To: Former Senator Mark Dayton
Representative Tom Emmer
Last month, after congratulating each of you on your primary victory, I raised questions about your fiscal and taxation positions. Because we Minnesotans will be stuck with one of you for the next four years, I would now like to address some of the nonfiscal misgivings each of your candidacies raises.
Mark Dayton Government will have to prioritize which programs to expand and which to contract (or make disappear). At first blush, you are the best-qualified candidate to accomplish this remake because of your many years of governmental experience, both in St. Paul and Washington.
But many people will question how really dedicated you are to governmental reform when you owe much to the backing of the public employees’ unions. To critics, one can point out that the unions’ leaders—in particular, Eliot Seide, executive director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees’ Council 5—have demonstrated an ability to work cooperatively in times of economic constriction.
There is a great deal to be gained from this cooperative approach. Still, you have not addressed the issue of governmental reform.
Education is to the state budget as national defense is to the federal budget: Over 40 percent of our entire state budget is devoted to education. Here again, reform and reshaping education at all levels is a priority. You have the strong support of Education Minnesota, the statewide teachers’ union, which opposes suggested reforms such as alternative licensure of teachers. Other than to say you would increase education funding, you have been silent on the question of reform in this area.
Tom Emmer The advantage of being a backbencher in the Minnesota House of Representatives is that nobody knows you. The disadvantage is that you may be a backbencher because nobody likes you. It won’t come as a surprise to you to know that there are people with whom you serve and who share your political party affiliation who are not enthusiastic about your candidacy.