Sunday, August 8, 2010

Seeking your ideas for improving government - from Rep. Torrey Westrom

The Request for Innovations program is your chance to share those ideas you have for improving the way Minnesota operates.

The House of Representatives Redesign Caucus will continue to accept submissions from the public through Nov. 15 as it strives to find ways of doing things better and more efficiently in the face of a $5.8 billion deficit forecast for the upcoming budget cycle. The Redesign Caucus has established five areas for reform: Local government and collaborative governance, state government, education, health care and
human services, and tax and budget policy. Two proposals will be selected from each area and introduced as legislation.

“We can’t overstate the importance of changing the way we operate because the system we have in place simply is not sustainable,” said Rep. Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake. “Our goal should be threefold: To deliver better value more efficiently with increased accountability.”

A rise in unemployment during the current recession has meant decline in state income tax revenue, a significant factor in Minnesota’s current budget woes. Moreover, projections indicate Minnesota’s tax base will shrink as baby boomers reach retirement age, placing even more importance on a government redesign.

Westrom said technology is one efficiency tool he would like to see implemented to a greater degree and pointed to a recent announcement from the judicial branch as an example. An online service for paying fines is being rolled out statewide over a two-year period as part of an effort to reduce costs, better utilize staff resources and improve service to the public.

“It seems like far too often we limit our choices to raising taxes or cutting budgets,” Westrom said. “It’s time to get past that way of thinking and I look forward to hearing proposals from the public to streamline government and get the best use out of our tax dollars."

Citizens are invited to provide suggestions at

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