1. Opening Remarks.
The issue of the competitiveness of
Minnesota and our people is at the heart of the matter of the
election. Gubernatorial candidate Erin Murphy, a DFL legislator
from Saint Paul, made that remark and said each facet of our
competitiveness is an opportunity to set our course as Minnesotans.
She believes there is a sense in Minnesota that we take on tough
issues and get things done.
Murphy said her main agenda items are
strong public schools and a single-payer health care system.
2. K-12 education.
Are there alternative ways of funding K-12
public education? An interviewer asked that question and
commented, "Now we have 'haves' and 'have-nots.'" Murphy said there
were commitments made on public school funding in the early 2000s
that we haven't ever fulfilled. In her travels to schools across the
state, she said, people are acutely aware of the inequity of our
public schools, depending on where you live.
Murphy would like to see a school-funding
system that no longer relied on property taxes. "But I have to
consider that ideal, within the context of the current state budget,
which is going to be tight," she said.
She noted the new high school in
Alexandria, which the community was able to build after passing a
referendum, and said the school is doing "model work." She compared
that school to Cook County's one, big high school that is in need of
support and help. "That is the case for many schools, both in the
metro area and in Greater Minnesota, that don't have the tax base or
a voter base that is willing to raise money to support their
schools," she said.
Promising that public education will be a
priority for her, Murphy said, "We have to catch up with our funding
It's hard for the Legislature to encourage
education innovation. Murphy said the focus at the Legislature
is "funding, funding, funding." She said the first priority at the
Legislature is always funding for the school aid formula, since
districts want that.
"We are sometimes losing the ability to
also address ideas that come forward from educators and parents,"
she said. Those ideas include home visiting and full-service
community schools, where kids and families come together, especially
in districts where a lot of kids have needs not being met by their
families. "At the Capitol, the conversation is largely about money."
But some communities are finding ways to
innovate. "Although the Capitol conversation has become a lot
about money, I see communities, educators, parents and leaders in
communities operating in a different way," Murphy said. "I think we
have to take our lead from them. I have seen communities take the
question of what we can do to make our kids ready and find a
solution and build it. They then come to us and say, 'Help us now
She said solutions are being expressed in
different parts of the state already. "We're behind in the State
Capitol," she said. "I want to make sure as the state's governor
that I am reflecting, driving and supporting the changes I'm seeing
in the school districts across the state of Minnesota." Murphy said
we want to be sure that our kids have the opportunity to find their
passion and their path in the schools.
We should invest more in early learning
and preschool across the state. Murphy said the data are clear
about the benefits of investing in early education.
3. Health Care.
Murphy helped secure the passage of
MinnesotaCare when she was at the Minnesota Nurses Association.
Enacted in 1992, MinnesotaCare is a health care program for
Minnesotans with low incomes. Enrollees get health care services
through a health plan. They can choose their health plan from those
serving MinnesotaCare enrollees in their county. The program is
funded by a state tax on Minnesota hospitals and health care
providers, Basic Health Program funding through the Affordable Care
Act, and enrollee premiums and cost sharing.
Murphy said she believes anyone working
full-time should be able to have health insurance. She pointed out
that the provider tax, which provides the state funding for the
program, is set to sunset in 2019. "We led the nation with
MinnesotaCare," she said.
Minnesota should use MinnesotaCare as a
framework to provide a single-payer health care system. Murphy
said doing that would improve the state's competitiveness. "MinnesotaCare
is a tested and trusted 25-year-old program," she said. "We should
allow anybody who wants to buy into the program to do so."
She said she wants to build the
infrastructure to allow us to contract directly with our
providers--our hospital systems, our nurses and our doctors. "Health
plans aren't serving in the role they once saw for themselves, being
care managers," Murphy said. "Instead they've often become care
deniers or care arbiters." And, she said, our population is aging,
with increasing chronic health care needs. "The lack of security
around health care is top on the minds of people," she said.
"Minnesotans are really, really worried about health care right
We should use the power of the state's
purchasing to drive down health care costs and make the market more
competitive. "Contracting is the critical change piece," Murphy
said. "We need to put the providers back in charge again. And we
absolutely have an opportunity to improve value and outcomes for
people when we are driving a better deal with providers. Direct
contracting is about taking the distorting center point--the health
plans--out of that and setting more expectations on the providers."
"We spend a lot of our health care dollars
caring for people with chronic conditions, people who are aging and
people with disabilities," she continued. "Let us figure out how we
do that job and do it well, because I think we'll get a better deal
for people. And that's what I want: a healthy population."
Murphy said there is much that we can do
to improve people's health outside of the health care delivery
system by working on the social determinants of health, such as
Transportation is central to the
competitiveness of Minnesota, especially with millennials.
Murphy made that remark in response to an interviewer's question
about financing transportation, including transit. "We're
congested," she said. "We've fallen behind in transportation. When
my kids decide where they want to live, they don't want to have to
be solely reliant on a car."
We should not pay for transportation out
of the state's general fund. Instead, Murphy said, we should be
using the gas tax or basing user fees on vehicle weights to make
sure we capture user fees from electric vehicles. "I'm going to
fight for dedicated funding for transportation, because it matters
to our future," she said.
We need transit in the metro area and in
Greater Minnesota. Murphy made that remark and said we have a
long way to go to make transit usable in the Twin Cities and in
Minnesota generally. She said transit is also a Greater Minnesota
issue, especially due to the aging population in many sparsely
populated areas of the state.
We have work to do in creating a transit
system that provides transportation for low-income people to get to
their jobs. Murphy said that is especially true if someone is
traversing the metro area. She recalled a legislative hearing where
people in the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP)--mostly
women--talked about how long it took on transit for them to get from
point A to point B, with their children in tow, to try to meet the
work requirements of the program. "It was clear to me that we had
set in policy a set of circumstances that were almost impossible for
them to meet," Murphy said.
She said we have made it hard for people
to get up the economic ladder without falling back and
transportation is a part of that. "If we want people to get from
point A to point B in a reliable way, we have more work to do," she
5. Higher education.
Are we doing enough with technical
education? An interviewer asked that question and Murphy said
the community colleges, which she called "a real deal for people,"
offer courses in skilled trades that are full of kids. But the
colleges need better connections with employers, she said. And she
believes we must put vocational education courses back in the high
6. Minnesota's public-policy process.
Many legislative bills have way too many
provisions. Murphy said there are many instances where the
Legislature has violated the state Constitutional requirement that
bills be restricted to a single subject. "There are bills with way
too many provisions, especially in the last three years, because of
inadequate leadership and planning," she said.
As governor, Murphy won't sign bills
unless they've been on the desks of legislators for at least 24
hours prior to a vote. Minnesotans need a chance to review
legislation, she said. "In the last three years, there have been
glaring examples of pushing through things at the end of the
legislative session," she said. "We have to push back and use the
power of this office."
Murphy noted that former Governor Tim
Pawlenty was very clear about what he would or wouldn't sign into
law. "He worked from the beginning of the session, setting the
tone," she said. "He was giving us a signal that we chose to follow
or not to follow. I'm going to be that, as well. I'm going to bring
the power of Minnesotans--their voices--into the Capitol again. When
I'm elected governor, I will continue to spend my time with
Minnesotans to get their support to move the agenda I think is
important for the people of Minnesota."
Minnesotans are hungry for a kind of
politics that puts them at the center of the debate. Murphy made
that statement and said, "It's not about beating the other side,
taking the other side down or positioning ourselves to win the next
year's election. Instead, it's about how we build our future
"Inside the Capitol, it's divided and
ornery and hot," she continued. "Outside of the Capitol, Minnesotans
are working hard every day to support their families and build their
communities. They are hopeful and optimistic about that and I am
meeting them there with ideas and solutions. Our kind of government
is built on the fact that we don't all agree. Instead of using power
in the short term to shove something through, spending the time
investing in building support for the ideas that will build our
future is worth it."
7. Minnesota's workforce.
What should the governor do about a
problem the state seems to be ignoring: a shortage of workers
for the jobs that are out there? An interviewer asked that
question and Murphy said it's an urgent problem and we're already
facing workforce shortages. When the interviewer asked what Murphy
would do to get a process going to work on the problem, she said,
"It's in part an attitude, followed by a process. We need to make
sure Minnesota is a place where people want to come and live--young
people, people from different parts of the country, people from
different parts of the world."
We must tackle the issues of racial
disparities and structural racism. Murphy made that remark and
said we must rectify the gaps in health care and outcomes, education
and outcomes, incarceration rates and earning for people of color.
She said that it's a moral imperative and that equity is critical to
building the economy of our future. "Further, it's an issue close to
the hearts of Minnesota's next generation of leaders," she said.
In a recent meeting with high school
Democrats in Alexandria, Murphy said the students would want, if
they were governor, to tackle the issues of climate change,
education, race, disparities and equality. "Young people want a kind
of politics that will build a future for them," she said.
Homelessness and housing is a workforce
issue, especially in Greater Minnesota. Murphy made that comment
and said, "It's impacting our competitiveness. Housing has reached a
crisis level for people and for this campaign." She said the
public sector, the nonprofit sector and the financing sector must
build out affordable and workplace housing.
8. The corrections system.
There is much more we should be doing
inside the walls of our correctional facilities to make sure
prisoners are returned to society with their full rights and with
their full capacity. Murphy made that remark and said we need to
make sure people in prisons are being treated if they have chemical
dependency or health care issues. We should also offer vocational
training in prisons and restore prisoners' voting rights.
9. The urban/rural divide in Minnesota.
Minnesotans, wherever they are, want to
make sure they have a governor who will fight for them. Murphy
gave that response to an interviewer's question about how to improve
the urban/rural divide in the state. "The issues across the state of
Minnesota are different depending on where you are," she said. "I
think the urban/rural divide is really a discussion about class and
opportunity. People are working hard and see Minnesota doing well.
But they're not sure they're going to get ahead in this economy.
"I'm going to continue to show up and make
sure Minnesotans understand that their fight is my fight. If part of
Minnesota is falling behind, we're all falling behind. We're going
to build a future that includes all of us."