Following the infamous government shutdown in Minnesota last summer (which the State is still feeling the effects of), Republican members of both the House and Senate began gathering a variety of proposals for the current legislative session. The list of proposals, commonly called “Reform 2.0” covers a variety of areas, including economic development, education, health care, and government reform.
As State Rep Keith Downey noted, “[o]ne of the biggest challenges we face in state government is we’re about 20 years behind in improving state operations.” To that end, the “Reform 2.0” includes a number of government reform provisions that would: make government pay and benefits competitive with the private sector, reduce the number of departments in the Executive Branch, require local governments to present budget and spending information in an easier to understand format for the general public, work with local governments on mandate relief, require the state budget to include federal insolvency contingency planning, and fix the problems which were encountered during the government shutdown.
Not surprisingly, State Democrats remain skeptical of the Reform 2.0 proposals. House Minority Leader Paul Thissen was reportedly disappointed by the GOP plan, echoing the claim of other Democrats who believe that many of the ideas are recycled from previous, unsuccessful proposals. To counter, Democrats have announced their own reform package which would emphasize reforms in the Legislature. Highlights of the Democratic package include: a plan to prevent future state shutdowns, requiring politicians to disclose any outside income, preventing private meetings whenever the State Capitol is closed, prohibiting public meetings between 12 a.m. and 7 a.m., prohibiting officials of political parties from holding public jobs, and a provision on “unallotment.”