Minnesota has taken an important step forward in making taxpayer dollars work more effectively and avoiding severe financial stress from an aging population, slower growing work force, more moderate growth expectations, underfunded pension liabilities and outdated infrastructure.
This past legislative session, Minnesota’s lawmakers decided to implement a model that aligns research, policy solutions and cost-benefit analysis. Results First Initiative, a project of The Pew Charitable Trusts and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, works with states and local governments to implement an innovative cost-benefit analysis approach to governing and resource allocation. Minnesota’s governor, Senate and House signed off on adopting this model this past legislative session.
By doing so, Minnesota joins 17 others states and four California counties that have partnered with Results First to apply a customized approach to policy and budget decision-making. Early results show that five states can account for redirecting $81 million in funding to more effective programs by adopting this evidence-based approach.
The Results First model shows that, by leveraging the benefits of evidence-based policymaking, governments can reduce wasteful spending, expand innovative programs, and strengthen accountability. These efforts have helped leaders in other states improve public outcomes, reduce costs, and increase accountability by ensuring that resources are directed toward the most effective, cost-beneficial programs.
Looking to what works, at an affordable price
We and like-minded citizens have been discussing models similar to the one launched by Pew and MacArthur and modeled after Washington state over the past several years – and want to congratulate this governor and this Legislature. Like many, we are weary of a $40 billion budget being decided on by special interests in sequestered conference rooms at the 11th hour. Policy decision-making should be done in the daylight and guided by good evidence of what works at a price we can afford.
Effective and efficient organizations measure and assess the productivity and impact of valued investments. We look forward to the next legislative session where we can begin to assess and measure results first and foremost.
Peter Heegaard is from Minneapolis; Angie Eilers from St. Louis Park. Also contributing to this commentary were Robert Bruininks of Minneapolis; Kelly Harder of Kasson; and Jim Westcott of Oakdale.
Want to add your voice?
If you’re interested in joining the discussion, add your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a letter or a longer-form Community Voices commentary. (For more information about Community Voices, email Susan Albright at firstname.lastname@example.org.)