Theme 4 - Rural and Small Town Minnesota - The Mini-Debate
With the post-primary debates in “the cities” and one in Rochester, consider this theme the mini-debate for the hearts and minds of rural Minnesota. Imagine that you are simultaneously present in the public halls of our 770 cities or 1790 townships with fewer than 10,000 in population. From your grey metal folding chair along side the other candidates, address this gathering of proud citizens.
From agriculture and rural transportation to telecommunications and economic development, move beyond your core campaign themes to what you will specifically do for rural and small town Minnesota? What vision, values, and initiatives will you pursue as Governor?
Response from Mike Hatch:
My value system is based on the belief that a strong middle class, with well-educated students and workers who have access to decent and affordable health care is the foundation upon which all Minnesota communities can grow and make it better for the next generation.
It’s regrettable that the Pawlenty Administration has not allocated state resources equitably between rural communities and the metropolitan area. This has been to the detriment of rural Minnesota.
This disparity is highlighted by Governor Pawlenty’s “metro-centric” approach to allocating transportation resources. Consider, for example, the Governor’s decision to take $100 million from the rural highway account to “balance” the state’s budget. Given that two-thirds of the fatalities on our roads occur in rural areas, that decision was irresponsible.
I believe a commitment to maintaining our state’s roads and bridges in Greater Minnesota should be an integral component of an economic development strategy designed to promote rural communities.
As Governor, I will advocate and support an appropriate allocation of transportation resources to Greater Minnesota.
Of equal importance for the growth of rural communities is having access to affordable high-speed fiber optic systems.
As Governor, I will launch an initiative for the state, through a public/private partnership, to coordinate the development of a system that wires up regional communities.
The greatest threat to the middle class is the lack of accessibility to affordable health care; however, this crisis hits rural communities harder because pharmacists and physicians are being effectively forced by health insurers to join larger practices and move to larger cities.
Rural hospitals are also being disproportionately hurt by current policies. I am committed to reforming our state’s health care system and have a proven track record of doing so as Attorney General.
The rapidly emerging renewable energy market provides rural Minnesota an opportunity to expand markets and diversify crops.
As Governor, I will work to replace our existing voluntary renewable energy objectives with a firm renewable energy standard requiring at least 20 percent of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2020.
Not only would such a mandate benefit the environment, it would strengthen our rural economy. In 2003, for example, the wind industry in Minnesota created approximately 3,100 jobs, $4 million in royalty payments to farmers, and $3.6 million in tax revenue to local governments.
I support strengthening rural communities because they offer a unique quality of life where Minnesota values are embraced.
Candidate Website - www.hatch2006.org
Contact Campaign -