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Republican Speaker of the House Kurt Zellers

Joles, David, Star Tribune

Keep GOP in control of Legislature

  • Article by: KURT ZELLERS
  • November 3, 2012 - 10:25 PM

There are 47,000 more Minnesotans employed now than at this time in 2010. Automatic state spending growth that approached $40 billion has been scaled back. Bureaucratic hurdles that once hindered job creation have been identified, streamlined and eliminated. Long-overdue reforms to state government are making Minnesotans' tax dollars more productive.

These are the reasons Minnesotans should go to the polls and keep Republicans in the majority in our Legislature. Our campaign in 2010 was about fixing runaway spending, getting Minnesotans working again and improving the way government does business. That is where we focused our energy, and in all three ways we delivered results that put Minnesota on an upward path out of the recession.

This is exactly where we will keep our focus. There is still much to be done. We will do it in ways that we know produce the results Minnesotans strive to achieve.

We will continue creating jobs by making sure the money businesses earn doesn't get swept up to pay for a government that can't resist spending it. For the past two years we have been able to protect them from tax increases, and tens of thousands of Minnesotans who have jobs again show that doing so was the right course. Had we agreed to take that money and spend it, our economy and our budget both would be worse off.

In 2011 and 2012, Republicans and Democrats partnered to tackle the headaches involved in getting permits from government. Both parties can be proud of their work to achieve this. Time and money that used to be spent on dealing with simple permits is now free to be more productive. But the hundreds, maybe even thousands, of sidelined workers who won't have a job until government acts on more complex permit applications need us to do more. We will.

We know that improving teacher quality is one of the best ways to boost learning. So we created a new way for experts in fields like science and engineering to become teachers and show students the limitless possibilities of intelligence and imagination. It wasn't easy, but a strong, bipartisan coalition made it happen. We are equally committed to ending the outdated and frankly ridiculous policy of laying off good teachers simply because they lack seniority.

Parents, students and reform-minded educators stood up with us last year as we put this bill on Gov. Mark Dayton's desk. His veto dissolved their hard work and dashed their hopes. But it didn't steal their resolve. Parents who see their children's learning stymied by an outdated status quo will not give up, and neither will we. Any education reform agenda that does not put keeping our best teachers in the classroom at the very top is an agenda driven by allegiance to the status quo, not an allegiance to students.

Next year's Legislature will again have to balance the budget, and this election represents a choice for how that will be done. We believe we can fund the things Minnesotans expect from their government -- safe roads, strong schools, public safety -- without reaching into their wallets for more money. Recent economic trends support this: Our existing tax rates are bringing in more money than they did two years ago. If that growth isn't enough to support what government wants to spend, the answer isn't to tax even more. The answer is to figure out why we're spending so much.

For most governments, the answer is skyrocketing health care costs. We made huge bipartisan steps to control that growth, working with the Dayton administration to bring costs down by billions of dollars without sacrificing the quality or human decency we strive for in health care. Those cost pressures have eased, but will always remain. So will other demands for taxpayers' money. Our job is to prioritize them and fund them responsibly. We will.

With a belief in what works, and with faith in the people of Minnesota, we will look back two years from now and see a state where still more people have found jobs, the budget is under control and the economy is moving the right direction. A Republican Legislature has made it happen, and we can again.

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Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, is speaker of the Minnesota House.

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