Counties say they can better help with state deficit if some mandates are repealed

Officials in the Willmar area tell Carolyn Lange of the West Central Tribune that the state’s budget problems would be helped by getting rid of unfunded state mandates.

Larry Kleindl, Kandiyohi County administrator, told the paper that some of the state’s rules and mandates no longer serve a purpose.

If the Legislature lifts some of them — helping counties be more cost-effective — counties would be better partners in the budget reduction process, he said.

State Sen. Joe Gimse, R-Willmar, said he’s intrigued by the possibilities of shaking up the state’s system of delivering services. He said the idea of trimming mandates came up during a recent meeting he attended with Gov. Pawlenty.

“That is an area where we can certainly loosen up some of the requirements we have on counties,” Gimse said. “That would allow counties to trim their budgets and provide services without having to raid local property taxes to pay for it.”

Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Craig Huber on 01/02/2009 - 12:50 pm.

    I get nervous when politicos start cutting corners, so I wanted a little more detail on what exactly they are referring to when they talk about “unfunded mandates”. Some additional info:

    Here’s a link to an article that better describes (at least in general) the type of mandates under consideration:

    http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/12/29/mandate_opt_out/

    The Association of Minnesota Counties web page is here:

    http://www.mncounties.org

    The Minnesota Redesign link is a good start for additional info on what is actually being discussed. Still not a _lot_ of detail, but at least it gives some idea of what they are looking at/talking about.

  2. Submitted by kosnoff kosnoff on 01/05/2009 - 03:08 pm.

    Let’s not kid ourselves here. Many of the mandates on counties are directed at basic human services for vulnerable populations–services for elderly, disabled, children. The people who most need these mandated services are largely the least politically powerful — they are not the people who will muster the political ability to hold their county boards accountable. They will die; they will go into institutional care; they will spiral downward into other, costlier systems [corrections, juvenile justice]. Of course the county property tax system is unduly stressed — but county governments are in a much better position to put political pressure where it belongs — on the legislature.

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