Agenda for reform delivered to Governor Carlson
Former Congressman Vin Weber and former state senator and University of Minnesota economist John Brandl today delivered to Governor Arne H. Carlson five specific recommendations to close the growing gap between spending demands and available government revenues while improving taxpayer satisfaction with results.
The report identified the five areas of major government spending where demands by the year 2001 will far outpace the ability to pay largely because of demographic changes. Weber and Brandl recommend establishing a "global budget" which reflects demographic priorities and limits these spending areas to the following four-year cumulative growth:
1) Health care: 40 percent increase (Current pattern requires 48 percent increase.)
2) K-12 education: 8 percent increase (Current pattern requires 14 percent increase.)
3) Corrections: 20 percent increase (Current pattern requires 27 percent increase.)
4) Higher education: 2 percent increase (Current pattern requires 8 percent increase.)
5) Local government aid: 4.5 percent decrease (Current pattern: 1 percent increase.)
In order to maximize results and consumer satisfaction while spending relatively less, the Weber-Brandl report advises fundamental reform in each of these spending areas, based on one premise: government has important responsibilities but monopoly government bureaucracies are not necessarily the best mechanism to meet the responsibilities.
Any entity which supplies services to the taxpayer must compete for the right to do so, must exist at a community level (that is, as close as possible to the group using the services), and must concentrate the resources on the people in greatest need. Brandl and Weber also recommended that tax dollars go directly to individuals rather than bureaucracies to insure competition and accountability.
The principals of competition, community and concentration are reflected in the recommendations of how Minnesota government can live within its means and, in each of the targeted areas of expenditure, get the most out of the taxpayer's dollar.
Summary of recommendations
K-12 education: statewide voucher program for low-income families; expansion of charter schools; expansion of public school choice; more access to information on school and student performance.
Higher education: direct financial assistance to students instead of institutions, inverting current practice of allocating 90 percent of state appropriation to institutions, 10 percent to students; improve institutional competition and refocus goals of governing boards.
Local government aid: increase property tax relief to needy people, decrease government aid to cities; referendum on increasing property tax rates; increase in competitive bidding to provide public services.
Corrections: develop private sector options for incarceration; expand pretrial intervention and alternative sentencing to insure confinement at lower cost; improve state and local facility use; restore independence of the Sentencing Guidelines Commission.
Health care: promote consumer options in an affordable acute and long-term care program; benefit package should reflect private sector health benefits and ability to pay; expand managed care to long-term care.
Governor Carlson thanked Brandl and Weber for their considerable work and said his administration is already incorporating their principles in his 1996 legislative proposals on education and health care.
"Once again, Minnesota is in the forefront on protecting long-term the taxpayer dollars," the Governor said. "This is a solid agenda with a realistic attitude toward what government can provide and the consumer can expect. I will take these recommendations most seriously."