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Open forum: Dayton is out of touch

Republicans in the Minnesota Legislature have worked in an open process to produce a balanced budget. Last biennium, we spent about $30 billion; and on track to increase to $39 billion over the next biennium. Our completed budget spends $34 billion through strategic reforms, prioritized spending and tax relief for job creators.   

Unfortunately, Gov. Dayton’s $37 billion budget proposal favors tax hikes to give Minnesota the second highest tax rate in the nation. He is one of six governors nationally pushing for tax increases in these tough economic times. The governor is out of touch with the budget realities that Minnesota families and small businesses face.  

We have had some early successes with the governor in passing legislation to reduce regulatory burden on businesses and he signed our agriculture budget. These are examples of what can be accomplished when the administration engages with the legislature in this process. 

I hope the governor can also join us in considering some of the following reforms. 

Education reforms improve efficiency and emphasize student achievement.

•  Granting teacher tenure in five-year blocks.

•  Preventing strikes over compensation discrepancies during school years.

State Government reforms align government with private sector.

• 15 percent state workforce reduction by 2015 (excluding MnSCU, Dept. of Military Affairs, and Dept. of Veterans Affairs). 

• Giving state agencies the option to complete projects privately through professional/technical contracts instead of through state employees. 

• Allowing state agencies to offer cash bonuses to state employees for cost-saving ideas. 

Health and Human Services reforms make healthcare more affordable and sustainable. 

• Implementing Healthy Minnesota Defined Contribution Program.

• Reinstating GAMC coordinated care delivery.

We welcome the governor's input and hope he will reconsider his stance on higher taxes and spending and instead join us in asking our state to live within its means.

Sen. Paul Gazelka