2020 Senate Republican Vision
“When the dust settled on the 2018 election, Minnesota was the only state in the nation with a divided government. Republicans in the Senate made it a priority to work with Democrats in the House and Gov. Tim Walz to pass a budget with bipartisan votes in each body—and we got the budget done on time, without the drama of a prolonged special session.
“Our 2020 Vision will build on the successes of the 2019 session and Republicans will continue to work with Democrats in the House and Gov. Walz to get things done, even as we fight hard for our principles. Principles like fiscal responsibility, a limited but effective government that takes care of the vulnerable, a market-based economy and strong belief in personal responsibility and liberty.”
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka

Working together

We care about improving the tone of our political discourse in Minnesota and believe most people expect both parties to work together and achieve results for the state.

When the dust settled on the 2018 election, Minnesota was the only state in the nation with a divided government. Republicans in the Senate made it a priority to work with Democrats in the House and Gov. Tim Walz to pass a budget with bipartisan votes in each body. And we got the budget done on time, without the drama of a prolonged special session. Republicans also worked with Gov. Walz to find a solution to the fatally-flawed Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS).

Our 2020 Vision will build on the successes of the 2019 session and Republicans will continue to work with Democrats in the House and Gov. Walz to get things done, even as we fight hard for our principles.

Health care

We care about Minnesota families devastated by the exorbitant premiums resulting from the failure of Obamacare and MNsure. We care about Minnesota taxpayers and are tired of seeing their generosity wasted at the Department of Human Services (DHS) while others go without needed services.

In 2019, Senate Republicans delivered on our promise to provide access to health care at an affordable cost for Minnesota families, farmers and businesses. We curtailed waste from the “middleman” in drug pricing by regulating Pharmacy Benefit Managers and delivered transparency in drug pricing and hospital billing. Minnesotans now enjoy the lowest health insurance premiums in the nation thanks to our reinsurance program, which dramatically lowered premiums. Senate Republicans demanded more accountability from a failing DHS by putting a stop to the hundreds of millions of dollars of fraud and waste in our public programs, especially when it comes to eligibility.

Our 2020 Vision for Health Care will build on our work in pharmaceutical transparency with a drug reimportation program so patients can get cheaper Canadian drug prices at their local pharmacy, including insulin. We will also continue to hold DHS accountable for the waste, fraud, and abuse happening under their watch, including a proposal to move the Office of Inspector General outside the agency to give them more autonomy. Senate Republicans will also continue to protect Minnesotans with pre-existing conditions from being left out of the health care marketplace.

Transportation

We care about commuters trying to get home from work, and businesses and farmers moving their products to market through a safe, efficient transportation infrastructure.

With the largest investment in roads and bridges since 2008, Senate Republicans paid for the repair and replacement of thousands of lane miles and bridges across Minnesota. Over the last four years, our comprehensive transportation budget infused our transportation system with $600 million in new, ongoing funding, and an additional $300 million in one-time transportation funding from bonding. These provisions include funding for road and bridge projects across the state — without raising the gas tax or increasing license tab fees. In addition, Senate Republicans finally resolved the fatally-flawed Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS) by bringing in expertise from the private sector to build a system that works.

Our 2020 Vision for Transportation includes more funding for road and bridge construction, including making it a priority in the bonding bill. We will also reform the driver license process, ending the extraordinarily long wait times at state-run driver’s testing stations.

Education

We care about our kids and Minnesota is home to some of the best and the brightest students in the nation — but we can do better at making sure all students have access to a quality education.

Over the past four years, Senate Republicans have added billions of dollars in education funding for programs that have been proven to yield results and have afforded local school districts the flexibility they need to attract, hire, and retain great teachers. We provided money for critical school needs such as expanded school readiness and special education, and made school safety a top priority by allocating $50 million for local districts to use for security upgrades, counselors, psychologists, and other mental health professionals. We reformed teacher licensure laws to make it easier for schools to find and hire qualified teachers and repealed the outdated “last in, first out” law, allowing schools to consider teacher effectiveness, and not just seniority, when making tough layoff decisions.

Only 37 percent of low-income students in Minnesota are proficient in math and reading, compared with 68 percent of their higher-income peers. On those same assessments, only 30 percent of African-American students perform at grade level, compared with 65 percent of white students. We owe it to all students to do better.

Our 2020 Vision for Education will address Minnesota’s persistent achievement gap beginning with our youngest children, using data to identify which early learning programs actually work the best and making them our top priorities. Other priorities will be based on two things we already know influence the success of students – get them reading by third grade and give them a principal/leader who will motivate and inspire others to greatness. That means strengthening Principal Academies and early literacy programs. We will also renew our commitment to real school choice for families and students in Minnesota.

Jobs & workforce development

We care about Minnesota workers and believe every Minnesotan should have the opportunity to participate in our economy. We also care about recent high school graduates and want them to smoothly transition to the workforce without being overwhelmed with student loan debt.

According to a recent report from the Center of the American Experiment, only 22 percent of jobs in Minnesota require a 4-year degree and our state’s manufacturers are struggling to fill two-thirds of the available jobs. Senate Republicans made college affordable with a laser-focus on promoting career and technical education including a $9 million investment in the Workforce Development Scholarship program over the last three years. That’s in addition to our $1 million investment into skilled workforce partnerships and $500,000 for leveraged equipment acquisition at Minnesota State campuses. We also made cracking down on wage theft a priority by strengthening investigations of wage theft claims and explicitly prohibiting wage theft in Minnesota by making it a criminal offense. Senate Republicans kept higher education affordable by investing in the State Grant program, freezing tuition for Minnesota State campuses in 2017 and capping tuition in 2019. We also created the Emergency Assistance grant program for students, championed Z-Degree programs (zero-textbook-cost associate’s degrees) and froze tuition rates for online courses in 2019 for Minnesota State students.

But despite overall low unemployment numbers, Minnesota is still struggling to create new jobs. According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), the state’s job growth rate was just 0.2% for the year ending September 30, 2019, well under the national average of 1.5%.

Our 2020 Vision for Job Creation includes unequivocal continued support for mining and energy projects such as Polymet, Twin Metals and the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline. For these projects and others in the future, the delays need to stop, the approvals need to move forward and the people need to get to work. Our 2020 Vision for higher education will support strategies that focus on real workforce needs in Minnesota.

Clean energy

We care about keeping families safe and warm through an energy strategy that is reliable, affordable and protects our natural resources and the environment.

In 2019, Senate Republicans stopped several radical energy policy proposals that would have imposed new regulatory burdens and further driven up costs for ratepayers. According to the Center of the American Experiment, electricity rates from Xcel Energy, Minnesota Power and Otter Tail Power have all outpaced the national average since 2001. Xcel Energy surpassed the national average in five out of the last six years, with electricity rates increasing 23.4 percent since 2001.

In the next two decades, most fossil fueled power plants will likely be retired and replaced, representing more than 40 percent of our current capacity. Senate Republicans are planning for our state’s future energy needs in a way that prioritizes efficiency and carbon-free energy, instead of relying on mandates that only drive up the cost to consumers.

Our 2020 Vision for Energy includes the Clean Energy First proposal that will help Minnesota accomplish the transition to clean energy through careful resource planning and coordination. An all-of-the-above approach to clean energy ensures a reliable grid. This approach is more flexible and less costly with a diverse energy portfolio that includes renewables, large hydropower, innovative coal and groundbreaking nuclear power technologies.

Economy & family budgets

We care about families and want to empower them, reward their work and give them a break when it comes to taxes.

In 2017, Republicans delivered $650 million in tax relief—allowing families to keep more of their hard-earned money. The package included a reduction in income taxes for seniors receiving Social Security, a tax credit for recent college graduates paying off student loans, a tax credit for beginning farmers, and property tax relief for small businesses. In 2019, we followed that up with the first middle-class income tax cut in nearly two decades, property tax relief for farmers from local school bonds, further cuts to Social Security taxes and another round of property tax cuts for main street businesses. Republicans also stopped efforts to raise the gas tax by 20 cents/gallon and blocked misguided efforts to raise license plate tab fees. According to the American Petroleum Institute, Minnesota’s gas tax is currently the 29th highest in the nation—but would move to fourth highest if Gov. Walz and Democrats had their way.

Republican leadership is partly responsible for Minnesota’s unemployment rate of 3.2 percent, which remains lower than the national average. But there is more work to do: Minnesota currently ranks 45 out of 50 states in overall business climate.

Our 2020 Vision for the Economy will build on these successes and use the budget surplus for further tax relief such exempting all Social Security income from Minnesota taxes.

Clean water

We care about keeping Minnesota’s “sky blue water” clean for drinking and recreation.

Senate Republicans are committed to keeping our environment safe, especially when it comes to clean water. We moved swiftly in 2019 to clean up a toxic landfill in Andover that threatened the water supply for several communities in the northern suburbs. Republicans also prioritized funding for clean water, parks and trails through the DNR, the MPCA and the Legacy fund.

More than 580 water bodies in Minnesota were added to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s list of polluted waters, largely due to exceeding limits on nutrients in the water that affect aquatic life. The agency found that more than 56 percent of streams and lakes in Minnesota don’t meet standards for healthy wildlife communities or have a large concentration of pollutants.

Our 2020 Vision for Clean Water includes new initiatives to help communities ensure safe drinking water for their residents. Clean water projects across the state will be a top priority of the 2020 Senate Republican bonding bill.

Violence prevention

We care about keeping people safe in their communities and schools – it’s the number one purpose of government.

Over the last four years, Republicans in the Senate made safety a priority for Minnesota, with $50 million committed to school safety and millions more for improvements in mental health services. We also added funding to the corrections budget, making prisons and jails a safe place to work for our corrections officers, as we keep violent offenders from our law-abiding citizens.

Recent violence in Minneapolis and St. Paul has made violence prevention a top priority for Senate Republicans in our 2020 Vision agenda. Instead of focusing on proposals that lack broad bipartisan support, our 2020 Vision for Violence Prevention includes measures that take guns out of the hands of dangerous people and tightens up our current laws. We will also analyze the policies that govern local cities hiring and retaining practices for more police officers to keep Minnesotans safe.

Taking care of people

We care about taking care of Minnesota’s most vulnerable populations – seniors and people with disabilities. We want Minnesotans to be safe, independent and have access the high-quality care when they need it.

Over the last three years, Senate Republicans brought needed accountability to our elder care system. Republicans passed landmark elder care legislation that responds to reports of abuse and neglect of our seniors living in assisted care facilities. In addition, we also made mental health a top priority by increasing funding for existing programs and providing capital for new facilities. Minnesota faces a looming workforce crisis for disability services. We are struggling to find caregivers to meet the existing needs. Senate Republicans championed rate increases for disability service providers and wage increases for direct care workers. Our work over the last three years supported caregivers and, in turn, the people they serve.

Our 2020 Vision for Disability Services will include continued oversight of our assisted living facilities and pursue innovative solutions to grow our elder care workforce and rethink service delivery for Minnesota seniors.

Childcare

We care about families and their children. Parents know what is best for their children, not the government, and they need to be empowered to be able to choose the most appropriate childcare for their family.

Over the last three years, Senate Republicans led efforts to address the childcare shortage across the state. We worked with childcare providers to identify and repeal unnecessary, burdensome regulations, and provided $2 million to local governments to develop strategies to address the shortage. According to a 2017 report, Minnesota was the fifth least affordable state in the nation for infant care, with an average cost of $15,340 per year. This shortage of in-home family childcare providers in Minnesota continues to grow – particularly in communities across Greater Minnesota, where tens of thousands of in-home childcare spaces were disproportionately eliminated, providers are paid less and overhead costs are much higher. In fact, since 2010, Minnesota lost more than 3,250 family childcare providers. According to a member survey from the Minnesota Association of Family Child Care, more than 70% of family childcare providers said they have considered closing in the next five years. Of those providers who considered closing or have already shut down, nine out of ten indicated overregulation and additional paperwork requirements were a significant contributing factor.

Our 2020 Vision for Child Care will focus on lowering the cost of childcare and making sure families in every part of the state have access to high quality care.

Greater Minnesota

We care about the communities in Greater Minnesota that depend on growing things, mining things or building things for their local economies to grow.

Recognizing that struggling to make ends meet puts additional stress on farm families beyond the financial burdens, Senate Republicans significantly increased funding for farmer mental health services. We also provided a $5 million, one-time investment in the Dairy Assistance Investment Relief Initiative for financial aid to dairy farmers who are facing historically-low milk prices and a $5 million one-time investment in an innovative soybean processing and research facility near the University of Minnesota, Crookston campus.

Over the last four years, Senate Republicans expanded broadband internet infrastructure into rural Minnesota by adding $70 million of broadband grants. We also put $70 million in new money into Local Government Aid (LGA) and County Program Aid (CPA), helping communities fund public safety, infrastructure improvements and emergency services without having to increase local property taxes. Farmers are also paying less for local property taxes thanks to Republican efforts to exempt agriculture land from school levies. And farmers and small businesses can deduct more costs on investments to grow and expand their operations through Chapter 179 tax conformity.

Finally, in a state with such an extensive and deeply-rooted hunting tradition, we take the threat of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) seriously. In 2019, we dedicated $1.8 million to the University of Minnesota to develop a live test to detect CWD and implemented new rules on farms, including stricter fencing regulations and the requirement of double gates.

Our 2020 Vision for Greater Minnesota will build on the successes of the last three years and focus on workforce development, access to childcare and continued tax relief for farmers.

State government

We care about the integrity and efficiency of state government.

State government operations are paid for by taxpayers and these services are meant to benefit all Minnesotans. Government waste has gotten so bad that the Center of the American Experiment recently released their own “Scandal Tracker” to provide basic data and a time line for Minnesota’s recent series of scandals.

Our 2020 Vision for Accountability will hold agency leaders accountable for wasteful spending, massive overpayments, and cultures of zero accountability.

Election security

We care about keeping Minnesota elections secure and making every vote count.

Republicans worked to secure Minnesota election integrity with dedicated Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funding along with investments to improve Minnesota’s election equipment. We also secured resources to enhance Minnesota’s ability to respond to other cybersecurity threats.

Our 2020 Vision for Election Reform includes new efforts to guarantee ballot integrity for all voters and promote legislation to require a photo ID when you vote.

Veterans

We care about veterans and will makes sure they receive the benefits and support they deserve.

Senate Republicans secured $32 million in 2018 for the construction of three much-needed veterans homes in Bemidji, Preston and Montevideo. We provided an increase in funding in 2019 for the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs Counseling and Case Management, Outreach, Referral and Education (C.O.R.E) program. The C.O.R.E. program provides a variety of counseling and support services for veterans across the state. We provided funding in 2017 and 2019 to the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV). MACV is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to ending veteran homelessness in Minnesota. Realizing that the rigors and demands of active duty can make reintegrating into society difficult for deployed service members and their families, we provided $516,00 in 2019 to the Minnesota Department of Military Affairs for reintegration activities.

Our 2020 Vision for Veterans will include continued pressure on the federal government to fund our veterans homes and a new initiative requiring school districts to allow military recruiters and representatives from the skilled trades and manufacturing to be present at career fairs.

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