Paul Lachine, NewsArt

Lori Sturdevant: Government redesign

  • Article by: LORI STURDEVANT
  • Star Tribune
  • July 17, 2011 - 6:51 PM

A call for the state's elected leaders to announce "a mutual commitment to redesign our public systems" in "the next few days" was circulating Friday from a heretofore quiet discussion group that includes some of the state's leading business groups, foundations and nonprofit organizations.

The statement that came to me is unsigned, but for "Discussion Group on Redesign."

That's a loose-knit collective that has been meeting for about 18 months to discuss ways to spur overhauls of the biggest things state and local governments do -- education, health care, public safety. Tax reform is on its agenda, too.

With participants ranging from the state Chamber of Commerce to the progressive think tank Growth and Justice, a statement from this group has a good chance of getting bipartisan notice at the Capitol.

It's also timely, coming as Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders are looking for ways to get past the shutdown and the fiscally flawed deal that appears about to end it.

The statement emphasizes that the state's budget problems are "structural in nature," and therefore require a response more fundamental than the temporary measures Dayton and legislators opted for in Thursday's deal.

t urges the Legislature to adopt requirements for better results and efficiency from government, but that allow the executive branch a free rein to "recommend how to get there."

I'd say that with a 2011 budget deal that guarantees a big deficit in 2013, even closer collaboration between legislators and Dayton's commissioners is in order in the next six months. Redesign efforts launched this year should bear legislative fruit beginning in 2012.

Lori Sturdevant is a Star Tribune editorial writer and columnist.

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