A couple Republican legislators want to borrow money so the state can create a performance pay incentive for government programs.

State Rep. Keith Downey, R-Edina, and Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Farmington, proposed a pilot program Monday that would pay non-profit organizations to create programs that get people back to work or reduce the need for state services.

“We cannot continue to do things the same way,” Rosen said during a bipartisan news conference unveiling the proposal. “This new economy gives us the necessary opportunity to step back and starkly re-evaluate the way we deliver services.”

With the state facing a projected $5 billion shortfall, the state instead would sell about $15 million in private bonds. Non-profit organizations that qualify for the program could be paid for work that has cash value to the state.

For instance, if one of the programs helped an unemployed resident land a job, the agency and taxpayers would benefit from the new revenue. If a separate organization helps a drug addict sober up and require fewer state services, taxpayers would save money.

Supporters believe the financial reward would be more than enough to pay the agencies for their work and repay interest on debt.

Downey said that too often programs are funded based on the number of people who need the services, not whether they are successful.

This program, he said, “only spends money once outcomes are achieved.”

With new measurements in place to gauge results, taxpayers would have more faith in government, Rosen said.

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