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I want to thank all the people who, during a recent meeting at Woodbury City Hall, provided great ideas for how the state can improve the way it operates.
The meeting centered on a package of bills the Legislature is compiling for the 2012 session. The initiative is called “Reform 2.0” and the common thread is each bill is designed help our state operate more efficiently. We have entered a new era of fiscal reckoning and it is clear new efficiencies are needed so we can make the most of our tax dollars, uphold our priorities and keep our promises.
My goal for this meeting was to do more listening than talking, hearing what local people had to say about where we need improvements. Government red tape and regulations are a consistent theme at Reform 2.0 meetings. Small-business owners are saying they sometimes turn down high-dollar tax incentives because it takes up too much time and effort to reap the benefits. We passed legislation this year to streamline the permitting process, but we must do far more to clear the way for our entrepreneurs to thrive and create jobs.
This year we also created a new Sunset Commission to review state agencies and advisory committees to identify inefficiencies in government. The commission will assess 12 key performance factors and use its findings to recommend ending, continuing or reorganizing each aspect of state government.
This all comes down to cost-effectiveness, determining what is or is not working and making adjustments. We should not even consider asking hard-working Minnesotans to pay more in taxes without determining whether existing revenue is being put to the best use. As a member of the State Government Finance Committee, I will remain hands-on throughout this process.
Only time will tell how much money we save with these changes, but I believe the estimates we used in the Legislature were very conservative figures. Even the stingiest estimates show we will have knocked out a substantial portion of our projected shortfall for the upcoming biennium. If actual savings come in higher than we were allowed to calculate – and I fully expect this to happen – we will be in even better shape two years from now.
I continue meeting with area citizens, local government officials and business leaders in our communities to receive their ideas for what the state can do better. I invite the public to participate in this process by offering their reform ideas. There is a Reform 2.0 Facebook page where people can follow ongoing discussions and provide their thoughts.
As always, I personally welcome your input. You can reach me by emailing email@example.com or by calling my legislative office at (651) 296-4244.
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