Education, jobs up front for state Republicans

Published 10:48 am Friday, January 16, 2015

ALBERT LEA — Better-paying jobs. A world-class education.

Those are two of the priorities for Minnesota Speaker of the House Joyce Peppin and the Republican House Caucus two weeks into this year’s legislative session.

Taking over the majority in the House of Representatives this session, Peppin said the Republican Party is focused on doing what it can to work together with both parties, not only in the House but in the Senate as well.



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Peppin, R-Rogers, in an interview with the Tribune on Wednesday with District 27A Rep. Peggy Bennett, R-Albert Lea, said the party is focused on a new market tax credit that is hoped to spur revitalization efforts in communities, along with reducing red tape for businesses applying for environmental permits.

She said legislators across the state have heard about a need to develop a statewide workforce housing program to incentivize qualified workers to move to Greater Minnesota for jobs.

Bennett said when she was door knocking during her campaign, she ran across a couple who had recently moved to Albert Lea to work as X-ray technicians. She said they talked about the need for better housing in the community.

In education, Peppin said she want to focus on reducing mandates for teachers.

Some of the other goals include investing in long-term care, transportation and health care.

The Republican House transportation proposal calls for $750 million into roads and bridges across the state.

Peppin said this funding would come through asking the Minnesota Department of Transportation to find 15 percent savings in its department and spending the unreserve balance from the trunk highway fund.

“We believe that people have just been overtaxed, and they’re not wanting to have additional taxes,” she said.



This is far different from the $800 million DFL-controlled Senate proposal that calls for a new fuel surcharge and higher vehicle registration fees.

Peppin said instead of creating a new tax, she would rather prioritize existing funding.

“We understand that there’s road issues throughout the state, and we need to address those,” she said.

Regarding health care, she said she is focused on making sure there is fair access and affordability on MNsure.

Bennett said she would like the state to consider looking at the region boundaries again for MNsure.

Though it is still early in the session, Peppin said she knows she has many of the same goals as her DFL counterparts in the Senate.

“We’re all doing what we can to work together,” she said.