BringMeTheNews hosted a live, interactive debate between Minnesota gubernatorial candidates Mark Dayton (DFL), Tom Emmer (Republican) and Tom Horner (Independent), at the Pantages Theater in Minneapolis Wednesday night.
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Transcript by Susan Maricle
Ladies and gentlemen, will you please welcome Rick Kupchella?
Rick Kupchella: Good evening! Good evening everyone and thank you for joining
us here tonight we very much appreciate it. the candidate conversation with Bring Me The News live at the Pantages Theater in downtown Minneapolis. We also want to extend a special welcome to our audience that is listening on radio across the state this evening including KTLK, and on television the UCW network right here in the Twin Cities, channel 23 will be broadcasting this program as well. I gotta tell you that there are hey, if you haven’t heard, online, we’re BringMeTheNews.com, streaming live, and on Facebook we’re doing the same. A lot has gone in to making tonight happen. I want to say a special thank you to our production partners in this effort tonight, The Citizens League and the Lead Project. The Citizens League is all about working to engage the public more in public policy. And The Lead Project is about involving young people in the Twin Cities more in the philanthropic and charitable communities of the Twin Cities.
You can learn more about both of these organizations at BringMeTheNews.com.
And a special note of thanks tonight to the sponsors that have made this evening possible. There are four of them. The Minnesota Association of Realtors, Target Corporation, the law firm of Dorsey and Whitney, and Politics in Minnesota and the Capitol Report as well. A special thank you to them, making this evening possible. We’re going to bring the candidates out in just a moment but first I want to give you an idea of how this is going to work. The conversation here is basically going to be driven on three rails, okay. I’ve got a few conversation items of my own, a few questions myself. We also have several thought leaders in the Twin Cities that we’ve talked to over the course of the last week or so. They’ll be coming in with questions of their own on video. And of course, social media. We are bringing in questions from Facebook and Twitter as the evening goes on. And you can follow that conversation, we encourage you to do so as well even online, you can contribute to what we’re doing here tonight via Facebook and Twitter, the hashtag is #debatemn. So, let’s get to it. This is one of two times this evening we’re going to encourage the audience here at the Pantages to be heard loud and clear. Please join me in welcoming the candidates in alphabetical order: Democrat Mark Dayton (applause), Republican Tom Emmer (applause) and Independent Party candidate Tom Horner (applause). Thank you sir. It’s good to see you, thank you.
Gentlemen, thank you for joining us tonight, we really appreciate it. We’ve got a lot to go over tonight, we’re going to try to keep the conversation moving and we want to hear from you. We’d like to dive deep on a few things. But just as a reminder, you know, is this is a story from , well, my daughter was, she was in the third grade, you know the line as the school report, on Shakespeare – Socrates. Socrates, it was a simple three-sentence report. Socrates was a philosopher. He talked a lot. They killed him. (audience laughs) Okay? You can’t, you know, kids today, they can cut right to it. Just keep that in the back of your mind as we, as we move along.
Rick Kupchella: So in addition to some of the big kind of umbrella issues that we’re talking about tonight, the issues that the Minnesota citizens are dealing with: jobs, the economy of course, very high on the list of priorities, we’re also interested in learning more about the candidates, the individuals who seek this office who would become governor. You’re looking to serve as Chief Executive Officer at a time right now when we’re at the you know worst economic situation we’ve been at in a generation, the question of ability to govern is kind of an overarching thing we want to start off with here tonight. Each of you brings to the table your own set of pros and cons if you will, maybe even Achilles heels at some stage of the game depending on how you want to look at it. That’s where we want to start tonight, I’d like to start with Mr. Horner, Independent Party candidate. You know when we look at your record as we you know set into the evening here on your ability to govern, what it can tell us, you know, the thing that stands out most of all quickly is really lack of a record in this kind of arena. Even Jesse Ventura, when he ran for governor, you know had been on a City Council prior to running for Governor. You’re looking to start public service at the top of the heap here, and if you’re able to pull it off you will be a leader without a major party at the Capitol. The question is, how do you establish your ability to govern in an environment where you have no direct experience and no party machine in the legislative process? Mr. Horner.
Tom Horner: So is this the softball question, Rick? (audience laughs) Well, first of all, I disagree with the premise. I don’t think I come without a record in public service. Quite the contrary, I think I bring a record of public service very much in keeping with the Governors who have been most successful in Minnesota’s history. An Elmer L. Anderson, a Harold LeVander, people who came from a background of community involvement, some public policy background, and running a business. And I think that at this point in Minnesota’s future, that’s exactly the combination of leadership that is needed. And so what I say to Minnesotans is that I’m not asking you to turn your back forever on lifelong loyalties. I think quite the contrary, this is one race, one year, one candidate where Minnesota needs an independent thinking governor. And so how do I govern? I think I govern in the way that all the best Minnesota governors have been successful. First, by making sure that we always understand that the governor’s office, public policy, is really a public trust. And what we need to do for any governor to be successful the next four years is to engage the public, get them involved in making the decisions, bring back that 60 – 70% of Minnesotans who have been pushed to the sidelines. Don’t wait for consensus to form in the Legislature, that’s not going to happen. Forge it in the public and impose it. Secondly, I think the lesson from Jesse Ventura is that you do appoint the cabinet that is the best and the brightest. The people are there because they aren’t a debt paid off to a special interest to this group or that, but because they understand the issues, they have relationships.
Rick Kupchella: Ultimately though you’re going to need to get the support out of the Legislature. You’re gonna need to find a consensus there without a major party. How do you have that appeal? How do you do it?
Tom Horner: I think the better question is, how do people who have put their stakes in the ground around such narrow issues, I mean one side that says “We’re just going to try to tax everything,” and another side that says “We’re going to try to continue at a more aggressive level the record of the past eight years.” How do they forget the consensus between Republicans and Democrats? I believe it is only an Independent that can find common ground, that can broker that common-sense solution between Democrats and Republicans. 08:04
Rick Kupchella: You will need to do it at the Legislature.
Tom Horner: I think you need to do it at legislature, I think you need to do it in public, I think you need to do it in the hearing rooms of the Legislature.
Rick Kupchella: Mr. Emmer, on your left here you have a couple of candidates that you have been competing with for some time now. You know the issues where they are on the issues, relative to you, where you are relative to them. On your right, Mr. Emmer, there’s nobody. (audience laughs)
Rick Kupchella: Okay.
Tom Emmer: Is that where Socrates sat?
Rick Kupchella: (Laughs) That’s a good question! You have really come to define your
political career the far right of the right spectrum. How do you establish an ability to govern, bring people together in a Legislative process, and your political career and your trajectory if you will has all been at the outer rim?
Tom Emmer: Well I don’t know where that comes from. When others define you, I suppose they’re going to try to define you the way they see you as opposed to the way you are. And those others are typically the folks writing the written word. I don’t know when it became extreme to believe that there is a right and wrong. I don’t know when it became extreme to know that people need to be responsible for their own actions. These are many things that we agree with. So I guess when somebody says that you represent one side or the other, that’s not true Rick. I would tell you as somebody who’s
served on city councils for almost 10 years, and that is the ultimate public service, that and school boards. Once I got to the Legislature I didn’t change who I was. And when I walk through to show you just that when you’re a city council member you don’t declare whether you’re a Democrat a Republican or other, you just do your job. And when I walked through my first parade after becoming a state representative, all right, I served one year. It was the summer of 2005, I believe. Walking through the Delano Fourth of July parade. I got to the end of the parade a little old lady in her folding chair jumped up, ran out to the middle of the street, gave me a big hug Rick and said, “Why did you have to be a Republican? You could have made such a good Democrat.” Okay? I’d, I will tell you right now.
Rick Kupchella: Mr. Dayton might argue with that. (audience laughs)
Tom Emmer: Well, it depends on who you are. This is about representing a certain set of principles and what we’re talking about in this campaign, quite simply is smaller government, more efficient government, making sure that people the citizens have the resources that they need to create new opportunities and get Minnesotans back to work. I suggest to you that’s not an extreme point of view whatsoever. That’s mainstream.
Rick Kupchella: Okay. Let’s just talk for a moment about this notion of far end of the right side of the spectrum, okay. This when in the news the Arizona piece on immigration. Okay. It was a classic. You had Chris Coleman, mayor of St. Paul, very much a liberal Democrat, talking about the the draconian nature of the law in Arizona on immigration. Your quote was “It’s a wonderful first step.” Okay? That seems to lead on the right edge of the party.
Tom Emmer: Well if you want to hear the rest of the story. Government enforcing the laws that it enacts is not a bad thing. But when it comes to immigration there’s a much bigger issue. And when you take sound bites like that you can interpret them any way you want. What we should be talking about is we should talk about how we make sure that people come to this country in a legal fashion and become contributing members to our communities. Because that’s ultimately what we all want. We, I think it’s not a party thing anymore. I think people here understand, people all over Minnesota and this country, understand the federal government has completely abdicated its responsibility to secure our borders and make sure that we have a good flow of immigrants coming to this country. Because after all if we ever have a day when people don’t want to come to enjoy the freedom and opportunity that this country presents, we’ve all lost. The statement was simply if you are a nation of laws then let’s make sure the federal government enforces the border and make sure that people can come here legally. That’s all it was about and we should all be about that ultimately. Immigration should not be this emotional issue that it’s become. And frankly we’ve created it in Minnesota. Because we get people who are asked to support all the wonderful programs we’ve created in government? And what do you expect people to do when they come to this country? They’re going to access those programs. Y’know, rather than making the people that are coming here to enjoy the freedom and opportunity that the untied States offers, making them the enemy, let’s make them our friend by making sure we encourage in the next Governor, whoever it should be, should encourage the federal Government to do its job when it comes to immigration so that we can continue to have people come to this country not only enjoy the freedom and opportunity that it offers, but make sure that they become contributing members to our communities.
Rick Kupchella: Mr. Dayton, you have discussed very openly, honestly, very publicly, your ongoing struggles with depression and alcoholism, issues that you say you’ve wrestled with personally. At least as recently as your time in the US Senate. Stress is a primary trigger for depression. You’re walking into as a Chief Executive Officer of this state, a live pressure cooker, the definition of a hostile work environment. How do you establish your ability to govern, given the very real and contemporary health issues that you have discussed?
Mark Dayton: Well, many Minnesotans are understanding of these, y’know I disclosed before I ran for the U.S. Senate, back before I ran for state auditor that I was going into treatment for alcoholism. I’m a recovering alcoholic and I don’t think that affected people’s opinions of me. In fact a lot of people came to me as they did last December and thanked me for being honest and open and shared with me their own struggles. I think, I think that those experiences have made me a better leader because I understand the human condition. And we all have our struggles. And we all have our challenges. And I think that overcoming those has made me a stronger person, a better human being and I believe a better leader. Y’know, I’ve dealt with stress all my life. I was a hockey goalie. I dealt with high stress there and I dealt with stress on walking into a ghetto school with knives and guns, two kids shot and killed outside the school the first year I taught, the gangs in there and on the streets where I served and worked for a runaway house in Boston, and I’ve been in pressure cooker situations running for office over these years, and I admitted I slipped once in the U.S. Senate, I’m not perfect. But I’m proud of my six years of service there. I stood with Paul Wellstone as two of 23 Senators to oppose the Iraq War. And stood working cooperatively across the aisle in 2006 after going to Iraq three times and Afghanistan once, and and driving in through (14:58, unclear) also armed, I remember going into Kabul one time with the open-air jeep, the three of us in the back, three senators and the Marine driving, and the other, right after they had overthrown the Taliban, and squeezing by a couple of these broken-down vehicles, with about a half dozen or so Afghan men all armed, and my heart was in my mouth- talk about stress. Because I thought, you know, if this is an ambush, we’re dead. As we got by, inched by, I asked one of the Marines, I said, “How do you tell the good guys from the bad guys?” And he smiled grimly and he said “Well, if he starts to point his gun at you, he’s probably a bad guy.” I thought, “Well, it’s a little late to be finding that out.” (audience laughs) So, I’ve dealt with stress all of my life. And campaigns have stress. I’ve been campaigning now for 20 months, and we have another 48 days, high pressure to go, people can assess being judged for themselves. But I know that I’m ready for this job, I wouldn’t undertake it, there’s too much responsibility if I weren’t very confident in my ability to do so.
Rick Kupchella: All right, let’s move on now to some of the issues.
Mark Dayton: I’d like to point out also –
Rick Kupchella: Yes sir.
Mark Dayton: Just to correct: Jesse Ventura was actually mayor, and I know because when I was state auditor he came to visit me on an audit problem, and he came in a tank top with his hair in a ponytail down to his waist and as he was sitting in the reception room for about five minutes, every member of the office found the occasion to go in and look at him. So I remember quite vividly.
Rick Kupchella: (laughs) Okay.
Mark Dayton: I’m not suggesting that for the next governor of Minnesota.
Rick Kupchella: Okay. It’s nothing you’ll aspire to.
Mark Dayton: It’s not an option for me, anyway.
Rick Kupchella: Okay. Well we’re going to move more to the issues here at this point and I’d like to start with the big one, the economy. Take a look on the screens here at a couple of facts that we have pulled together. Again, we’re in the midst of what many have referred to as the great recession. Tom Stinson, the economist for the state of Minnesota for more than 20 years, now tells us the most recent serious recession was a set of twin recessions in the early 80s. Four years after it started, the GDP was up and at 10% The current downturn is expected to be much longer, five to six years. Stinson says it’ll be about the start of 2013 before we get back to the same number of jobs we had in Minnesota in 2007. But the bigger issue for us, the labor force will be larger so unemployment will stay relatively high, running about 8%. Normal unemployment in Minnesota, historically, recently, 3 to 4%. The new normal unemployment, more like 8%.
Tom Stinson is focused on the dramatic need of job training and retraining skills in a workforce looking at an environment like that. This is his question.
Tom Stinson: The thing that I would like to know is, what role if any should state government play in rebuilding the skills of the unemployed, the long-term unemployed, so that they can be employable in the future.
Rick Kupchella: So the question, What is the role of government in something like this? Mr. Emmer?
Tom Emmer: I’ve been in the room with Mr. Stinson, he does a great job. And that’s probably the most excited I’ve ever seen him. (audience laughs) I hope (Emmer laughs) I hope Tom appreciates that, Dr. Stinson. I would say that what we have is government definitely has a role. But government’s role right now is to get out of the way. Government’s role right now is to make sure that 1) it lives within its means because we simply cannot continue to follow the course that we’re on right now. It’s not sustainable. You know, we talk about retraining, we talk about educating our workforce. One thing that Tom doesn’t bring up, that Tom Gillaspy talks about, is it’s not just about re-educating the current workforce but our workforce in general. We’re facing a major labor shortage in the state of Minnesota. Rick, I believe that the future is this: that Minnesota’s government must be redesigned. We put out a balanced budget, more than my colleagues have done, we have put out all the numbers, and we’re talking about this. We’re talking about not spending what government wants to spend because it’s just not sustainable to continue to grow government at the pace we’re doing it. For instance, health and human services budget is projected to grow in the next biennium by 32%. If you continue that type of growth, it will eat up the entire state budget with by 2020. You won’t have money for K12 education, won’t have money for roads. The better answer when you ask What is government’s role?
Rick Kupchella: Yes.
Tom Emmer: Government’s role is to get out of the way, let people keep more of their resources, allow people in the marketplace to start to create new jobs and make Minnesota attractive to new investors.
Rick Kupchella: Is this a pull yourself up by your bootstraps kind of, it’s more about individual responsibility in an environment like this?
Tom Emmer: Well gosh Rick, it’s more.
Rick Kupchella: I mean that’s what’s left, right?
Tom Emmer: You can call it that or you can just say You know what, people in this state, in this country, they – Minnesota was not built by government. It was built by people.
You need to allow the people the opportunity once again to create the opportunities they want to because they want to improve their quality of life. And you know what, when they do that they raise everybody else up out there. When you create new jobs you automatically will drive new revenue That is how you pay for the services that we all expect out of government.
Rick Kupchella: Okay. Mr. Dayton, how do you see that and how do you answer that question directly? Is this, what’s the role of government here?
Mark Dayton: Well, Mr. Stinson has said himself and I agree with him that education is the cornerstone of our past success, social and economic, and it’s the key to ou r future success. The jobs that we’re talking about developing and we’re talking especially about entrepreneurs who will start up new businesses that will create new jobs. They’re looking for well educated people. Well-educated, hardworking, productive citizens have always been Minnesota’s great strength. And what both Mr. Stinson and Mr. Gillaspy, as Representative Emmer has referred to, have said, We run the risk if we sacrifice our strengths: education, a good healthcare system, good state and local government services, a good infrastructure, and we’re never going to compete and we don’t want to with fifty sixty cent an hour jobs in China or Cambodia. But we will sacrifice the strengths that make us attractive to these startups, to these entrepreneurs, we educate the entrepreneurs, that’s why we need a premier university of Minnesota, and MnSCU colleges and universities.
Rick Kupchella: So the focus should be on education long term.
Mark Dayton: Long term, absolutely education. In the short term, the things we can do next year, and I would do, y’know, a 28,000-jobs bonding bill. An energy savings fund such as they have at the University of Minnesota/Morris where they renovating all the buildings, changing to an alternative fuel, and if we did that with every state college and university building, with our state and local government buildings, we could transform the public sector’s energy use in Minnesota, and that could put thousands of people back to work in those projects and save the taxpayers money over those, that decade. So there are ways we can take the initiative and there is a role for government as I learned when I was Commissioner of Economic Development working with the last great jobs Governor, Rudy Perpich. There’s a role that I’ll assume as Governor to go to any business anywhere in Minnesota or this nation or this world where there’s a job to be gained or a job to be had for Minnesota.
Rick Kupchella: Furthering this line here I want you to take a look at this question want to take a look at a question that’s come in on Facebook. This came in just a little while ago, within the last day or so. This is from Peter Meyerson. And he’s asking very specifically, “Do you plan to seek cuts in entitlements? If so, specifically where? Also, what plans do you have to seek cuts in education?” I want to grab the education first because I think everybody would stipulate I think, all of you have said you will not touch K-12 education funding. Is that correct? Yes?
Tom Horner: Yes but Rick, let me answer the job training question. Because before we go to a different topic, because I think the question was Do we agree that government has a role in training workers for the kinds of jobs that we’re going to have in today’s economy. And the answer is yes.
Rick Kupchella: That role? (audience laughs)
Tom Horner: Well, the, the the role is that we don’t turn back the clock and try to spend our way out of it but we don’t ignore all of those Minnesotans who have played by the rules, who now have the rug pulled out from under them. We do need to relook at that education. We do need to look at the role of government. Lookit. What Dr. Stinson really talks about is that we are at a transformational time in in the economy. It’s not just training people for jobs that used to exist, it’s not just training people for the kinds of jobs that are moving to South Dakota. It’s training jobs for those good, well-paying career jobs that we want in Minnesota. And so that’s going to take a whole different way of looking at education. It’s going to take a conversation around our great two- and four-year schools, both the vo-tech and the community colleges. But it’s also going to take a new attitude
In which we say that education no longer is in these neat little silos. It is cradle to grave and government does have a role, in making sure that that 55-year-old who isn’t going to
Find a job without new skills, without the ability to compete, has the opportunity to compete.
Rick Kupchella: Okay.
Tom Horner: in the economy.
Rick Kupchella: I want to get to, I really want to get to some of the specifics here. Ah, we’re gonna keep this train going, and we’re gonna look at a chart. Okay, this is a pie chart, it’s been put together by a couple of folks we know at the Citizens League, The Minnesota Taxpayers Association. You guys are familiar with these numbers. Okay. Thirty-three billion dollar two-year General Fund that we’re looking at. Half of this budget is earmarked for K-12 education and public safety and debt service basically. That leaves 15 to 17 billion arguably on the table for a six billion dollar budget deficit we’re looking to cut. When you look at a chart like this, when you look at the numbers that play out like this, where do you pull the six billion from specifically. Specifically, where do you go to get the money for this deficit that we’re dealing with. You’ve got Health and Human Services at nine billion, local aid to government three, higher ed three.
Mark Dayton: But you’re looking backward, not forward. You’re looking at this biennium. The K-12 education, for example is the same level of funding, is the 13.8 billion used to just because there’s 500 million dollars in federal stimulus money that doesn’t show up there and it’s projected to be under the school funding formula going into the next biennium, we’re going to have over 10,000 more students in our K-12 schools in 2012 as we did in 2010. So that’s one of the reasons that the projection, if you include also the shift which this Governor and Legislature foisted on the next Governor and Legislature, and 1.2 billion of that is required under existing state law to be repaid in the next biennium. If you include those then the K-12 education commitment of the state under current law is about 15.6 billion dollars. Now both of my colleagues here say they’re not going to pay back the shift. That’s a real cut in funding. And Representative Emmer proposes, “hold harmless” is really not the correct term because he’s going to provide 13.8 billion, and just to keep the funding required under the current formula, would go up to 14.3 billion dollars, so that’s, he’s got an effective of 11% cut in funding for education. And that’s going in exactly the opposite direction of what Mr. Stinson said we need to do. He also cuts higher education. Now we’ve gone from 12th highest nation, state in the nation, in the beginning of this decade, in funding for higher education per thousand dollars of personal income, down to 35th. That’s a 28% real cut in funding for every full-time student. It’s one of the reasons that young people can’t afford to go to college in Minnesota, their parents can’t afford to send them there, tuition –
Rick Kupchella: Even within the context
Mark Dayton: – has become unaffordably high. So, my point is you’re looking at just the spending side. There’s also, you have to raise revenues. You have to raise revenues or you’re gonna cut education. We’re gonna do the opposite of what we just said we need to do for the future of Minnesota. We all seem to agree, education is crucial. For a cut in funding for education, it doesn’t make any sense.
Rick Kupchella: You, you propose to fix this in part by raising taxes?
Mark Dyaton: I do.
Rick Kupchella: Yes. And, and part of that solution is this focus on double income earners, families at $130,000 or
Mark Dayton: No, no, that’s wrong: Taxable income for a family, for a couple, of $173,000. Taxable income for an individual, $152,000. The Department of Revenue just did an analysis and that applies to less than 4% – the Department of Revenue’s own analysis – applies to less than 4% of Minnesota taxpayers. So yes, I mean we do need to raise revenues and make taxes progressive for just the reasons that you cited there, Rick. Otherwise we’re going to have drastic cuts in funding for education. We tried that over the last decade. We’ve cut, Governor Pawlenty cut, funding for our schools. We have overcrowded classrooms,
Rick Kupchella: Yes.
Mark Dayton: Four day school weeks, we tried that. It doesn’t work. Let’s try the opposite.
Rick Kupchella: But Mr. Dayton, I’m trying to understand though when I look at and hear about the solution. That you and your folks have come out in just the last day or so and said You know our tax raises aren’t enough, the cuts, we need more to find -
Mark Dayton: No, I said it raises only about half of it. Because again the Department of Revenue’s analysis with the numbers we gave them is it applies to less than 4% of taxpayers. So we’re gong back
Rick Kupchella: But even given that, you are how going to
Mark Dayton: Can I just finish? It’s going back to the Department of Revenue with an additional set of assumptions. I’ll find the money but the difference is rick, I’m gonna make taxes more progressive in Minnesota, my friends are going to make taxes more regressive. Mr. Horner’s gonna raise the sales tax, or extend it to services and to clothing, middle income families pay 2 -1/2 times the percent of their income in sales tax as the wealthiest people in the state. Mr., Representative Emmer is going to raise property taxes, inevitably the cities have said so today, and that’s gonna, that’s a highly regressive tax. Middle income people pay five times more in percent of their income in property taxes than income tax.
Rick Kupchella: I want to be able to talk with the other candidates as well but I want to understand how you –
Mark Dayton: Let me –
Rick Kupchella: – are going to get the tax raise that you’re after out of the Legislature? How do you, I mean I understand what your objective is, I get that. I don’t, what I don’t understand is how realistically that can happen in the Minnesota Legislature. You’re gonna have to win over a fair number of Republicans, you’re gonna have to win over Democrats in suburbs where the dollar values you’re targeting don’t seem so high to those families. How are you going to do it?
Mark Dayton: Well, the 201 legislators who are independently elected and they’re each going to come with their own points of view, which is part, that’s the process. However they have the same Constitutional obligation as the next Governor to balance the budget by the end of the session next May. And so if I’m Governor, if they don’t like my proposals, they’re welcome to submit their own and Rudy Perpich had a sign on his office wall that I’ll put back if I’m Governor. It says “None of us is as smart as all of us.”
And if they’re better ideas for raising revenues and for cutting spending, that aren’t going to have draconian effects on the quality of education, or the other services that people really do depend upon in this state, then more power to them. That’ll be great. And that collaborative process will produce, I hope, the best result. But what we’re finding here in this exercise is for every dollar of revenue you don’t raise, absent job creation, and you just pointed to the numbers there that say we’re gonna be slow in creating jobs, and the next Governor’s not gonna impact that in five months. For every dollar of revenue you don’t raise you have to cut a dollar of spending.
Rick Kupchella: Yes.
Mark Dayton: And to pretend that’s not gonna be painful and have harmful effects, I think is just a mythology.
Tom Horner: I mean, well lookit, first of all Senator, when you talk to Senator Bakk, this past year’s chair of the Senate Tax Committee, talk to Senator Rest, talk to people like Representative Bentsen, talk to Art Rolnick, they’ve all said that the better approach, the better approach is to look at the capacity we have in the sales tax. Design it fairly. Design it in a way that isn’t regressive, and you know that I’ve put the protection in there for low income. And we can guard against the regressivity. There is capacity for lowering the sales tax
Mark Dayton: I’m concerned about the impact on middle income, not low income, but middle income.
Tom Horner: Senator, I agree, that’s why we’ve designed it
Mark Dayton: Sales tax, you can’t (UNCLEAR) the effect on middle-income taxpayers without spending the whole thing just to offset the very thing you’re going to impose.
Tom Horner: You know, Senator, you’re wrong. You can do that. And that’s why Art Rolnick, that’s why Growth and Justice, that’s why the business-led commission on tax reform, all have come to the conclusion along with many of your colleagues, exactly the people you need to win over, and I would defy you, Senator, name 10 Senators, name 8 Legislators who are going to support you. I’ll spot you John Marty. (audience laughs)
Mark Dayton: Well, if I can’t persuade them (audience still laughs) if I can’t persuade them with the facts, the facts being that a middle income taxpayer pays 2 ? times more percent of their income in sales tax than the wealthiest people in the state, and I’ll point out to them, you know, and and you know you’ll have some allies, but you don’t want to raise income taxes on people making a million or five or ten million by even a dollar –
Tom Horner: But Senator, that’s not the issue
Mark Dayton: But no, it is the issue
Tom Horner: No it’s not –
Mark Dayton: It absolutely is, it’s progressive taxes versus regressive taxes. And you want to put the sales tax on clothing and services, you won’t specify, are these haircuts? Are these auto repairs? You know are these investments, brokerage funds, what what exactly are you going to extend almost 3 billion dollars of sales taxes on? Why don’t you disclose that to us?
Tom Horner: When (Dayton: When?) you’re done talking Senator I’ll explain my proposal. (Dayton: Great. Good.)
Mark Dayton: Tell us which ones. Please.
Tom Horner: Senator (Dayton: Which services?)
Tom Horner: (long pause) Are we ready? (Dayton: All right.)
Tom Horner: My proposal, Senator, is to lower the rate of the sales tax, so that those people who are going out and buying big ticket items, furniture, appliances, are going to pay less. I have 350 million dollars in my budget, and if you’ve looked at it you’ve seen it there. And we can use that to mitigate the impact. Now maybe we start the taxation on clothing at items at a hundred dollars and above. Maybe we have tax holidays. The point is that all responsible people who have looked at this, including members of your own party, have said it’s the sales tax that we need to look at. You don’t have the votes to pass an income tax, and it is that kind of polarization. But what we really need to get to, Rick, is to look at the kinds of changes we need to make for the future. I greatly appreciate that all of us have put forward a lot of details in our budget, and I think that’s a great service to Minnesota. But when you look at the plans that Representative Emmer, that Senator Dayton have put out, there’s a reason why Art Rolnick, who for 25 years was one of the leading economists within the Federal Reserve System, why newspapers around the state, Mankato, other places have said, My plan is the best. Not because we’re going to raise sales taxes because of this specific or because of that specific, but because I’m the candidate who’s talking about the future. I’m the candidate that says We just can’t keep taking the status quo, cutting it down to the bone, or taking the status quo, growing it as large as we possibly can, and then wash our hands of it and say that that work. For a lot of Minnesotans, for a lot of Minnesotans who have played by the rules, we need to change the status quo. Because if we don’t, then we are going to be a state in stagnation.
Rick Kupchella: Ah-
Tom Emmer: Don’t I get to jump in at some point?
Rick Kupchella: (laughs) You know, I was gonna say
Tom Emmer: Or do I go sit – or do I go sit with Socrates?
Rick Kupchella: You know, I’ll tell ya. Y’know, one of the things that struck me, so we’re we still have not gotten exactly where the six billion is coming from. Right. But I was struck too by as soon as we get real clarity on the 5.8 number and everybody’s looking at it and focused on it, the the headline that you made is “We’re gonna cut taxes 600 million for business.”
Tom Emmer: Six twenty-six.
Rick Kupchella: Six twenty-six.
Tom Ememr: Yep. Over two years.
Rick Kupchella: How is that the answer?
Tom Emmer: How is that the answer?
Rick Kupchella: Yeah.
Tom Emmer: You’ve gotta allow people the opportunity to grow their business. Every time government takes more resources out of the private sector, every time government adds another layer of bureaucracy for more regulation, more requirements, all it does is frustrate the growth of existing business, and frankly creates an environment that is
not attractive to new investment and opportunity. We need to create a business environment that welcomes new business and allows existing businesses to expand. And I’d say to both of my colleagues here, I have the utmost respect for you. Frankly after experience this, running for statewide office I have incredible respect for anybody who would ever submit themselves to this type of abuse or experience.
Tom Horner: And our families, I would add.
Tom Emmer: I would say, well, I hear it from Jacquie every time I come home. (Horner laughs)
Tom Emmer: But the, here’s what I’d say to both of you. You are proposing doing business as usual. It is not about this person, that person, it’s about the direction. You gotta be honest with the people of the state of Minnesota. I AM the only one that has taken an actual budget and I understand it’s more than anybody’s ever done. We have said the only way you have a five point eight billion dollar deficit is if you truly believe the government needs to spend more than it’s going to have. We have put out budgets, a budget with line items that show you where we would suggest these monies go. You took it down but you talk Health and Human Services, Senator, you put 12 billion dollars into Health and Human Services. The target number we put in is actually 650 million more than what was spent in this biennium. We are increasing the Health and Human Services budget by 650 million. The, it’s not, you’re spending more than we have. We’re putting increases in and you talk about cutting education funding, we’re putting 500 million more into Minnesota’s k-12 education system than we’re doing right now. It is time that you share with the people of the state of Minnesota what you’re really gonna do. Your plan, Senator, is not complete. It’s about three billion dollars short by your own admission. You’ve said you’re going to hold K-12 harmless, you’re going to add all this money to Health and Human Services, what are you going to cut? Tell the citizens of the state of Minnesota. Is it public safety? Is it the courts? What are you going to cut? Is it LGA? Mr. Horner, you do the same thing. Yours is 2 to 2-1/2 billion dollars short. You talk about redesigning government but you say you’re going to get these teams together and you’re not telling people what is it that YOU are going to commit not to cut? You’re telling us what you’re going to add. I think it’s time that, we OWE Minnesota voters, frankly all across this country, it’s time for people running for this office is to tell people what we need to hear, not what you think they want to hear. We’re going to have tough decisions to make in the next few years. It’s time for leadership that says Government must live within its means. What we are doing today is simply not sustainable for the long term. So let’s be honest about where we’re at and then Rick the real solution is creating a business environment that starts to grow jobs again in the state of Minnesota. Starts to make sure that people are able to realize their opportunity and start to have those high-paying jobs that I know we’re all talking about. But you’ve gotta have the high-paying job in order to have the person that you have trained through our great education system, have an opportunity to go to work. That’s the future, not do it the way we’ve been doing it.
Mark Dayton: Well you have been honest, Representative Emmer, and I give you credit for that.
Tom Emmer: I’ve been more than honest. Don’t say that.
Mark Dayton: I know. I’m gonna give you credit.
Tom Emmer: Don’t say that.
Mark Dayton: Don’t cut me off, please,
Tom Emmer: I’m the ONLY one
Mark Dayton: Don’t cut me off. Please, I’m about to give you credit. You were honest and forthright about your budget and what you propose to do, which is cut higher education by 14%, cut K-12 education by 11%
Tom Emmer: That’s not true
Mark Dayton: Local government aids by a third, which will result in property taxes, the Minnesota Department of Revenue, which we’ve agreed is the authority, says for every dollar cut in local government aids, 67 cents goes to higher property taxes. So your proposal’s gonna result, just as Governor Pawlenty’s did, you say No New Taxes, but we all know after Governor Pawlenty and you’re just taking, you’re not doing anything new, you’re just taking his proposals to a further extreme. We’re going to have higher property taxes which is again a regressive tax. I didn’t put the health care spending in. Current law and the number of people who are elderly and who are disabled and again, the experts say, the public health experts that three-fourths of that budget you want to just decimate, goes to the elderly and goes to people with disabilities. As you should have learned last year with GAMC, look at the effect of that. You know, on paper you said we’re gonna save a couple hundred million dollars. In reality people are suffering. People can’t get the services and the emergency rooms, and you talk about charitable medical care, you want to clog the clinics of every doctor in Minnesota with people who aren’t gonna have, who can’t pay for health care, and they’re gonna go depend on the charity of doctors? You’re talking about unraveling a system that I think the people in Minnesota understand we need cost controls, yes. But it’s inhumane, as we saw with GAMC. The poorest of the poor people. The elderly. You gonna throw ‘em out of nursing homes? You gonna deny them medical care? That’s what Medicaid – if you go to greater Minnesota as you have, I know, you’ll find that most of the medical care there is for the elderly. And they’re the ones who are gonna suffer with your health care savings.
Tom Emmer: Rick, I think people need to recognize –
Tom Horner: Here’s the problem!
Tom Emmer: – Rick, that we are spending almost 10 billion dollars and it’s increasing the budget. What you are proposing when you say that there’s these draconian cuts, first we know that you can’t bind future Legislatures to your decision today. Every Legislature sets its own budget. All right, and to suggest that somehow this Legislature has bound future Legislatures would mean to suggest that we don’t need to show up again for the next biennium. The next Legislature has a big job in front of it and Senator, if we’re gonna be honest with people in Minnesota, let’s explain to the people in Minnesota when you talk about cuts you’re talking about what government wants to spend. You are representing the government structure itself. I’m talking about representing people for once that are being asked to support that structure. And here’s the reality. The reality is that based on current projected tax collections in the state of Minnesota, the next Governor and the next Legislature will actually have almost three billion dollars more to spend than is being spent right now. That’s almost a 7% increase but the numbers you just gave are based on government wanting to spend almost 17% more than what we’re going to have – or as an increase, and over and beyond. So 10% beyond that 7% we’re gonna have.
Rick Kupchella: Mr. Emmer, do you agree
Tom Horner: Well wait a minute
Tom Emmer: You can’t, (Horner: Wait a second, wait a second) cannot sustain this!
Tom Horner: Does (laughs) does anybody listening to this argument, to this debate, believe that Republicans would allow a Governor Dayton to succeed? Or Democrats would allow a Governor Emmer to succeed? And does anybody believe that four years of stagnation gridlock is in the best interest of Minnesota? And here is, here is the perfect example. Representative Emmer, you did say, and I questioned you 2 or 3 times last week, that you believe public health programs ought to be converted to charity care?
And you were very clear on that. So I agree, I think your budget numbers probably are accurate. But you can’t put all Minnesotans, you cant’ ask that person who is suffering from cancer to say “Go negotiate with your primary care doc and get a free ride. And then go to the oncologist and get a free ride. And then go to the hospital and get a free ride.” That’s not a healthcare system. That’s a disaster. But I’d also say, Senator, that a single payer system is not a viable political option. Again, the Democrats have had large majorities’ in the Legislature. The one vote we have had on single payer system is when Republicans brought it up to embarrass the Democrats. It’s not a politically viable option.
Rick Kupchella: Mr. Horner, I really wanted to -
Tom Horner: I’m the only one talking about how you actually change the health care system, how you leverage the federal reform, in a Minnesota way, building on what is working in Minnesota to produce a lower-cost high quality care.
Rick Kupchella: You know, one of the things that strikes me about what’s going on right here, and I I hear it in an undertone of everything that all of you were saying. The entire system, what even the public expects out of government, has to change. When you look at the numbers on the wall, when you look at that level of disconnect, we’ve about you know pushed off all we can defer. I’m sure there’s some other things somebody could find, to defer for a little bit more. But the defers are running out of time. We, we have an extraordinary budget deficit that is real. You can argue the numbers plus or minus a little bit, and you can talk about what kind of taxes you want to raise, one of the questions I’d like to get to, it did come in through Facebook, can we pull up this, it’s a Bob McFarlin thing that came in on Facebook. Bob McFarlin, the former commissioner in the transportation department. Joe, can you pull up Bob’s Facebook posting?
It basically, he asks, this goes to that question of what is the public not getting? We talked to all of you about that in advance of this. He came out with a – “I don’t think people understand how significantly and fundamentally our appetite for government must change if we are to avoid a long-term economic catastrophe brought on by unsustainable government spending and debt.” Is there any of you that disagree with that suggestion from Mr. McFarlin? Do any of you disagree with that notion? I’m gonna start with you Mr. Dayton.
Mark Dayton: I think that there’s a difference between – I would agree with Mr. McFarlin, who was Governor Pawlenty’s chief of staff and other roles and a very thoughtful man. But that applies to the federal government. You know, where in the, you know. But what we’re talking about here.
Rick Kupchella: Why is it – what do you mean it applies to the federal government?
Mark Dayton: Will you let me just finish? 44:34 Because unsustainable debt is a province of the federal government. And I would agree that you know the last decade has turned a sound fiscal situation and left to one that is seriously in arrears, and the federal national debt has grown drastically. What we’re talking about here is a process by which, and I agree with Representative Emmer, each new legislature and governor come in and then tackle these issues. Now, you know Mr. Horner you know tosses out phrases like “redesign” like slogans rather than strategies and he’s going to appoint these commissions afterwards and sort of miraculously wave a magic wand. Having served three different times in state government, I have a lot more respect for the knowledge
and expertise there and in local government, and among the schools. And they recognize absolutely, that some of these changes taking place and others they do occur.
Rick Kupchella: Do we have
Mark Dayton: But this is self correcting
Rick Kupchella: – to essentially re-educate the public?
Mark Dayton: The public’s gonna need to understand, yes, that we need to make these adjustments. And we are. And we will. Because we are constitutionally bound to balance the budget next May. Whoever’s next Governor and Legislature, and they will go through this process as they do every year. So it’s an ongoing process and I think we just need to have more respect. You know government is “we the people.”
Rick Kupchella: Yes.
Mark Dayton: And we the people and the people that dedicate themselves to the state government, local governments, schools, have the expertise to lead us in a better direction if we go through this process. And do we disagree? Sure. But that’s part of democracy.
Rick Kupchella: Okay.
Mark Dayton: That’s the way it should be.
Rick Kupchella: One thing I want to get from each of you in really short order, we’re actually three-quarters of the way through our time already, imagine. What is the most painful thing that you could see yourself advancing, Mr. Dayton – as Governor – to get us to a balanced budget? And to redesign what government has to be? What is going to be just the single most painful thing you’re going to have to advance?
Mark Dayton: Well, if we had to delay repaying the shift to the schools, force them to continue to borrow, force them to lay off teachers, force them to overcrowd classes and cut back to four-day school weeks, that would be very painful.
Rick Kupchella: Likely?
Mark Dayton: That would be one point two billion. I hope not.
Rick Kupchella: Likely?
Mark Dayton: I don’t think so.
Rick Kupchella: You don’t think it’s likely?
Mark Dayton: Might happen. But I’m trying to avoid it.
Rick Kupchella: Mr. Horner? Single most painful thing you’d have to do.
Tom Horner: Oh, I think the redesign and along with that, some real cuts. Not, not phony cuts but some real cuts in
Rick Kupchella: “Redesign” is not inherently painful. What’s the thing
Tom Horner: In human services. In the delivery of human services. In how we deliver health care. In our nursing homes. Lookit. We’ve got 28% of our nursing homes in Minnesota on the edge of financial ruin. And part of it is, that we pay many of them at or less than the cost of of doing business.
Rick Kupchella: The thing.
Tom Horner: That’s what Representative Emmer –
Rick Kupchella: What is the thing. Mr. Dayton told us what the thing was. What is the thing that would be most painful for you as Governor that you anticipate?
Tom Horner: Well I think it’s going to be in in older adult services and and in health care.
Rick Kupchella: It’s coming.
Tom Horner: It is coming. Absolutely. I mean, we are going to have to change it. And some of those changes will involve real cuts. And they will be painful to people.
Rick Kupchella: Mr. Emmer.
Tom Emmer: I’ve already done it Rick. I put it out yesterday. I actually put out a balanced budget. And I’m going to challenge you a little bit because you said we have a deficit, and it’s real. It is only real if you believe that what we’ve been doing in this state for decades now, which is government gets to grow no matter what. If you believe that government gets to spend what it wants to spend, then you’re right. We have a 5.8 billion dollar deficit. I have put a balanced budget on the table. My numbers add up to what government will have to spend based on current tax collection projections. And that includes 317 million dollars less in higher education. Is that painful? Yes that is. But I’m being honest with people in the state of Minnesota. We have to look at what we’re doing, and then guess what. Start growing the economy gets so we can pay for those things that we expect.
Rick Kupchella: Okay. Higher education though. Would that, would you put that as the single most painful thing that you’re going to hone in?
Tom Emmer: I won’t give you that. I’ll tell you every one of these things is going to be painful. Everything that we have proposed. There will be less government. But the exciting part of it is, once we get the economic engine of Minnesota moving again, which is what we have to do then you can absolutely start to pay for the services that you expect from government.
Rick Kupchella: Okay. I want to shift gears. Really. I want to go to a piece on one of the folks, one of of the issues that have come up here repeatedly is a stadium. You’ve heard about the stadium. You guys are familiar with the stadium. Ah, the, is it a Facebook, is it a Twitter post, Joe: if you put up the piece on the stadium, we have two pieces that are coming back to back. One is a Facebook posting that we got here recently on, this is it. I’m just going to start reading and they’ll find it. It’s actually an email, that’s why they’re having trouble there you go. “If elected governor, what would you do to resolve the Vikings stadium issue? Please be as detailed as possible. If you have no plans to do anything to resolve the Vikings stadium issue, please be honest and just admit that you would readily allow the Vikings to leave the state of Mn without doing anything to prevent it.”
Rick Kupchella: I want to add to this, I want to add to this Barreiro, Dan Barriero, our good friend at KFAN. This was his take on the same issue.
Dan Barreiro: A recent Star Tribune headline about all three candidates: “Vikes Stadium gets three yes votes.” With all due respect to each of you, I don’t believe any of you. Will one or more of you pledge tonight that you believe in these troubled economic times, a Vikings stadium with a major state component makes sense, and more importantly that you will actually spearhead and lead the charge on that particular bill?”
Rick Kupchella: All right, Mr. Horner, will you lead the charge? This is a yes or no. Will you lead the charge?
Tom Horner: Well, I will lead the charge but I also have to get on Dan’s show because I’m the one who has laid out a very specific plan. I’ve talked about it, I’ve also acknowledged that in the past, before I was unemployed, I I the vikings were a client of my previous company, I didn’t work on it, but that has nothing to do with my position. I think the Vikings are important asset to Minnesota, I think Minnesota has been an important asset to the Vikings and the NFL, so I’ve laid out a very specific plan. I said we have to get it done in 2011.
Rick Kupchella: Will you lead the effort?
Tom Horner: Absolutely! (Kupchella: You’ll lead it?) Horner: I’ve already been doing it.
Rick Kupchella: Mr. Emmer, will you lead that effort in this environment at this time?
Tom Emmer: I’m going to lead the effort to make sure that all existing businesses in this state including the Minnesota Vikings not only survive but thrive. It’s all of them. You’re not going to get me to say “This business is more important than that.” There will be a Vikings stadium. I don’t think you have to do it with general fund tax dollars but you can certainly facilitate an agreement with local authorities such as what was proposed at the Legislature this year. And it will get done.
Rick Kupchella: Mr. Dayton
Mark Dayton: Yes.
Rick Kupchella: Yes. (laughs) Okay! He will lead it.
Tom Horner: Wait a second! They don’t have plans. They – you can’t do it with local government, Representative Emmer, and you know that. There’s no capacity. I’ve put out a specific plan that that has honest funding to it. Senator Dayton has said, “Well if we get to a crisis then we’ll work on it.” Representative Emmer has said “Well, it’s part of a lot of businesses.” I’ve said we need to save the Vikings. Here’s a specific plan. And I have been leading the charge.
Mark Dayton: You misrepresent my position and I need to elaborate.
Rick Kupchella: No, your position was very clear; yes, on the question at issue.
Tom Emmer: No no! He misrepresented mine. I’m sorry.
Rick Kupchella: Okay! We have in eight minutes left I want to go to another video question. This one is in from Steve Perry, Politics in Minnesota, the Capitol Report, about a recent poll result from the Humphrey Institute. Take a look at this one.
Steve Perry: Good evening. At the end of August, a poll conducted by the Humphrey Institute indicated something fairly remarkable. And that was that both Senator Dayton and Representative Emmer failed to attract the support of roughly a third of the people who counted themselves as members of the Democratic or Republican party. My question for you two gentlemen is why is that? What is the issue with unifying your own party’s bases? And my question for Mr. Horner is this: Given these issues with both of the other candidates, why has your campaign failed to make greater inroads in the polls so far? 53:24
Rick Kupchella: This is a fairly simple question Mr. Emmer. Why do you not have 30% of your base?
Tom Emmer: I actually do.
Rick Kupchella: You don’t believe the poll.
Tom Emmer: Well the only poll that matters Rick is the one on November second. But you can look at all kinds of polls that we have anywhere in the mid-30s and up so, contrary somebody can pick whatever they want. What is the challenge? We’re doing it right now. We’ve got 48 days. The challenge is introducing ourselves personally to the state of Minnesota and selling our positive vision for the future of this state.
Mark Dayton: I would agree with Representative Emmer. I don’ t think any of us have failed. I think it’s a pejorative term. These are all- campaigns are
Rick Kupchella: But the poll says you don’t have a third of your base. That’s what the poll says.
Mark Dayton: Campaigns are works in progress. We’re 48 days away from the end. And you know I came out of a closely contested primary. And we’re reuniting the DFL party. And and I’m very confident that we’ll do that. I’ve got tremendous support thank goodness from Speaker Kelliher, from Representative Entenza, people that supported them, great people supported excellent candidates are coming on board, and you know I’m glad we have forty-eight – four days to try to convince people, Democrats, Independents, and everyone in Minnesota that I deserve their support. But I just don’t accept that hypothesis there at all. 54:34
Tom Horner: I accept the hypothesis. (audience laughs)
Rick Kupchella: You accept the hypothesis.
Tom Horner: I mean I think that’s my opportunity but it also is my challenge. And, and I think the question is absolutely right. That I have forty eight days to get my name known.
Now the good news is once my name gets known, there’s the opportunity. These gentlemen can’t lock up their bases. We cannot win among small-i independent voters and so for me the challenge is what it’s always been. Can I raise the money? And since the primary with the support of growing business leadership that is coming into my campaign the fundraising now is going at a very very good pace. We’re on statewide TV, we’ve done some clever ads, we’re on radio, we’re online.
Rick Kupchella: You’re all saying that you have more time.
Tom Emmer: (laughs) Actually, I’m
Tom Horner: I’m saying I have enough time if I have enough money, and the money is coming in well.
Tom Emmer: Rick, it’s not about the base. We have our base. I don’t know the numbers he’s referring and I don’t know who he sampled, but we have our base. More importantly, this is
Rick Kupchella: That’s the Humphrey Institute (unclear) poll.
Tom Emmer: Well, and we’ve got other ones too. (audience laughs) But here’s what it’s really all about. It can’t be about the base. It’s gotta be about Minnesota. It’s got to be about what is a common-sense solution for Minnesota. I think that it’s going be very clear come November second that we can play all these games and talk about “I can be everything to everybody” and do the political speak. But at the end end of the day, people in Minnesota recognize we cannot sustain the path we are on. It’s time to do it differently.
And in order to get this thing moving again you’ve gotta create an environment that will bring new jobs and allow existing employers to create additional jobs in the state of Minnesota. That’s the only answer for the future.
Rick Kupchella: Okay. We have time for a final question here tonight. And it really goes, it’s rooted in this idea of society’s change, what we’re going through. On the news business side of change, we’re doing it with technology. At the Citizens League they’re doing it both with technology and things as simple as a policy in a pint. Trying to get people engaged in public policy. The Lead Project is deft at their use of social networking to bring people together around philanthropic areas. I’m interested in knowing how you see government’s role today in actively engaging the public more in public policy. Is this the kind of thing where “Hey, those that’ll get to the top will get to the top, it’s not government’s role to recruit ‘em”? Or is there something we should be doing to make it easier today for people, for the public to engage in public policy as government? I’m going to start with you Mr. Emmer.
Tom Emmer: We already have those opportunities. We need to make people feel empowered. We need to people feel that their voice matters. And if people keep talking about business as usual, then why should people get engaged? People in the state of Minnesota are looking for a new direction. They understand what we’re doing isn’t working. If you show them that, if you give them what you’re talking about, they will engage. And there are plenty of other things you can do with technology, certainly. But the real key is getting someone invested into participating. Because for far too long, people that vote, people that I know, you know what they say? We have politicians, career politicians, people involved in the political world, who keep telling us “This is what’s good for you.” And they try to tell us that they’re going to change things, but then they get to office and they seem to take care of their own career before they take care of the people that elected them. It is time for leadership that comes from outside of the Capitol. People can believe in something again, and they will engage and participate.
Rick Kupchella: Mr. Horner.
Tom Horner: I mean my whole career in public service, professional, in public policy, ahs been around engaging Minnesotans. Finding that middle ground. Forging consensus, and out of that, creating good public policy. And I think it starts in the campaign. I think it does start with putting out honest answers, honest solutions by saying the same thing to every audience, even if they don’t like it. But I also think that it starts with the kind of campaigns we’ve run. So I’m the only one who has said “I will not run us single negative ad in my campaign,” and I will aggressively work against any independent organization within the law to make sure they’re not running negative ads. Because I think
Tom Emmer: Tom -
Tom Horner: Because I think we owe the public, I think we owe the public, the discussion
around “What is my policy, where do I fit into the political environment?”
Tom Emmer: Tom, with the eyes going this way, that’s kind of negative.
Tom Horner: Why? It was a political ad that said we have a polarized environment.
Tom Emmer: (inaudible) It’s kind of creepy.
Rick Kupchella: Mr. Dayton, is there something that you would do to actively engage the public today, or is it kind of to let them rise?
Mark Dayton: First let me say I’m very proud of my son Eric who’s one of the founders of L.E.A.D., and you know for 221 years government has always been We the People. And I think peple have lost faith and trust in We the People. Because they see, and we’ve had over the last 20 years, the Republican Governors, Independence Party Govenror, who themselves and who appointed people who didn’t believe in government. So they run on the ideology that government does everything badly, and if they’re elected they go out to prove themselves correct. And they defund the programs, they destroy ‘em, they come back, “See, we’ve made government worse, so re-elect us and we’ll make it worse again.” I want to make government better. I believe in government, I believe in public service. I believe we need to make it better, and I think we engage people by enlisting them in the exercises of improving government, streamlining, and making it more responsive to the needs of people.
Rick Kupchella: All right, Mr. Dayton, all of you gentlemen, I want thank you very much. We are out of time. A couple of final notes here, very quickly again. On behalf of our sponsors we would like to thank the Citizens League and the Lead Project, the employees and many volunteers who have helped make tonight happen. Also, I’m Rick Kupchella, remember, you can also follow this race on radio, throughout this state, Bring Me the News, now broadcast a couple thousand times a month throughout Minnesota. You can find recaps of tonight’s program and follow the best ongoing coverage of this election from all over the country at bringmethenews.com. Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in thanking the candidates here this evening. (audience applauds).
Tom Emmer: Thanks Rick.
Rick Kupchella: An hour. Holy man.
Tom Honrer: Very nice Rick, thank you.
Rick Kucphella: Thank you. We’re gonna have you stick around. We’re gonna have you stick around because we’re going to, we’re going to talk, we’re going to take 15 minutes
Rick Kupchella: I’m looking for anybody who has a question for any of these candidates. We’ll just go right to you. This is off of, we’re gonna go right here, close to me sir, with the Horner button on. Go right ahead Mr. Shardon? Give me your name, tell me if you’re with anybody in particular, and what’s your question.
Audience Member: My name is Mike Shardon and I am supporting Tom Horner for Governor. My question is to the three candidates. What is your take on English as Minnesota’s official language?
Rick Kupchella: Mr. Emmer:
Tom Emmer: I think English should be the official language in the state of Minnesota.
Tom Horner: I think anybody who wants a limited role for government should not think that English ought to be mandated and that we ought to require it. 1:02:08 (audience applauds) And so I agree with the business community that has opposed this. I think we need to be a community that says “Yes we need to have strong laws. We need to make sure the laws are enforced. But walk down Lake Street. Walk down University Avenue. Walk down Payne and Arcade. And look at what new Minnesotans have brought to our community. Let’s celebrate that. (audience applauds)
Mark Dayton: Well said. (audience laughs, applauds)
Rick Kupchella: Maam, tell me your name, if you’re with anybody, and what your question is.
Audience Member: My name is Fran Davis and I’m with the Minnesota Association of Realtors. And I’d like to ask Representative Emmer what he is going to do differently than Governor Pawlenty.
Rick Kupchella: Mr. Emmer, specifically, what are you going to do any differently than Governor Pawlenty?
Tom Emmer: Well, several things. First, I’m not Governor Pawlenty. And I don’t think anybody here is. People like to point backwards and try to assess blame. Y’know, the environment we’ve been in, Governor Pawlenty has frankly been left to stop bad things from happening. Multibillion dollar tax increases. We don’t agree though with everything that everybody does. You and I are not going to agree 100% on every issue. How would I be different? We’re talking about changing the way government operates, number one. You got 22 Cabinet positions, I think it should be six. I think you should set goals for a four-year term and you should evaluate them on the half-year basis and the annual basis to make sure that you’re accomplishing your goal of making government more efficient, eliminating all the redundancies, the bloat, the excess. But then where would I be different? I think you gotta be absolutely aggressive about creating a business a business-friendly environment in the state of Minnesota. I put out the specifics on that. I’ve talked about how you need to lower the corporate income tax that you can put more money in business pockets to start making capital investments again and hiring people. I’ve talked about how you create an opportunity for small businesses to do the same thing. The idea is to get the economic engine going. And then the way I’d be different from the gentlemen up here is that I will stick my chin out and be willing to have you say “I disagree with you Tom.”
Rick Kupchella: So what is – Mr. Emmer –
Tom Emmer: I will tell you exactly where we’re coming from
Rick Kupchella: What was, what was Mr. Pawlenty’s, Governor Pawlenty’s worst idea? What was his worst idea? What was his worst?
Tom Emmer: Are you –
Rick Kupchella: I’m asking Mr. Emmer.
Tom Emmer: I’m not here running against Tim Pawlenty.
Rick Kupchella: Okay. (laughs) (audience applauds) Sir, your name, who you’re with, and your question please.
Audience Member: Lawrence Resitar, and I’m with not with anybody. But you all have talked at length tonight about changing the the business landscape or creating a better business landscape for job development. What specific regulations or agencies would you change, get rid of, combine in order to facilitate that change in Minnesota? To keep the Minnesota economy, or get it back on track?
Rick Kupchella: Specifically. Mr. Dayton.
Mark Dayton: Well, you know when I ran, and most people have forgotten, and understandably, for Governor in 1998, I’ve said the second session should be what I called the Unsession. Where we’re undoing. It’s not just a single, you know, it depends on your business, it depends on the area of your state, it depends on, you know. So I would say it needs to be across the board. And I wouldn’t wait that long given the situation now where you’ve got individuals and nonprofits and businesses and local governments afflicted by multiple jurisdictions of state agencies. Non-responsive state agencies for some of the reasons that I described at the end of our previous conversation. And I would, I’ve asked my running mate Yvonne Prettner Solon who’s been involved in some of this before to head a task force that she’s started now. We’re going through what’s been done by the last couple of legislative sessions. And we’re gong to take that forward and I would like the Legislature, typically over the first six weeks has a lot of spare time, to focus on this first and foremost while we’re waiting for the budget projections and the like. And if I could wave a magic wand believe me I would eliminate the duplication the triplication of reporting requirements, of overlapping jurisdictions of agencies, I say there ought to be one agency with jurisdiction in most cases, and the other agencies should step aside so there’s one decision maker. You’ve gotta set deadlines, they need to make those deadlines or they lose the opportunity to regulate and to get people individually and collectively in government responsive, accountable, and and take away a lot of the time and effort and expense that everybody is subjected to with all these layers of government and all the overlapping.
Rick Kupchella: Mr. Horner.
Tom Horner: Well I think we can eliminate some of the redundancy, but depending on who’s counting there’s something between five and seen agencies that have oversight on permits involving water. So we ought to to streamline that, and I agree with all of that. But look, that’s the tactics of economic development. We need to be focused on the strategies. We need to be focused on the long-term. And I disagree with my colleagues. I think the next Governor cannot be satisfied with two-year goals, with four-year goals. We don’t change high school graduation rates and measure them over four years, we measure them over twelve years. And we better be prepared to do that. So in economic development I do believe that we need to invest in what is our distinctive advantage: the talent pool. That means we do need to invest in higher education including our two-year schools, vo-tech and community colleges. Integrate them into the local businesses. Make them part of leveraging the regional economic assets that we have in Minnesota. I believe we need to invest in research at the two- and four-year schools. To make sure that we’re the leader in both basic and applied research. Look, I was out yesterday at a great company, called Recon Robotics. A device that was created out of research from the engineering school at the University of Minnesota. A terrific device that provides law enforcement military with a robot that can go in and look in at unsecured areas without putting personnel lives at risk. A device created by the University of Minnesota privatized in a Minnesota company, manufactured in a company down in Winona, and when they go public, when they sell, it’s going to produce revenue for the University of Minnesota. It’s those kinds of things, it’s life science, it’s making sure that we have a good K-12 system, it’s making sure that we have an infrastructure. It’s not just cutting taxes and cutting away government. That’s not the economy that exists and it’s not how Minnesota’s going to compete.
Rick Kupchella: Okay. (audience applauds)
Tom Emmer: There you go again. There you go again. And I, I’m sorry, but I haven’t made my career working with government or in government. I’ve been outside struggling to run a small business and raise a family. And when I hear people that have had this culture instilled in them, they talk about “We must invest, We must invest, We must invest,” it is not government’s obligation to make investments for me. It’s not government’s obligation to make investments for you. Government has specific core functions that it must start to provide. You must identify those core functions, you must absolutely fund them, but investment is creating a business environment. And, in the the one thing that will be agreed upon, that you have so many agencies right now with overlapping jurisdiction. They not only have overlapping jurisdiction, that they all have the ability to create new rules that you and I must live under. And then they compete for the right to enforce compliance with those rules. That’s what must change. Minnesota must become a one-window stop for new business, new opportunity coming to this state.
Because you can talk investment all you want. But if you are not growing jobs in the private sector, if you are not creating new opportunities in Minnesota, the next 3M, the next Medtronic, the next Control Data, if you are not doing that you don’t have anything to talk about when it comes to investment.
Rick Kupchella: Okay. (audience applauds) We’re gonna do five more minutes, guys. If you could help me out here we’re looking for just like one minute answers. We’re gonna be really quick here. Okay. I got an education question. Sir, your name and who you’re with.
Audience Member: John Ordner, not with anybody. Just want to know, what’s the one item that you guys would cut in education besides – well, what you would change in education besides throwing money at it. Seems that over the last 30 years the education budget continues to grow. And the quality continues to decline.
Rick Kupchella: So it’s what is the one thing you would –
Audience Member: What is the one thing you would do to education besides spend more money to improve the quality
Rick Kupchella: Non-monetary solution. What would you do. Mr. Emmer.
Tom Emmer: Well, we’ve proposed a budget that actually holds K-12 harmless. We’ve increased it by 500 million with this federal money that’s coming in for the next biennium.
So 13.8 billion dollars. And what we’re talking about is we’re talking about measuring our progress, rewarding progress, recording progress. It’s got to be about the results. So it’s not so much the money that’s going in it even though we’re talking about protecting it. But it’s making sure that those resources get allocated efficiently and that we can start to measure our children’s performance. ‘Cause that ultimately is the issue. If throwing more money is ultimately
Rick Kupchella: Socrates!
Tom Emmer: Rick! Did you say 10 minutes? Did you say 10 minutes?
Rick Kupchella: I said we had 5 total. We were going for a minute apiece.
Tom Emmer: I’ll finish. if throwing more money at the problem were the answer then Washington DC would have the best school, public school system in the country. And it does not. 1:12:00
Rick Kupchella: Mr. Horner. One minute
Tom Horner: Okay, so let me just use the first part of my one minute to cite the irony of a guy who’s held public office for the last 16 years, saying that the guy who’s running for his first elective office is the captive of the political system. So what we need to do to education. First of all I think we do need to invest in early childhood learning. We need to make sure that every child is coming into kindergarten prepared for success and I have new money in my budget for that. Secondly we have all of the rules and procedures
and laws under the 2009 legislation to change Minnesota’s education system, to reform it. We let teachers teach, we put teachers in charge of the classroom, against standards, against accountability. But we trust the teachers for their instructional expertise, not just their content expertise.
Rick Kupchella: Mr. Dayton.
Tom Horner: Thirdly, we get really good principals, we go out and recruit them, we train them, we give them support and we put principals in charge of the schools. Now if you have kids coming into school ready for success, you have teachers who are charged with the responsibility of teaching, and you have principals who know how to run a good school, you just need one more thing. And that is you need to get Education Minnesota to the table. And say “Look, we’ve got to change the seniority rules. (audience applauds) We need to make sure that we have the best teachers in the classroom, not just the most senior teachers.”
Rick Kupchella: Mr. Dayton, you have anything to add there?
Mark Dayton: Well, as someone who taught in a public school in New York City, I know one bad teacher ruins a classroom and one bad principal ruins a school. So we need to be able to get rid of bad teachers. We need to be able to get rid of bad principals. And we need to empower the vast majority, of really excellent teachers and excellent principals to be successful. By contrary to the premise the fact being we’ve cut per pupil in state aid by 1300 dollars in real after inflation dollars. And that’s had a drastic effect on the quality of education in this state.
Rick Kupchella: Okay, one more question. Maam, you name and if you’re with anybody in particular and what your question is.
Audience Member: Rose Nevels Williams with Minneapolis Bailout Coalition.
Rick Kupchella: Okay, and what is your question. The Minneapolis Bailout Coalition? What is that maam?
Audience Member: We’ve been dealing with issues around housing, foreclosure et cetera.
Rick Kupchella: Okay, and your question?
Audience Member: I’m going to get real specific. With thirty-some percent of African American students in the city of Minneapolis graduating from high school, and the incarceration rate is greater than that, we’ve closed all our inner city urban schools almost, Clinton Elementary, I know Mr. Dayton you’re familiar with that, Warrington, Bryant Jr. High School, the historic Central, and now the horrible issue of North High School now being closed. What are we going to do to really address, address this in our community, African American students are not even graduating from high school, let alone feeding into the state colleges and universities. And I know we don’t want all our kids incarcerated. What are we going to do with that piece?
Mark Dayton: Early childhood education. Come ready to K, ready to learn. All-day kindergarten, we’re one of the relatively few states that does not provide state funding for the option of all-day kindergarten for parents and their kids. And then smaller class sizes, diagnostic testing at the beginning of the year, identify kids reading below grade level, individual/small group attention during that time to shore up those children stay in school all year to improve 85% of them to the reading above grade level by the end of second, third, fourth grade, which is life transforming. Those are some of the strategies in a brief amount of time.
Tom Horner: Well, I think again, I mean I would
(audience applauds Dayton)
Tom Horner: (to Dayton) You’re due your applause, I’ll let them. I agree with Senator Dayton. I think we do have to make an investment in early childhood learning. And I put new money in there. But as much as Senator Dayton and Representative Emmer mock my focus on redesign, this is a perfect example. Because I’ve been talking since the beginning of my campaign that this also is an opportunity to look at the sliding scale childcare resources and figure out a lot of these this these dollars serve the same population. Let’s take a dollar here and a dollar here and maybe by combining the two it adds up to three dollars worth of value without spending three dollars of taxpayer money. I think it’s things like that. But I’ll also say, and I think we have to acknowledge this, that we are never going to change this dynamic unless we get families engaged, unless we get the communities involved to participate with us in making changes. We have to change the culture. We have thousands of kids in Minnesota, in the Twin Cities that aren’t even attending school. That are abandoning school. We have unmotivated students. We’ve got to figure out a whole redesign of education that pulls those kids back in, that holds the community and parents responsible for making sure it that they’re contributing to their kids’ education.
Tom Emmer: You know I I’ve outlined it specifically and I did so in a speech that I gave. It’s about making sure that you take care of early childhood education, more focused, make sure that they’re not just babysitting options, that you prepare our kids. Literacy should be the goal so they’re ready once they get to K-12. But then it should also be empowering our educators to make sure that the resources they have get used the way they believe they’ll get the most benefited. It is frankly unacceptable that we have not attacked the achievement gap. But all I would say to my colleagues up here is it’s great to talk about the new money that we have. But you’ve got to give Minnesota a balanced budget and tell ‘em where else you’re going to cut ‘cause you’re 3 billion dollars short and you’re about 2.5 billion dollars short. Hopefully by the time we get to get to November second you will have explained to the state of Minnesota not just the wonderful things that you want to invest in but where you actually are going to cut. Whether that’s the judiciary or that’s public safety or that’s LGA or some other area. Hopefully you will do what we’ve done. And I put the challenge out, put an actual complete balanced budget out for Minnesota to see.
Mark Dayton: Well –
Tom Emmer: What you’re going to do.
Mark Dayton: Well Representative Emmer, all I can say with all due respect, for somebody who’s only had a budget for 24 hours, you’re you’re really kind of getting pretty carried away with it. (audience laughs) But I accept the challenge.
Tom Emmer: Good.
Rick Kupchella: All right. Gentlemen, thank you guys again for joining us here, we really do appreciate it. (audience applause) Thank you guys for turning out. Awesome! The party is next door at seven. Please join us!
(Candidates thank, congratulate each other)