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7B Candidates Debate Budget, Tax System

Posted at: 10/11/2012 11:40 PM
Updated at: 10/11/2012 11:49 PM
By: Dayna Landgrebe

nullCandidates vying for a seat in the 7B House District race sat down for a forum in Duluth on Thursday night.

Independent Jay Fosle, Republican Travis Silvers and Democrat Eric Simonson met at the Lafayette Community Center on Park Point. The forum was organized by the League of Women Voters and the Park Point Community Club.

The candidates answered written, submitted audience questions on topics of balancing the budget and local government aid, unemployment in northeastern Minnesota, and environmental mining regulations.

When asked if he supported Governor Mark Dayton's proposal to tax individuals who earn more than $250,000 per year, Silvers said he doesn't think taxing the rich will solve our problems.

Silvers, an independent contractor and and rental property manager, said he's got experience in running a small business. And he said he knows what it's like to work hard, and then face taxes and regulations for doing so.

"There has to be fundamental changes in the way we spend money and the way we do business in government in this country. I think this idea, 'Tax the rich, tax the rich,'... it's the politics of envy," Silvers said. "Since when does that make it right to take money out of their pockets and give it to somebody else? It's very easy to spend someone else's money, but when it's your own money, you're careful."

Fosle, an Duluth city councilman of nearly five years, said he agreed, and that the state shouldn't condemn taxpayers for doing well.

"There's more things that the state funds than just human services and education. They have a lot of other things they're funding. And that's were we need to see if there's double services. Look to see what's doubled up. Get it down to single," Fosle said. "Because there [is] a lot of that stepping around in there where they're doubling up services."

As for the question over the tax for top wage earners, Fosle called it unfair.

But Simonson, Assistant Chief with the Duluth Fire Department, said he doesn't want to condemn people for doing poorly in their lives either.

"What we need to do is overhaul our tax system so that everybody is taxed fairly. We have shifted because of Republican control to a regressive property tax system, and that is the worst possible tax system we could probably have," Simonson said. "We need to have a serious conversation...about how we do taxes here in Minnesota. We don't have a spending problem in Minnesota, we have a revenue problem here in Minnesota."

Candidates also fielded a question on the social issues, including their stance on abortion, comprehensive sex education and family planning.

Fosle answered first saying that, while he does supports education, he is pro-life. Silvers said he is also pro-life, but said the question was phrased unfairly. Simonson said he fully supports contraception education, calling himself pro-choice supporter.

Ballot Names

On Wednesday, a decision by Minnesota's Supreme Court ruled that Fosle's name would not be placed on the November ballot, and he would remain a write-in candidate.

However, Simonson's name will replace Rep. Kerry Gauthier's name. Gauthier dropped his re-election bid in mid-August amidst a sex scandal with a teenage boy, launching the write-in campaigns of both Fosle and Simonson.

Fosle has openly called the court's decision to exclude his name as discrimination.

Silvers filed before the filing deadline, and his name will be on the ballot as the Republican candidate.