ST. PAUL (AP) — Republican gubernatorial candidate Norm Coleman sought Tuesday to solidify his status as the fiscally conservative choice to succeed GOP Gov. Arne Carlson.
DFL candidate Hubert Humphrey III’s camp shot back on one of the most contentious issues as the Nov. 3 election approaches.
With Carlson at his side during a Capitol news conference, Coleman called Humphrey “the guy who can’t say no.”
He contends Humphrey’s promises for new spending will cost $5.6 billion over the next two-year budget cycle. In return, Humphrey’s camp said Coleman has made his share of promises and is sinking St. Paul in debt.
Humphrey was on the road and unavailable. Top aide Eric Johnson called the attack “astounding.”
“Skip Humphrey is the attorney general who brought in $6 billion from Big Tobacco,” Johnson said. “In contrast, Norm Coleman is the guy who set a new land speed record for racking up debt in St. Paul.”
Carlson, who has prided himself on fiscal caution, again urged restraint. He declined to give the go-ahead to the candidates’ tax plans.
“It depends, frankly, on what the numbers will show you in November and December,” Carlson said.
State revenue projections will be released in the coming months. The economy has been blistering, but a cooldown is expected.
Coleman has proposed $1.1 billion in income tax breaks over the next two years. Humphrey has proposed $1.4 billion in cuts over four years, with a modest income tax cut and credits for child care, college tuition and caring for an elderly parent.
Carlson said Coleman’s plan does a better job of anticipating a downturn.
“Either you intend to break your spending promises or you intend a massive tax increase,” Carlson said of Humphrey’s plan.
Johnson said Humphrey’s plan contains enough to ward off a downturn, that it cuts and saves plenty.
Humphrey has detailed where he would invest and spend some money, although he has not submitted an entire budget. The state has a two-year budget worth about $23 billion that takes several months to put together.
Coleman has released a tax plan and said he plans to cut government by introducing competition and paying private businesses to perform some programs cheaper. He was unable to be more specific except to say he would cut a $150,000 state program that teaches women how to fish.