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 Response Page - Joe Atkins Interview - The 2020 Legislative Conference   

These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Joe Atkins Interview of 2/22/08.

The questions:

_____ On a scale of (0 ) not helpful at all, to (10) very helpful, what do you
think of the role of the 2020 Conference, a bipartisan legislative group?

_____ On a scale of (0) not needed at all, to (10) very much needed, what do you
think of the 2020 Conference's emphasis on promoting long range planning in the

Donna Anderson (9) (10)
Leadership with vision and attention to details and energy to establish and keep momentum is key to success of 2020 caucus.

John Gunyou (0) (0)
After three years of "getting to know each other," I think it's time to ask whether the 2020 Caucus has actually enacted anything that will help prepare the state for the next 20 or 30 years, much less the next two or three years, or simply serves as a convenient excuse to talk the talk and continue avoid making the hard choices.

Scott Halstead (10) (10)
I want to see more legislators voting for their constituents/citizens of Minnesota and not their party and the influencers. I think the 2020 conference offers are legislators an opportunity to discuss matters without outside influence and hopefully we will begin to see the results of working together.

The long term planning is an essential part of Government. We need to identify and prioritize the long range needs and put our financial house in order to pay for the highest priorities.

Eric Schubert ( ) (10)
I think it could be very helpful if they moved ahead on something.

Steve Alderson (8) (12)
After fifty years of planning I can see both the benefits of the 2020 strategy and the pitfalls. Concern for the future and an appreciation of the past are hallmarks of civilization. At the same time the future so surprises us that preparing for it can be an act of folly. A conference of elected officials risks that folly.

All successful planning ventures have been backed by clear and effective administrative level planning roles for agents such as college administrators, utility engineers and medical practitioners to say nothing of well financed entrepreneurs.

Looking to politicians without building effective and at least semi-permanent planning organizations is what is causing the mess at present. The first budget cuts seem to hit the planning offices. The papers have more interest in bashing the commissioners than in understanding the issues or supporting the strengthening of the state staffs. Until we can alert citizens and local politicians to the importance of permanent quality planning work in schools, public offices and safety nets such as medical and social services we will have limited progress.

Don Fraser (3) (5)

Marina Lyon (4) (5)
This group hasn't been very visible during the past year. This is one of the reasons I don't think their role has been helpful --it could be, but it hasn't from my vantage point.

Re: long-range planning -- excellent idea that doesn't fit with a "now" culture. Cost is also high and probably wouldn't get broad support.

Joe Mansky (10) (10)
Excellent idea and long overdue. The state of Minnesota may be the only large organization I know of that does not have a capital budget. Hence our deteriorating roads, parks, etc. It's a direct consequence of not budgeting money each year for capital improvements. And as Jerry Knickerbocker once told me, long range planning is not a strength of the state government. Maybe it's time to deal with that issue.

Paul and Ruth Hauge (10) (10)

Chuck Slocum (5) (10)
As they say "the proof is in the pudding." These kinds of legislative caucus groups are numerous and I have seldom, if ever, found that they have made any major difference in policymaking. That influence seems to remain with the Governor and legislative leadership. It seems to me, too, that such an initiative needs a focus and it appeared that Rep. Atkins was pretty broad brush in his views.

The idea of 2020 is, indeed, a good one, with the demographics of Minnesota changing. Certainly, we have lost our one time emphasis on planning at the state level--something that does demand attention for precisely the same reasons they founded the 2020 Conference. We need to include citizen input in both the short term (3-5 years out) and long term (10-30 years out) strategic planning at all levels of government. It is a role of responsible government, in my view.

Charles and Hertha Lutz (9) (9)

Sheila Kiscaden (5) (9)

Larry and Ann Schluter (8) (8)
I don't think we will see much action from the legislature on long range planning.

Clarence Shallbetter (2) (7)

Tim R. McDonald
7 (+/- 2pts); tentative upon understanding more fully how they conduct themselves.

9; legislators need to push the talk, not just interest groups. This is a good forum to do it.

Good memo. See work the Chamber and Private College Council have done re: demographics by 2020. The boomer/youngster swing is exacerbated by an 18 percent decrease in white 18-yr-olds; almost 50 percent increase in 18 yr-old people of color. Income and educational patterns correlate as usual, creating significant affordability challenges for higher ed and an educated workforce shortage.

Wayne Jennings (7) (9)

Bob Brown (9) (7)
It is encouraging to see any legislators talking on a bi-partisan basis. It is important for them to maintain a reasonable balance of the two parties and the two houses of the legislature in such a group as they apparently now have. It is also encouraging that they are looking outside for ideas and research. One thing that strikes me is that they might go back and examine the Association for Generational Equity in which Durenberger and
Tim Penny were major players some years ago- it seemed to have a similar long range focus.

I am a little skeptical of attempts to budget 10 years out. It may be good to have some fairly long range targets (3 or 4 biennia ahead) as long as they are revised annually based on changing economic conditions, governmental needs, and technological or scientific breakthroughs (such as in energy production or medical advancements.) While long range budgeting may be not be realistic there are some areas of public policy in which long range comprehensive planning would be very useful, particularly if it used as a guide and not as dogma. State comprehensive plans dealing with transportation and the acquisition and development of parks and open spaces are a couple that come quickly to mind.

Tom Swain (10) (10)

Pat Lichty (8) (10)
I believe bipartisanship and long range decision making is very important.
I hope the number of legislators (and perhaps our next governor?) participating in this increases.

I would like to think that the passage of the transportation bill could be a positive sign that we are seeing the beginnings of increased bi-partisanship in our state legislature. However, based on media news of Rep. Siefert's response to the 6 House Republicans who voted for the bill, I wonder if ever we will see the bipartisanship public policy making and voting that we so desperately need again- (as we did decades ago.)

I am very concerned about any additional cutting of state government during this latest shortfall. The state budget has been slashed so many times since the 1998 tax bill that the state can no longer do its job well. The breakdown of essential state services is currently most easily seen by the poor status of our transportation system, but also by problems in other state agencies that have become public. For example, unemployment checks have not come out in time and the poor decision-making by the Commissioner of Health over cancer on the Iron Range. Another example that our state government not working; the number of lawsuits brought by the AG's office over inappropriate annuities and other securities being marketed to seniors. In former years, such securities would not have been allowed on the Minnesota market in the first place because the Department of Commerce would not have accepted them for public policy reasons. I digress..... I just hope that our state agencies are not slashed further. The core of their work is consumer protection. I fear that we have already lost too many of the benefits and protections we formerly enjoyed because we had an appropriately funded state government.

Long range thinking: we need to completely re-do Minnesotas tax bill. Revenues should be revenues are sufficient for appropriate services and investment, more predicatable so that budgeting can be done, and the tax burden is more fairly shared.

Marianne Curry (10) (5)
Question 1: Give it a 10. How sad that members of the same caucus don't know each other across the House and Senate. This is a good idea.
Question 2: Give it a 5. Where are you going with this question? Create new structures? I don't think so.
Professionals in these existing state departments know what the priorities are. Funding is the issue!!!

Lyall Schwarzkopf (9) (9)



The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Core participants include persons of varying political persuasions, reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

   Verne C. Johnson, chair;  Lee Canning,  Charles Clay, Bill Frenzel, 
Paul Gilje,  Jim Hetland,  John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  Wayne Popham  and  John Rollwagen.  

The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
8301 Creekside Circle #920,   Bloomington, MN 55437.
Verne C. Johnson, chair, 952-835-4549,       Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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