Gubernatorial candidate Brian Sullivan didn't mince words Friday when asked about Gov. Jesse Ventura's reluctance to accept the Legislature's budget bill last Thursday.
Legislative leaders were unable to locate Ventura as they sought to deliver the approved bill to him at his office, at the governor's mansion and at his private residence in Maple Grove.
"The governor's current behavior is reprehensible," the Long Lake businessman said just before meeting with Republicans Friday at Brainerd's Sawmill Inn.
He accused Ventura of playing hide-and-seek in order to gain more time to deliberate on a bill aimed at solving the state's $1.95 billion anticipated revenue shortfall.
Sullivan, 40, said he could quibble with parts of the bipartisan bill but liked that it contained no tax increases, used state financial reserves and found areas where costs could be cut.
Although the legislation doesn't solve the projected budget shortfall for the second biennium, Sullivan said it closes about 75 percent of the gap. Fixing the rest of the problem, he said, should wait until further economic forecasts are available.
He said concerns about endangering the state's credit rating by depleting reserves are overblown. Saving some money on interest rates is not as important as reducing taxes and protecting the family budget, he said.
In his first bid for elective office, Sullivan is touting his "can-do" list for education, jobs and roads.
He said more money is needed for roads so outstate communities can be economically viable. He decried light rail and the North Star Corridor rail project as "wasteful," pointing out that the Twin Cities area is one of the few major urban areas with a two-lane, highway beltway. Other metropolitan areas, he said have as many as six lanes surrounding them.
In education, he wants to scrap the Profiles of Learning and replace it with a framework achievement test that would allow individual school districts to develop their own curriculum and emphasize knowledge as opposed to educational process.
The founder of a water filter company that he sold to Procter & Gamble, Sullivan said jobs can be created by injecting a business person's "common sense" into politics and altering the state's "hostile job climate" and its burdensome regulations.
Sullivan wasn't impressed with the property tax reform accomplished by the 2001 Legislature, stating that it was "just a matter of swapping dollars." He wants to see further reductions to the commercial-industrial tax and the capital gains tax.
"We're the fifth most expensive state in the country to do business," the Long Lake resident said.
Sullivan's campaign for governor is already about a year old and he thinks the March 5 caucuses will be a good test for his candidacy. In order to well with potential delegates to the June 13-15 GOP endorsing convention he's traveled extensively around the state.
"I've put 65,000 miles on my car," he said with a smile.
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