Replay: MN Governor Candidates Debate On Infrastructure (CC)

DFLer Mark Dayton, Republican Tom Emmer and Independence Party candidate Tom Horner are scheduled to debated this morning at the Northland Inn in Brooklyn Park. It was of course live on The UpTake.

Click here to view the live blog for this debate and read a transcript of what was said.

Click here to watch the debate with captions.

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Transcript-MN Governor Candidate Debates on Infrastructure

August 26, 2010

Moderator (Lori Sturdevant): Hi. Good morning and welcome to the Infrastructure, Jobs, and Development. I’m Lori Sturdevant with the Star Tribune and I’m pleased to try and keep things moving this morning. What a good group. Thank you to our hosts for bringing us together for an important topic. The list of sponsors of this event is a long one and I suspect that some of you have that information in hand. Let me just let me highlight the role of the Minnesota Transportation Alliance and the Associated General Contractors of Minnesota for brining this together. Thank to Tim Werke (sp?) and Margaret Donohue (sp?) for helping to put this on this morning. Candidates, I don’t know that we need to do much by way of introduction. These candidates have become extremely well known in the last few months, but let me sure you have the player’s straight. On my very far left is the independence party candidate Tom…excuse me…Tom Horner, former public relations executive. Then state representative and former Delano city council member Tom Emmer, the republican candidate in the middle. And former US Senator and former state auditor Mark Dayton, the DFL Candidate next up there. Friends, not many issues that will confront the next governor rise to a level of importance that they warrant their own 90 minutes candidate’s forum during this busy campaign year. We are here this morning, some 300 of us, by the looks of things, because we believe that investment in public infrastructure warrants that kind of attention. Transportation systems matter greatly to this state. So do other elements of our shared physical infrastructure: our sewers, our air and water ports, our public buildings, our energy grid, and increasingly our broadband connections. Such things have mattered to Minnesotans from the first, from the very first actions of the 1858 legislature was to put on the ballot, a constitutional amendment, authorizing the issuance of state bonds to enable the state to loan money to private companies to build railroads. Now that happened to coincide with the panic of 1857 when those railroad companies failed to live up to their commitments and those became the first major controversy that the young state government had to face, because from the first, Minnesotans saw a government role in working together with the private sector in establishing the infrastructure that would be the foundation of a strong economy and a strong state. Again & again, Minnesotans have affirmed that role. Most recently, with the 2008 dedication of another stream of tax revenue to transportation funding and I know some of the organizations in this room worked very hard to see that happen. Through, the years Minnesotans have supported this kind of government activity for a variety of reasons. Some have wanted better access to markets, for the things that they grow & they make. Some have wanted more & better choices about where to work, live, and play. Some have favored the construction-related jobs that are created in the short-term, when public infrastructure is built. Some have maintained that a solid & efficient infrastructure is essential to long-term job growth in the private sector. Some consider this a matter of state pride. Some would add that’s a matter of the state’s survival. Candidates, this morning, we would like to hear your thinking about state government’s rightful role in establishing, maintaining, and improving public infrastructure. And we would like to hear your assessment of the needs & challenges that lie ahead in this part of Minnesotans’ shared life. Our audience has kindly pre-submitted questions and thank you audience for that, from which I’ll be drawing for the next 90 minutes. I can’t get to all those questions. Sorry folks, there were too many good ones, but I’ll hope to mix things up and keep it lively, while also trying to keep it civil and on-topic. Candidates you’ll have three minutes to respond to each question, which is really (UNCLEAR) I think and well offer more sparingly an extra minute to a candidate who wants to rebut something said about him or his position by an opponent. Please signal me when you need to feel the need to respond and I’ll be keeping my eyes open as best I can and then I’ll call on you for a brief rebuttal. I don’t think the microphones will permit you to engage in too much spontaneous back-and-forth. Now at the closing of today’s debate, we’ll offer each of you again 3 minutes for a closing statement and I’m gonna try and keep it straight, so that we rotate our order as best we can. So, by way of an opening statement, let’s start by asking one of those 30,000-foot questions: what’s your vision? What do you see…foresee for the public infrastructure that Minnesota should have 20 years from now? How should it be different from todays? And in broad terms, how do we get from here to there? I’ll start just down the line starting with Mark Dayton.

Mark Dayton: 3 minutes

Lori Sturdevant: Yes. 3 minutes.

Mark Dayton: Thank you very much for this invitation, for those of you in the obstructed view seats, I hope that you can also see where we are here. Thank you all for joining with us today, I think as Lori said, this is such a crucial topic for the future of Minnesota. And as I came to learn & believe when I was commissioner of economic development for Minnesota twice previously, there is a very important positive role for state government to play in partnership with all of you in the private sector to fund projects, make investments-publicly & privately shared financial investments-in the immediate sense, as well as build these projects and our infrastructure that are so vital. You know if you go back to, coming right out of World War II, the federal government made major investments in public infrastructure, the interstate highway system, much of the sewer & water, some of which has now become antiquated, which formed the foundation for private sector economic growth, throughout this country, did so actually during that time, because of it’s tax policies, with a federal deficit of less that 3%. And, as I say, creating a future for the next 50 years, that’s our challenge today is make the public investment necessary in the infrastructure necessary for the next 50 years, and having been to China 7 times…well 6 times in the last decade… seeing the public infrastructure investments that they’re making in high-speed rail and highway systems at least on the Eastern seaboard are better than ours, have better capacity, in better condition. Having driven now, over the last year-1000s of miles around Minnesota-to see the deterioration-of the strong (UNCLEAR?) highway system, the congestion here in the Metropolitan area. Those investments are seriously needed in this state & in this nation. Now we’ll get to go into some detail on some of these areas, but let’s just sketch them out briefly. I see, next year, a bonding bill, in 2011, a significant one depending on interest rates. The Star Triune editorial…I…just a couple weeks ago, just about the advantages of low interest rates and (UNCLEAR) demand that Governor Pawlenty’s unfortunate veto of about 300 million dollars worth of projects, about 8500 jobs, people could be working here today in Minnesota. Building projects. We need to increase our spending for highway construction and I’ll detail that if a question allows and we also need an energy savings fund to retrofit state buildings, government buildings, and convert heating and cooling systems and use alternative energy, both for energy savings and for the jobs that those would provide.

Lori Sturdevant: Thank you. Representative Emmer.

Tom Emmer: 3 minutes is very generous, Lori. Thank you very, very much for having us here. I think my colleagues up here are complaining that that’s two days in a row that Emmer is in the middle. He’s the centrist

Mark Dayton: I’m on your right side

Tom Emmer: And Senator Dayton just pointed out that he’s on my right, this time. But Mark, I’d like to emphasize for everybody out there, you’re still on my left, so. Here’s…I’m Tom Emmer and I’m probably the…well I guess, I’m better known now… was absolutely the least known of the three that you see sitting before you. I’m a guy from Delano that is married for the last 24 years, raising a family, 7 kids, was doing something different with my life up to about 6 years ago and I went to the MN House of Representatives. Never saw myself here, but I am now and I bring a different perspective, something new. I will tell you that what you’ll hear from my colleagues is that we absolutely have to raise taxes. They will argue about which taxes, but we must have more revenue for government. I disagree with that. I think people need to understand that while we have a deficit, they have to understand what the deficit really is. Government in this state will have more money in the next biennium to spend that in does now, by some accounts some 7% more, 2 billion plus more in revenue and it wants to spend more than 17%, so government is getting a raise in the next biennium of over 7% and it wants to spend more than 17% more, so it’s a roughly 6 billion dollar deficit. In fact, if we just continue to do what we’re doing right now and didn’t spend anymore, we’d have a surplus based on the projections at the end of the next biennium. That being said, let’s talk about what we’re here to talk about today. I believe, that first off, we can no longer do things the way we have been doing them. We have to look at redesigning government to deliver the things people expect it to deliver in the most efficient manner. We cannot say that what we have been doing has been working, because in this state every so many years and this isn’t a republican-democrat thing, there are good people who want to make MN a better place, but it’s the design of government is such that government continues to grow and every time it runs out of money, it just goes back to the men & women and businesses of this state and tell them that we need to take more of your money. We have so much government in this state; we are literally suffocating the private economy. Future, when it comes to priorities, it says in our constitution, it’s not a matter of what any, what any of these three people in front of you thinks, the constitution of the state of Minnesota, says that the state will be responsible for a system of roads & bridges. It is a priority. You must fund your priorities. It’s important that we keep in mind that roads & bridges…95% of us travel by roads and bridges and move product by roads & bridges.
Transit is a very important piece about moving people, who may not otherwise means of transport, but I will tell you out of three people up here, I’m sure I’m the only one who takes the bus on a regular basis, so I’m very familiar with how that works. We need to continue to work to improve our transit in this state and frankly, in ore dense communities, but you gotta remember, 95% of us travel by roads & bridges. We could double our transit usage over the next ten years and 90% of us would still travel by roads & bridges. Roads & bridges should be our priority, they should be properly funded, when you talk about a vision, it’s gotta be a vision that goes beyond the next election, it has to be a vision. Much like what some of the good people in out MN Department of Transportation try to do, which is project where we need to be in the next ten years, fifteen, twenty years. Again, you’ve got to set those in place and you gotta make sure that you fund your priorities. And I look forward to having a great discussion with you today.

Lori Sturdevant: Than you Representative Emmer. Mr. Horner, welcome.

Tom Horner: Thank you; thank you very much; thank to all of you for hosting us and thanks for the very impressive turnout. This is terrific and we’re very pleased to have the opportunity to talk about an issue that is so important to Minnesota. I don’t have to tell the folks in this room how important it is. That’s why you’re here. I think, when you look at the track record of the public over the last couple of years, they get it. I mean, look what’s happened in the last couple of years with business & taxpayers stepping up in 2006 to add more money to transportation through a constitutional amendment. Stepping up to add more money to transportation construction through a gas tax increase. Stepping up, even in 2008…(coughs)…excuse me…Stepping up in 2008 to add money to build the infrastructure of our natural resource assets. Minnesotans are ready to make investment. That’s not the problem. The problem is one of leadership, the problem is one of wishful thinking by some who believe that we can just keep shrinking the pie and somehow magically we will have the resources to make the investments to keep Minnesota competitive. That’s not the case. Look at MNDot. They’ve estimated that in the next 2O years to maintain the roads & bridges, to build capacity at a level that we need…it’s going to cost $65 billion by 2030. They’ve identified 15 billion. We have a $50 billion gap just in that piece of our infrastructure. Look at the record harvest that MN farmers will have this year and yet the (UNCLEAR) of 10 ton roads to get their product to market, the deterioration of our rail system to get their product to market. Look at the needs we need to make in energy, in retrofitting our schools, and public buildings. In generation (UNCLEAR) and transmission, in a budget that says we just have to keep shrinking, we just have to keep pulling back, we ought to be making investments in broadband, it is the REA of our generation, it is the way we are going to ensure that communities around the state have access to world class education, world class health care, world class economic development opportunities. We are not going to get there if we have politicians who continue to pretend we can do a lot with nothing, but we’re also not going to get there if we have leadership that just says tax everything only to grow government. We need leadership that says here’s a strategic plan and, frankly, I’m the only one that has been willing to put out a plan, a comprehensive way that addresses all of these issues. A plan on how we will responsibly invest in the economy, how we’ll strengthen the economy through tax reform, not just tax cuts or tax increases, but tax reform that is going to allow for more investment, that is going to allow for companies to grow, to create the kinds of jobs that stimulate the economy, that make all of your work so much more vital. To streamline the permitting process to make specific proposals around bonding. It’s not just if we can have this interest rate or that interest rate. We need a bonding bill next year. $400 million dollars to invest in roads and bridges and core economic assets. And the willingness to put out specific infrastructure issues on the table. I’m the only one who has said “Look, we need to keep the Vikings as an asset in Minnesota. And if we’re going to keep the Vikings, we need to be partners in building a new stadium. Partners in building a stadium in a way that is responsible to the public, in a way that keeps the revenue stream outside of the general fund, we can do it. I’ve put out a plan. We outta have those kinds of specifics. Because I think in 2010, more than other elections in which I’ve seen recently, this is a year Minnesotans need to understand the specifics of each of our proposals. Need to understand where we’re at, what we’re proposing because if we don’t build the mandate this fall, we’re never going to have the accomplishments Minnesota deserves for 2011 and beyond. Thank you.

Lori Sturdevant: Each of you have teed up some topics that we will come back to in a couple of minutes. But for just a moment, I’d just like to start with that big vision 2030 outlook, (UNCLEAR) if I may. We may…we have quite a change coming as many analysts say. In the source of revenue we relied on primarily over the years, since 1924 for financing our transportation system, the gas tax may not be as robust a generator of the (UNCLEAR) for transportation as it has been through most of the 20 century. Considering the possibility of what could be a precipitous decline in gas tax revenue for technology for automotive transportation changes. How do you propose to provide a guaranteed source of transportation funding to compensate or would you. Let’s start with Representative Emmer and we’ll go again for three minutes on the future of transportation funding.

Tom Emmer: Lori, and everyone who’s here, this was the topic back when we were here talking about passing the gas tax. We had just gotten done with MVEST{Sp?) and then there was a discussion on the gas tax and believe me, that is over. There was an override passed, but the debate in the public square that, I think at times, was not adequately reported was frankly, that we knew this was gonna happen . That we’ve got to look at alternative methods to fund our roads and bridges, to fund our transportation infrastructure. We cannot rely on a fuel source that hopefully we look for alternative sources of energy and methods of transportation is not the only thing we rely on in the future . I believe that this is one of the things that bonding absolutely should be used for. Bonding if it is a number 1 priority of the state to provide a system of roads & bridges, then bonding is one of the tools and frankly should be the most important tool when we set that in place. That’s what I think the future hold and then we’re gonnna have discussions about other ideas, as well. I do listen, though, it’s all about tax reform because you wanna build roads & bridges , you wanna improve transit , you wanna improve rail, we’ve got…somebody’s gotta sound the bell that it’s not about more taxes . It’s not just tax reform . It’s not about government constantly gasping & grasping for a new revenue stream . We’ve got to start looking at redesign the machine itself. You have got to create an environment that generates jobs . That’s what we’re missing here. . This discussion seems all one-sided, which is how do we find revenue sources that sustain old and perhaps soon-to-be-outdated revenue sources to support the services that we need. Well, you can’t support anything if you’re not growing new jobs in the private sector in the state of Minnesota. It’s a balance. There is no question that bonding is going to be part of the picture if we’re in the office in the future, but you’ve also gotta start to have an environment that grows jobs in the state of Minnesota, that starts to create the revenue that will support the services that we need and I’ve all ready said that roads & bridges, transit are very important to the future of this state . Thank you.

Lori Sturdevant: Thank you. Representative…representative…I was about to promote you.

Tom Horner: (Laughs)

Lori Sturdevant: Mr. Horner

Tom Horner: (Still laughing lightly) Well, let me just say to my friend Representative Emmer that if the debate seems one-sided, it only because there is only one candidate who has put out anything specific to have a discussion over. That’s the difference . We need to put specifics on the table. The gas tax discussion wasn’t a debate around alternative kinds of revenue sources. That never occurred. The gas tax debate, at least on the republican side of the aisle, was no new taxes . That was the only debate that occurred . We need to have that discussion about how we fund, how we invest, how we make changes, look at it. Was it the McKinzey (Sp?) report that came out not too long ago that said the United States is facing the equivalent of a permanent national recession, because of the education gap Education is an infrastructure issue. That’s going to create the jobs that place the demand on infrastructure and the ability to pay for the infrastructure . We’ve got too be realistic about this , so let’s look at that $65 million in 2030 and I agree , we do need a new way of thinking about it. There’s $15 billion MNDot has identified out of that $65 billion. Let’s take that and have a discussion that starts with outcomes. What are critical assets in Minnesota that we need to fund with that $15 billions that is available. What drives the economy of Minnesota and maybe it’s highway 14, maybe it’s an urban highway , maybe it’s a transit system, maybe it’s something else, but let’s take that $15 billion and have that discussion, then we can decide on the next tier of priorities and say how else do we fund that Is it a user fee, sis it a toll road, is it one of the creative things that are all ready happening in Minnesota . Is it an increased tax? Or is it bonding? But let’s have it around priorities, not take $15 billion that we have and divide it be 201- the number of legislative districts-and say everybody get a little bit and the state gets not much of anything. We need to be thoughtful about it, we need a bonding bill. We need t make an investment in a strong economy that’s not just building out roads. It is also building out education, is building out health care, it is doing all of those things that make Minnesota a strong state.

Lori Sturdevant: The question about the funding source for the future, Senator Dayton.

Mark Dayton: I’m just..sort…gonna say a little bit of a rebuttal if that’s all right. (UNCLEAR) time for the questions. Mr. Horner, I do take exception to you’re saying you’re the only candidate today who put forward a specific proposal. And I have done so, in both tax and spending cuts, and I’m looking at more spending. I would just say that you’re proposing to extend the sales tax which would…to make up (UNCLEAR) the revenue you’re talking about $2.8 billion to unspecified services is not a specific proposal. It goes partway, but you should specify the services that you’re going to tax that are not now taxed and also, invoking the word redesign 26 times to describe your spending cuts is again not really specific as you need to be to give people a chance to analyze what you’re proposing to do and where you’re gonna get real savings that are not….going to impact people’s lives. And Representative Emmer, I just have to say in terms of the revenue, it’s true that you said revenues are going to increase, I think, 7% for the next biennium. But’s it’s also worth pointing out that the revenues declined in this biennium compared to the previous biennium, so that if you compare the previous biennium in a span of four years to the next biennium, the revenues actually go up about 3.5% and the tax structure, as you know Representative Emmer, has not been changed so the reason is more people are working, so the equation that we want to follow is this day is that we want more people working to generate more revenues but without changing the tax structure and also putting more people to work . I would also point out that over that four-year period, we have over 22000 more students that we have to support in Kindergarten through 12th grade. We have over 22000 more people living in Minnesota during that time so our state’s population ‘s needs are growing as well. Actually, we agree about the need for bonding for transportation. Pay as you go is great in an era where we can do that and keep pace, but given that we’ve fallen behind over the last decade and given as Mr. Horner pointed out the need…the MNDot outline…we need to make in the public sector the kind of capital investments that the private sector through debt financing. If it’s great if you can build stores or shopping malls or whatever and pay it in cash , but in reality, if you’re gonna keep pace with the competition and the need to expand more rapidly, you need to issue debt financing in order to do so. The problem in the federal government now and one of the reasons I objected to the way the federal government went from the surplus that Bill Clinton left behind to the deficits that have now occurred under two presidents-one republican and now one democrat-is that their borrowing for current consumption, rather than borrowing for long-term capital investments, so that’s what the state should o . One of the proposals…approaches that other states have used is using some of the increase in the federal highway funds to issue what are called Garvy (sp?) bonds…they are bonds that backed by that revenue stream, the principle & the interest payments, allowed states like Arkansas to accelerate sixteen years the projects that they are going to make, so we could complete a project like Highway 14 in 1 or 2 construction seasons, rather than piecemeal. We need to greatly expand, not just for one year, but over the next decade, over the next two decades our highway & public transit improvement projects. If we’re going to put the state back to the sound infrastructure it needs to be to support the economic growth in the future.

Lori Sturdevant: Well that tees up a question about bonding and I’d like to hear more from each of you about that . This time we’ll be starting with Mr. Horner. The question would be, more to describe your philosophy about the rightful use and rightful size of state bonding. If you could comment and I know Representative…Mr. Horner has all ready specified what size a bonding bill he would like to see in 2011. I’d like to hear about the size of the bonding bill if any the other two candidates would like to see in 2011, but then talk more broadly too about how and when the state should issue bonds. Mr. Horner…

Tom Horner: Thank you; I think that’s a great question. Bonding ought to be considered especially over the next couple of years in 3 areas: 1 is that we do have some commitments outstanding that we need to follow through on. If we’re going to ask Minnesotans to trust in government, then we ought to follow through on the commitments that have been made, so civic centers in Rochester and St. Cloud. Good example of commitments that were out there and that we ought to follow through on. Secondly, we ought to put the top priority on building out the infrastructure that is needed to grow the economy in very short order. Those kinds of projects, especially as we look at the 2011-bonding bill, can put people to work . The bridge improvement program, highways, those kinds of systems that are ready to go, that can put people to work, and meet a true long-term economic need for Minnesota. But then thirdly, I think we also need to look at bonding as a tool to make long-term investments in the economic assets of Minnesota. And I think there are very important investments that we ought to make in that in 2011, 2012, and beyond. And those come in a couple of areas, we ought to make sure that Minnesota is the knowledge & innovation state and if we’re going to make sure we have a strong, healthy industry supporting the infrastructure, building out the infrastructure, we need a strong, healthy economy that leads to good education, to research at the University of Minnesota, and so we ought to be making bonding investments in facilities like the Science & Engineering Building at St. Cloud State. It’s those kinds of programs that will create jobs for the future, good, well-paying career jobs that can support the kind of government and investments that we want. We ought to be making an investment in broadband and I know Representative Emmer disagrees with me, but again I think that’s going to be the economic asset of the future. I would hope that in most areas, it can be done as a private investment. In some areas, it’s going to be a private-public partnership and in some areas, it is going to be a public investment . And let’s deal with it and move on. And then we also need to make investments in energy, in those kinds of assets that are going to fuel the economy of the future. Generation transmission in new technologies. It’s those kinds of areas that are going to be important to our economic future

Lori Sturdevant: Thank you. Let’s go to Senator Dayton about your philosophy about bonding and the size of bonding bill you would like to see next year

Mark Dayton: Mr. Horner’s bill is too modest …of 400 million people. I’ll be honest to 400 million people and he voted against 6 bonding bills when he was in the legislature. My bonding bill would be in the neighborhood of a billion dollars . I would want to look at the interest rates at that point in time. I would want to be prudent. But I would want to be proactive. Minnesota ranks, according to the Minnesota Taxpayer Association 34th among the states in our interest. That’s about 3% of our state projected expenditures for the next biennium. I don’t think we wanna go much higher than that. On the other hand, b one econometric (UNCLEAR) study, a professor at George Mason University , every billion dollars of public investment in non-residential construction creates about 28500 jobs. So by Governor Pawlenty’s vetoing 300 million dollars in the last bonding bill, he left…by that measure 8500jobs Minnesotans who are unemployed today, who could be working on those projects. So there is both the short-turn benefit of a billion dollar bonding bill in a state that has a gross state product of $63 billion. I mean that’s not gonna tip the scales in terms of the economic recovery , but it’s gonna make a significant contribution, 28500 jobs through a billion dollars of public investment is a good deal for the people of Minnesota. Especially when we’re at a point where we can afford to do this and when interest rats support that. The bonding bill should support that, by the way, next year 2011, not waiting until 2012. We talked about transportation bonding and that’s another important component. The issuing of bonds for highway construction projects is again an important job creator and is essential to put Minnesota back on track to economic growth. When you can’t get your goods to market, you can’t get your employees to and from work, people have a choice of to where they’re going to locate or expand a business, they’re going to choose a place where they can, where there is good infrastructure, where they can get their products conveniently to markets around the country, where they can get their employees from work, where they can get themselves to and from work, so we shortchange the future of Minnesota drastically by underinvesting in our highways and public transit projects. I would just say that we also need to look at the sewer and water systems of the state, that’s another critical need. You know, and again, they’re expensive, but they’re only going to become more expensive in the future. We have to work with the federal government and with local governments to facilitate these projects, which increasingly are not affordable for local governments to finance. Ahead looking ahead to the next 50 years, the election is about the future of Minnesota for us and it’s about the future of Minnesota for our children & our grandchildren and that’s the perspective that I would bring to the decision .

Lori Sturdevant: Thank you. Tom Horner wants a 1 minute rebuttal, but Tom I’d like to ask you to hold that thought until we hear from all three candidates and then I’ll comeback to you for that rebuttal moment. Tom Emmer…

Tom Emmer: The…First off, you’re right, I voted against every bonding bill that has been presented while I’ve been a state legislator. I think bonding bills are, and you’ve heard what I believe the priorities should be. This what bonding bills should be used for public infrastructure of statewide significance. Roads & bridges are at the top of that list; there are floodwalls, there are other issues. There are public safety infrastructure. These are the things the bonding bill should be used for and they should not be used to pass policies like policy on greenhouse has emissions that would not otherwise get through the legislative process. They should not be used to give out a Christmas tree full of gifts to convince career politicians to give their votes in other areas where they might not otherwise provide them. Bonding bills should be used for what they are intended. They should be used for long-term capital investments that actually do add to your economic growth in the state of Minnesota. This is where we differ in a major way. The only specifics that my colleagues have offered is that they are going to raise taxes . The only specific that they have offered, they may offer on where those come from , is that government simply doesn’t have enough revenue. We are not willing to look at exactly how we’re going to redesign the machine…the actual machine of government so that it delivers these services. Don’t do it with a bonding bill that puts your state’s bonding rating at risk. We just had this in the last…we talk about bonding bills. Senator Dayton, what you forget, is when you take a billion dollars out of private economy to pay for many things that aren’t necessary, I will tell you that in the last bonding bill, it was 300 million . Somewhere around 300-400 million was absolutely applied to public infrastructure, whether it be roads and bridges, public safety infrastructure, those kinds of things that we absolutely needed to do. You gotta remember that when you take that billion dollars out of the private economy , you’ve just taken more money out of the entrepreneurs, job creators’ pockets. There is a benefit , because you hope to be building bridges, roads that will transport product to market. It’s absolutely true, but it goes beyond that when you’re not building. For instance, when I get in a bonding bill, it says, we’re gone give x number of hundreds of thousands of dollars to a couple of buildings in Roseville to put grass roofs on them, that’s not an item of state-wide significance and it should not be in a bonding bill, I respectfully submit and when you do this without regard to what’s happening in your private economy without any responsibility to the balance you need to have, you’d have to build the infrastructure while you grow your private economy because that in turn will grow the revenue stream that will allow you to do even more with your public infrastructure.

Lori Sturdevant: Rebuttal request. Tom Horner, you’re up first.

Tom Horner: Yup, just two quick points, Representative Emmer intentionally keeps misrepresenting the specifics and that’s fine because that’s what happens when you’re willing to put specifics on the table. I’m not just proposing tax increases and I think Representative Emmer knows that. My proposal’s comprehensive tax reform. You need to raise revenue to pay for the tax cuts that are important for businesses. To give businesses resources for investments for retention of income so that they can grow, they can expand, they can create new jobs. It is a tax proposal; the key elements of which have been endorsed by the business-lead commission appointed by Governor Pawlenty; by Growth & Justice; by others at all points on the political spectrum. But what I really want to address is Senator Dayton’s continuing claim that I don’t have enough specifics. Fair enough Senator, but now in the last couple of debates, I have heard you say that you want to go to a single-payer health care system. I think we ought to restore over-and-above what we’re all ready doing n per pupil aid. $1300 per person that you want to restores $1.8billion transfer to schools. Now, you want to pay the debt service on a billion dollar bonding bill. I think, Senator, you owe it to many of the people in this audience who I would guess are [UNCLEAR] corporations, LLC’s, people who are going to pay your individual income tax. Be specific Senator; tell them what is the rate that you are going to ask them to pay. What is the rate that you are going to ask them to pay? What is the rate, be specific?

Lori Sturdevant: It just so happens that Mark Dayton has also asked for a rebuttal. Marl Dayton…

Mark Dayton: I’ll keep the top personal income tax rate below the highest in the nation, which is 11%. I’m tempted to say Mr. Horner facetiously that my answer to any of your questions now is that I will redesign, because I think now 25 more redesigns to invoke before I’m at your level. But I also want to say actually in both of our defense that I’m amazed, Representative Emmer, that you could question both of us about specifics when you are the one…candidate who refuses everyday to provide specifics about how & where you’re going to eliminate a projected $5.8billion deficit in the next biennium. You gave us a couple anecdotes that are up to a million or a couple hundred million. But we’re all waiting and I think the people of Minnesota deserve very soon your specific proposal for where you’re going to cut $5.8 billion in spending and what the impacts are going to be on real people’s lives.

Lori Sturdevant: Since you haven’t had a rebuttal, Representative Emmer, would you like one.

Tom Emmer: You know, I appreciate Senator Dayton that perhaps it’s incomprehensible to people who have done business as usual for three decades to believe that if government doesn’t….isn’t allowed to grow at the rate it wants to that somehow is a cut. I mean government has it spending roughly 31 billion right now out of the general fund. It’s gonna have 32-plus billion to spend in the next biennium. Yes, there will be difficult choices to make. I think everybody in this room understand it. If you travel around Minnesota, if you’ve actually struggled to meet a pay roll and run a small business and you understand what families are feeling around this state. They’re asking for the type of leadership that doesn’t tell them what they want to hear. You know, it’s not the same-old politician thing, that we’re gonna raise this and we’re gonna grow this, and government can make choices for you that you can’t make by yourself. They want people that are gonna tell them this is how we get out of this. This is all of us together. Just tell us what we need to do. It’s holding the line on spending that is out of control in Washington, out of control in Minnesota. It’s getting government to start making the choices that it needs to make to start delivering the services that are absolutely necessary and get jobs back in this state.

Lori Sturdevant: Ok, candidates, now we’d like to ask you too [UNCLEAR] in on the issue of metro-area transit, though there are transit issues outstate and feel free to comment on those as well. …particularly interested in the future of light rail transit in the metro area, other modes of transit that might be on your wish list, and we’d like you to comment on how transit is governed, with the future of the metropolitan council being a point of discussion in at least one part’s gubernatorial race. We are…let’s talk transit for the next 9 minutes and let’s begin with Senator Dayton.

Mark Dayton: Well, we are obviously behind most other metropolitan areas in our public transit systems. Would…we had the political will, public recognition to…back when I think it was 1970, ’71 when the Metropolitan Council first proposed the equivalent of a light rail system. Would that we had taken advantage of that point of about 805 of federal funding for those projects and then it dropped to 50% and now it’s been reduced to piecemeal, which is the kinda funding that is becoming increasingly more expensive. It is certainly one component and extending the North Star Line up to St. Cloud where the major population center and we realized the rail that goes to South East Metro then extending the network of lines with the Central Corridor as the next one and connecting that up to the airport probably bringing something in from the Southwest. The projects are going to take, to say something significantly because of the population density and the routing issues involved as well as the cost of paying for them, we committed to that and I think that’s obviously something we’re going to need to figure out and we prudently spend the money necessary and work with the federal government to afford to do so. Buses are still the most flexible form of public transit. We need to incentivize people using buses. We need to provide park &ride that are sufficient in capacity, you give people more encouragement to do so. We need to continue to build highways as MNDot is starting to do now, where you provide an advantage to bus travel, for the commute times and provide a reward of less time for people using them and busses have the flexibility when population shifts over the next 20, 30 years. Busses can adapt to that while a light rail system is much more, is obviously completely inflexible, but it’s not either or, it’s both. And we need to continue to keep making those investment. The management of it, I’m certainly willing to look for a way to make it more efficient. Some of the suburban areas have decided they’re better off operating their own transit systems and that…and I would certainly respect those decision, on the other hand I think they got to be integrated with the larger metropolitan system and we need to look and see if that’s the most cost-efficient way to do it to have those separate entities interlocking or whether we need a broader metropolitan approach.

Lori Sturdevant: Representative Emmer, what would be the future of Light Rail under an Emmer administration?

Tom Emmer: I don’t think it’s so much whether it’s Light Rail or buses, I think it’s about mobility, moving people. The question is not what type of transit, but what is it you’re trying to accomplish and think the question that has to be asked is “Will you get the highest return for your dollar? I…you know I’ve never been a fan of light rail; that doesn’t mean that’s not part of the answer. I do have to acknowledge the Hiawatha Rail has provided some benefits to those neighborhoods in terms of the values of their homes and moving people, but the North Star Rail so far is not giving the same type of return that we had expected. The subsidy is not actually…we’re spending somewhere last time I looked close to $20 a rider. You & I are…to fund that. It makes more sense. I would ask my colleagues, if they had ever ridden (sp?) the bus. I mean, Senator Dayton talks about we got to make them more efficient. I’ll tell you what, you ought to ride one. These guys do a great job… yes, there are some lines, some flexibility that needs to occur. I don’t it needs to be part of Met Council. I think there should be…put it in a department within the MNDoT or some other area, but Met Council itself is something that we no longer need in its current form. But when it comes to busses, I’ve ridden them. I ride from Wayzata to St. Paul on a regular basis and it’s amazing. You know, you wanna drive from Delano to the Capitol during rush hour and it’s gonna take ya sometimes an hour and a half to get there, depending on what the weather is like. You drive at non-rush hour periods and you can get there in about 40 minutes, especially with the new link that has been opened up from Wayzata out to Maple Plains, but you take the bus and you pick it up at the Park & Ride in Wayzata and you can get 1 change in downtown Minneapolis, you can actually get to the Capitol within about 50 minutes . I think it is a good system. It’s one…again, the issue is mobility of people and good, that’s the goal of our transportation system. Transit is an asset in that overall transportation plan, but where you put those dollars, you should be putting them to make sure you’re getting them the highest return for the dollar when it comes to , actually, mobility of people.

Lori Sturdevant: And what would transit look like in a Horner Administration?

Tom Horner: Well, on first let me just say that I hope that someplace in those 25 additional mentions of redesign Senator that you will talk about the rat that you want to impose on these business people, because 11%, I think by your estimate raises about $3 billion if I’m correct by your numbers. That’s not nearly enough to pay for the billion and billions and billions of dollars that you’re promising in new spending. And there aren’t enough bonding bills in the world that are going to help small businesses if they’re not in business because they’re having to pay rates that are at the top of the nation. That’s the reality. So on transit, we need to have a comprehensive, strategic plan that looks out at what’s the outcome. How do we move people and do it efficiently and do it in a way that is integrated with our highway system. So I disagree with both of these gentleman on North Star and I know a little something about North Star. When I was employed, we helped work on that and make it happen. You know, North Star will be successful as the line now exists. It is less than a year old Representative; I think any new system takes time. It is just falling marginally short and some of it is going to come adjustment of schedules, in different kinds of promotions, but Senator it’s not quite ready to go to St. Cloud, that’s not a cost-efficient priority. As much as I would like to say let’s get it up to St. Cloud, that…the data just don’t support that kind of extension or the cost that it would take. I think we do need to invest in new transit systems including Light Rail. But I also think we need the leadership to stand up and say, we need transit systems that are going to work and one of the concerns I have on Central Corridor. I support Central Corridor. But I fear we’re building the Metrodome of Light Rail transit. A little bit of something for everybody and doesn’t work well for anybody. A 40 minute ride from Downtown to Downtown because we want to build out all these stations isn’t the value of transit. We need to be smart about it. Now maybe we can address that through express trains and things like that, but we need the leadership to say ‘if we build it, we need to make sure we’re getting the value of it.’ We ought to look at fixed exclusive bus right of ways and make sure that we are integrating bus with rail with highways. It is effective. There was a terrific story in Lori’s newspaper this morning talking about the value of bus service, but also talking about what it takes to get some suburban riders on those busses. And we may need to upgrade the quality of busses, not just in the suburban communities for longer commutes, but in the inner cities. It’s all of these things that we need to do to invest in a thoughtful integrated, strategic transit system.

Lori Sturdevant: Senator Dayton would like a rebuttal minute. One minute Senator

Senator Dayton: I just wanted to point out that…my….a small business or anybody would only be paying an incremental increase in your income. If they’re joint filing or making more than an actual income of $173000 or individual making more than $152000 and the MN Department of Revenue has analyzed my proposal at those rates and it would not apply to 92% of the small business owners in Minnesota. You on the other hand are going to make working Minnesotans, middle-income Minnesotans, and small businesses pay higher sales taxes on closing and unspecified services. And since you’re asking me for specificity, I would assume ask you to specify which of the services that you’re gonna raise some $2.8 billion by taxing in taxes that are not now taxes, those are consumer payments. You’re not going to tax business payments for services. So you’re going to make the working people, the middle-income people, the lower people, the poor people, and the upper income people of Minnesota pay about $2.8 billion in higher sales taxes for services and that’s a regressive tax compared to the one I propose.

Lori Sturdevant: Let’s shift gears and talk a little bit about the state’s regulatory climate. That’s something that I think each of you, in previous debates, has acknowledged, is a sore spot for people in this audience and a number of business people in the state. Please describe for us how you would alter that picture and what your analysis is of where the problem really lies and how you would change the regulatory climate to be more business friendly without undercutting the standards and environmental protection, that really are the foundation of some of those regulations and this time let’s start with Representative Emmer.

Tom Emmer: Well, I think after taxes and maybe even ahead of taxes in the state of Minnesota, this is the problem. And where does it come from? We have too many state agencies with overlapping authority and they’re not only setting their own rules but then are charged with the responsibility and frankly are competing with one another to enforce those rules and ensure compliance. That, couples, combined with the fact we’ve now given our agencies the ability to frankly become their own collection agencies has turned around, I think, well-meaning people. These are just Minnesotans; I don’t care what political jersey they were wearing when they did this. Everyone wants to protect our great natural resources in this state. We all want clean air. We all want clean water. We all want to turn over a healthier state to our kids and grandkids then even we grew up in. That is the ultimate goal no matter what your political persuasion is, if you live here in Minnesota. But, we’ve got a system now Lori that has developed in such a way that Minnesotans who are not only operating businesses, but Minnesotans who just are using our streets, our highways, trying to do things in their backyards, they feel like they can walk out their front yard and they’re violating some rule or breaking some law. And that some state agent is gonna show up and fine them or give them some more serious consequences. I told this story yesterday and one of my colleagues said ‘Well that’s cause we don’t have enough ten ton roads.” You know what, the road restrictions are very important and we need…we do need more heavy-duty roads, there’s no question. We need to have a plan for that, but when you start getting down to the minutia of not only the weight of the load but the weight on each individual axel. When you’ve got a farmer whose taking a _ quarter load of grain to the elevator and he gets pulled over and he’s gotta stand there…this happened last week…and he’s gotta stand there and watch as a MNDot representative through all of his permits and his licenses and takes the weight of the vehicle. Everything’s fine, but he’s got a _ load that apparently isn’t evenly distributed . One axel was a few hundred pounds over the per axel restriction and he got a fine of almost $300. That’s where you’ve gotten way out of whack with what we all want. It’s time to reduce the number of agencies that are creating these rules. Frankly, they should be legislative-approved after they have been promulgated by the agencies and that will make Minnesota a one-window stop for business in this state . I think that’s how you solve this problem.

Moderator: Thank you, Mr. Horner

Tom Horner: Well, I agree with Representative Emmer that we have to reduce the number of agencies, but I disagree with what he told the farmers at Farm Fest. We ought to put all regulations affecting all environmental regulation…affecting agriculture under the Department of Agriculture. That’s just about every environmental regulation. Now in fairness, I just heard Representative Emmer say that to farmers. I have never heard him say that to other audiences, so maybe he’s changed his mind. I think we need to do three things to streamline the process . First of all, we need to deal with the timing. We need to make a commitment as a government that we will turn around application processes permitting processes in 6 months. We can do that in non-extraordinary circumstances and have that as an absolute guarantee. You start with an outcome and then you back up and figure out how to get it done Secondly, we need to deal with the complexity. One of the ways we can do that is to spend a little bit of money upfront and it does cost some government money Representative to build out our IT system so that we can have a single website for each of you to go file a single application that every agency that needs to look at it . Local, county, and state has one site that they can go to. One permit that you do. One application that you complete and let everyone deal with that. Streamline complexity. Some of it is from your end; some of it is from the agency and to streamline the oversight. Thirdly, we need to inject some commonsense into the process. I had a great meeting with (UNCLEAR) the other day and one of the folks told me that he had a construction project . Had all the permitting approved, got to the end of the process and as many of you understand, still hasn’t locked up the financing in today’s credit market. The permits expired. Nothing had changed in the project. The permit had expired just by virtue of time. He got his financing. The agency said, ‘Sorry, you have to tart all over again.’ Ridiculous. Austin doing a main street water control project, a flood control project for the fill their using. The agency came in and said, ‘I’m sorry, you have to certify that the fill is free of historical artifacts.’ And Austin said, ‘well wait a second , we’re getting it from a certified location. You’ve all ready certified that.’ Still have to do it. It’s those kinds of common sense things that we need to change. So, it’s all of those issues that we need to address.

Lori Sturdevant: Senator Dayton, what’s your approach to regulatory improvement?

Senator Dayton: Well, I would agree with both my colleagues. I have a book in my library called The Death of Common Sense and it describes some of these regulatory excessed and I told the story, when I was a US Senator I was told by the Mayo Clinic that there are 110,000 pages of Medicare rules & regulations. I didn’t take the time to read them all myself. I decided to take the Mayo’s word for it. I proposed an amendment on the senate floor that would require the Secretary of Health & Human Services to reduce that number of pages of verbage by 2/3 in 18 months under the theory that if it cant be said n 37000 pages, than it doesn’t need to be said and it was amazing the position including from the AMA, because people were concerned about their particular area of interest being changed or altered in some form. But if I could wave a magic wand, I would eliminate the duplication and triplication of reporting requirements on individuals, small business owners, on large business, on charitable organizations, on local governments by state & federal governments. It wastes thousand and millions of hour and it doesn’t accomplish the purpose of better oversight and public protection and since I don’t have a magic and, I will start working on that beginning immediately with my lt. governor running mate Yvonne Prettner Solon who is putting together a group of people to work on this and invite your participation in it. It’ll continue through the fall and, if we’re successful enough, November 2nd right up until January 1st and we’ll have a set of proposals to bring to the legislature and ask the legislature to spend the first 6 weeks or 2 months of the next session focusing. How can we streamline, how can we reduce these overlapping jurisdictions, how can we reach the goal? It wont happen in one session, but it ought to be a goal that it one agency with jurisdiction and there is one reporting requirement. The deadline have to be met , employees are established in the rules and , if not, that oversight is forfeited since we don’t want to forfeit the oversight. We have to provide the ability for people to make those decisions and act and I want better government . I don’t want worse government. Multiple overlapping jurisdictions and overlapping duplicate, triplicate reporting requirements make worse government. I’m or better government and I’m prepared to roll up my sleeves if I’m governor and work with all of you and those who are affected by those regulations and those excessive reporting requirements. Let’s identify detail-by-detail …government is about detail, where they be changed, where they can be eliminated, and I pledge to you that I’ll cooperate with you and others and other business groups and other who are concerned about this to accomplish this over the next year. Beginning of next year and over the course of my first term.

Lori Sturdevant: Candidates, I’m going to ask you to just shorten your answers a little bit. I’D like to squeeze in three more questions before our closing statements The next questions is one that we simply can just not avoid when we are discussing public infrastructure in Minnesota and what’s to do about the Vikings Stadium. It seems it’s the ever present issue in Minnesota. How are we going to provide the facilities our professional sports team need and want and what’s government role in providing . Tom Horner you’re up next with this touchy question.

Tom Horner: Well not touchy at all. I mean I think it takes leadership . I think you have to put these kinds of issues on the table with specific and be willing to take the hits if they come. So I have laid out a very specific program. I think the Vikings are an important asset to Minnesota and we need to keep them but I also think Minnesota has been an important asset to the NFL and to the Vikings and we ought to ask more of the Vikings than some other communities have asked of their NFL teams so I’ve asked the Vikings to pay 40% of the cost . I’ve asked them to sign a 40 year lease. I’ve said to the Vikings, ‘you will get all of the revenue from Vikings events. The public gets all of the revenue from non-Vikings events. All of the revenue including stadium advertising, concessions, suites, ticket revenue, we ought to keep all of the funding outside of the general fund revenue and I’ve proposed streams to do that. I think we can do it through a verity of mechanisms, including a tax on tickets and I think we ought to do it through {UNCLEAR} as aback-up. I think we ought to be there to protect these important amenities and so again, it’s not just enough to say I support the Vikings and I’m really happy Brett Favre I back and that’s an answer . That’s not an answer. You got to lay it out. It’s not easy because there a lot of people think that maybe we shouldn’t be doing this . Fair point. I disagree with them. I think MN needs to protect these amenities . We have to be a state that has a strong economy , strong schools, strong health care system , a good infrastructure, and the amenities that make MN the great state that it is to live in.

Lori Sturdevant: Senator Dayton, what about the Vikings

Mark Dayton: Well, I am happy that Brett Favre is back for a starting point. But I would propose look at this project like any other economic development project I learned when I was commissioner of economic development for the state That is, a good project, it’s in the public interest which means that the benefits to the taxpayers of MN , the people of MN, through and their significant t to this project, some 8000 jobs over 3 years, the taxes that those employed workers would pay, the taxes that those vendors would pay, and the construction of that project. Looking at offsetting the liability if the Vikings were to leave the Metrodome of having to continue funding that amenity without that revenue stream and if those overall financial benefits are greater than the public costs than it’s a good project for the people of Minnesota and I would support it. And I would also roll up my sleeves as governor. We’re gonna begin those negotiations. It would be presumptuous of me until, after November 2nd, but I’m elected I will roll up my sleeves with all the entities, including the Vikings, work to put together a deal as I learned from the real best jobs governor I have ever seen in Minnesota Rudy Perperich I saw someone who rolled up his sleeves and worked to make these major jobs projects happen to benefit the people of Minnesota and I am hopeful, optimistic that we could work that out.

Lori Sturdevant: Representative Emmer What about the Vikings?

Tom Emmer: Well it’s the one time I am going to say that I agree with Senator Dayton. I am happy as well that Brett Favre is back and I will be even happier as a kid who was born in this state in 1961 when the Vikings came, and grew up with the Vikings in the sixties and seventies, I’d be even happier, in fact it would complete the circle of life for me if the Vikings win the super bowl with a former green bay packer guiding them. That’s what I hope for this year. But you know to suggest I… we all try take the high ground that oh I presented this. I presented that. I am the only one who has done this. I … hopefully people will find out as we go forward ..the job of the governor is to facilitate success for every business in the state of Minnesota and the includes the Minnesota Vikings. People ask me I tell them I want a Viking Stadium. I don’t think you need to use general revenue.. The general fund to support it. I think you can absolutely facilitate it. I also want 3M to expand in this state, which they haven’t done in a long time. I want Marvin Windows to expand in this state. I am very upset as a Minnesota resident, who loves my state, that Honeywell is located elsewhere. IBM has just recently expanded into Iowa . We want all of these jobs here because that again is how you have these amenities that we all love so much. When it comes to the Viking Stadium there was a proposal that was brought forward at the legislature that I don’t know a lot of people had heard about it. It was a proposal where the Wilfs [unclear] had agreed to fund the or take care of leverage on the loans , the financing for the first ten years and then redirect another revenue stream that currently is being used for the convention center in the in Hennepin County. That’s the kind of arrangement that has potential. Unfortunately, when it came to the legislature apparently their were some things that hadn’t been worked out between the Vikings and the county. There is a way to get this done just like there should be a way to make Minnesota business friendly, bring jobs back here, bring new employers back here and again you will drive, not only the revenues that drives government but you will drive the revenues that will build things like a new Vikings stadium.

Lori Sturdevant: Thank you. There is great interest in this audience in this room about the use of outside consultants, private consultants to do some of the public infrastructure work that gets done in this state. Some of you, I know Senator Dayton has, talked about reducing the use of private, professional, and technical consultants by state government. I’d like to invite him and the rest of you as well, to comment on the prospects for using outside consultants. If, if those outside consultants are not used, who will do the work and at what cost? Will that cost be greater or smaller for taxpayers and will the benefits be greater or smaller for us all? Senator Dayton, let’s let you describe your position to begin with.

Mark Dayton: Well, the outsourcing use of private contracting has increased very significantly under Governor Pawlenty and his agency has. These are people into office with the ideology that government does everything badly and when they’re elected they go out to prove themselves correct and they either de-fund programs or they destroy them or they cut back on the professional capabilities of agencies like MNDoT to do this work in-house and I think there’s a balance to be had and I’ve proposed that that be reduced and those savings be applies to build the expertise that can be used again & again within state agencies where you have public accountability. And I believe in many cases the costs are lower to the taxpayers and that ought to be the consideration. And just recently, the state of Wisconsin used the equivalent of their legislative auditor to analyze their state contracting procedures and they gave it a mixed review, in some cases it’s cost effective and in some cases it’s cost-excessive and I would ask the legislative auditor to do the same in Minnesota, let’s look at it objectively and see where’s it’s necessary, where’s there’s expertise, where it resides in the private sector, there are certainly instances of that, where that can be provided and, again, at a better cost to the taxpayer, I will support that and where it is demonstrated that this is just about an ideologically-driven bent against public employees and we’re building that capacity in…within state government as more cost effective to the taxpayer and I’ll support that.

Lori Sturdevant: Representative Emmer, what about outside consultants?

Tom Emmer: Well, this…it’s a very interesting discussion and this is something that will be a distinct difference that I think the folks in this room and the people in the State of Minnesota may go into the ballot…to cast a ballot on November 2nd will not only understand but will find important. Senator, I’ll tell you that it’s got nothing to do with an ideological bent and I think when we get into partisanship, it tends to take peoples eyes off the ball. You’re talking about somehow, government provide a better value than the private sector and yet we all know that someone in government right now makes on average 30-40% more than somebody employed in the same capacity in the private sector. That won’t save money to take that in-house. We know that someone in the priv…. public sector gets a gold plated health care plan while people who are similarly situated out in the private sector are lucky if they have their healthcare insurance today. We also know that people in government get pension plans that people in the private sector could only dream of today; I mean, it’s still a defined benefit plan for the most part in government instead of a defined contribution. Well, everybody outside of government is watching their, if they’re lucky enough to have a 401K, watch it ride the rollercoaster of the market and wonder if they have something to retire on. It’s a completely difference situation in government, so to suggest that by pulling this in-house that it’s going to somehow provide more value at lower costs to the taxpayers of the state of Minnesota is, and then to call it an ideological-bent for number 1. Is improper partisanship and number 2. Ignores actual reality that is out there. I gotta tell you if this is what is in our future, if we’re in the governor’s office come 2011, if there is ever a bridge bid on in this state, it will go to the lowest bidder based on value that is being provided and will not go when you have two Minnesota companies that are not only highly reputable but have a bid that is solid, it will not go to somebody out of the state, but it will be built by our contractors here.

Lori Sturdevant: Mr. Horner, what about outside consultants?

Tom Horner: Well, once I again I think my two friends to the right here not only have the wrong answer, I think they’re asking the wrong question. I mean, the question ought to be not whether or not we use outside contractors, our obligation to that taxpayers, to the people of Minnesota is, what’s the outcome we want to achieve and we ought to evaluate that in 3 points. 1. What is it we’re trying to achieve, specifically? How do we deliver the highest quality at the best value and then you make a decision and I think against those criteria, I think outside consultants, private contractors are going to stack up very well and it is then the role of the administration after having led through leadership the discussion around what it is we’re trying to achieve then to hold accountable whoever is doing it, whether it’s the outside contractor or government employees and we ought to do it with absolute transparency. I don’t think there’s a business in this room that wouldn’t be willing to do this, to set up measures, hold whoever is doing it accountable to cost, and to make it all available to taxpayers. Let’s create websites that say, here’s the project, here’s the measure that we are holding this contractor too, here’s the cost, and here’s the progress they’re making. Let everybody take a look at that, hold them accountable, that’s what we need to get too, but I think we also need to make sure that if we’re going to trust the great local contractors, consultants, engineering firms, construction companies we have in Minnesota than we better make sure Senator Dayton that they exist and while you cavalierly dismiss that only 8% of small businesses are going to pay your new high-tax rate , those 8% happen to be the companies that are providing the most jobs and I would guess that most of the sub-S and LLC companies in this room are part of that 8%. Because these are the most successful; these are the ones driving the jobs; and so what we ought to do is not raise their taxes through the ceiling, we ought to provide them an exemption for a part of the flow-through that they can retain some of the earnings to invest in new equipment, to invest in new jobs, to have the resources to grow jobs, that’s what tax reform is all about, that’s what tax reform is Representative Emmer, it is creating jobs through god tax policy, it’s what tax reform is about Senator Dayton. It’s not just raising revenue, it is creating jobs, building a stronger economy, being smart about where we would need to take Minnesota in the future.

Lori Sturdevant: Well, if we keep our answers nice & short, I can squeeze in one more question, before we go to our closing statements. And this one starts with Representative Emmer. I asserted at the beginning that in the 21st century, we’ll be thinking about broadband as part of our public infrastructure, at least part of our share…common infrastructure whether it’s actual control be public or private. We’d like to hear your thoughts, every candidate’s thoughts, about the public sectors role in securing the benefits of broadband, statewide. Representative Emmer, please begin on that topic.

Tom Emmer: That’s…the issue is getting government out of the way. My colleagues can believe that government can solve this problem. Government can somehow step in and make investments that private individuals are not willing to make or cannot make n their own. That’s simply not true. We know from the folks up at Paul Bunyan in Bemidji, we have shown this in a very clear, they have extended broadband coverage all the way to the hinterlands of North Eastern Minnesota. In their interest of expanding it further is as long as the public elected officials don’t get in the way, creating new regulations that they have to work within. Let them do what they do best which is create opportunities to not only improve their own quality of life, but improve ours at the same time. You can look at cities all over, not the least of which, Minneapolis, St. Louis Park, others that thought through, again, well-meaning people that if the city got involved, government got involved, that we can somehow make this better, they have been a complete disaster, nothing short of a disaster with limited exception. And I would also point out the, to my colleague to my left, that Senator Dayton is to your far right.

Lori Sturdevant: Mr. Horner, what about broadband

Tom Horner: Well, I think the residents of Monticello would be surprised that a private-public partnership is a failure. The fact of the manner is in that community, they wanted to work with a contractor, rain into a barrier, created a private-public partnership that now has provided residents of Monticello with high-speed broadband, cable, and residential phone service for about the same cost that a year ago they were paying just for the residential phone service. Should we do broadband for the private sector? Absolutely. And where we have cooperation, population density, it only makes sense where there are private investors willing to do it, of course we ought to do it, but should we say to rural Minnesota, I’m sorry you’re not going to have world class economic development, healthcare, education…We’re not going to be able to reduce the cost. I mean, Representative Emmer, this is an investment for us, this isn’t the government coming in trying to be Big Brother. Look it, in a healthcare system in which 5% of people, most of those with chronic conditions consume 50% of the costs. 1 of the most effective tools we’re seeing of controlling the costs, of keeping those peoples out of hospitals, improving the quality of their lives, is through interaction with high-speed broadband. But where they can do the diagnostics, where they can have the 1 on 1 engagement and see the warning signs, engage with people, that’s a cost saving to us. That kind of investment that if you just say “Let’s take the status quo and see how small we can make it, we never get too.” So I do think we ought to look at where Broadband can expand as a private investment ideally. Some cases, it is going to be a private-public partnership. And in other cases, it might be a public investment and I think our obligation is to see how close, how aggressively we can follow the recommendations of the broadband commission and bring MN into the new economy.

Lori Sturdevant: Senator, what about the use of government or government’s rule in establishing statewide broadband.

Senator Dayton: Well, my staff who drove with me to all 87 counties in 87 days or 9000 miles would attest to my reaction to the failure of border-to-border broadband access and the failure of border-to-border cellphone access. And if we’re gonna…I even see some heads nodding as I say that…as we all had that experience if you travel around this state and if we want to make it possible for people to live wherever they want in Minnesota too succeed economically & socially. We need to allow them to connect with the world as well in Warren, Minnesota as they can in Woodbury, Minnesota. And sometimes, you can’t even connect in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I know from personal experience so how we get there…I actually would agree with most of what Mr. Horner said in this regard. I think it is about whatever we can do. Both, either/or both, private sector, public sector, public-private partnership. Let’s look through whatever it is, the government in terms of voting requirements and the like that are standing in the way of progress and let’s meet those investments cause…Mr. Horner said it very well those investments are key to our future.

Lori Sturdevant: Thank you, you’ve stayed on schedule marvelously. {UNCLEAR}. It is time for closing statements now and miraculously we’ve kept our rotation going, so let’s just stay with it. And the next up would be Tom Horner.

Tom Horner: Well thank you very. Thank you Lori for hosting us. Thank you to Mark & Tom for being here. I think one of the great opportunities in this campaign is for us to come before different audiences and to talk to you, to share our vision for Minnesota, and to let you hear us and to hear the different views that we each have. This is an election where clearly there are three very distinct visions for Minnesota. I have a vision of Minnesota that says it’s not enough just to take the status quo and shrink it as much as possible or take the status quo and add a lot of taxes and see how big we can make it. I think this is an election, which we need to say for a lot of Minnesotans, a lot of Minnesotans who have been playing by the rules, doing all the right things. The status quo isn’t working. We need a different approach, we need a different vision, we need reinvestments, we need to make sure that we do have world-class education, health care, infrastructure, and that we’re willing to put our issues on the table. 2011 we have a lot that has to get done. We’ve got a $6 billion deficit to resolve, we have schools to improve, we have infrastructure to deal with. We have a Vikings stadium to get done before the lease expires. The only way we’re going to do all that in 2011 is that if we as candidates use 2010 to build a mandate, to put our issues on the table, to engage Minnesotans in understanding what the challenges are, what the solutions are, and where the opportunities rest. That’s our obligation. I don’t think the governor of Minnesota, as Representative Emmer suggested, is a facilitator-in-chief, I think the governor of Minnesota has to be a leader. I think we have to put specific ideas out there. We have to be the ones who are teeing up proposals. I think the election is about leadership, who has the vision, who has the temperament, who has the ability, the experience, the practical skills to forge consensus. When you look at…at 2011, we need a governor who is going to be able to bring people together to forge a consensus. When you’re in business, if you have one party over here within an unalterable perspective and another one over here with an equally unalterable perspective, you don’t go out and hire a mediator who has a foot in one camp or another camp. That just assures the gridlock. You hire someone who is objective, who is a leader, who can understand the value of both sides, bring them together and get Minnesota moving. Look, this is an election in which we need candidates who are bold and I need voters who are bold. I need voters who say, ‘what we have been doing isn’t working, what we are offered is more of the same, it’s time to make a different approach, it’s time to do something different,’ it’s time to invest in the future to have leadership that says ‘this is the kind of Minnesota that we ought to have and this is how we get there.’ Thank you very much.

Lori Sturdevant: Closing remarks from Mark Dayton

Mark Dayton: Well, I want to thank all of you for being here with us this morning and I want to thank you Lori for your excellent moderation here. You know, when I was commissioner of economic development for Minnesota back when Minnesota was in the forefront in terms of employment growth, economic growth, and we had progressive taxes, I would say why are you locating or expanding in Minnesota and the answer almost always was the same, ‘well-educated, hardworking productive citizens, a good health care system, good infrastructure, a good, efficient state & local government services…” Those are still the foundational ingredients of Minnesota’s future economic success and if we fail to make the investments, private-sector investments first and foremost and also public sector investments to support those. And if we work on that kind of partnership together, we sacrifice the future of this state, ours and our children’s, and our grandchildren’s. So the next governor and the next legislature are going to face immediately the task of eliminating a projected $5.8 billion deficit. And that needs to be done fairly & responsibly. And then we need to move this state ahead with working together and public-private partnerships for job creation, some of which we’ve had a chance to discuss today. We need to make the investments in education and we really haven’t touched on that today, but I’m sure you find with your businesses, those who spoke to me in years past said the same that the ability to attract well-educated, productive citizens is key to business success. And if so, if we’re not making the investments in education starting with early childhood…if we’re not assimilating young people from all over the world, from all over the country, from all different backgrounds, from various learning differences and disadvantages, and bring them into ability to be successful employers and employees. If we fail to make the investment in lower class sizes, five day school weeks, which ought to be a basic in Minnesota. If we fail to make college affordable in this state, if the tuition at the University of Minnesota is 50% higher than at… the tuition at the state universities in the surrounding four states. We have the third highest tuition for our two-year public colleges, the top ten for our public universities. Our young people can’t afford to go to college here. Then we sacrifice the great strength of this state, our people and educating our people which is gonna be key to the future. So yes I will increase investment in public education and I will find the money to do so because it’s essential to reduce the funding cuts that have caused overcrowded classrooms and four-day school weeks and unaffordable college and put people in positions where they can succeed in Minnesota as your employees, as your future employers, as the future leaders of our state & nation. That’s absolutely essential; that’s part of….that’s an essential part of my vision for the future of Minnesota.

Lori Sturdevant: Thank you and a closing statement from Tom Emmer.

Tom Emmer: Well, thank you, thank you Lori, thank you for the AGC, thank you to all of you. It is an honor and a privilege to be running for the governor’s office for the state of Minnesota. To be able to be sitting up here at this table with these two fine human beings. But there is a distinct choice that is going to be made by the voters in this state on November 2nd. Il will make it very clear that it is a choice between doing business as usual, contrary to what some want to characterize their position as versus doing something different. I just sat here and listened for the last 6 minutes to my colleagues talk about, ‘we need to make these investments,’ well, you know what the issue for this next election, the issue that is facing the state of Minnesota and the United States of America is job-creation. It is not about more government and it’s not about the constant ‘I will make these investments.’ What that is, it’s exactly what my colleagues have said. ‘I will raise your taxes.’ Oh, we want to talk about different mixes, but it’s the same business-as-usual model that has been here since I was a young boy in this state. And I will just say, Senator, the…when you were in the position you talk about, it was when we were celebrating in the early 70s and 80s, this thing called the Minnesota Miracle of the 70s. It was a tax-and-spend model of government, and again well-meaning people did this. This is not about whose party you represent, this is about common sense. That model of government no longer works. And there is common sense that is being applied in other parts of the country that need to be here in the state of Minnesota. Look at Rhode Island in June. The state of Rhode Island with a moderate Republican as a governor and a democrat-controlled legislature passed across-the-board income tax cuts. Took five ta classifications reduced them to three, took the top taxable rate and reduced it by almost 40%. When asked why they said, ‘because we had to stop the outflow of jobs from Rhode Island.’ This is not about party; this is not about the job that you want; this is about pointing forward instead of blaming and assessing blame as to how we got here. This is about where is Minnesota going to go in the future. Is it going to continue to do just another re-arrange the debt chairs on the Titanic or are we actually going to do the things that need to happen. Start thinking out of the box, redesign government to deliver efficiently. I heard earlier ‘I’m for good government,’ well I tell you what I’m for smaller, more efficient government that delivers the services that people affect in an efficient, affordable, and sustainable manner. If we would just all get on the same page and start doing that. It’s about growing jobs in our private economy, which is what you people are all about and by the time we get to November 2nd, I think that’s what Minnesota’s looking for is who’s got that positive vision to start growing jobs again in the state of Minnesota which will, in turn, drive what we all expect our government to deliver. Thank you so much for having us here today.

Lori Sturdevant: Well, that’s all for today’s show, folks. I think they all deliver a round of applause.

 

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