Foundations make pitch to reform gov't servicesby Tim Nelson, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Six Minnesota foundations are working together to try to pitch ideas for government reform to lawmakers this session.
They say they've found widespread support for major changes to the way public services are paid for and provided in Minnesota.
St. Paul Foundation President Carleen Rhodes said ideas include widespread consolidation of county-based functions and health reform that builds on federal efforts.
"There are some other ideas that I don't think anybody has taken on," Rhodes said. "Can we spend more money on chemical dependency and spend less money on corrections? If you take some people out of that system, you could save some money there."
The foundations been convening citizen groups, conducted a survey and presented ideas to legislators.
Bush Foundation President Peter Hutchinson told officials today that a survey by the Wilder Foundation found Minnesotans were willing to pay more for education, health care for kids and the elderly, and higher education.
"A huge number 68 percent of people get it, that we have a serious budget problem here. They call it a crisis, and they know its going to take difficult decisions to resolve it," he said. "I think the message we got from that is that the people of Minnesota are ready for change, they're ready for reform. They have very high expectations for their government, but they want to see that government deliver more cost-effective services."
The coalition has suggested widespread consolidation of county services, more health reforms and more spending on preventive human services programs, like chemical dependency treatment.