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Minnesota counties not seeing legislative reforms they’d envisioned

There was much hope going into this legislative session that Minnesota counties would see some reform in the way state services are delivered and paid for, but the budget deficit got in the way.

Brad Swenson of Forum Communications quotes Jim Mulder, Association of Minnesota Counties executive director, saying that individual legislators have been receptive to AMC’s call for redesigning government, and that Gov. Tim Pawlenty had offered hope.

“Unfortunately, the actual response in legislation has been probably much less than we had hoped for,” Mulder said.

AMC earlier had launched a redesign plan seeking a new relationship between the state and its counties, which deliver state services. It sought an outcome-based delivery method, rather than focusing on inputs and numbers of clients served.

Mulder believes some other minor mandates will be repealed, but AMC has not been able to “excite the Legislature about taking on a broad array of mandates. Hopefully, in the last two weeks, they will be able to look at some of them … that they will be able to give us the relief that we need to allow us to be more flexible and more innovative in providing services.”

Counties expect to lose up to 50 percent in state aid they receive through the County Program Aid program, and so hope that lawmakers give them the tools to still balance county budgets, he said.

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