As Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe, DFL-Erskine, shifts gears from legislative leader to full-time gubernatorial candidate he's reached a conclusion about Minnesota's so-called tripartisan government.
"It doesn't work," he said Thursday in a campaign visit to Brainerd.
Although the projected state budget deficit for the current biennium was fixed in the recent legislative session, the DFL-controlled Senate, the Republican-controlled House and Independence Party Gov. Jesse Ventura reached a deadlock on other key issues, such as a transportation funding package.
Moe, majority leader for 20 years and a state senator for more than 30 years, thinks the current three-legged configuration of state government will end soon because he doesn't think Ventura will run for a second term.
"I just don't think he enjoys it," Moe said. "He never really got fully engaged and some of his antics have seriously eroded his base of support."
The majority leader also speculated Ventura's wife doesn't enjoy the political life and that could be a factor in the governor's decision.
Knowing that another serious budget problem awaits the next governor and Legislature, he thinks voters won't want to provide on-the-job training for their leaders.
"People are looking for someone with experience in this area," he said. Moe will trumpet his experience as he calls for adequate funding for education, transportation and protection of the state's natural resources.
Despite economic gains made by some outstate areas in the last decade, Moe contends rural areas lag behind the metro area in prosperity. He noted the increase seen in some outstate incomes was partly buttressed by the success of Indian casinos and higher-income retirees moving to the country. This doesn't help the average rural Minnesotan, he said.
Moe favors using rural Minnesota's agricultural base for economic innovation in such areas as bio-diesel products and wind-generated power. Brain power will be important in the future, he said, since Minnesota is a state with 5 million people competing with 6.1 billion people in a global economy.
"Everything's ratcheted up in terms of technology and knowledge," he said. "It's fairly clear we're not going to do it with (population) numbers."
Minnesota needs a "world class university" and a strong Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system to provide educated and flexible employees for businesses, he said. It's the state's strong education base that will make Minnesota economically competitive, Moe maintained, not our location.
"We're cold. We're northern and we're landlocked," he pointed out.
Another important aspect to the state's economy is the natural resources, which attract baby boomers who want to spend their leisure time here. Minnesotans, he said, want to be good stewards of the land and realize that our clean lakes and waters are a big selling point in the state's favor.
"We promote it," he said. "We brag about it on our license plates."
Moe was the featured speaker at the Minnesota Initiative Foundation dinner Thursday at Grand View Lodge. He was given an award of appreciation at the dinner for his work in fostering rural economic development.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.