2012 focus will be on government reform

By Rep. Mike LeMieur, Guest Columnist

This week marked the beginning of the 2012 legislative session. This year’s agenda will focus on government reform focused on creating a competitive business climate, high performing education and a smaller, cost-effective government.

Calling it Reform 2.0, we’ve traveled to dozens of cities for public meetings with business owners, local government leaders and interested citizens to gather input on how to reform state and local government. We drove thousands of miles and listened to hundreds of people who shared their ideas on what government can and should do better. Reform 2.0 is based on what we heard from them.

Not surprisingly, one of the biggest concerns we heard had to do with growing jobs and fostering a better business climate in Minnesota. We plan to accomplish this by bringing common sense and competitiveness to government regulations. Reducing the tax burden on Minnesota businesses by phasing out the business property tax, freezing the state general tax inflator and providing direct property tax relief to Minnesota job creators will all help to promote a better business climate. We also have plans to reduce several other crippling government regulations to once again make Minnesota competitive with surrounding states.

Another area of reform that is important to taxpayers is Minnesota’s education system. Our goals for this session will be to reduce achievement gaps and increase teacher performance. This includes improving urban education by granting mayors in Minneapolis and St. Paul mayoral control of their city’s school districts and taking aggressive strategies to turn around the state’s lowest achieving schools. By linking pay to teacher and student performance and removing barriers to eliminate ineffective teachers (including “Last In, First Out” policies), we hope to greatly improve teacher productivity.

Another important part of Reform 2.0 will be streamlining government and cutting costs. This includes fighting nationalization of health care with Minnesota-smart reforms, providing requested mandate relief to local governments and consolidating government departments, including some reductions in pay.

We also plan to take steps to fix problems encountered during last session’s unnecessary government shutdown, including granting licensing and inspection authority to independent contractors or local governments and ensuring the continuation of other functions that were wrongly deemed “unessential.”

This agenda will modernize outdated, rigid public systems that have failed to respond to the evolving needs of Minnesota’s economy and citizens. Reform 2.0 is not a Republican agenda. It is Minnesota’s agenda.

I will provide more details on the various initiatives that comprise Reform 2.0 throughout the session. In the meantime, visit www.reform2.mn for more information.

Be sure to visit www.house.leg.state.mn.us/members/join.asp?id=15357 to sign up for my e-mail update list and receive information throughout the session.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or want to share your thoughts on the legislative session or Reform 2.0.

Mike LeMieur, R-Little Falls, represents Minnesota District 12B and can be reached at [email protected] or (651) 296-4247.