here for PDF format
for participants' responses to this interview.
Chamber of Commerce,
Ted Kolderie, Education|Evolving,
Peter Nelson, Center of the American Experiment,
Dane Smith, Growth & Justice.
8301 Creekside Circle #920, Bloomington, MN 55437
Verne Johnson (chair), Marianne Curry, Paul Gilje,
(phone), Kristin Schulte
Summary of meeting:
While to many the 2011 session was about cutting, taxing, or doing some
of both, a groundswell of opinion has emerged among a cross-section of
elected officials and private citizens that suggests for Minnesota to
remain strong we must rethink the way state works.
discussion today revolves around a statement recently put together by a
discussion group on the topic of redesign in
Participants in that group include leaders from non-profit, policy, and
government groups across the state.
Civic Caucus sent the statement out to its 2,400 participants. Seventy
people responded; 64 of those answered the five questions on the survey.
Overall the response was enormously positive as far as the survey numbers
were concerned. Fifty responders replied with written comments that show a
wide range of views on the definition and content of "redesign" proposals.
It is the strongest response we've had to Caucus communications in recent
months, the member reported.
Star Tribune has since run multiple columns and editorials on the topic,
to Think Inside the Box,
Welcome and introductions
four speakers today are members of a group that has been meeting monthly
for the past two years to discuss opportunities for redesign in
Blazar is vice president of the Chamber of Commerce; Ted Kolderie is a
founding partner of Education|Evolving and senior fellow at the Center for
Policy Studies; Peter Nelson is a policy fellow at the Center of the
American Experiment; and Dane Smith is president of Growth & Justice.
A call for a change in approach to providing state services
I think that the essence of the report is this: a fairly broad spectrum of
folks say that the state needs to get about the business of redesigning
key services to deliver what Minnesotans expect with our changing
demographics and the world economy we find ourselves in.
run out of time. It seems worthwhile to publicize the statement, but it
also makes sense to begin creating a to-do list so that when we get to the
start of next session we have legislation ready. The product really does
have to be legislation. We've got to get beyond principles and statements,
and on to action.
Growth and Justice has always been concerned with expanding prosperity in
Minnesota-investing in human capital. We believe that economic and social
justice is a business-building agenda. Closely related to that main
mission, we've always been supportive of the good government ethic that
has prevailed in Minnesota, and the need for constant redesign.
the people I've heard from wondered why there wasn't a stronger
revenue-positive tax outcome advocated in the statement. We do believe we
need greater revenue to cover the changing demographics-though the
feedback I've gotten to the statement and our support of it is mostly
with Bill that we should begin moving forward to see how we can achieve
Within the Chamber we have had positive response. I think people are
struck by the broad range of the people that worked on the statement. I
know our plan is to get that to-do list going so we can begin work on
proposals for the next session.
As simple and direct as the statement is that the group put together, the
process itself was difficult and we all must have looked at dozens of
emails as we worked toward this simple statement on the imperative for
redesign. We have a new respect for the founding fathers and the work they
put in on the Constitution. The drafting of this statement came with some
anxiety and a fair amount of internal debate, but we hung together, and we
are proud of the end result. And I was glad to see the Star Tribune's Lori
Sturdevant, who was briefed on the product, write about redesign twice in
the days following the issuance of the statement.
As an organization the Center of the American Experiment does a lot of
things that are similar to those that Growth and Justice does, but we
approach these topics from a conservative agenda. We have a broad
membership that has been concerned for years about these state issues.
at where we are now, I'm more optimistic than I've ever been that we're
moving forward. I think we are in a position to begin passing laws that
will make a difference in 4 to 8 years from now.
past week I wrote a blog post that looked at legislation that did pass and
pulled out the redesign components to highlight then. Then this week
Governor Dayton signed much of those into law. I began to get worried at
the start of this week when I heard that My Life, My Choices was not in
the final bills-that had very broad bipartisan support-but in the end
about three-fourths of the items featuring elements of redesign were
Areas of priority
can be more specifics done regarding medical assistance and health care.
I'd put health care on the top of the list of work to do, though the
legislators and the governor really think they bent that curve this year.
I would cite K-12 as a priority-there are clear opportunities there.
third, in respect to higher education, I think that area has potential as
well-though I don't think anyone has put in the kind of thinking over the
past few years that is needed for this area.
one on our (Growth & Justice) list is how to drive the higher education
attainment rate to new levels in this state. We pushed hard this session
to get legislators thinking about the need to set a specific goal for
overall attainment percentage, or total share of young adults with some
sort of credential for a specific kind of job or career, and of course,
achievement and performance along the way.
What is your timetable for action by your organization?
In health care people have been sitting and admiring the problem for some
time, and now people are beginning to draft legislation. I know that
redesigning state government is a long-term project, but we've been
talking about this for some time. Simply batting around principles and
ideas doesn't advance the discussion any more than we have the past many
Does Growth and Justice have a specific plan?
Higher education-and further, post-secondary education-is a priority.
On higher education, do you have any thoughts on this idea of redefining
when high school ends and college begins?
In general we're interested in this idea of blurring the lines, putting
less emphasis on when high school ends and putting more on college or some
other post-secondary program completion.
to pay less attention to the pieces and more attention to the whole; we've
got to be focused on the goal line, which is some form of certificate from
a post secondary program.
barrier to entry is that the cost is prohibitive. The most promising area
of redesign in higher education, I think, is that of early college course
options in high school.
Did the Health and Human Services bill undergo dramatic change this year?
Nelson: Yes, but I'd say rather that it has potential for
dramatic change. There are things we can do in the existing system such as
bidding out care for managed contracts. There is no accountability in the
program now to see how money is actually being spent, and that should be
added. Before the feds passed the Medicare waiver program, we were moving
forward with some other changes. The state has a history of reform, so
these efforts should be a natural outgrowth of ongoing work.
I think the session was positive for redesign in a really interesting
respect. All the realists have denigrated redesign with the notion that
practical people will only tax or cut. In the end they didn't either tax
or cut. They shifted, borrowed and 'stole'. It seems to me this does bring
redesign higher up on the agenda.
we do have a vision for the state-not in the sense that there is an
end-state plan of what everything will look like 20 years out, but what
we're working toward. We are going to be a high-productivity state with a
high capacity for institutional innovation. If we're all working for that
we don't need to agree on what the end-state looks like.
important to get general ideas about redesign into the discussion along
with the specifics. We need both. Each helps the other. To me the term
redesign is the most general term: 'doing different'. Under 'doing
different' come, first, what Walt McClure describes as "getting the
incentives right", and then both innovation and continuous improvement.
(See McClure Civic Caucus interview at:
back I see a time up to the 70's when everything was about redesign though
we didn't use that label-that term didn't emerge until the late 80's, when
the attention moved from the system structure to the operating side. As
attention shifted the term 'redesign' emerged.
you look at the time before the label became commonly used, we reformed a
lot of things-financial systems, governance systems, the Minnesota
Municipal Commission, then Metro Council. That's past history, but it
shows you that we have a capacity to make major changes in the way
Minnesota is organized and operates.
A distinction between "spending" and "investment"
suggested that acceptance of much of the changes proposed under the
"redesign" banner would be enhanced by emphasizing "investment" in human
capital instead of "spending" on programs.
That may have merit, but 'investment' is sometimes a term used by interest
groups to describe any spending, productive or not.
We need to emphasize the importance of our investment in human capital.
I think that we need to keep redesign efforts going. We've had great
success in getting different "tops spinning" in redesign, as Ted likes to
say it. We've quietly shaken the establishment. There are a whole lot of
great things going on.
This discussion group is an example of the importance of people agreeing
on outcomes without needing to agree on the process for getting there. It
has been about people sharing ideas. There's no way I would have grabbed
on to Lutheran Social Service's My Life My Choices proposal if I
hadn't been involved in this group-I wouldn't have been involved in
talking with legislators about it.
group was instrumental in helping create the label for the House Redesign
Caucus. That caucus is deserving of a thank-you for helping to air these
There just wasn't any disagreement back in the 60's that we had a metro
area that was outgrowing its old governmental structure. That needed to be
redesigned. . The question was how to fix it. That's what the question is
now-how? We're in a hole. I think everyone understands we're in a hole,
especially for a state this size. Again I think the redesign discussion is
looking pretty good. It could be a way to answer the question how is
Minnesota going to become a leading state?
How do we sustain that pressure when the economy recovers?
That's a concern. The history has been one of starting, then stopping.
That's what caused everyone to abandon the Brandl-Weber report. One of the
big challenges we have is that when we have a rainy day we run out to fix
everything; then it stops raining and we put the umbrella away. I think we
realize now that redesign has to be an ongoing activity.
Redesigning the services and programs is good, but strategically the
structures need to be redesigned. This is McClure's angle. We need to
change structures and incentives so that organizations are continually
seeking productivity improvements.
I think we've had a ten-year economic decline. This may help to keep us
from getting complacent.
And it depends on who is elected. We're in a position now where the public
elected new people into both the legislature and the executive.
I think it's true that both Mark Dayton and the legislators are interested
in the redesign concept. I think that this conversation is going on in the
I remember a former governor telling me one time that when the public gets
clear in its mind what needs to happen, the elected officials become very
important because they can make it happen. But in the period we're in now
where the public is not very clear about what it wants and where it wants
to go then elected officials will hesitate.
people that are important now are the people that are forming that public
participant suggested that redesign doesn't have to be something done in
the legislature-and perhaps it shouldn't be. To get something done in the
next session it will be necessary to get involved with the committee
chairs that are most interested in these things and with the people most
involved in these issues in the state departments.
Thanks to everyone for a good discussion.