ActionPlan for MN: Government Reform

ActionPlanMN #1 Government Reform

In government, as in any organization, the process impacts the result—and the current process is failing us. It’s clear that we need to dramatically change the way government functions in Minnesota.

As your Governor, I will not be content to operate in this broken system. I will make fundamental changes that increase direct representation between elected officials and the people, require that government programs are actually producing results and rein in unelected bureaucracies.

These changes are not only common-sense reforms—they are truly bipartisan and will be supported by most Minnesotans. They will benefit the vast majority of people in our state, and will only be a problem to entrenched interests and politicians. More importantly, they will improve how Minnesota government works not only in my administration, but for those that follow.

In the First 50 Days, I will take aggressive action on the following issues:

TERM LIMITS

WHY: Our system of representative democracy only works when our representatives are of the people—not of a permanent political class. Holding the same elective office for decades often results in out-dated ideas and policies that make sense in ‘the bubble” of St. Paul, but not in the real world or the real economy. Unfortunately, the political advantages of incumbency have become a significant barrier to good people even running for office, let alone serving.

ACTION: I will bring together leadership from both chambers and both parties to push for term limit legislation capping the number of years legislators and all executive officeholders (including governor) can serve in their positions.

VETO OMNIBUS “GARBAGE” BILLS

WHY: It has unfortunately become acceptable in St. Paul to fund government using huge omnibus bills (aka “garbage” bills) full of unrelated policy or spending items that would never pass on their own. Consequently, Minnesotans don’t know where their representatives stand on individual issues and government spending continues to grow at an unsustainable pace.  Article 4, Section 17 of the Minnesota Constitution simply states: “No law shall embrace more than one subject…”  Courts have been hesitant to enforce this provision; I will not be.

ACTION: I will veto any omnibus bill that does not comply with the Constitution's single subject requirement - regardless of which party puts it forth.

REIN IN BUREAUCRATS’ REGULATORY POWER

WHY: Over the years, the Minnesota legislature has granted state agencies massive power to create rules and regulations without any legislative review. This power has resulted in thousands of burdensome regulations that affect nearly every aspect of life in Minnesota.

ACTION: The Johnson Administration will respect and support our business owners and entrepreneurs--not put up roadblocks to economic activity and job growth. I will propose a comprehensive package of regulatory limits that will rein in the rule-making authority of unelected bureaucrats, including requirements that all new rules 1) are accompanied by the elimination of an existing rule, 2) contain a sunset provision, and 3) must be approved by the Legislature if the rule’s impact meets a certain threshold.  Additionally, all agencies will issue permits at the speed of business--and not the speed of government.

PAY FOR PERFORMANCE

WHY: Special sessions have become almost customary every budget year, as the Governor and Legislature put off any serious negotiations until the last minute and then end the regular session in a stalemate amidst a flurry of accusations and bickering.  It is high time we require basic performance from our government officials, just as most Minnesotans experience in their own employment.

ACTION: I will advocate for a law providing that if the Governor and legislators cannot agree on a budget by the end of the legislative session in budget years, they will all forfeit their pay until a budget is signed. In addition, I will require pay-for-performance agreements with all of my appointed agency heads. They will each have measurable performance goals to meet in order to receive their full salary.

DISMANTLE THE MET COUNCIL

WHY:  The Metropolitan Council made sense when it was created in 1967 to help facilitate growth in the Twin Cities and manage the region’s sewer system. Since then, this unelected body has amassed tremendous power, over 4,000 employees and an annual budget of $1 billion. It no longer facilitates planning and growth, but seeks to dictate the decisions of locally-elected officials.

ACTION: We cannot solve this problem by “tinkering” with the Met Council. I will eliminate the organization entirely and replace it with a regional body strictly limited in its powers and without taxing authority.

AUDIT ALL GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS

WHY: Minnesotans are very generous people and willing to pay taxes to help the less fortunate among us get on their feet. The problem is, many of the programs we fund don’t produce that result. As Governor, I will never forget that every dollar the government spends is taken from a hard-working Minnesotan and will require results and accountability of every program. 

ACTION: In my first week as Governor, I will order a top to bottom audit of every program funded by Minnesota taxpayers and the results will be published online. Every inefficient expenditure will be flagged and a recommendation for addressing it will be sent to my office and to Legislative leadership. In the longer term, I will create an Office of Government Accountability that consistently reviews programs for effectiveness and efficiency.