Taxes, education, healthcare among MPR gubernatorial debate topics

Johnson and Walz discuss Trump, gun safety and environment

Sloane Martin
August 31, 2018 - 2:01 pm

U.S. House of Representatives and Hennepin County

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The two candidates for governor squared off in a debate at the Minnesota State Fair Friday.

Aired on MPR with a live audience, DFL nominee Tim Walz and Republican Jeff Johnson discussed education, healthcare, President Trump and gun safety.

One area they greatly differed on was taxes and government spending.

Johnson said his budget priorities would be education and public safety. He also said he wants to make cuts to streamline agencies like HHS. Walz, meanwhile, said he supports a gas tax increase and his priorities are transportation, healthcare and education.

Johnson called Walz the "greatest feel-good candidate we’ve ever seen" but he's not realistic.

"I'm not going to dance around issues and make you think that I can do magic when I'm governor because you have to pay what you promise," Johnson said.

Walz said Minnesotans are willing to pay their fair share.

Trump narrowly lost Minnesota. Johnson says he agrees with the president's vision for the country, but he created some distance.

"I think most Minnesotans are adult enough to realize that I'm running for governor, I'm not running for the running mate of Donald Trump and we're going to have our differences," Johnson said.

Walz in response:

"At a time when our politics is divisive and poison -- and it's one thing so say, 'well, I'm not quite sure and I'm a little bit this' and try to throw another deflection piece on here," Walz said. "All I'll say is if you want to see the difference, I didn't hear a word this week after what happened to Sen. McCain. I'll be attending that funeral tomorrow at the request of his family, and as the governor of Minnesota, decency must rule."

Walz also addressed the Keith Ellison domestic abuse allegation. He said he wants to see a full investigation.

"And if the evidence is there that this has happened, then I think you ask people to step aside," Walz said. "If not, you allow them to go on."

The two found common ground on healthcare price transparency, but not much else.