Five Ways Forward: Policy Ideas to Move Minnesota Forward in 2013
Balancing the budget, restoring tax fairness, and reforming the state education funding formula will capture much of the attention this legislative session. However, there are other important, but lower-profile, issues lawmakers on both sides must work on over the next five months.
Five Ways Forward explores five bold policy ideas lawmakers should also consider in the 2013 legislative session covering a wide range of topics that include, reducing medical errors, expanding opportunities for solar investment, increasing transit funding, better evaluating teacher performance, and reviving main streets.
Reduce Medical Errors through More Transparent Reporting
Medical errors are the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. To curb this, Minnesota 2020 proposes a hybrid free market-regulatory approach requiring health care providers to disclose a wider range of medical errors allowing patients and insurers to make more informed treatment decisions.
Expand Opportunities for Solar Investors
Despite potential, Minnesota hasn't capitalized on its solar resources. By raise net metering limits solar array owners can sell more of their unused power back at the average retail price. Also, remove restrictions on third-party investors would help more moderate income Minnesotans avoid high upfront solar costs.
Repurpose Unoccupied Storefronts on Main Streets and Urban Neighborhoods
Every one of Minnesota 854 incorporated cities has at least one mid-century building sitting vacant that’s too young to declare historic, but can still provide value to the community. We should explore ways to convert such buildings to multi-occupancy work spaces, where small businesses cold share common areas to reduce overhead. Provide tax credits to building owners who make sustainable building retro-fits.
Broaden Statewide Transit
Minnesota transit ridership continues growing, yet transit investment falls short of what's needed for a 21st century transportation system. Policymakers should ensure funding to guarantee federal matching dollars for southwest light rail. For Greater Minnesota, follow the Minnesota Transportation Finance Advisory Committee’s report recommending $45 million annually to meet statutory requirements, which are partially designed to accommodate an aging population that’s more transit reliant.
Find Fairness in Evaluating Teachers
Minnesota’s legislature passed a law—which goes into effect in the 2014-2015 school year—mandating 35% of a teacher’s evaluation be based on student achievement, which would likely be measured by a high-stakes test. Educators say this is an unrealistic and arbitrary performance measure aimed at diminishing the public’s trust in teachers. Instead of student achievement based on testing, teachers say the evaluation should be based on proof of learning, which takes into account a wider variety of assessment and is a more accurate measure of student progress.