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Marquart, State Representative and former Mayor
Creekside Circle #920, Bloomington, MN 55437
February 12, 2010
Verne Johnson (Chair); David Broden (phone), Janis Clay (phone), Paul
Gilje, Jim Hetland (phone), Dan Loritz, Tim McDonald, Wayne Popham
(phone), Jim Olson (phone), Bob White
Context of the meeting—
Representative Paul Marquart joins the Caucus today as someone who, in his
capacity inside state government, is leading in efforts to move focus from
cutting/taxing to changing how services are delivered.
Over the past year as
people began to talk about the need for doing things differently Marquart
has stepped forward and taken the lead on efforts inside the legislature
to bring in ideas from the outside and turn them into proposals to improve
public services at lower costs.
Welcome and introductions--Verne
and Paul welcomed and introduced State Rep. Paul Marquart, Dilworth, MN.
Marquart has served in the Legislature since 2001. Previously he served
10 years as mayor of Dilworth and before that served on the Dilworth City
Council. He has been a teacher in the
Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton School since1984.
He chairs the Property
Tax Relief and Local Sales Tax Division and serves on the K-12 Finance
Committee. Marquart recently brought together a bipartisan redesign caucus
that will begin weekly meetings this session.
“I started to realize
as mayor,” Marquart said, “…I started to know that there were things I
didn’t know in government. I began to follow people who did a lot of
thinking about government, like Kolderie and Hutchinson.” He read books:
Reinventing Government, Banishing Bureaucracy, Price of
Government, Money and Good Intentions are not enough…all of
which were written by, or co-written by, Minnesotans Peter Hutchinson,
David Osborne and John Brandl.
Comments and discussion—During
Marquart’s visit with the Civic Caucus, the following points were raised:
1. The creation of a House Caucus on Redesign--“The
Civic Caucus has been at the forefront of trumpeting the need for redesign
and has been the impetus of the movement of this at the capitol,” Marquart
said. “It is really good that this stuff is out there,” he noted of the
weekly summaries and their focus over the past year on redesign of
government services. “But as a legislature we have never really brought it
together.” He is trying to change that, now.
Last Monday Marquart
hosted a press conference that included Representative Thissen and Speaker
Kelliher to launch a bi-partisan Redesign Caucus, chaired by himself,
Democrat Diane Loeffler and two Republicans, Dean Urdahl and Carol
purpose of this Caucus is to have a bi-partisan group…a place for ideas to
come into the legislature.” They will begin weekly meetings in late
February. To begin Marquart has set up a redesign suggestion line on the
House website, for citizens to write in:
www.house.mn/redesign. The web form received over 300
suggestions in its first week.
with the need for bipartisanship,” the chair observed, to which Marquart
said that “The key to a lot of this work on changing government services
is getting credible executive and legislative leadership.” The House will
now have at least one institutional venue to hear ideas and the concept is
gaining support for cooperation from some members of the Senate.
2. Suggestions of areas to redesign--Responding
to a question for ideas on redesign, Marquart cited the 1995 Brandl-Weber
report An Agenda for Reform (http://tinyurl.com/yksb93d),
delivered to then-Governor Carlson.
three-C’s are principles to follow: Concentration of services, Community
(picking up activities from government) and Competition."
to the literature,” he said, “public/private isn’t itself the distinction,
or the make or break feature of whether services will be efficient or
effective. Instead it’s whether there is competition and the right rules
that counties bind together and form authorities that can decide what they
need for services. Put the service levels down in specifications,
including what outcomes they would like to see. Then put it out to
competitive bid, to public and private operators.
3. Be practical, not ideological--“We
can’t just make it ideological,” he said, speaking of service-redesign.
“We need to make it practical. So do it along service lines, not political
ones. Concentrate on the value and productivity of output. Have a
no-layoff policy, meaning whoever wins a contract agrees to find savings
in attrition.” It is important to the Representative to separate the poor
performance of a system’s design from the individuals employed within it.
“This is a
system you’re changing, not the people. The employees aren’t responsible
for the bad system.” Merit-pay and gains-sharing are two strategies
Marquart cited for reforming and improving how public employees are
4. Establishing a ‘Minnesota Northstar
Council’ for a strategic plan--This
is an idea to bring state leaders together in a venue specifically for
planning the future of the state. It is important to institutionalize the
planning function, Marquart argued, and his proposal initiates the
creation of a state strategic plan, taking a step toward what might have
been a function of the discontinued Minnesota Planning Agency.
Council would consist of an executive committee including the Governor,
Speaker of the House, House minority leader and the Senate majority and
minority leaders. Other members would reach into the community, including
business and youth representation. The Governor would chair the committee.
Northstar Council would be tasked with developing a strategic plan by
February of 2011, including three components: A mission statement, up to
10 public policy goals and up to 100 strategic performance measures for
those policy goals. An "owner" would be designated for each performance
departments and agencies would be charged with coming up with their own
strategic plans, and these would be aligned with the state’s plan.
Employee improvement would be made central—through ‘gain-sharing’ and
other incentive mechanisms—though there would be restrictions on laying
people off to save money. The focus would be on the system," Marquart
Governor would propose his budget based upon the strategic plan produced
by the Council.
plan also renames the Management Analysis and Development Division the
“Performance Management Division,” and places the state demographer’s
office and the Office of Strategic and Long Range planning under it. An
“Office of Ombudsman” is established to serve as a one-stop shop to
advocate for citizens seeking to utilize state services and act as a third
party mediator between individuals and the state when conflicts arise.
these, Marquart argued, are redesigns that could improve the effectiveness
and efficiency of state government.
5. County Service Delivery Districts
Marquart described legislation he is assembling for County Service
Delivery Districts (CSDD), aimed to redesign the delivery of local
government services to increase service efficiency, innovation and
performance while reducing costs to citizens.
plan a county and its cities and townships enter into memoranda of
understanding to established CSDD’s to deal with the design and delivery
of services. A County Service Delivery Authority(CSDA), whose membership
includes county commissioners, mayors, and township representatives,
governs each CSDD.
would be charged with defining the scope of the delivery district’s
operations, overseeing the delivery of services and instituting an
accountability process that includes performance measures of services and
cooperate with one another on the delivery of services, utilizing the
state’s Joint Powers Law already in existence (http://tinyurl.com/y9ct8qx).
Redesign and Performance Aid (RPA) is provided to each CSDD in decreasing
amounts from years one to three, then leveling off at $2 per capita, in
support of police and public works. An additional incentive of up to $1.5
per capita is provided for achievement of performance measures and outcome
There is a
mechanism in Marquart’s proposal to drive counties into CSDD’s: Any county
or city not participating in a CSDD within three years of enactment will
lose a sizeable portion of its Local Government Aid (LGA). This is
necessary, the Representative argued, to move people into an
accountability arrangement that many might otherwise resist.
6. Reforming Local Government Aid--The
County Service Delivery Districts plan directly affects LGA.
Representative Marquart emphasized the need to design LGA in a way to
ensure quality and value in services. At present it's just collected and
turned back out. “Every biennium we send out approximately $1.5 billion in
LGA, and we don’t know what we get for that.” The state misses an
opportunity to work the system to increase the likelihood that those funds
will be used well.”
his point on driving opt-in to CSDD’s through withholding of LGA, Marquart
said that, “If I’m mayor in Dilworth and I’m going to spend $400,000 on
law enforcement services, after X number of years if I’m not in the
compact on a particular service, then I will lose Local Government Aid (LGA)
for that service.”
exchange the cities would no longer be subject to caps on how much they
can raise through local levy.
people like Triplett are talking about a much more ambitious LGA reform,”
a member observed, “wiping it out in favor of an expanded circuit-breaker
at the individual level.”
replied that he does not think that is the best route to go. “We need to
equalize communities across the state. Even then you’ll have to equalize
among people. Where the redesign should come is that we need to have
accountability in how the money is used—we need to be able to ensure
quality. Right now the state sends funds out,” without any idea whether
its being used effectively or not. “We should be looking to give local
authorities more authority to change how they do things, in return
important to maintain, he argued. “Look at some states—their small towns
are drying up because they don’t have a program like LGA. It is what keeps
small communities viable.”
Representative made an observation about a conflict inherent in reform of
LGA: 71 percent of funds from the circuit breaker mechanism go to the
Metro. Over 65 percent of LGA money goes out-state. There is a rural/metro
conflict when funds begin shifting around.
think the state has set up the right framework to allow local units to
innovate in how they provide services,” Marquart said. “If the state looks
at inputs and assess outcomes—but leaves the middle open, leaves open the
‘how’ of services—the innovation will take care of itself.”
sounds like a contradiction,” a member observed: “‘We, the state
government, will give you more authority, but will assess your work and
withhold money if necessary’.”
fine line, yes,” Marquart replied. “We give freedom to innovate…but we are
also giving these localities a lot of money” and so we can and should
expect a degree of accountability.”
got too much unnecessary government,” a member complained. “We give the
money with no incentive to downsize.”
tough one,” Marquart acknowledged. “I do think by its nature this process
of tying LGA to service delivery districts will find ways to economize,
improve productivity and pool services.”
7. Saving money and public labor--“Labor
is the principal cost of the state,” a member observed. “Pull out all the
classifications for particular areas—the chief cost is compensation. The
whole enterprise is driven by people,” since service is labor-intensive.
Here’s the problem: Labor costs are rising twice the rate of available
presents a challenge in finding ways to save money in public services.
Increased value may be achieved by making existing workers more
productive, with and without the aid of technology. Will there need to be
has proposed a no-layoff plan, for the first years of new redesigns.
Productivity increases through more effective use of the current workforce
is possible. Innovate to improve the design of the service, the
effectiveness of the service and innovate to apply new technologies.
Representative posed a question, rhetorically: “How do you create a
competitive framework within a wholly public system? Dilworth had a money
back guarantee,” he said, “We had a formula to determine whether or not
our programs had been successful. We said to the public: If we’re not
delivering our services to your satisfaction, you get your money back.”
whether through contracting with public and private providers, or allowing
consumer demand to drive the evolution of services, the Representative
argued that market forces must somehow be introduced on a wider scale.
8. Critical importance of demographic changes--In
closing Representative Marquart and members of the Caucus discussed the
vagrant nature of government innovation in recent years. “This redesign
thing has no institutional component,” one observed. “It has been floating
around for some time. An executive could pick it up any time,” bringing
ideas from outside and making them part of the legislative agenda.
Marquart has stepped forward to institutionalize the effort in the
redesign push in Minnesota now is about creating a process that continues
on. A member observed that state demographer Tom Gillaspy and state
economist Tom Stinson have been talking for years now about the
demographic change underway in the state. “We’re right at the front of the
curve,” the member said, “and it’s going to continue.”
Marquart: “Your comment at the press conference for the Redesign Caucus
that this is long-term—this redesign effort is going to run alongside the
demographic shift. When people ask about redesign, we need to make this
point. This is a long-term, continual process for a long-term, structural