Speaking With Matt Entenza

Matt Entenza has worn Worthington on his sleeve thus far during his campaign to be the DFL’s gubernatorial candidate. He’s filmed commercials promoting his run for governor in Worthington, and he frequently mentions this community when talking about any number of issues. In speaking about education Tuesday afternoon in a visit with him, Entenza said, "My belief is that the education I had in Worthington made it possible for me to be where I am today."

Where is Entenza? One has to believe the WHS grad has a solid shot at emerging as the top choice of DFL voters in the Aug. 10 primary. House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher is the party nominee, of course, but Entenza and former U.S. Senator Mark Dayton have both the name recognition and resources to provide what should be stiff competition. And, what should be most importantly, Entenza has plenty of ideas – which he shared plenty of while sitting in my office Tuesday.

The first thing Entenza addressed when speaking with me was how he differentiates himself from his two Democrat rivals. Specifically, he was eager to cast himself as a candidate with a pragmatic, realistic approach to governing the state, as opposed to one who is making promises that can’t be kept. For instance, he noted that Dayton’s plan to increases taxes on the rich – in order to bring in the addititonal "$3.8 billion in additional revenue in this biennum" (sourced from Minnesota Public Radio; provided to me by Entenza) – would require doubling of the income tax rate for Minnesota’s wealthiest 10 percent (and that would only generate $3.4 billion). Such a move would result in our state’s top income tax rate becoming the highest in the nation.

Entenza also supplied a list detailing what he said are spending promises by Kelliher. He claims the party’s nominee has promised $14.5 billion in new spending, and provided weblinks to articles that support these claims. (One example, a promise for single-payer health care for every person in Minnesota by the end of ther first term, can be viewed at http://wcco.com/health/Margaret.Anderson.Kelliher.2.1779546.html.)

So, what about Entenza’s approach to the state’s fiscal mess? Entenza explained he would balance the budget through "1/3 cuts, 1/3 new revenues and 1/3 deferrals.") He spoke of the budget deficit as an opportunity to restructure state government and make it more efficient; he also lends support to a report released in March 2009 by the Public Strategies Group that estimates approximately $3.7 billion in health care costs could be saved by rewarding value, not volume (or, encouraging better care instead of more care).