At the Minnesota Digital Government Summit leading lawmakers supported the idea of bonding or borrowing for technology. Sen. Ann Rest (DFL-New Hope), Rep. Phyllis Kahn (DFL-Minneapolis) and Sen. Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka) all were interested in trying to use that new funding source to invest in technology which could save the state money in the long run but requires upfront investment. The Democrats were divided on whether a constitutional question to voters is the right route. Rep. Keith Downey (R-Edina) is hesitant to bond for IT saying it could “open up the flood gates.” Downey expressed the most interest in more privatizing, Kahn disagreed saying “e-verify was a disaster.” Lawmakers and the next governor will look to technology to deliver “efficiencies” and “redesign” in all levels of government to help account for a nearly $6 billion state budget shortfall.
Sen. Rest said Minnesotans expect 24/7 service from the state online and the system simply “has to work.” She complained about her Blackberry not syncing with the state system. Government IT employees asked good questions of the lawmakers, noting “everyone is a little afraid of you guys” and their decisions on streamlining and rulemaking. One audience member summed it up saying it’s about service, transparency and access. All four lawmakers have smart phones and said “most” legislators have mobile devices. Sen. Bonoff proudly held up her iPad to audience applause. When we asked for questions via twitter, Common Cause Minnesota wondered why it’s hard to find lawmakers’ voting records on the state’s website. The lawmakers said they’d look into that and even offered to tweet their votes.