2010 Election Guide: Tom Emmer, Republican

by James Nord

What is the most important issue facing Minnesota right now, and how will you address it?
The most important issue is starting to grow jobs again in our economy. WeâÄôre going to address it by redesigning government to deliver services that itâÄôs supposed to be delivering in the most efficient manner, and then create a business environment that will be not only conducive to the expansion of existing businesses in the state, but attractive to new investment from outside Minnesota to start growing new opportunities and new jobs.
What would you do to fix the stateâÄôs projected $5.8-billion budget deficit?
You [have] got to recognize that you only have a deficit if youâÄôre committed to spending more than you have. IâÄôm the only candidate thatâÄôs running for this office thatâÄôs put out a complete and detailed balanced budget that actually pays for the things Minnesota needs to be providing within the increased revenues that the state will have in the next two years.
I think itâÄôs very important that people understand the stateâÄôs general fund revenues will not be going down in the next two years; they are actually, based on current tax collection projections, scheduled to increase by almost 7 to 8 percent.
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?
I guess weâÄôll have to wait and see what the specifics of the proposal are. ItâÄôs tough to respond to that when you donâÄôt know exactly what it is theyâÄôre proposing and where they propose itâÄôs needed.
How would you change MinnesotaâÄôs tax policy?
Really, what it comes down to is, given the corporate franchise tax, the 10 percent exclusion on taxable income from small businesses, expand the research and development tax credit to allow more investment in research at the University that ultimately leads to spin-off companies in the private sector and grows jobs, and thatâÄôs what the angel investment tax credit is about.
This is the idea: WeâÄôve got to start growing jobs in this state again.
What changes would you make to the state health care system? Would you accept federal funding?
WeâÄôll never say no automatically to federal funding, but from now on we will do a due diligence whenever a federal program is offered, and with federal funds you should be looking at that from the standpoint of not just your short-term budget needs, but what does this mean in the long term? Are you taking on financial liabilities for future generations that they may not be able to support?
YouâÄôve got to look at not just today, but youâÄôve got to look into the future, which I donâÄôt think politicians in the past have done. This rests at the feet of both Republicans and Democrats, itâÄôs not one or the other, but over the years, I think politicians have become accustomed to receiving federal proposals with federal money and then using that federal money to balance their budgets for the short term and they donâÄôt look at whatâÄôs going to happen over the next decade.
How would you transition Minnesota into a green-energy economy?
I think that we are very responsible as Minnesotans and very aware of the need to be good stewards of our environmental resources, and when it comes to what drives our economy, the most important thing that weâÄôve got to keep in mind is that we must have efficient, low-cost energy sources to drive our economic engine.
WeâÄôre moving in that direction right now in this state and in this country. âĦ We need to find ways to streamline regulations and open up the marketplace so that all entrepreneurs who have an interest in finding that next low-cost, efficient energy source are exploring in the marketplace.
Should more money be invested in mass transit? If so, where would it come from?
When we look at transportation, the overriding mission should be to make sure that we get the highest value for the dollar spent, and it should be about moving people and product in Minnesota. When it comes to transit, that is an important element when it comes to our transportation needs in this state and again, IâÄôm not going to rule anything out, but I think every proposal that you look at âÄî and you should look at all of them âÄî you have to ultimately come down to what will move the greatest amount of people and product at the most reasonable cost. …
Today, 95 percent of Minnesotans travel by road and bridge and we can double transit ridership over the next decade and 90 percent of us will still travel by road and bridge.
Do you support providing state funding for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium?
No. Not state general funds. There will be a new Vikings stadium, but I donâÄôt believe that the stateâÄôs general fund taxes should be paying for that stadium. I do believe that there are proposals out there right now, there was one in the Legislature last year âÄî the Vikings ownership would support the financing for the first 10 years. In nine years, the Minneapolis Convention Center is paid off and the proposal was [to] then redirect that revenue stream to support the last 10 years of the financing.
What is your stance on gay marriage?
ItâÄôs not an issue in this campaign. This campaign is purely about jobs in the state of Minnesota. There are some issues âĦ that just divide us and clearly I have a position that thereâÄôs a record of it and I donâÄôt shy away from that, but thatâÄôs not an issue as far as governing the state of Minnesota. The issue as we go forward is going to be, âÄúHow do we create a government that works for us and an economic environment that grows jobs to support us?âÄù ThatâÄôs the issue in this campaign and thatâÄôs something that we should all be able to agree on.