Dayton reports progress in saving state money
ST. PAUL -- Gov. Mark Dayton says his efforts to reform state government are saving money, but Republican plans to "gouge" government are "idiotic." The Democratic governor and some leaders of his reform movement updated reporters Thursday on the...
ST. PAUL -- Gov. Mark Dayton says his efforts to reform state government are saving money, but Republican plans to "gouge" government are "idiotic."
The Democratic governor and some leaders of his reform movement updated reporters Thursday on their progress, claiming to save $242 million in health-care expenses alone.
Dayton and his chief of staff, Tina Smith, said their efforts are aimed at providing better results, not just cutting government.
"For some, cutting is reforming," Smith said, a reference to how Democrats see many Republican reform proposals.
Her boss complained about Republican plans that include a proposal to require votes from a super majority of legislators before a tax can increase. Dayton called it a "protect-the-rich" plan that "is absolutely idiotic."
"They are not off to a good start," he said about Republican reforms. "... I hope we can get a more thoughtful approach to it."
Dayton's comments did not please the top Republican House reformer, Rep. Keith Downey of Edina. "It's pretty disappointing."
Downey said he still hopes to find a way for Democrats and Republicans to work together on reform issues.
The Dayton administration rolled out health-care savings as a way the state needs to change. Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson said her department will save $242 million annually by putting two health-care programs out for competitive bids.
The Human Services Department sought bids for the state and federally funded Medical Assistance program and MinnesotaCare, a state-run insurance plan that requires patients to pay a premium based on their income.
Jesson said the bidding process, so far confined to the Twin Cities, will not cut any services, but it forces insurance companies to be more competitive in seeking state business.
The bidding program was a pilot project that will spread to other parts of the state, she said. While not all regions have enough health-care plans to institute competitive bidding, Jesson said larger communities such as Duluth will be included.
"We want to be a smarter purchaser of health care," the commissioner added.
Dayton's Web site (mn.gov/governor) includes a link for people to submit ideas to improve government. A new Web site is planned.
On Aug. 18, Republicans launched what they call
"Reform 2.0," a tour designed to build a proposal of government reform initiatives for the 2012 legislative session.
Even before the tour, GOP leaders said they will push for lower taxes and fewer regulations. Many of their proposals are aimed at helping businesses lower costs with the theory they then could hire more Minnesotans.
Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co., which owns the News Tribune.