By Glenn Gruenhagen
The phrase “government reform” seems to have lost some impact on its way to becoming a cliché. So, I’ll just say it this way: A lot is changing at the Capitol.
It took less than a week for the new House majority to make its priorities for the 2011 session and beyond abundantly clear: Give our businesses room to grow, help our people get back to work in the private sector, and get a grip on state spending. Two bills were introduced that will make inroads in all three of those areas and give a little preview of what we can expect with the new legislative order.
The first bill introduced this session is one that would expedite the state’s permitting process, creating a more business-friendly course for operations ranging from manufacturing to agriculture and mining. It can take Minnesota businesses months or even years longer to complete the process than their counterparts in neighboring states and that puts us at a huge competitive disadvantage. We’ve had Minnesota business owners get so wrapped up in red tape they just give up on starting a business or expanding an existing operation in Minnesota.
Among its provisions, the new law would provide for a 150-day turnaround time. There also are measures in place to make sure our environment does not pay the price for increased efficiency.
The second bill introduced this session is one that gives us an entirely new way of setting our budget, helping bring accountability to how our tax dollars are spent. The most frequent complaint people seem to have about government is how it spends and spends without regard for the taxpayer. Government is one of the only entities to have continued growing during the recession, a perplexing – yet very telling – fact.
But, as I said, a lot is changing at the Capitol. Our new bill would turn our government’s budgeting process upside down. The old way of doing things was to put together a list of expenses and then dip into the taxpayers’ pockets to cover the spending. The new way would be to establish how much revenue we have and then make spending decisions in a prioritized manner.
Both bills are examples of what the public sent us to St. Paul to accomplish. Our state has reached a crossroads and I believe Minnesotans want sustainable jobs and economic opportunity of their own so they can enjoy the self-sufficiency and prosperity. We are strong people who realize the day of reckoning has arrived in government spending and I am confident our Legislature’s new priorities-based approach will lead us to brighter days.
I have begun working with my legislative committees, including Civil Law, Health and Human Services Reform, Judiciary Policy and Finance, and Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Finance. I welcome your thoughts, concerns and ideas on any of the issues we will face at the Capitol.
You can reach me by e-mailing email@example.com, or by calling (651) 296-4229. I also will be sending periodic e-mail updates to give a behind-the-scenes look at the Legislature. You can sign up to receive them and find a lot more information by logging on to my official House Web site (www.house.mn/25A).
Rep. Gruenhagen can be reached at the Capitol by calling 651-296-4229. He is also available by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His office is located at 575 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.