Last Thursday, Rep. Larry Haws brought a bill before the House to debate that would create a system that would help MnSCU treat the transfer of credits within the MnSCU system with uniformity. The bad news for Rep. Haws is that Rep. Mark Buesgens questioned him on why the bill didn’t create a system for transferring credits from the MnSCU system to the U of M system.

Here’s a transcript of the exchange between Rep. Haws and Rep. Buesgens:

REP. BUESGENS: Rep. I get what’s happening here. I guess I have a concern about it. I’ll get to that later. My question, Representative, is why not include the University of Minnesota? That is another public institution. What if a student went to the University of Minnesota and spent a year then and found out it was just too big or the cities are just too big? I’d rather just transfer to St. Cloud. Why do we not afford that student the same kind of consideration that we’re looking for within the MnSCU colleges?
REP. HAWS: Within the working group, MnSCU is handling MnSCU. It’s harder to take it from the MnSCU and the University of Minnesota. This was brought to me by MnSCU students and we settled it within that unit. This does it for there. I think it would be a wonderful idea for the U and I think you should carry that bill.
REP. BUESGENS: We have a bill in front of us that is telling our public college and university system…system, mind you…that they need to talk to each other. Unbelievable. You look at what this bill does. It tells our SYSTEM that you have to create a seamless process if a student is going from one school within the system to another school in the same system. We have to tell them how to create a process so the credits can transfer.

Members, we are talking about a $3,000,000,000 biennial system and we have to tell them, in law, how to talk to each other and how to treat the citizens that they get their tax money from. Their $3,000,000,000. We have to write law to tell them how to talk to each other.

This is a problem with bureaucracy. This is the problem I tried to address earlier when we were talking about the Metropolitan Council and the sewer system. This is the systemic problems that we as a legislature need to deal with if we’re going to stop this endless cycle of year after year after year of spending more money than the taxpayers of Minnesota can afford to pay. This is the government reform we need to take care of and yet we dawdle. We’ve dawdled this legislature. We haven’t put first things first. We haven’t solved the budget problems of the state of Minnesota.

In fact, we’ve had a parade of…what are we up to now, 15, 20, 30 different bills in the last 2 days? Thirty different bills rather than deal with THE ISSUE of this session, which is solve the deficit, bring jobs back to the state of Minnesota. Then we have misplaced priorities on top of our reckless spending. $3,000,000,000 system and we have to tell them how to create a process so the credits can transfer. People of the state of Minnesota deserve better from us. They deserve better from their tax dollars. We need to get to the root of the problem. We should shut this place down right now and get to solving the budget deficit, get do to reforming this system. Don’t be tinkering around the edges. Let’s get to the real work of this legislative session.
REP. HAWS: I guess I would disagree. I mean I like your vigor and your passion and your speech but it doesn’t make alot of sense to me. You’re pulling 10 people together here. You’re pulling organizations together to act in an efficient manner. And you say that that isn’t what we’re supposed to be doing? Well, I tell you your priorities are a little mixed up. That is EXACTLY what this House should be doing. When they come to you and they say they want to work in a group to make the system more efficient so our students don’t have to go extra years to school and you say ‘Don’t do that because I want to work on something else’, I’ll say I’ll take teamwork anytime.

This is a target-rich environment. Let’s start with Rep. Haws’s final diatribe. (If you see the video, you’ll see Rep. Haws’s eruption.) Rep. Haws says that the legislature should be doing exactly these types of reforms. I’m wondering why there shouldn’t be uniformity for all of Minnesota’s public colleges and universities. Shouldn’t U of M students benefit from the same transfer policies as MnSCU’s students? After all, they’re both supported by Minnesota’s taxpayers’ dollars.

Rep. Haws said that the state shouldn’t create transfer policies because the state shouldn’t force students to attend an extra year because of their transfer policies. I agree with Rep. Haws. That isn’t right.

It’s a half-baked reform that treats MnSCU transfers right but doesn’t address people transferring from or to the U of M. I can’t imagine that it would take alot of extra work since the language would be almost identical. I’d think that you’d just have to swap out the term MnSCU and plug in the term University of Minnesota.

After that, all it would take is a meeting with U of M officials to tell them that you’re trying to bring uniformity to the process.

This certainly isn’t the type of policy debate that warrants such a diatribe. Rep. Haws, if you disagree, disagree. That’s fine. Going vesuvial like that tells me that you don’t take constructive criticism well.

Another thing that’s worth noting is that Rep. Haws didn’t address Rep. Buesgens’ main contention, which is that government bureaucracies don’t communicate with each other, which leads to inefficiencies and additional costs.

Having watched Rep. Buesgens the past 3 years, I know that he’s primarily interested in reforms that are well thought out and budgets that set the right priorities. Most importantly, he isn’t interested in the DFL’s games.

It’s obvious to anyone beyond middle school age that the DFL is piling up bills and wasting time in the hopes of creating a last minute chaotic end of session. What the DFL hasn’t figured out is that they’re the majority party and that they’ll get crucified for their refusal to put together well thought out reforms that balances Minnesota’s budget.

Rep. Haws contributions to the state legislature have pretty much been confined to VA issues, bonding and putting together reforms that aren’t particularly well thought out. That’s hardly a rousing endorsement for another term.

If you couple those accomplishments with a temperament that’s a mercurial, what you have is a longtime public servant who doesn’t have a vision for the future, whether it’s a vision for education, the economy or the budget.

St. Cloud can’t afford alegislator who doesn’t think things through. A ‘we must do something’ attitude isn’t the type of mindset that I’d want in a legislator. We need legislators that think things through.

UPDATE: Speed Gibson has a great companion piece that explains why Rep. Larry Haws’s legislation isn’t reform. Consider this to be TODAY’S MUST READ!!!

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