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GOP candidates take on issues

November 11, 2009
By Rae Kruger

MARSHALL - Four Republican candidates for governor of Minnesota fielded questions from an audience at a Lyon County Republican dinner in Marshall on Tuesday night.

Candidates Leslie Davis, Phil Herwig, Tom Emmer and Marty Seifert answered questions. Candidate Bill Haas was unable to stay for the entire event but did make remarks.

Haas was also interviewed by the Independent Tuesday afternoon in anticipation of his missing the question-and-answer session.

The questions touched on taxes and business and health care and others:

Q: What is your solution to out migration of business?

Davis: "Businesses can go where they want to go." Instead of worrying about companies that whine about taxes the state should worry about large companies such as 3M using billions of gallons of water for little or nothing, Davis said.

Herwig: "We've got to cut spending, we have no choice. When you cut spending then you can cut taxes." The state also needs incentives for private venture capitalists to come to Minnesota and stay in Minnesota, Herwig said.

Emmer: "I don't think we have a spending problem. We need to reduce the size of government. If we reduce the size of government that reduces spending."

Seifert: Taxes are not the only problem, Seifert said. Expanding businesses and new businesses are burdened with licenses, permits and other paperwork. The state needs to cut the bureaucracy, Seifert said.

Haas: "We need to streamline the tax system, simplify it." The state must also start with a zero budget and once the budget is studied and balanced, taxes can be reduced.

Q: Healthcare costs (asked as a Medicaid question)

Seifert: "Medical assistance is one of the fasting growing parts of the budget." The state needs to allow for more choices in health care insurance, Minnesota has four major insurance providers that supply more than 80 of the coverage, Seifert said.

Haas: Future problems with nursing homes, especially in rural areas are often ignored in the health care discussion. As baby boomers continue to age, nursing homes will deal with increased population and costs. Eliminate waste in the budget so there is more funding for issues such as nursing homes.

Emmer: The state needs more competition in health care insurance coverage so people can make more choices in terms of coverage and care. Minnesota cannot not allow its quality of care to be compromised because we are ahead of the entire country in the care provided.

Herwig: Malpractice insurance costs help drive up the costs of care so tort reform is needed. Unnecessary mandates must also be reduced or eliminated.

Davis: Changes should focus on wellness and prevention. A person who drinks too much, smokes and sits in front of a television should not have full access to health care. Access can be and should be provided through hospitals which can be most cost effective.

Candidates also had three minutes for closing remarks.

Herwig focused on higher education in a follow-up to a prior question and said Republicans need to be truer to the origins of land grant colleges and make college more affordable. It can be done, in part, by dismantling the welfare structure, Herwig said.

Davis said he has a proven track record as a businessman and has lobbied on important issues at the state Capitol. His plan to improve a state transit system, business climate and environment would not raise or create taxes, Davis said.

Seifert highlighted his rural roots, his experience as a legislator and the need for government to be less intrusive in personal lives, education and the business world.

Emmer said he had experience as a businessman and was willing to tackle tough issues. "We need someone who knows what it means to meet payroll..."

Haas said he had experience as a mayor, legislator and governor. He created efficiencies in government while mayor of Champlin, and sponsored and passed bills that reduced government waste while a legislator.



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