2010 Election Guide: Tom Horner, Independent

James Nord

What is the most important issue facing Minnesota right now, and how will you address it?
The most important long-term issue is restoring the vitality of the economy âÄî creating jobs âÄî and I think you address that by tax reform that deals responsibly with the Minnesota budget shortfall, with long-term investments in education and really redefining education, looking at it as life-long learning now and breaking down some of the silos by streamlining the stateâÄôs regulatory and permitting processes and lastly, by making sure weâÄôre a state thatâÄôs always investing in new ideas âÄî innovation through research.
What would you do to fix the stateâÄôs projected $5.8-billion budget deficit?
It starts with tax reform, and thatâÄôs two key points. One is, create new investment incentives for individuals and businesses to invest in startup businesses and research development technology equipment, but then we have to be honest enough to say weâÄôll pay for it, and we do that through lowering the sales tax rate by a full percent âĦ but then broadening the base to clothing and some personal services. âĦ
On the spending side we need to make sure that we are reining in the cost of government âÄî we can cut some government programs.
In the next legislative session, the University of Minnesota will request $100 million more than it received this biennium. How much support should it expect from the state?
IâÄôm not sure we can fund the full $100-million add-on. The University, I think higher education, ought to be one of our top priorities,
and so IâÄôm fully committed to working with the University, to working with MnSCU to make sure that weâÄôre able to fund it at a level that builds a strong higher education system, but I think even more important than that âĦ is the opportunity next year of a new president of the University, a new chancellor of MnSCU, a new governor. We really need to define an outcome that we want for higher education.
How would you change MinnesotaâÄôs tax policy?
ItâÄôs creating more incentives for investment by individuals and businesses in growth so that we create the opportunity for startup businesses, entrepreneurial activities, to have the capital that they need in Minnesota, but then also the incentives for businesses
to invest in new equipment, technology âĦ
On the sales tax side, Minnesota is too dependent on property taxes and income taxes. On the property tax side itâÄôs creating great inequities. On the income tax side itâÄôs an extremely volatile tax. ItâÄôs one of the reasons why weâÄôve had the high peaks and low valleys of surpluses and deficits over the last couple of years, so we ought to be moving toward more of a consumption-based tax system and give everybody a shared responsibility in reducing the cost of government.
What changes would you make to the state health care system? Would you accept federal funding?
I would accept federal funding for the early opt-in to Medicaid.
Now, I donâÄôt want to say a blanket any federal dollars that are available IâÄôd accept, I think you do have to look at it case-by-case, but certainly on the early opt-in to Medicaid to expand access I think is an important part of health reform. A couple of areas where I think we need to make some significant changes and building on what Minnesota already has done well.
We do need to move forward on coordinating care for those with chronic conditions âÄî I think we need to make sure that we continue to pay for quality, not just procedures, but we also need to make new investments in prevention.
How would you transition Minnesota into a green-energy economy?
Doing more of the kinds of things weâÄôre doing in research. I donâÄôt think the way to do it is to invest in subsidies that affect the marketplace directly, but to look at in Staples, Minn., thereâÄôs an [agriculture] center run by Central Lakes Community College
that is doing groundbreaking work in new forms of work in biomass. The University of MinnesotaâÄôs Morris campus is doing great work in wind energy. I think those kinds of investments in research are extremely valuable to Minnesota.
Should more money be invested in mass transit? If so, where would it come from?
IâÄôd love to do it, but again you bump up against the reality of the $6-billion shortfall, so what we really need to look at is, how do we create an integrated transportation system that is going to include transit of all kinds: rail, fixed bus, commuter rail, as well as light rail, and how does that integrate into our highway and bridge system, and so weâÄôre going to look at new ways to fund this. WeâÄôre going to have to look at transit as not just a Twin Cities issue but a statewide issue.
Do you support providing state funding for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium?
Yup, yup, and I think we need to do it by asking the Vikings to pay 40 percent of the cost, asking them to sign a 40-year lease, put a tax on all admissions âÄî both Vikings events and non-Vikings events âÄî and making sure that all revenue from non-Vikings events for the conventions, the Final Four, the monster truck rallies, all of those events, all of that revenue comes back to the public, and then use racino âÄî the gambling machines at Canterbury and Running Aces âÄî as the backup revenue.
What is your stance on gay marriage?
IâÄôm for marriage equality.