A major bipartisan initiative to reform how state and local government works in Minnesota has languished for nearly a year at the Capitol.
That’s not what Minnesotans expect from their representatives.
By all accounts the Minnesota Accountable Government Innovation and Collaboration (MAGIC) Act is a sensible, bipartisan effort to allow local and state governments room to innovate in an attempt to deliver more with less or simply create changes in programs to get better outcomes with the same amount of money. It’s a pilot program that allows state or local government to cut through the red tape to try something new.
The MAGIC Act was born of the bipartisan Redesign Caucus established in 2010 by Rep. Paul Marquardt, DFL-Dilworth, and Rep. Carol McFarlane, R-White Bear Lake.
The act allows counties to “establish pilot programs in which counties may apply to develop and test alternative models for service delivery that focus on performance measures and outcomes rather than processes for delivering services.”
For example, a Rochester program that serves people with chronic chemical dependency would direct some of the money to housing, job training and employment instead of repeated treatment programs, according to a report in the Star Tribune.
Officials figure if some of the money used for repeated chemical dependency treatment were aimed at some of the causes of chemical dependency, better outcomes might be achieved. Under current law, the requested variation in policy took two years to get through the state bureaucracy, according to the report. If the MAGIC Act were in place, it may have taken just a couple of months.
The MAGIC Act still does not allow counties do what they want without exception. Their plans have to be overseen by the appropriate state agency, but it does allow for agencies to try innovations.
The proposed law would limit the number of programs to two per county and 10 per any state agency to be operating at one time. And county boards have to sign off on programs.
The program has bipartisan support and resolutions of support from all 87 Minnesota counties. It passed the Senate last year on a 62-1 vote. It is currently in the House Ways and Means Committee.
The MAGIC Act is a common sense program that costs taxpayers very little. In fact, many of the pilot programs will be able to shed light on innovative programs that can then be adopted on a statewide basis in an effort to save the taxpayers money.
The House should approve it as soon as possible and Gov. Mark Dayton should sign it.
— The Free Press of Mankato