Comparing state government to a broken-down jalopy, Republican legislators announced a campaign on Thursday to ask Minnesotans for their ideas and overhaul the system.
"It's time to engage the voters of Minnesota" in a discussion that goes beyond a tired debate over raising taxes and cutting government services, said House Speaker Kurt Zellers in a press conference attended by more than a dozen House members.
"We need structural change -- real change," said House Majority Leader Matt Dean.
The Republicans plan to solicit voters' opinions during the State Fair and will set up a website, a Facebook page and a Twitter feed to collect ideas.
Nearly six months before the start of the next legislative session, the Republican lawmakers unveiled what they called their "Reform 2.0" campaign, a day after Gov. Mark Dayton, a DFLer, announced he will conduct a statewide tour to listen to Minnesotans' ideas about spurring job growth.
The Republicans' agenda will include what they describe as limiting government "overreach, improving the state's business climate, lowering taxes and streamlining government functions." They also plan to push for a constitutional amendment that would require a super majority vote in both legislative chambers to increase taxes.
The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits was quick to denounce such an amendment, saying it would trigger "gridlock and gimmicks" by concentrating power in the hands of a small number of legislators and lead to increased property taxes, tuition and fees.
The Republicans added that they will welcome participation from their DFL counterparts in the campaign, although none were invited to the news conference.
And DFLers also promptly blasted the Reform 2.0 idea as a continuation of a "beg, borrow and steal" budget that emerged from the government shutdown last month.
BOB VON STERNBERG