Column: The good and bad of the '12 legislative sessionThe 2012 legislative session has ended and in my opinion there is both a healthy amount of good and an unhealthy amount of bad to be found as we review the boxscore.
By: Rep. Steve Drazkowski, The Republican Eagle
The 2012 legislative session has ended and in my opinion there is both a healthy amount of good and an unhealthy amount of bad to be found as we review the boxscore.
Among the good: Another new law that improves our environmental permitting process, which in the past, according to some job creators, has been so much of a hindrance that they scrapped plans to expand the size of their business entirely.
There was also a health and human Services reform package that promotes accountability and value in our subsidized health programs, while supporting providers and families, and optimizing the use of limited resources. Among the provisions in this comprehensive proposal are initiatives that bring accountability to our numerous and generous welfare programs.
The bill included a provision I wrote that requires the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Human Services to team up and share drivers’ license fraud data information, to end current and prevent future welfare fraud.
I was also fortunate to have two other provisions that I authored signed into law. The first was included in our game and fish bill. It gives farmers who have sustained crop damage from deer more ability to control those deer on their farm.
The second allowed cities with a population of 5,000 or less to be able to use either their 2012 Local Government Aid number or the 2013 certified number for their LGA.
This means that a city like Goodview — and other small cities that had been victimized in the past by LGA formulaic changes — will see an increase in LGA. In the case of Goodview, the community will receive a $100,000 increase in LGA and be placed back on the LGA plain they were on in previous years.
The bad: Governor Dayton’s refusal to allow the Legislature to pay back the school funding extension shift enacted last session.
Nearly half of it was paid back after receiving a $1.3 billion surplus at the beginning of this year, and Republicans all voted to pay back the remaining shift extension — and more — by using some of the reserve funds. These were newly acquired due to the state government's reduced spending brought on by our budget reforms from the 2011 session.
Most legislative Democrats voted against this fiscally responsible measure and the governor vetoed the bill, opting to maintain the current debt owed our schools.
Also lost: A number of labor reform provisions, including the “last hired, first fired” employment provision for teachers.
Only Education Minnesota would think that incumbent protection is more critical than student achievement, and its persuasion apparently caused Dayton to veto this bipartisan bill. This legislation would have made teacher seniority one of the provisions — but not the only provision — in determining who sticks around when a school district is forced to reduce staff.
Ignoring employee effectiveness when faced with employment decisions is a concept no other work place in the real world would ever consider, but thanks to the governor’s veto, this performance-limiting practice will continue in our school districts.
And let’s not forget the bonding and stadium proposals, which added nearly a billion dollars to our huge pile of state debt.
The ugly: The governor’s veto of the Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, not once but twice.
Here is a bill that not only would have allowed the private sector to create thousands of jobs, but also would have encouraged Minnesota employers to expand their work force, while providing needed tax breaks to Minnesotans. It also included a number of provisions Dayton specifically requested to be included in the bill, yet he still issued a veto.
My gut tells me the governor refused to sign this because doing so would have benefitted Republicans. His decision to travel the state with DFL leadership urging voters to send him a DFL-led Legislature this November only confirms the notion.
It’s very disappointing that Dayton is taking us in the wrong direction. The only “job creation” ideas he would approve this session were proposals that borrowed and spent money. Any economist will tell you that you can’t extract money from the private sector to give a temporary and artificial boost of activity in the public sector and expect your economy to thrive.
The Legislature’s vision this session was long-term job growth. The governor’s vision was to hoodwink the public into believing nothing was happening in St. Paul, in hopes of putting more Democrats in the Capitol next year.
What a shame.
Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, can be reached at 651-296-2273 or email@example.com.