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Special education needs to be funded

When I first made the decision to run for Congress, I was motivated primarily by what I saw as a dearth of military experience in the legislative branch of government at a time when our nation was facing serious global threats. Upon my election, I was pleased to be appointed to the House Armed Services Committee, which gave me an opportunity to put to use the lessons I learned during my 25 years of experience in the U.S. Marine Corps. At the same time, I also was asked to serve on what was then called the Education and Workforce Committee. Little did I know how much that assignment would shape the course of my Congressional career.

During the course of my nearly seven years in Congress, my involvement in this committee, which is now called "Education and Labor," has put me on the front lines of the serious battles that affect Minnesotans - and all Americans - from cradle to grave. From student loan relief for our men and women in uniform to securing the pensions of Northwest Airline employees, I have been able to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to achieve meaningful progress for students, parents, workers, and employers.

Last week I was chosen to serve as the senior Republican on the committee, and we face no shortage of contests in the weeks and months ahead. 

One of my legislative priorities since arriving in Congress - ensuring the federal government fulfills the commitment to paying its share of special education costs - will become one of my first orders of business in my new role. I have heard too many stories from schools in Minnesota and across the nation who have been forced to choose between cutting bus routes, eliminating extracurricular activities, or increasing class sizes to cope with shrinking budgets. If the federal government paid what it promised, we would enable schools across America to direct limited resources to address their specific needs - whether it is state of the art classrooms, additional teachers, or new textbooks - and make it possible for teachers and administrators to focus on the important job of providing the best education possible for all our children.

Already on the front burner of the committee's agenda - and at the forefront of the national dialogue - is the issue of health care. I hear regularly from Minnesotans who are concerned about being able to afford quality care for themselves and their families. I think we all agree quality health care should be affordable and accessible for every American, but there are vastly different ideas as to how we can make that happen. I believe those who like their current coverage should be able to keep it. I believe Americans should be able to get the care they need - when they need it. For these reasons - and many others - I oppose a government takeover of health care. Such a move would raise taxes, ration care, and empower government bureaucrats to make decisions that rightfully belong to families and their doctors. As the lead Republican on one of the committees with jurisdiction over health care, I will fight for solutions that keep doctors and patients in control of their well being. 

An issue of great importance to American workers is protecting and preserving the right to a secret ballot election when deciding whether to join a union. One bill currently being considered by Congress would take away this right, replacing it with a "card check" system that notoriously leaves workers open to coercion, pressure, and outright intimidation. The right to vote by secret ballot is a fundamental right that should be defended and protected. If unions and employers are sincere in their declared missions of protecting and serving workers, the real question should be how all sides can work together to defend workers' rights. 

I am honored to have been chosen to lead my Republican colleagues through these and the many other battles that lie ahead. And I look forward to amplifying the views and values of Minnesotans in these debates as I work with Chairman Miller and my Democratic colleagues to advance policies that benefit families and workers in Minnesota - and across the nation.

John Kline represents the Second District in the U.S. House of Representatives.