Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer on Saturday called an assertion from Independence Party candidate Tom Horner's camp that he can't win the election a typical public relations move and that the bid for the governor's seat is a two-way race between himself and Democratic challenger, former Sen. Mark Dayton.
"It's very clear that the race is between the Democrat and the Republican," Emmer said Saturday in Marshall, one of eight stops he made during a southern Minnesota tour. "The question is gonna be which vision is the one that people believe will provide the most positive outcome for this state. Senator Dayton believes that government should be allowed to grow by almost 17 percent in the next two years. We need a smaller, more efficient government that lives within its means and we've gotta start growing jobs."
While Emmer believes the race is clearly one between candidates from the two major parties, an Oct. 13 news release from the Horner 2010 campaign cited Emmer's struggles in House District 32B, which is mainly composed of voters in Maple Grove, saying that "if Emmer can't perform in Maple Grove, he certainly can't perform statewide. The race will come down to Horner and Dayton."
To that, Emmer called Horner nothing more than a lobbyist making a publican relations move.
"Tom Horner is a lobbyist, that's his career," Emmer said. "He's been working inside of government, he's been doing P.R. stuff - he's trying to create P.R. I'm sure the Green Party or the Legalize Marijuana Party they could put our press releases, too. It doesn't change what's happening. It's a virtual dead heat between Mark Dayton and myself."
Emmer, who spoke for about 15 minutes at Saturday's stop in Marshall, said based on current tax collection projections, the next governor and next Legislature will have 7 to 8 percent more revenue to work with next year and that the state of Minnesota is spending about $31 billion out of the general fund. He said government must purchase the services people expect within the state's resources.
Emmer also criticized Dayton for not producing a balanced budget, saying he's "still a billion dollars in the hole and making more spending promises.
"We have produced a complete and balanced budget," Emmer said. "Take a look at schools. We are asking for reforms that include measured performance and high standards, so you know that your kids are actually achieving. And report those outcomes, not to government bureaucrats, but to parents so they can make judgements on where their child can get the best education for their needs, and also report it to out teachers in a timely manner throughout the year, because an effective teacher is what makes all the difference."
Emmer, who has said he will hold off repaying the $1.4 billion shift of education funding until 2014, said that repayment can be expedited under his jobs agenda that, he said, would spur economic growth. He said good teachers need to be rewarded with more money and those struggling should be moved out of the schools.
"Don't just give (good teachers) a pat on the back, pay them more," he said. "And with ineffective teachers, start to move them out. If you can't show progress within three years, they should really be counseled into a different profession."
Emmer said the current funding system for education is unbalanced and the state's education funding formula should not be based on where a student lives or what school they attend.
"Kids should not be treated differently just because of where they live," he said. "There are a lot of people who would like to see the system maintained; they're primarly within the Cities. They will argue that there's greater challenges for kids in the city. You know what, we have those same challenges in the Marshall area, in Lyon County. A child is a child no matter where that child lives in the state of Minnesota."