By Starrla Cray
WRIGHT COUNTY, MN “I’m a Minnesota kid with Minnesota values who was raised by Minnesota sweethearts,” Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer told a large group at the Delano Chamber of Commerce meeting Thursday.
Emmer made it clear that he takes pride in his state, but he also acknowledges the continual need for improvement.
“We ask people if you ran your business the same way you did in the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s, do you think you’d still be in business today?” Emmer said. The answer people give him is always “no.”
“That’s because you must constantly adapt,” he said, adding that government is no exception.
“We’re at a crossroads in this state,” said Emmer, who was elected to the House of Representatives District 19B in 2004, 2006, and 2008. “It’s time to look at the structure of government.”
Some politicians use scare tactics in their campaigns, saying that taxes need to be raised, or else services like police and fire will be cut, Emmer said.
However, there is another side to the budget problem. The method of delivering government services needs to be restructured, in order to increase efficiency, he said.
“This is not just a budget problem this is an economic problem,” Emmer said. “People who want to focus just on the budget do not understand the magnitude of the problem.”
One of the issues involves the government’s role in “creating” jobs.
“Government did not build this country. Government does not create jobs,” Emmer said. “Let’s put people back in charge of creating opportunities.”
When the government oversteps its boundaries, it frustrates people’s ability to run a business, he added.
“It’s time to peel back all the layers of bureaucracy,” he said.
Some people don’t like America’s free market, accusing it of being “selfish,” Emmer said.
“They’ve forgotten that this is the most compassionate economic system,” he said.
The government needs to step back so that the private sector can experience growth, according to Emmer. He illustrated his point with a story about a man who had been unemployed for more than a year. The man pointed to several houses around him in which the people living there had also lost their jobs.
He came to one house, however, in which the man living there still had a job.
“He worked for the government,” Emmer said.
More than half of Minnesota’s job growth in May was in the government sector, including temporary Census positions.
“There’s a situation that’s growing in our state that we should all be concerned about,” Emmer said. “When the growth sector in your economy is in the government, it is not a recipe for success.”
Emmer said he doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be any government.
“A certain amount of regulation is always necessary,” he said.
Lately, however, there has been too much regulation in Minnesota, he said.
When Emmer first became a state representative, he had a conversation with a neighbor about the excessive permit and transactional costs for expanding businesses.
The company Emmer’s neighbor worked for was hoping to add a manufacturing plant, and Minnesota had a list of things the company needed to do in order to expand.
The surrounding states of Wisconsin, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Iowa, however, were eager to help.
“Shouldn’t that send up a red flag?” Emmer asked. “Let’s recognize what we can do better.”
One audience member asked Emmer about Internet sales tax. Emmer answered by saying that the government restructuring needs to include everything that puts businesses at a competitive disadvantage.
“It’s not just an Internet problem. The whole thing needs to be reexamined,” Emmer said.
More about Emmer
Emmer was born in 1961, and was raised in Edina. He and his wife, Jacqueline, have been married for 25 years and have seven children.
Emmer represents District 19B, which includes portions of Wright and Hennepin counties and the cities of Otsego, Albertville, St. Michael, Rockford, Delano, Montrose, and Waverly.