Each in turn, the four leading contenders for the GOP gubernatorial nomination in the Aug. 12 primary have paid a call on the Star Tribune Editorial Board. Here are excerpts of what we heard.
On how he’s different:
I’m the one guy running who was born, raised, educated and lived my whole life here. I don’t run for governor to bash what’s bad about Minnesota. I’m interested in how we can make it a better place. Several of my opponents either moved here from somewhere else, or left here and came back. If it’s this awful place, why are you here?
I’m the youngest candidate. I’m the only one who makes his home in Greater Minnesota. I’m the only Republican candidate who has been a public schoolteacher. I’m the only guy in this race who’s belonged to two unions, so I know what it’s like to belong to a union as a Republican. I’ve owned a small business for 12 years.
My idea: Dedicate a third of the bonding bill to roads and bridges. If you’re not going to raise the gas tax, you’d better have ideas for bringing new money to the table. There aren’t enough efficiencies in [the Minnesota Department of Transportation] to take care of the need. There are ways of building roads differently. Let’s get that to the table.
I would oppose a gas tax increase. It’s not about a no-tax pledge — I didn’t sign that. It’s because where I live, the people who drive the most are the poorest. They don’t live in Marshall because it has high-priced housing. Those people put 50, 60 miles on their cars every day to work at Schwan’s or the ethanol plant or the nursing home. I can’t look them in the eye and say, sorry, you have to pay more.
On how to constrain government:
I’m interested in what’s achievable. The Senate will still be controlled by DFLers in 2015. [Senate Majority Leader] Tom Bakk has said let’s get out of the top-10 among the states in taxes. I served with Tom Bakk in the House. I believe I could sit down with him and craft a way to make that happen.
When you face budget challenges, there are smart ways to do things. For example, you favor downsizing by attrition, not layoff. The way to reform welfare isn’t to slash the program. Try that, and you have people chaining themselves to the Capitol building. Instead, grandfather in the people who are in the program now and transition to something smaller over time.
On health care:
The federal law says we have to have an exchange, and the U.S. Supreme Court upheld that. I’m not impressed with the federal exchange. We dumped $150 million into the state exchange. It would be extremely wasteful to walk away from it. Let’s try to figure it out and make it work.
Let’s allow more plans into MNsure to be certified and sold. When you have more competition, prices go down and quality of service or product goes up. We need a robust discussion about allowing for-profit health plans into our exchange. The question I’ll ask: “Why not?”
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.