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Our view: Growth & Justice has big goals to reach

Date Published: 05/01/2009


Our view: Growth & Justice has big goals to reach

St. Cloud Times | May 15, 2003

Growth & Justice is a new public policy think tank in Minnesota with an ambitious mission: Generate progressive statewide policies on issues critical to all Minnesotans, including livable wages, health care and taxes.
Sound like a pipe dream, especially considering the political chaos at the Capitol?

Maybe, but it's a mission worth pursuing, especially if it reduces partisan extremism. Minnesotans should watch and encourage Growth & Justice's efforts in the coming years.

Growth & Justice made its St. Cloud debut Tuesday when it had a roundtable discussion on its first public policy challenge: livable wages.

About 20 people representing local businesses, government and educational organizations spent two hours on the issue. Growth & Justice founder Joel Kramer said the meeting was the first of several to be conducted statewide. The next is May 22 in Blaine.

The ultimate goal is to draft broad-based solutions that will make Minnesota's economy more prosperous, fair and sustainable.

Skeptics may try to write off Growth & Justice as nothing more than a political tool of liberals largely because Kramer is its founder. Most recently, he was the running mate of DFL gubernatorial candidate Becky Lourey. Before that, he was president and publisher of the Star Tribune.

However, it's worth noting Growth & Justice's board of directors is decidedly tripartisan. Republicans on its board include Kris Sanda, Kent Eklund and Arlen Erdahl. Independents are Martha Robertson and Betsy Whitbeck. Former St. Cloud Mayor Larry Meyer also is a board member.

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of Growth & Justice, though, is its approach to developing policies. The strategy is to involve all sides of an issue and fashion solutions that appeal to a majority of Minnesotans.

For example, in examining livable wages in Minnesota, aspects being discussed include work-force development; encouraging high-paying, private-sector jobs; discouraging government jobs that compete with the private sector; mandated wages; examining after-tax income; removing barriers to work; and stretching a worker's income.

Growth & Justice leaders plan to supplement this spring's roundtable discussions with more research this summer, and then return in the fall with more discussions and deliver a final strategic policy.

Kramer said Growth & Justice won't necessarily tout its ideas to a particular political party, candidate or even the Legislature. Rather, they hope the idea will have broad enough appeal to stand on its own with politicians and the public.

We hope so, too.

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