayton: Well, I’m going to raise revenues by making the income tax even more progressive, and indicated that I would raise revenues by asking the highest income people in Minnesota, the
the top four percent according to the Minnesota Department of Revenue, to contribute more to our state. And I would go to those successful individuals with just this request: that the y’know increase the taxes that they pay for a very important reason, which is the education of our children. And given that the forty percent of the state budget now goes to K-12 education, 8% to higher education, but y’know less than 1%, I think it’s three-fourths of 1% to early childhood education. I mean even doubling that to 1 ? or 2% would actually then bring the state, and I think appropriately so, the state budget up to about 50%, where half, you say half of the money that you’re contributing with your taxes to the state of Minnesota is going to the education of our children. And to our young adults. And I would say that, along with public safety, are the two most important responsibilities of our state government. And I think education in the past has shown to be an area where Minnesotans have been willing to make an extra commitment and I think
Minnesotans would be appalled if they knew the cuts in state funding for education, where we’ve fallen in ranking relative to other states, because I know Minnesotans’ values are education. And I know, and I would point out again that our budget is as much about our values and our priorities as it is about dollars and cents. And I think Minnesotans share that value and are willing to make that a priority. 52:14

Denise Johnson: What tools of the governor’s office will you use to raise resources and the profile of early education in areas that traditionally don’t support it? 52:26

Mark Dayton: Well, I guess I would defer to the expert. I mean, who doesn’t support it? I would like to believe that there’s broad support. I just may not be broad public recognition. The importance of it. Y’know I mean I give credit to all of you, I think this is recognition of the importance of early childhood education, which Don Fraser and others have championed in years before. I mean when I was in college a long time ago, over 40 years ago, my senior year I volunteered at a Head Start program in New Haven. And it was known back then that children in Head Start got a tremendous assist in their readiness for whatever was next: preschool, kindergarten. And yet even today you know there’s only enough federal funding for less than half the children in this country who are eligible for Head Start. So we’ve known some of these, and Don and others have reminded us, to their enormous credit, of the need for this, and true visionaries, it’s an overused word, but I would ascribe that to Mayor Fraser and others. And I think now people recognize! Certainly the experts recognize. I think the business community is increasingly recognizing. So hopefully this is, as I said, is an idea whose time has come. To borrow from someone else’s phrase, and to really you know not even convince people, that just make people aware of how we’re under supporting what’s necessary to be done. And suggesting to people that here’s an opportunity. To put the heart and soul of Minnesota with those who are most in need, who are the most vulnerable, but who stand ready, if we give them the opportunity by realizing their own potential to be all of our salvation. Because we need everybody to be successful in this society. In order for all of us, especially in my generation, who’s gonna depend on them, to be able to carry us forward. 54:18

Denise Johnson: How would you distribute resources for early childhood among these programs, and why? And the programs that the questioner has listed are ECFE, Head Start, School Readiness, and Child Care. 54:35

Mark Dayton: Well, I would defer to the experts on it. Y’know, I don’t pretend to have that expertise, but there are a lot of people who do, and whether again it’s the early childhood advisory council that Governor Pawlenty set up or whether it’s some other entity, and obviously the Legislature would be involved, and that council has members of the Legislature as well as people appointed by the leadership of the Legislature. So some way we can, you know, that’s what the process is, by which we allocate resources. And I would defer to those of you. But rather than, y’know, trying to distribute, if you’re trying to distribute an insufficient amount of money, y’know that you inevitably get people placed in competition who really are allies in this endeavor, and so hopefully in this case if we’re looking at, and sometimes if you’re expanding resources you get some competition too. But y’know, that would be the goal I think, if we’re gonna be expanding the commitment as we should, that we can ask people, y’know in good faith to be supportive of one another and then again look at the measures of effectiveness and see what’s most cost effective. 55:40

Denise Johnson: The compensation for early childhood educators, particularly child care, is quite low. What strategies will you use to ensure that providers are paid well enough, incent them to participate in professional development opportunities to improve quality and stabilize the workforce? 55:58

Mark Dayton: Well, I remember we sent our boys to this wonderful couple that ran a family day care in southeast Minneapolis, and they computed if they put in all the hours what they were paid it was about half, half the minimum wage. So you’re right, y’know, the underfunding again where some of the affordability issues for lower-income families but also for middle-income families. Because as they pointed out if they were to raise their rates, give them the pay they really were earning, then they would y’know be less affordable for working families in terms of sending especially you know if they have a couple of children in daycare at the same time. So so whether it’s again until the public investment or the public-private partnership or federal child care credits or whether it’s some state version of that, whatever, if the budget were to permit, but we need to keep looking for ways where we can make it more affordable and therefore allow those who are getting paid for doing tremendously important work to earn a fair living by doing so. 57:01

Denise Johnson: Minnesota’s rural communities have unique challenges delivering early learning services. How will you insure rural community needs are addressed? 57:12

Mark Dayton: Well, it’s where again I think it’s promising there are 17 counties involved in the nurse partnership. Because that evidence says to me that there’s a, without knowing exactly which counties they are, but there is a geographical diversity there, which is really crucial. So you know that’s where you get to more rural areas where the population is more dispersed, more of an outreach service well may be necessary. So it’s not one size fits all, and y’know we’re going to have to provide resources and we’re gonna have to have guidance from people from all over the state of Minnesota, and legislators who represent the different parts to make sure that these services are appropriate to the different areas of the state. 57:49

Denise Johnson: All right. Studies show that return on investment is higher with early childhood than all-day kindergarten. Where will you put your investment and limited resources if you have to choose between these two? What will you do? 58:11

Mark Dayton: Both. 58:08

Denise Johnson: Both? (audience laughs)

Mark Dayton: I mean, y’know I just, no. I don’t accept the premise of either/or. I’d say both. 58:20

Denise Johnson: You think both of them are important, but there are limited resources! I mean, you feel you’ll be able to raise the amount that’s necessary in order to do both of those things? 58:31

Mark Dayton: Y’know, Tom Harkin said that for every complex issue there’s always a simple answer. And it’s almost always wrong. (audience laughs) Again, I don’t think it’s either/or. 58:44

Denise Johnson: All right.

Mark Dayton: The kids that were doing better in Head Start, coming out of Head Start, y’know if they didn’t have a continuation, have lost some of those gains. So I mean, as I say, to me it really needs to be both. We have less than half of the national average of children in all-day kindergarten today. In Minnesota. Y’know. A state again, where we value this. I mean if we see education as a continuum, is it is starting with early childhood and starting with very early childhood for children who need that, and for parents who need that help as well, that it seems to me you want it to be continuous. You don’t want to see it y’know drop the balls after getting some gains. 59:26

Denise Johnson: All right.

Mark Dayton: Diversely, as you know, having children ready for kindergarten. Which is the name of this supporting organization, has set its own priorities as well. So, I mean I guess I just don’t accept that it’s either/or. 59:37

Denise Johnson: All right.

Mark Dayton: Or shouldn’t be. 59:38

Denise Johnson: Attention to early childhood issues is often focused on ages three to five. Yet the science indicates a greater return on investment targeted to prenatal to age three. How would you work to ensure a more equitable distribution of resources toward very early learners? Very early childhood development? The prenatal to the three-year-olds? 1:00

Mark Dayton: Now we’ve got pre-natal to three against three to five against all-day kindergarten? (audience laughs) I mean, again I say it’s a continuum. And y’know there’s validity in all of these areas, and importance in all of these areas, so that there needs to be a continuum in all these areas where you start with very early and then continue through. And again I’ll defer to those, you have greater expertise than I do, in terms of y’know allocation, but y’know it’s one I think again that should recognize the importance of that continuum. 1:00:31

Denise Johnson: What kind of support do you think the state should give to very early learning groups? 1:00:36

Mark Dayton: Well again I think it’s

Denise Johnson: Do you have specifics in terms of the kinds of things you think the state should fund? Perhaps that it doesn’t fund now? 1:00:42

Mark Dayton: Again, earlier, we talked about the parenting. That’s important. About the at-home and the nurse partnerships. So I would say y’know again, it’s a variety of services reflecting the different needs of the parents and the very young children and the different geographical environments, whether it’s y’know urban or more rural, I mean again that’s where the expertise – Rudy Perpich had a sign in his office wall that I’ll put back up if I’m Governor. It says “None of us are as smart as all of us.” So I believe that we need to enlist those of you who have this expertise
and enlist your involvement and input. And if I’m Governor I’ll gladly do so. 1:01:20

Denise Johnson: Would you support a loan forgiveness program for degreed early childhood teachers? 1:01:26

Mark Dayton: I’d certainly consider it. I mean I’d have to look and see what it – you mean forgiveness of student loans? Is that what you’re asking? 1:01:33

Mark Dayton: Well, most student loans are federal, but y’know, and there’s also important areas like nursing and especially in areas of the state that need that and others. So, but, y’know if we’re gonna look at a constellation of occupations where loan forgiveness would be appropriate, this would certainly be one of them. But I’d have to look at the financial implications of that. 1:01:58

Denise Johnson: All right. Does early childhood education have a claim to funding that is equal to the K-12 claim? 1:02:05

Mark Dayton: Well, they’re equal in a sense that yes, they’re both, they’re all important. Yes. 1:02:12

Denise Johnson: Well, is, as you know, early childhood education issues have sort of fallen to the bottom of the list in many Legislative sessions 1:02:20

Mark Dayton: Well, that’s why I say -

Denise Johnson: What would you do to change that? 1:02:22

Mark Dayton: – I think it’s an idea whose time has come. Y’know, obviously we have a commitment already established for K-12, K-12 education, and it’s really first through 12 since as I say the kindergarten commitment, Minnesota is one of the relatively few states that doesn’t’ provide state funding for optional all-day kindergarten. So, y’know y’know, not to, and I’m committed to increase state funding for public K-12 education every year I’m Governor. So I’m not gonna take away from that. And, I’d like, and, so I’d like to increase the funding for very early childhood until beginning of kindergarten. As I say, make state funding for optional all-day kindergarten another initiative, so again it’s again all of it, and all of a continuum… y’know I just think it would be unfortunate if y’know people who share a common concern for the well being of our children, which everyone who is involved with this does, I mean gets into y’know this one versus that one. Because I think it’s all. 1:03:18

Denise Johnson: Okay. How will you support the development of children’s creativity, given that lifetime accomplishment is correlated with childhood creativity? 1:03:29

Mark Dayton: Say again?

Denise Johnson: How would you support the development of children’s creativity? 1:03:34

Mark Dayton: Creativity! Well, as someone who almost failed fourth-grade art, (moderator, audience laugh) ‘cause I couldn’t make a soap boat, (moderator laughs) that’s a way to stifle creativity. (audience laughs) But I mean y’know that’s one of the areas in which again you can talk about the opportunities in early childhood. I remember seeing my children’s art and thinking my goodness, there’s a free flow quality to their imaginations at the very early ages that really just needs to be nurtured and allowed, or given the opportunity for manifestation, and then as they start to get a little older, y’know, I would, some of that was lost. So it really does become a challenge for the schools. And it’s another area where again where the cutbacks in funding has meant that a lot of those areas like arts and other areas y’know where children should be encouraged and given that opportunity has really been taken away. So we’re going in the wrong direction. We’re going in the worst direction where we’re cutting off those opportunities. I remember when I was teaching New York, an educator, Edgar Friedenberg I believe was his name, said the purpose of education is to teach your child how he or she is valuable, rather than how valuable they are. In other words to show them, what are your special gifts? What are your special talents? And encourage those, and taking all the different forms of that you know our society involves, gives people an opportunity, but if the schools have to because of funding cutbacks, become more limiting in providing those opportunities, it’s again it’s really denying children a chance to find out how they are valuable, as he said. 1:05:14

Denise Johnson: All right. What role do you see the early childhood advisory council playing in your administration? This is the Governor’s advisory council on early childhood. 1:05:25

Mark Dayton: Well, again I would defer to those – kind of mixed reviews from what I’ve heard so far, and I haven’t heard as much as I’d want to in terms of the role that it’s played. And its composition and the like. Some feel, y’know that the nature of the process has left certain stakeholders out of that, so whether that’s the right forum, or whether that’s the right kind of way of bringing people together, again I’ll find out as I explore this if I have reason to do so. Four weeks from today. 1:05:56

Denise Johnson: Okay. Well thank you, Senator Dayton, you’ve made it through most of the questions that came from the audience, and I think with that we’ll have Todd come up 1:06:03

Mark Dayton: Can I just , can I just, I just think as I said before, those of you who are hear tonight, those of you who are engaged, I just salute you for your involvement. And again, I think the word “vision” is overused in this whole realm, but in your case it really does apply. And your vision, along with your heartfulness, and your desire to reach out and help those who are our future is just extraordinary, so I salute you for that and I thank you. And someday I’ll forgive you for scoring that goal on me! 1:06:29 (everyone laughs)

Todd Otis: Thank you so much. (Audience applause) Thank you, that was great. 1:06:44

(inaudible question from audience member)

Todd Otis: You want to?

Mark Dayton: Sure, that’s fine. Well, I’ve been asked that before. I’d say a high level person, whether that person’s in the Governor’s office, whether it’s another office, I you know – to be effective I think the person, a person, if you’re talking interagency coordination and breaking the silos and from what I’ve heard, it needs to be somebody who has, is known to have the direct authority from the Governor. And I will commit to that person. Where exactly that person should be placed, what that person’s title should be, I guess I’d have to give more thought. But the principal, yes you need somebody who does speak with that authority. I would absolutely agree to. 1:07:41

Audience member: Thank you Mr. Dayton.

Mark Dayton: Thank you.

Todd Otis: May I first also, in addition to thanking you, thank you Denise as well, for a wonderful job of moderating. (all applaud) You did a great job. Let me encourage you to visit the Web sites of the candidates as well as our Web site, I think it will be rebroadcast, or the Web sites of the candidates are up here, and then I think Ready 4 K’s Web site will probably have a link to The UpTake, which has filmed this. So if you want to encourage friends and neighbors to check that out, it would be great. Probably most importantly is vote! Vote! Four weeks from today is a huge day. And if you don’t think your vote counts, just think about two years ago in a U.S. Senate race.
So I really hope you go out there and vote. And again, once again thank you very much for being here. (all applaud) 1:08:38



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