Some New, Some Familiar Ideas Top Minn. GOP Agenda

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota Republicans produced a policy agenda Thursday full of familiar ideas for reshaping state government that they plan to push in the session that starts next week.

Priorities outlined by leaders of the House and Senate GOP majorities include reductions to business property taxes, scaled-back regulations in the construction sector, curbs on lawsuits, changes to teacher job security, stricter requirements for people on public assistance and the specter of public payroll cuts.

Most of the proposals have been pursued before, and some are certain to again run into resistance from Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton.

House Speaker Kurt Zellers said the overall goal is to modernize the government.

“This is the government that time forgot. We’re a two-cans-and-string type of government,” he said.

The proposals are phrased in glossy terms, such as “curtail lawsuit abuse,” as well as “equalizing government pay and benefits with the private sector” and “remove barriers to eliminate ineffective teachers including Last In, First Out.”

Democrats described the proposals as public-employee pay cuts and attacks on teacher tenure, issues they said would be nonstarters.

“There are some things in there that we’re unlikely to accomplish that are very divisive to the process,” Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk said at a session-preview event staged by Forum Communications and ECM newspapers.

Republicans declined to elaborate on possible workforce or pay cuts, but said they want greater reliance on technology for things currently done by public workers. They said a rush of retirements by state workers presents opportunities to trim the payroll without depending on large-scale layoffs.

“If we stay where we are, if we backfill all those jobs with just warm bodies instead of technology, we’re going to be left behind by our peer states around us,” Zellers said.

The school measures are among the furthest-reaching proposals. GOP leaders are reviving an old push to give big-city mayors more control over school districts. They also want to let charter schools tap into money raised through local tax levies, diverting dollars from traditional schools. They also proposed giving parents the power to turn struggling public schools into charter schools.

On the health and welfare front, the Republican proposal calls for screening more aid recipients upfront to head off fraud as well as raising welfare eligibility to mirror standards of Minnesota’s neighboring states. A proposed change to insurance laws would let older Minnesotans convert death benefits in life insurance policies into long-term care insurance.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

More from Pat Kessler
  • Bibi Fontaine

    GOP promises Minnesota a hot, sexy time! They lead by example!

    • CSOlson

      Most people overestimate the cost of a good long-term care policy. A healthy, married couple in their mid/late fifties, can share a policy that starts off with over a half million in benefits for about $100 per month per spouse.
      There’s a new type of government-approved long-term care policy that can protect your assets from Medicaid even after the policy runs out of benefits. Here’s an explanation of how these policies work:


  • jimmy

    Zellers with his depression style haircut wants to bring the soup lines back to Minnesota.

  • Citizen

    I notice there are no comments on job creation or economic development.

    • Depresion Survivor

      When the debt crushes us, we all will be in soup lines. We’ll see what your theory is on sharing and caring is then when starving angry people come in your house and take you food….

      • Citizen

        You only have to look at what happened during the Great Depression to understand what will happen. Since I am not one of the 1% and am not wealthy, I guess I don’t have to worry about home invasion, do I. My grandmother fed the homeless and the dispossessed men who rode the rails during the Great Depression; I understand that was common to feed the hungry back then and for people to help each other. Read some books about the Great Depression such as Studs Terkel’s which tells peoples’ stories in their own words. The debt will not crush us.

        • dan

          Ask Greece how debt has crushed their economy. To think history will not repeat itself is juvenile.

          • StopTheSpending

            Dan – Isn’t it amazing how many people cannot figure it out even when they have modern day examples like Greece and other European Countries. Crushing debt is never good. And you can never get out of it by spending even more.

            • Citizen

              @Stop. Semantics. Having crushing debt does not mean a country is “crushed” and nonexistent. Historically, U.S. debt ratio was much higher than it is now right after WWII during the Eisenhower years which is why taxes were enacted up to 95% on the wealthiest Americans and hiked on the middle class as well. Read history to get perspective on the debt crisis fear and hysteria.

            • MarkToo

              I second that. It’s much better to get out of debt than to go deeper in the hole. The last thing we need to do is turn into another Europe.

          • Citizen

            @dan. Why don’t you read about the complex financial shenanigans that caused Greece’s debt crisis. The Greek economy has not been crushed nor collapsed. The situation is not as simplistic as your post suggests.

  • Rockford

    House Speaker Kurt Zellers said the overarching goal is to modernize what government does. —-I think he meant to say the “over reaching” goal.

  • Goober

    The Democrats should have held the MN House and Senate so they could continue the Trickle Up Poverty agenda thay have been pushing the last 40 years. That worked wll …. NOT

  • Terrace

    The Republican Party in MN is 2 million in debt. Iowa Republican caucuses are a still a total mess. How can anyone think the Republicans can take charge and make MN a better place to live?

    • 50Cents

      And the USA is $14 Trillion dollars in debt! Obama and his ring of clowns have added more debt than any President in history. He is certainly good at spending other peoples money as he has never had a real job to spend his own. According to Citizen above debt doesnt matter anyways. I guess thats just a Democrat dream, just like spending more stimulus creates any long term job growth.

    • Hender

      Because the Democrats are ten times worse. Don’t you keep up on events?

      • Glen

        I have not read where the democratic party in Minnesota is in debt. I do not hear of them in bed witth people other than their spouse, I do not hear of them in swimming pools with underage children. They do not balamce budgets byy taking money away from local governments and then telling the local government to balance their books like the state does without raising taxes.

        • Balanced Beam

          Actually, the DFL Party is $750,000.00 in debt. It’s a normal cycle that they are in debt after an election and raise money before the next election.

          You rarely hear of the moral transgressions of Democrats because they do not hold themselves out as living by a moral standard, hence nobody plays the hypocrisy card. You must have set your TV to MSNBC and thrown away the remote if you cannot come up with Democrats behaving badly. Apparently Glen is cool with married congressman sending photos of their groin by text to college girls. Glen is also on board with the State taxing people in City A to fund the services in City B even though the folks in City A have no say in how City B conducts its business.

  • Tom

    And reducing property taxes on businesses and reducing regulations will not help businesses hire as neither one brings back demand. As always the conservatives are in fantasy land and are afraid to think outside the bubble they live in.

    • Samantha

      You dont own a business to you Tom.

      • dhillips

        and if the political climate changes,do you intend to create living wage jobs?

  • Helma Rita Hintz nee Thiel

    YES WE CAN do a better job by getting the lazy people to work.provide work experiences in the latter part of Highschool, 2 years of working experence and when they graduate they at least have some idea what life is all about and have some working skills to get them working.
    Not every child needs to attend college,Vocational School is a great choice.

    • ralph

      Tech school? No jobs in the building trades right now. Not many jobs in the tech fields. Talked to people at a local private trade school. They admitted to a less than 50% placement rate. Vocational school may be the best place for many, but skilled jobs at any level are tight.

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