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Summary of meeting -
Roger Moe, former MN Senate DFL majority leader
Civic Caucus, 8301
Creekside Circle, Bloomington, MN 55437
Friday, October 30
Johnson, chair; David Broden, Janis Clay (by phone ), Marianne Curry, Paul
Gilje, Jim Hetland, Dan Loritz, Wayne Popham (by phone), and Bob White
Context of the meeting--The
Civic Caucus is beginning a major phase of concentrating on redesign of
public services in Minnesota. A Civic Caucus draft position paper on
redesign was prepared this week and was the subject for much of today's
Welcome and introductions--Verne
and Paul welcomed and introduced Roger Moe,
former majority leader, Minnesota State Senate. Currently he is president
of his own consulting business, National Strategies, Inc. First elected
to the State Senate representing a district in the Ada area of
northwestern Minnesota, Moe subsequently became the longest serving Senate
majority leader in the history of the state. He was Skip Humphrey's
running made in an unsuccessful gubernatorial race in 1988. Moe lost to
Pawlenty for Governor in 2002. He was reared on the family farm near
Crookston, MN. He graduated from Mayville State College and taught math
and coached wrestling in Ada.
Comments and discussion--During
Moe's comments and in discussion with the Civic Caucus the following
points were raised:
1. No more office seeking--Responding
to a question Moe said that he won't run again for Governor. Two
statewide campaigns were enough for him, he said. Also he's now 65 and
enjoys more relaxing at his lake home.
2. Lack of collaborative governance--The
key problem facing the Governor and the majority and minority in the
Legislature today is the absence of sitting down and listening to one
another, he said.. They use divisive rhetoric. The absence of
collaboration is a greater problem than the specific areas of concern,
such as the mix of taxes.
The days of 50-percent-plus-one politics are over, he said.
When discussion of a controversial subject is just beginning, you need to
get buy-in by majority and minority. Issues drive the process. The best
governors understand these things. They know they are serving as CEO for
a limited time and want to see some impact from their policies. They also
have a long-term view and want to set things in place that will be around
after they are gone. The governor is in a unique position to lay out a
vision for the future.
3. On Board of National Policy
Consensus Initiative--Moe said
he serves on the board of the National Policy Consensus Initiative, whose
objective is to play a catalytic role in helping state leaders develop a
collaborative system of governance. Co-chairs are James Geringer, former
governor of Wyoming, and Ruth Ann Minner, former governor of Delaware.
4. Legislators, too, can
people of differing opinions together for collaboration isn't the sole
prerogative of the Governor, Moe said. He suggested that chairs of
legislative committees have stature and can exercise the power to
convene. That also goes for legislators convening groups of citizens in
their home districts. If they're strong, they don't necessarily need to
stake out a position in advance. See four-minute U-tube comment by Moe on
collaboration at: (http://bit.ly/2kXiTv).
5. Don't squander the
opportunity for an early start on solving a budget shortfall--The
state's budget shortfall, already announced as $4 billion for the biennium
beginning July 1, 2009, could be as high as $7.1 billion. Even the
minimum is so large that the state can't afford to wait until the 2009
Legislature convenes to make all the adjustments, Moe said. The 2010
Legislature can take some immediate steps. He advocated:
--Fix in 2010 the matter of general assistance
medical care (GAMC), care for the poorest of the poor. Bill Blazar of
the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce is spearheading an effort to come up
with a proposal.
--Extend in 2010 the state 6.5 percent sales tax
to clothing. Such an action would yield about $396 million a year,
according to Minnesota House Research (http://bit.ly/4bQPVt).
6. Importance of personal responsibility--A
prime opportunity for redesign is in health care, Moe said. He recalled
attending a health care forum sponsored by a Minnesota member of
Congress. He couldn't believe how people were blaming everyone else for
the health care problem: doctors, lawyers, drug companies. It was
everyone else's fault. No one took personal responsibility. Think of
what losing weight, eating better, doing exercise, and stopping smoking
could do, he said.
7. Re-evaluate priorities on
questioned more investment in such areas as the Department of Energy and
Economic Development and extended unemployment compensation if such
actions consume state dollars that could have been invested in extending
post secondary education opportunities to more people.
Moe said he hears that some post secondary institutions are phasing out
certain technical classes that are urgently needed but high in per student
expenses in favor of lower cost liberal arts classes that attract large
numbers of students.
8. Elevate the position of
teacher--Maybe a specialized
teachers education institution ought to be re-created, Moe suggested,
remembering the state's teachers colleges that gradually evolved into
state universities. During the time of teachers colleges, teaching was a
much higher respected occupation, he said. Moe recalled speaking to a
group of students at Bemidji High School about nine years ago. Only three
students raised their hands when he asked whether they intend to go into
teaching. In response to a question, Moe acknowledged that problems
could arise if leadership in a specialized teachers institution were
closed-minded on opening new roles for teachers.
9. Possible changes in elections--Responding
to a question about whether changing the precinct-caucus-party
endorsement-primary election system would produce more office holders
committed to collaboration, Moe said he would like to move the state
primary election date to June.
10. Producing specific ideas for change--As
the discussion moved to whether citizens and organizations in the state
are generating enough good ideas which the Governor and Legislature could
consider, Moe said he has reserved four web domains titled "If I were
governor..." He'd like to make those domains available to whatever group
would like to collect suggestions from citizens around the state. Perhaps
it would be Growth & Justice, the Center of the American Experiment, the
Citizens League or some other group who would bring credibility to the
effort. The organization could collect the ideas, distill them down, and
share them broadly in the state. A member commented that whoever
spearheads the effort needs to have a statewide focus. The Civic Caucus
new draft report, Different Choices, calls for just such a program, Verne
11. Having a plan of where you
want to go--Moe said he uses a jigsaw puzzle analogy to
illustrate the importance of having a picture in mind of the future. Some
people start working on a jigsaw puzzle by organizing the pieces by color
or by border. Others start working on the puzzle by keeping the top of
the box in front of them--so they can see the big picture.
12. Question of a state planning
arm--Instead of a state
planning agency, one person suggested that perhaps the state needs a third
legislative body, one that would meet every two years for a couple of
months and present to the House and Senate its recommendations. Moe said
such an idea, regardless of its merits, is well nigh impossible.
behalf of the Civic Caucus, Verne thanked Moe for meeting with us today.