Think-tankers in Minnesota have long said that it will take more than a few good ideas to make government deliver more value for the tax dollar. It will take a governing system that invites, encourages and perpetuates cost-effective reform -- or, in today's preferred parlance, "redesign."
The creation of a structure with that goal was announced Monday in the Minnesota House. A bipartisan Redesign Caucus has been established, chaired by two DFLers and two Republicans. Its first accomplishment is the rollout of a "Redesign Comment Line" to invite citizen input on state and local government changes that would produce better results at the same or lower cost. That line is at 651-297-8391 in the metro area, 1-800-551-5520 outstate, or available online at www.house.mn/redesign.
The best citizen suggestions will be put into bill form, promised Rep. Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth. But he rightly acknowledged that a lack of ideas is not the biggest impediment to redesigning government services. Lack of political will to act has been the larger problem in recent years. Keeping the new House caucus genuinely bipartisan and open to ideas from all comers will be crucial to its effectiveness. So will early evidence that it means business. The Redesign Caucus ought to generate one or more major cost-saving bills this session, and commit itself to more in 2011.