"With more taxes, we have more government, and I don't think that's necessarily good for us right now," Spears said.
Spears is challenging Johnson for his District 19A seat in the House, while Dailey, Frentz and Wernsing are vying to replace retiring Sen.
Each candidate took questions from the audience on issues from health insurance costs, single-payer health care to HMO audits, college funding to income gaps between white and nonwhite residents.
The candidates found common ground on topics like transportation, where they all agreed more funding was needed to create a 10-year,
Johnson served on the House transportation committee this year. He said the disagreement on how best fund transportation was one of his biggest frustrations during the legislative session, and promised transportation would be one of his primary issues if he was re-elected.
"We need to do it for our economic future, and for the safety of our roads," he said.
One of the biggest transportation issues dividing lawmakers is transit funding, specifically funding for the
Wernsing is strongly against transit funding, as he believes it helps too few people get around, would cost too much to maintain and doesn't do enough to transport goods.
"It would take money that we need from many other projects," he said.
On higher education, Wernsing doesn't believe the state should give more money to colleges and universities if it means those institutions will raise tuitions for students.
"Education is very important, but it also needs to have a value and a cost associated with it that people can assess on their own and choose whether to pay that or not," he said.
Spears agreed, while Dailey hopes to see more vocational and technical training done at the high school level so students can be ready for jobs once they graduate.
Frentz is in favor of fully funding college education for students, so they can go on to earn other opportunities.
"Keep in mind, the state of
Johnson, a retired faculty member at
On health care, the candidates agreed lawmakers need to do something to address rising insurance costs. While Spears said current issues with the MNsure health insurance exchange are due to the Affordable Care Act, he, Dailey and Wernsing agreed the state needs to try more market-based solutions.
"It has become a nightmare," Dailey said of MNsure. Dailey also pointed out how pointless it was to blame MNsure's failings to any particular party or politician.
"It's done, it's a crisis, and it has to be fixed now," she said.
Johnson touted the House DFL's recent proposal to cap individual health insurance market rates at 10 percent of a Minnesotan's income, with premium rebates next year to cover added expenses. He also discussed his and Sheran's bill to offer MinnesotaCare, the state's public health option, on the MNsure exchange.
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