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Candidate's view: The primary’s primo race is for … auditor?

State auditor needs to do more than balance books

During his 1982 campaign for state auditor, Minnesota’s progressive champion Paul Wellstone stated, “I believe the auditor is a policymaker that must provide creative leadership and the courage to make innovative proposals and challenge strong-vested interests.” After college, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work for Paul Wellstone, and I have spent the last 20 years fighting for a more progressive state — while staying true to the values I learned while growing up in rural Minnesota.

I am running for auditor because I strongly believe Minnesota needs a state auditor who will do much more than just balance the books. I believe we need someone in the office who follows the example of Paul Wellstone and former Auditor Mark Dayton by taking a much more active role in the policy debates facing the state.

I believe the key issues in this race revolve around closing and protecting defined benefit pensions, supporting public education and exposing corporate subsidies, especially those occurring at the local level.  

I believe the auditor’s office can be doing more to protect pensions that are under attack by Wall Street middle men and right-wing privatization efforts. Retired Minnesotans and those nearing retirement age who spent their whole lives working hard and playing by the rules should be able to count on their hard-earned retirement benefits to be there when they need them. Yet lobbyists are traveling the state pushing for the replacement of defined benefit pensions with defined contribution pensions. I firmly believe pensions should not be privatized and that the auditor should take a more-active role in making sure pensions are properly funded and well-managed.     

I also believe the auditor’s office can be doing a better job at going after corporate giveaways at the local level. As a county attorney who put white-

collar criminals behind bars, I will take a hard look at many of the tax breaks and corporate giveaways at the local level to make sure taxpayer dollars are being used to protect education, infrastructure projects and other core services — not tax giveaways for Wal-Mart.

I know firsthand the value of a public education and how quality education is the key to preparing our kids for the jobs of tomorrow. However, I know through my conversations with folks all throughout the state that many of our rural and urban schools aren’t funded at the same levels as the schools in more-

affluent communities. As auditor, I will take a hard look at the data already collected by the auditor’s office to address school-funding inequities so all our children have the opportunity to achieve their full potential.

Conducting audits and scrutinizing spending patterns is important, but an auditor who only balances the books is not doing the whole job. I humbly ask for your support on Tuesday, Aug. 12.

Matt Entenza of St. Paul is a lawyer who served six terms in the Minnesota House and was House minority leader from 2003 to 2006. He’s now a DFL candidate for state auditor in the Aug. 12 primary election.