Republicans look for government reform ideas

by T.W. Budig
ECM Capitol Reporter
House Republicans on Thursday, Aug. 18 called on Minnesotans to offer government reform ideas and professed to a few of their own.
“We began the work last session,” said House Majority Leader Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, of reforming government.
“I think there’s a public appetite and demand for change now,” he said at a Capitol press conference.
Republicans have launched a site on Facebook for the public to offer reform suggestions.
House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, argued the public is tired of the ongoing debate about whether or not to raise taxes. “They’re sick about the fight about the money,” he said.
Republicans stressed the need for Minnesota to remain a competitive state.
“This is war,” Zellers said of the competition between Minnesota and other states for attracting business and keeping promising young people within their borders.
Republicans also highlighted a proposed constitutional amendment that would require a super majority — not just a simple majority — for passing tax increases.
Polls Shed Light
A recent Bush Foundation poll suggests Minnesotan are concerned about government reform — but also about not having a say at the State Capitol.
According to the findings, 86 percent of those polled said the voice of the average citizen was lost in the budget debate this year. The poll found that Minnesotans believe that government redesign in a basic part of reforming the state’s long-term budget.
Some 62 percent of respondents rejected the idea of one-time borrowing — a hallmark of recent legislative sessions — as means of dealing with the state budget. More than half of respondents, some 57 percent, said they believe lawmakers need to find more revenue and cut spending in crafting a state budget solution.
“What I found most impressive is that, both in the Citizen Solutions forums and in the poll, Minnesotans consistently voiced a willingness to face difficult choices head-on for the sake of future generations,” said Sheila Kiscaden, a former state senator and InCommons facilitator.
The Bush Foundation sponsored three citizens forums in partnership with InCommons during July as part of their research.
Additionally, the Wilder Research, at the behest of the foundation, conducted a public opinion poll from Aug. 1 to 4 with a  sample size of 600.
The polls has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent, according to the foundation.
According to the poll,  83 percent of Minnesotans believe state government services are a critical part of the state’s quality of life and economy.