Table of Contents
I enacted one of this state's most stringent anti-crime laws in history when I signed the 1992 Safe Communities Act. This law included tougher penalties for murder, rape and drive-by-shootings, and it promises stiffer penalties for students carrying guns into school. That same law implemented the state's first Boot Camp, and eliminated early release of prisoners.
We added to our crime fighting effort in 1993 with the enactment of the anti-stalking law, which guaranteed stalkers serious time in prison. In 1994, I have attempted to increase our crime fighting arsenal by proposing a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison for anyone convicted of committing three crimes against a person.
Our effort to stop the spread of crime focuses much attention on locking up those individuals who have proven to be a consistent threat to society. However, we are also concerned about addressing the root causes of crime. In particular, we must reverse the disintegration of the family values that have made this country so great. One thing we must do is force families to understand the trouble their kids are getting into. That is why I want to require parents to make court appearances with their children.
We have also redirected money to children and families through education, fully funding Head Start and parenting classes. The creation of child safety centers have provided children with a place to go and seek shelter from violence. All of these things are a step in the right direction.
I also believe that any crime package needs to include incentives for communities and neighborhoods to become directly involved in the lives of children at risk through mentoring programs.
We, at the state level, will concern ourselves with results only. Like many, I take exception to several issues that have become associated with OBE and graduation standards. I am opposed to a plan that includes "fuzzy" outcomes that would be difficult to measure, and worse are designed to promote some sort of social engineering through enforced social values. My idea of a measurable standard DOES NOT include a student's so-called ability to "interact with his or her environment" or demonstrate a "sensitivity for fellow human beings." That is the job of parents, not schools.
If we are to guarantee that our children are prepared to compete in an increasingly competitive global economy, we need to develop a standard of measurement that can be used to judge that progress.
In addition, I have strongly opposed federal efforts to require certification of all teachers. To that end, I wrote to Congressman Jim Ramstad asking that he oppose H.R. 6, a bill that would have required all teachers to be certified. If adopted, this legislation would significantly harm home schooling. Minnesota enjoys a proud tradition of home schooling that I do not want to see hampered in any way.
My Administration has worked long and hard with environmentalists, conservationists and business leaders to develop a system that protects the environment while meeting the needs of Minnesota companies. Through our Department of Trade and Economic Development, small businesses have been guided through the Department of Natural Resources and the Pollution Control Agency's environmental protection laws. Rather than penalize businesses for breaking the law after the fact, when the damage has already been done, our agencies work closely with businesses to prevent problems. The result is doing business in Minnesota has become less expensive and more environmentally sound.
One example of this cooperation is an agreement between the PCA and 3M, in which the company agreed to reduce the pollution from its St. Paul factory and in return the state promised to interfere less with its operations. Other programs such as the Minnesota Sustainable Development Initiative will develop a coordinated environmental enhancement and economic development strategy.
We accomplished all of this while enacting landmark environmental legislation. In 1991, I signed into law the nation's most comprehensive wetland protection legislation. My efforts have been recognized by environmental organizations like the National Audubon Society.
I take the role of environmental steward very seriously, and will continue to work to achieve a healthy balance between environmental protection and economic development.
When I took office in January of 1991, I immediately inherited a $2 billion deficit left behind by the Perpich Administration. During the 1990 Legislative Session, Rudy Perpich and legislative leaders like then State Senator Mike Freeman decided to throw caution to the wind and give Minnesotans a temporary property tax cut. While Republican candidates for Governor criss-crossed the state warning of an impending deficit, the DFL figured to risk Minnesota's economic fortunes to preserve their electoral hopes.
Less than four years later, my Administration proved to the Democrats that government can live within its means and still get important things done. Today we can boast about a balanced budget, substantial cash reserves and count health care reform and major anti-crime legislation among our successes.
How have we rebounded so quickly? In large part the rebound results from the streamlining and cost-saving activities I directed state agencies to undertake back in 1991. Because of that type of government reform, and our willingness to make the hard choices when it counted, state spending has increased less than five percent annually between fiscal years 1991 and 1995--that is below the increase in personal income. We will remain financially secure WITHOUT raising personal income taxes in 1994, '95 and '96.
Thanks to our determination, not only do we enjoy a healthy surplus, but we have won back the state's AAA bond rating, and can now count Minnesota as the third best managed state in the country. Keeping Minnesota in such strong financial condition is the major goal of my Administration. In this way we will be able to create and retain good jobs for Minnesotans and preserve our quality of life for years to come.
We need not further penalize the law-abiding citizens who have a long tradition of responsibly owning guns. In an effort to protect the 2nd Amendment rights of Minnesotans, while addressing the use of guns by criminals, I have taken several major steps to toughen- up Minnesota's criminal justice system.
In 1992, I developed and signed into law the strongest anti-crime legislation in Minnesota's history. Known as the Safe Communities Act, this bill called for much tougher sentences to keep dangerous criminals locked-up. Prison sentences were lengthened substantially for many violent crimes, and in some cases quadrupled for more serious crimes such as murder and sexual assault.
In 1993, I proposed a "three-time loser" law which calls for locking-up all those who commit a third offense against a person for a minimum mandatory sentence of 15 years. On top of that, I have also included a provision that will require courts to report each time a gun is plea-bargained out of a criminal case. In addition, any juvenile using a weapon during the commission of a crime will be treated as an adult.
For several years Minnesota has had a background check requirement in place, quite similar to the Brady Law recently signed by President Clinton. We also have specific laws limiting the possession of guns by minors, restricting the possession of guns by certain felons, prohibiting guns on school property and limiting the use of guns in a wide range of other situations. If all these laws were enforced, and offenders were held accountable by the courts, we could go a long way to ending gun violence in Minnesota.
My aim is to ensure that our law enforcement officers and our courts enforce these laws to the maximum, and that we do everything reasonably possible to remove our most dangerous offenders from our streets for substantial periods of time.
It is in no way perfect, and we will make changes in the future, but once again Minnesota leads the way by adopting one of the nation's most comprehensive reform plans.
Washington should be commended for raising the consciousness about health care at the national level however, we should be very careful not to get overly excited about the prospects of national reform. As the debate continues to take shape, and the President pushes his plan through Congress, I am increasingly concerned with the direction and speed federal health care reform is taking.
In January of 1994 I urged President Clinton and Congress to slow down. As we are already aware in Minnesota, health care reform is something that will take many years to develop, implement and fine tune. If we are going to be successful, we need the federal government to put its efforts on hold while the states continue experimenting with reform. The federal government must allow those states, like Minnesota, which have been leading the way, to complete their work.
We all want real, workable reform that can make a substantial difference in the lives of Americans. Minnesota will continue its work in developing a health care system that is affordable and accessible to all Minnesotans.
Carlson/Benson Volunteer Committee
1821 University Avenue West Suite 135 South
St. Paul, Minnesota 55104
Phone: (612) 646-0468
Fax: (612) 646-3018
Prepared by the Carlson/Benson Volunteer Committee
Wheelock Whitney & Chris Fritsche, Co-Chairs