Former state auditor eyes governor’s seat

Published 7:25 am Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Republican gubernatorial candidate Pat Anderson, 43, stopped by the Holiday Inn in Austin at 2 p.m. Monday as one of the stops on a 14-city introductory press tour. Anderson formally kicked off her campaign Monday morning at the capitol rotunda.

Anderson is the only of the eight candidates seeking the Republican nomination that has won a statewide election. She was elected as state auditor in 2002, but then lost a bid for reelection in 2006.

Jobs will be one key focus of Anderson’s campaign, but she said the driving force behind the creation of jobs should not be the government.

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“I don’t believe government creates jobs,” she said. “They can take money out of the private sector from taxes, and they can create a government job temporarily. But that is not real job creation, that’s just expanding the pubic sector at the detriment of the private section.”

Real job growth, she said, should occur in the private sector, and then a healthy private sector will equal more tax revenue for public sector jobs.

Anderson does not support the JOBZ program or subsidies to businesses that she said tend to favor one business over another. Instead, she said people need to focus on improving the overall business climate.

“Business needs to have a level playing field, and we shouldn’t be picking winners and losers,” she said.

One step would be eliminating corporate income taxes and reducing personal income taxes, and she said that would allow capital to go into the private sector.

At the same time, she described cutting taxes as unrealistic and instead would focus on trade offs. One such trade off would include applying the sales tax to services and clothing, which are currently exempt from the 6.875 percent tax.

“We’re talking about trade offs, setting ourselves up for when the economy picks up again and we come out of this recession, Minnesota is in a position to be a state that grows jobs and attracts business, and we attract them because we have a good business climate,” she said.

She said Minnesota’s current tax system as volatile largely because it’s based on and fluctuates with income rates.

Anderson said Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s had no other choice than to use unallottments to balance the budget, and she said people need to realize the state is facing difficult decisions.

“Minnesota needs to recognize, and I think a lot of people do, that there is no more shifting available,” she said. “There is no more pockets of tobacco money. It’s all gone, and we have to solve this problem without any gimmicks because there are not gimmicks left to use.”

Anderson plans to end the state’s involvement with No Child Left Behind, because she said it gives the federal government too much control over education. That takes the education decisions away from the parents and teachers, who better know the needs of each particular student, she said.

“I believe dollars should follow students,” she said. “So if a student wants to go to school X, the dollars go to school X. But the dollars follow the students rather than funding overall system.”

Anderson also said she’d like to see more non-traditional learning opportunities in the schools. For example, she said schools could use the online classes for language and college in the schools programs. However, that would be a choice left to the schools.

Anderson is a former mayor of Eagan and is currently president of the Minnesota Free Market Institute.

The other declared GOP candidates are: state Sen. David Hann, Sen. Mike Jungbauer, Rep. Marty Seifert, Rep. Tom Emmer, former Rep. Bill Haas, businessman Phil Herwig and environmental activist Leslie Davis.