To: Former Senator Mark Dayton
Representative Tom Emmer
Congratulations on winning your respective primaries and keeping the Minnesota tradition of mono-gender gubernatorial general elections. Soon it will be time for the other 85 percent of our electorate to vote.
All three of you are better men than your primary campaign personas. It’s to your better sides that I’m addressing these points.
Mark Dayton: The rhetoric of class warfare—rich people are inherently not “fair” (perhaps greedy?)—undermines an important and thoughtful approach to the Minnesota budget crisis. We have a budget in structural default. The projected deficit next year will be in excess of $6 billion. You are quite right to start detailing the sacrifices that must be required to run a 21st century government and to do so with fairness. That will inevitably require increased taxes, and it is important that we have that debate now. However, even your numbers show a $2.5 billion gap (assuming no new spending), and presumably that will be addressed by cuts to various programs. You need to spell those out.
Tom Emmer: Your suggestion to solve the Minnesota budget crisis is to cut programs and weed out fraud and abuse. It’s hard to imagine after eight years of Tim Pawlenty (six with you in the Minnesota Legislature) that significant fraud and abuse has escaped notice. If your approach to the next biennial budget is indeed to lower taxes, then you should spell out what cuts and budgetary shifts will be imposed that total $12 billion. A 20–30 percent reduction in the state budget over a two-year time period is a radical departure from what we have all grown up with. The electorate deserves to know what that new landscape will look like.
Tom Horner: You will play a very constructive role in this campaign if you can focus on one important Minnesota issue and cause the other two candidates to debate your proposals. Consider making that issue health care access.