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House 2A: Erickson, Hancock debate economy and taxes

The second night of debates at Lakeland Public Television included a discussion between House 2A candidates Roger Erickson, DFL, and incumbent Dave Hancock, R, on Tuesday evening. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI – As with many debates across the state, the debate for the House 2A seat on Lakeland Public Television Tuesday night focused on issues facing the state’s economy and budget.

The debate featured incumbent Dave Hancock, R-Bemidji, who will face DFLer Roger Erickson.

Hancock previously represented House District 2B, but redistricting rebranded it as 2A.

The new district extends toward the Canadian border and Baudette, where Erickson resides. Hancock was first elected in 2010 as part of a wave that saw Republicans take control of both the state House and Senate.

The two differed distinctly in their philosophies on how to deal with the state’s budget.

Erickson said while there will likely have to be some cuts made, there’s a need to keep everything on the table in terms of being able to raise revenue.

Hancock countered that the state is spending at record levels.

“We must get to the point where we budget off of revenue instead of budgeting off of proposed increases,” Hancock said.

Hancock followed that later by saying that the business climate in the state is “not very friendly,” and more should be done to keep businesses here and getting them to expand here. He said the better way to raise revenue is not through tax increases but growing the economy.

“You cannot tax the people that create jobs more and expect them to expand their business,” he said.

In addressing the state’s tax system, Erickson repeated many DFLers’ complaints that the elimination of the Market Value Homestead Credit resulted in property taxes in greater Minnesota. Hancock argued that the old system was “broken” and was often not paid by the state to local governments.

The debate veered off the economy and taxes in discussion of the two constitutional amendments on the ballot this year and the partisan nature of the Legislature.

At one point, Erickson suggested that Hancock almost always voted along party lines. Hancock countered that he didn’t vote with the party “all the time.”

“I don’t want to go down there and be a rubber stamp for my party,” Erickson said. He lamented several times that gridlock and partisanship was to blame for the state government shutdown in summer 2011.

The debate over the constitutional amendments focused on the voter ID amendment, which Erickson said was unnecessary and Hancock defended. But there was little discussion of the same-sex marriage amendment.

“I think these two issues rise to the level of being beyond 201 legislators and one government,” Hancock said. “Let us let the people decide.”

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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