By Rep. Ron Kresha, Guest Columnist
Minnesota has become a battleground in the debate over the size of government.
On one side there is the battle cry for more government intervention into our economy and everyday lives, as we’ve seen over the past two years during one-party control in St. Paul.
About $160 million was spent on the MNsure website that wobbled off the launch pad and is still not fully functioning and processing applications effectively. An $89 million Senate Office Building with no public parking will seemingly be built to honor the presence of our part-time senators.
The recent passage of a bullying bill turns state government into the State Board of Education. Local school administrators and teachers are no longer trusted to handle student conflict. In the name of “safe schools,” bureaucracy is interjected between the school, parents and teachers. It seems it no longer takes a village to raise a child, just the government.
Our state government is the largest employer in Minnesota and continues to grow each year with no end in sight.
On the other side is the argument for efficient and effective government that is limited and less expensive.
Minnesota is blessed with a growing agriculture economy, booming energy sector, growing manufacturing and high tech entrepreneurs.
Our business economy is fighting to find skilled employees to meet the needs of the growing global middle class with good-paying jobs. But business needs the space to grow and the business economy cannot compete with the rapidly growing and more expensive government.
Moreover, business needs an education system where students can reach their academic potential. Education dollars need to go to academic achievement in the classroom, not social engineering. The competitiveness of our economy depends on the entrepreneurial fearlessness of our next generation, not the size of our state bureaucracy.
How can we promote and encourage that entrepreneurial spirit? How can we make sure the next Fortune 500 company is founded here in Minnesota rather than lower-tax states with booming economies like Texas and Florida?
The answer is simple: get government out of the way, and empower our local schools.
Unfortunately, over the past two years that approach has been cast aside in favor of government without guardrails. Government has grown by more than 10 percent over the past two years. Taxes have shot up by more than $2.1 billion. Government has added regulations and mandates that make the price of doing business more expensive.
In education, we’ve seen more money invested, but little interest in working with our local school administrators to ensure accountability and results. The educational policy that has come from St. Paul this last year has focused more on feel-good policy and less on achievement programs and family stability.
Government should be preparing people to enter the business sector and then get out of the way as much as possible.
If we continue improving in the area of education and put a stop to this unsustainable growth in government, the best is yet to come for Minnesota.
I believe we can either have a robust, booming economy fueled by innovators or we can have a flat economy subsidized by the government and ultimately the taxpayers. Personally, I am a risk-taker shooting for new heights.
Rep. Ron Kresha, R-Little Falls, represents House District 9B, which includes most of Morrison County.