House and Senate Republicans outlined a new package of government reforms that they say will reduce waste and boost private-sector job growth in Minnesota.
The so-called “Reform 2.0” agenda detailed by Republican leaders at a press conference includes dozens of proposals designed to modernize government infrastructure and ease regulatory burdens on businesses. It also includes plans to reform education and health care programs in the state.
House Speaker Kurt Zellers (R-Maple Grove) said the “Reform 2.0” plan is the top item on the Republican agenda for the 2012 legislative session.
“Minnesotans should know that their government is down here looking at every budget, every spending item, every initiative and every agency as closely as they look at their own budgets,” Zellers said.
The House Republican Caucus released a detailed list with more than three-dozen individual reform proposals. A few highlights include:
- measures to reduce the property tax burden on businesses;
- proposed legislation establishing mayoral control of city school districts and encouraging charter schools as an alternative to failing public schools;
- using new technology to combat Medicaid fraud; and
- establishing equal pay between government workers and their private-sector counterparts.
House Majority Leader Matt Dean (R-Dellwood) said many of the proposals originated from Minnesota residents and business owners during a series of public meetings with lawmakers last year. Dean said the message they took away from those meetings was clear.
“They said, ‘We want government to get off our back and out of our way, and we want it to help us,’” Dean said.
Some of the included proposals were put forward during last year’s session, but were opposed by Gov. Mark Dayton and DFL lawmakers. In spite of this, Zellers said the Republicans plan to reach out to Dayton in the hopes that some of the measures might find his support. He argued “Reform 2.0” is in everyone’s best interests.
“This is not a Republican agenda, it’s not a Democrat agenda, it’s not an independent agenda. It’s a Minnesota agenda,” he said.
In response, House Minority Leader Paul Thissen (DFL-Mpls) released the following statement:
“We should work together to improve efficiencies and reduce red tape for our small businesses. But responding to the real challenges facing middle class Minnesotans should be our top priority. There is nothing in this plan to help middle class families get ahead – and some things that will hurt them. Reduced wages and job cuts for middle class workers are not a recipe for broad economic success.”
The Legislature is set to convene at noon on Jan. 24.