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McFarlane, Co-Chair, Minn. House BipartisanRedesign Caucus
Civic Caucus, 8301
Creekside Circle #920, Bloomington, MN 55437
February 18, 2011
Johnson, chair; David Broden, Janis Clay, Paul Gilje, Jim Hetland (phone),
John Mooty (phone), Wayne Popham (phone), and Clarence Shallbetter (phone)
Paul welcomed and introduced State Rep. Carol McFarlane, White Bear
Lake, co-chair of the bi-partisan House Redesign Caucus. McFarlane is
serving her third term. Before her election to the Minnesota House, she
served as a member of the White Bear Lake School Board from 2000 through
2006. McFarland is a past co-chair and current member of the northeast
chapter of MICAH, an organization that works on affordable housing. She
is also a past president of Northeast Metro Intermediate School District
916 Education Foundation. She continues in the role of vice
president/treasurer of Venburg Tire Co., a family-owned business founded
by her father 43 years ago.
McFarlane's discussion with the Civic Caucus the following points were
Collaborative Government Council--McFarlane
began her discussion of the importance of bringing stakeholders together
in the process of governing by referring to the Collaborative Government
Council. The Council was established by the Legislature in 2010, following
efforts by McFarlane and then-Rep. Marsha Swails. McFarlane and Swails
traveled around Minnesota to visit service cooperatives that have been in
existence since the 1970's. Their process involved numerous meetings
bringing the stakeholders together to create and agree on the language of
the legislation. School districts, counties, cities and townships, and
union representation agreed that eliminating obstacles to collaboration
would enable them to work more closely with one another. The Council is
chaired by Rebecca Otto, State Auditor, and includes representatives from
the Association of Minnesota Counties, Education Minnesota, the Minnesota
School Boards Association, AFSCME, the Minnesota Association of Townships,
the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, the Service Employees International
Union, and the League of Minnesota Cities. One of the Council's findings
is that the state Joint Powers Act needs changing to make more
collaboration possible. The council continues its work throughout the
Proposal for a state strategic plan--Responding
to a question about whether the state needs a strategic plan or vision,
McFarlane said the Minnesota Association of Certified Public Accountants (MACPA)
has just made such a proposal. Seehttp://bit.ly/hyH9x9.
McFarlane said she favors the development of a strategic plan and has a
meeting scheduled with the MACPA. She wants to include State Demographer,
Tom Gillaspy in future conversations.
Leadership on outcome-based services from
Beltrami County--McFarlane suggested that the Civic Caucus meet
with Tony Murphy, administrator, Beltrami County. Beltrami County is a
poor county, but Murphy has come up with a model for performance-based
services. The plan provides better service at lower cost. See:
Government redesign proposals submitted to the
House Redesign Caucus--McFarlane distributed a summary of 12
redesign proposals that were submitted to the House Redesign Caucus in
Commission on Service Innovation (CSI)--CSI was created in 2010
through legislation sponsored by Rep. Keith Downey and Sen. Terri Bonoff.
The Commission has made several recommendations, including an enterprise
for state and local government entities to share or consolidate services.
Doblin Group consultants--Larry Keeley, a co-founder of the Doblin
Group, met with legislators at a policy conference in Janauary. Keeley
suggested it is the Legislature's job to set the conditions for
Itasca project--A Minneapolis-based alliance of private, public and
non-profit leaders issued a report on challenges and opportunities for job
growth in the metro area. See:
Steve Rothschild on "human capital bonds"--Rothschild's proposal is a
new way to invest in social programming and improve outcomes for
providers, recipients and the state. See:
5) Sensible Tax and
Fiscal Systems--In November 2010 the group submitted proposals for
reform of state and local tax systems. See:
National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO)--A presentation
on the need for rethinking state government, including strategies to
contain health care expenses. See:
7) Jack Swanson, Roseau County Board--Swanson, a member
of the Collaborative Governance Council, offered several suggestions on
taxes and on county government.
8) Public Strategies Group (PSG)--PSG offered a
proposal focused on empowering individuals with disabilities.
9) State Rep. Denise Dittrich--Dittrich introduced a
proposal for more consistent oversight of the Permanent School Trust Fund
10) Lutheran Social Service (LSS)--LSS submitted a plan
to transform opportunities for people with disabilities. See:
11) Teacher preparation redesign--The Bush Foundation
proposes redesign of the way teachers are recruited, prepared, placed and
12) Minnesota's "Bottom line" - The following
foundations have prepared a updated comprehensive report on redesign:
Foundation, Bush Foundation, Minneapolis Foundation, Minnesota Community
Foundation, Northwest Area Foundation, The Saint Paul Foundation, and
Strategies Group (PSG). Highlights include:
--Shift focus to health and prevention, not sickness and care.
--Integrate human services delivery.
--Reduce tax expenditures, i.e. mortgage interest deduction.
--Reform Medical Assistance.
--Replace mandates on local government with greater
flexibility tied to accountability.
--Shift resources from prisons to community interventions.
* Relating the discussion on
redesign to the overall budget question--McFarlane is unsure
how redesign relates to the overall budget question in the short term
because so much of the budget discussion is taking place behind the
scenes. She wishes to take a "bigger picture" look at the effects of
redesign for the years to come. McFarlane is impressed with the number of
interest groups that have come to her supporting redesign. She cited
comments by Tom Gillaspy, State Demographer, who has called for
significant restructuring in light of demographic realities.
* Restructuring of local
government here, as in Denmark? --McFarlane was asked whether
local government restructuring as succeeded in Denmark would work here.
The nation was divided into regions with all local governments in each
region responsible for developing a new structure for themselves, rather
than having a new structure imposed from above. She said that would be a
great idea to explore.
* Whether state and local
employees should be looked to more for redesign ideas--McFarlane
replied that she knows of at least one instance where a public employee
felt muzzled. During discussion a member suggested that leadership at the
top is more urgent than encouraging individual employees to come up with
redesign ideas. McFarlane feels a combination of
Involvement from leadership and employees would be favored.
* Importance of collaboration--Returning
to the matter of collaboration among different types of units of
government and agencies, McFarlane cited a positive experience in which
she recently brought cities, counties, organizations, the Metropolitan
Council, and state agencies together to discuss what to do about the level
of White Bear Lake. Many participants said they were very thankful for the
opportunity to meet since there are not many opportunities for such
* Decide on an approach now to
achieve redesign action in May--Members suggested that
McFarlane might be well advised to set a priority for redesign now and
work on one high priority item for achieving success in May. Another
member suggested that an omnibus bill on redesign would help focus
attention on the issue. McFarlane suggested that the bi-partisan House
Redesign Caucus has this as their goal.
* Support for Civic Caucus
statement on vision and redesign--McFarlane
said she agrees wholeheartedly with a Civic Caucus draft statement on
vision and redesign that currently is being circulated for comments and
* How redesign fits in overall
House committee structure--In addition to the Bi-partisan
Redesign Caucus, McFarlane said that the regular committees have members
that are designated to work on redesign and reform in their respective
areas. For instance, McFarlane is working on reform in education.
* Building relationship bridges
among interest groups--Making reference to sharp differences in
Wisconsin between unions, on one side, and the Governor and legislative
leadership on the other, McFarlane indicated that she has reached out to
the AFL-CIO and other unions in Minnesota to seek areas where they can
work together on redesign.
* Thanks--On behalf
of the Civic Caucus, Verne thanked McFarlane for meeting with us today.