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 Response Page - Marquart / McFarlane  Interview -      

These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Paul Marquart & Carol McFarlane  Interview of


Minnesota must look for ways for government to get better results and outcomes at a better price, say state Reps. Paul Marquart and Carol McFarlane. They have been two of four co-chairs of the bipartisan House Redesign Caucus, which was formed in 2010 to move forward good ideas about innovation in government and to change the culture of the Legislature to begin to look for better value per dollar in government services. Health and human services and education finance are two areas ripe for redesign, they believe. McFarlane sponsored the MAGIC Act to allow waivers to counties to try different ways of providing human services. Marquart, the incoming chair of the House Education Finance Division, is firm that any new money going to K-12 education must go to programs with a proven track record of results in improving student achievement and not just be added onto the state's education-funding formula. He believes reinvention must be embedded in every legislative committee. McFarlane thinks outside ideas are critical to pushing the reform agenda at the Legislature.

For the complete interview summary see:

Response Summary: Readers have been asked to rate, on a scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, the following points discussed by Reps. Paul Marquart and Carol McFarlane. Average response ratings shown below are simply the mean of all readers’ zero-to-ten responses to the ideas proposed and should not be considered an accurate reflection of a scientifically structured poll.

1. Focus on better value. (9.2 average response) The Minnesota Legislature should take deliberate steps in its allocation of tax dollars to obtain better outcomes at a better price.

2. Culture change needed. (9.0 average response) A legislative culture change is necessary to assure that better outcomes from government services at a better price will be the goal of all legislators.

3. Advocates heeded less. (8.9 average response) Such a change in budgeting perspective means that legislators will be paying less attention to advocates, if such advocates are seeking only more money to maintain the way services have been delivered in the past.

4. Bipartisanship possible. (8.5 average response) Greater bipartisanship should be possible if legislative committees first seek consensus among their members on outcomes that they expect.

5. Redesign across local units. (9.4 average response) Local government units should have more opportunity for redesigning services across local unit boundaries.

6. Increase for proven programs. (7.7 average response) There should not be any increase in the funding for education unless it is for programs that have proven results in improving student achievement or increasing graduation rates.

7. Prioritize backlog of needs. (3.8 average response) Better outcomes may be fine in the long run, but in the 2013 session priority must be given to financing a backlog of needs.

Response Distribution:

Strongly disagree

Moderately disagree


Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Total Responses

1. Focus on better value.







2. Culture change needed.







3. Advocates heeded less.







4. Bipartisanship possible.







5. Redesign across local units.







6. Increase for proven programs.







7. Prioritize backlog of needs.







Individual Responses:

Ray Ayotte (10) (10) (10) (7.5) (10) (10) (0)

Dave Broden (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (0) (0)

1. Focus on better value. The focus of all legislative action should be outcome-based—difficult to do but should be an objective. If, however, outcome becomes the approach then there must be some very wise folks defining the outcome metrics or it will be a loose statement of which any value will look good.

2. Culture change needed. The legislature culture is definitely a major factor in the problem- too many specific special interests vs. general goal of good government first, then good politics. Politics must [come] second in the consideration, at least by the leaders.

3. Advocates heeded less. Advocates are a key part of the legislature process to offer data and information and even strong statements of why the specific program or funding should be provided. But that should be viewed as only the information to be used by the elected official not as a requirement of how to vote.

4. Bipartisanship possible. Agreement on outcomes is key and must be achieved; however, starting first with agreement on what the problem is is perhaps more critical than the outcomes since there may be variants of outcomes but the problem may be common.

5. Redesign across local units. This an interesting statement since the Joint Powers Act allows for much of the joint cooperation and sharing that redesign represents. Perhaps more than just "opportunity," it must be an incentive to local governments to address joint activity. The word "incentive" is not a bad word as some think today; it says "be creative to generate new ideas and solve problems."

6. Increase for proven programs. With the goal of innovation and changing technology it is fundamentally wrong to say programs must be proven before they can be funded-- there must be opportunity and funding for new and innovative experimental approaches.

7. Prioritize backlog of needs. It is time to recognize that solving the long-term problems or at least laying the groundwork is also beneficial to correcting for backlogs. If we only attach the backlog there is no vision for the future.

Chris Brazelton (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (2.5)

2. Culture change needed. I am encouraged to know that there is a bipartisan redesign caucus with these goals. We must step away from party politics to seek real solutions and new ideas, and then find ways to bring the major stakeholders in as partners in the redesign process so that they do not put their energy into becoming obstacles to change.

6. Increase for proven programs. As long as there is a process in place that allows for incubation and pilots for the new ideas and innovations to obtain that proof (before it is rolled out statewide).

Lyle Tjosaas (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (7.5) (10)

Ralph Brauer (5) (5) (5) (7.5) (10) (0) (7.5)

1. Focus on better value. While few would argue with this in principle, if followed to its logical conclusion it will have the opposite systemic effect than indicated. That is because policy makers do not understand the nature of dynamic feedbacks. Pushing "a better price" has the systemic consequence of lowering wages. As we all learned in Econ 101, but some forget, lower wages mean less money for consumers to spend. The big problem is with equating performance with cost. That correlation is weak as we found in our work with education and health care. There is another more important variable.

Anonymous (7.5) (7.5) (5) (7.5) (7.5) (0) (7.5)

Malcolm W. McDonald (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10)

1. Focus on better value. Need to establish purposes for expenditures of the time bought with the dollars. Need to build in evaluations that measure total cumulative benefit to society over time. Need to eliminate unnecessary expenditures of time.

2. Culture change needed. Need to recognize that over one million Minnesotans of voting age do not vote and do not feel included in the decision making process. Culture must change to reach out to all Minnesotans, not just those who support the winning legislator. Must change from next election outcome to long run best interests of all Minnesotans, meaning every child must have a mentor and thereby have a life.

3. Advocates heeded less. Evaluation required to show the change in behavior wanted, not the money obtained. Not a matter of peoples' salaries but of changing growth patterns in unwanted behaviors. Need to have evaluation of why so many Minnesotans do not seek to work and why so many jobs go unfilled [and w]hy so many young people do not go to school of any kind whatsoever.

4. Bipartisanship possible. [The] center part of Minnesotans in beliefs belong to neither party. Many feel no one represents them. Bottom part of population pyramid feels no chance to do better than to live off of those who live by taking care of them. [They] need a desire to work, not to live depressed.

5. Redesign across local units. But what continues [to be] lost - purpose of an organization in terms of long-run benefit to society, not just short-term survival of an organization. Great to redesign but must go beyond thinking only about crossing local unit boundaries. [The] real change needed is to ask what is the purpose of it all? How will a given expenditure of dollars buying people-hours change the growth patterns that drive expenditures in human services higher and in education favor the salaries over the time actually spent knowing what is going on in each student's mind?

6. Increase for proven programs. But we miss the boat in not looking at the over 100,000 students not in any school. Graduation rates do not equal success in life. Scores do not measure the life the child wants to have. Numbers do not tell us what is going on in the head of the child.

7. Prioritize backlog of needs. This is a balancing act brought on by not looking at long run needs until they become short-term needs hitting us in the face. We need not to focus so much on who wins and who loses in balancing the budget but in selecting long term infrastructure needs, reducing the number not prepared to work and increasing the growth of the private structure by having necessary workers available to meet the needs of the private structure rather than beating up on one sector to please another sector.

Scott Halstead (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (2.5)

Don Anderson (7.5) (10) (10) (7.5) (7.5) (5) (7.5)

Steven J Ahmann (10) (10) (10) (5) (10) (10) (7.5)

7. Prioritize backlog of needs. Maintain what we already have. Re-evaluate our current funded projects and re-organize. Concentrate on eliminating all unnecessary spending that is not absolutely necessary. Review the "return on our investment" (ROI) just as businesses. Breakdown the unit cost for each function and/or operation, and simplify, reduce, eliminate or outsource to save everyone money.

Bruce Lundeen (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (7.5)

Anonymous (10) (5) (10) (5) (10) (10) (0)

Anonymous (7.5) (7.5) (7.5) (2.5) (10) (10) (0)

Robert J. Brown (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (1)

Mark Ritchie (na) (na) (na) (na) (na) (na) (na)

Great interview.

John Adams (9) (7) (9) (10) (10) (10) (5)

Fred Zimmerman (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (2)

Wayne Jennings (10) (8) (8) (8) (9) (6) (5)

If money can only go to proven outcomes, then no money will be available to promising approaches or new ideas. I’m hopeful redesign principles can take hold this session but am dubious.

Chuck Lutz (9) (8) (6) (6) (9) (7) (5)

Al Quie (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (0)

Paul Gilje (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (6) (0)

Roger A Wacek (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (0)

William Kuisle (8) (8) (10) (7) (7) (10) (0)

Tom Swain (7) (10) (5) (10) (9) (3) (na)

Tom Spitznagle (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (4)

I have attended many Redesign Caucus meetings and commend the concepts that Representatives Marquart and MacFarlane were attempting to move forward. Many have spoken at these meetings with some very good ideas about how to improve government services. The Redesign Caucus is the epitome of good, customer-focused government.

Larry Schluter (9) (9) (8) (8) (7) (7) (6)

This is a very challenging project and this year would be an ideal time to move forward with some of these ideas.



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;  David Broden, Charles Clay,  Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje,  Jim Hetland,  Marina Lyon,
Joe Mansky,  John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  and  Wayne Popham 

The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
2104 Girard Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55405.
Verne C. Johnson, chair, 952-835-4549,       Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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