U.S. Senate Debate in Duluth
Posted at: 09/18/2012 4:54 PM
| Updated at: 09/18/2012 10:48 PM
By: Renee Passal
Tuesday morning, a crowd filled the Duluth Playhouse, to hear Rep. Kurt Bills and Senator Amy Klobuchar debate the issues.
Off the top, they were asked to introduce themselves and explain why they are running.
Klobuchar went first. She mentioned it's great being at the chamber event, and she's impressed with how the Northland has moved on since the flooding. She said she has the support of many local mayors.
"I think if you talk to them about the work I've done as a senator, you'll find out what I've done. And that's put people first, and work on real results for the state of Minnesota." Specifically, she mentions helping the forest products industry, tourism, and broadband inequality. Klobuchar also brought up numerous Duluth or Northland businesses that she's familiar with, like Duluth Pack and Cirrus.
Bills said that he's a teacher from Rosemount, and that his wife runs a licensed daycare. He cited his work with the legislature since he was elected in 2010, mentioning he worked with Rep. Tom Rukavina on things like the school trust lands.
"This isn't an Amy versus Kurt thing. This is about America versus DC. Our country is out of equilibrium," he said. "I'm running for the students I've taught all these years. We need to put forward various ideas to move our country forward."
As for the national debt, the two differ greatly. Bills said he's frustrated there hasn't been a budget in over 1200 days. He said he doesn't believe we need a debt commission, and that he doesn't think the Bush-era tax cuts were a good idea. Bills then said we need a fair, progressive tax system.
Klobuchar said that she supported and voted for the budget control act that included $2.2 trillion dollars in cuts. She also thinks the Bush-era tax cuts are a good thing for the middle class.
As for mining, Klobuchar's roots were brought up several times. Her grandfather was an underground miner in Ely. She said she's been working with mining companies to help with permitting issues. And she said she's frustrated with the EPA about their proposed regulations on the taconite industry.
Bills said he's shocked that people working on the PolyMet project said they might have to wait 10 years for permits. He said that's unacceptable, and that we need a better vision for minerals. He cited Canadian progress with permitting policies.
There were a few zings back and forth. Bills said he doesn't understand why his opponent calls him extreme. "I'm a public school teacher, how extreme is that?"
Klobuchar mentioned her own comment about how Bills voted twice to raid money out of a taconite tax fund to help balance the state budget. "I would never have done that," she said.
The event was sponsored by the Duluth News Tribune and the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce. No questions were taken from the audience.
We are airing the full debate on Channels 10 and 13, at 1pm on Saturday.