Star Herald Editorial
Minnesota is the best-run state in the nation, according to a new study from USA Today that cites Minnesota’s strong fiscal management, low unemployment and poverty rates, above-average median household income, and the state’s nearly perfect credit rating.
We often brag about how proud we are to be Luverne leaders and residents. Here are some reasons to be proud of our state
Since ranking 10 in 2012, Minnesota has consistently climbed in the rankings under the same study, including ranking second last year.
“This Administration has worked hard to make state government work better for the people of Minnesota — and we are not done yet,” said Governor Mark Dayton.
The study notes that Minnesota’s strong economy and sound fiscal management have allowed the state to save more — approximately ten percent of our annual budget — which is more than most other individual states, and above the average of all states’ savings, which is eight percent.
The study also cites Minnesota’s near-perfect credit rating from Moody’s, and a currently stable long-term outlook, and it also cites Minnesota’s low unemployment and poverty rates.
Minnesota’s unemployment rate has been at or below 4 percent for 40 straight months, and recently hit 3.3 percent, the lowest it has been since 2000.
Minnesota employers have added more than 290,000 jobs since 2011, and the state has made investments in education every year to grow greater opportunity for all Minnesota families.
Wages also are growing in Minnesota, alongside an increase in the minimum wage to keep up with the rising cost of living.
Below are some examples of how state government has become more efficient, effective and accountable for Minnesotans.
•Making government work better for people — Minnesota has undertaken more than 500 reform projects to streamline processes and save taxpayer money. This includes efforts to better care for veterans, an initiative to reduce document storage costs by 20 percent, and a program at the Pollution Control Agency to reduce contract processing time from 7 months to 3.5 months.
•Strengthened fraud prevention efforts — The Department of Human Services created a new Office of Inspector General to increase accountability. Thanks to the new office, the State of Minnesota has recovered $97 million in improper payments to health care and child care providers who have attempted to defraud Minnesota taxpayers.
•Saved taxpayers $1.5 billion through competitive bidding — The State of Minnesota was not getting the best value for public enrollees in managed care plans, so the Department of Human Services now requires health plans to bid and compete, to provide health care coverage state programs at the best value for taxpayers. This has saved taxpayers $1.5 billion.
•Child care licensing at the speed of business — Many Minnesota communities, especially in rural areas, face a shortage of quality child care providers. As part of Governor Dayton’s reform efforts, child care center applications were changed to be easier to understand and process. These reforms ensured that 75 percent of all applications are reviewed within 120 days, up from just 31 percent before.
•Saved Minnesota taxpayers $60 million through IT consolidation and reform — The state of Minnesota has reformed and modernized its use of technology to improve experiences for consumers and save money. Thanks to reforms, the state’s datacenter footprint was reduced by more than 50 percent, making Minnesota more secure, while saving taxpayer money.
In addition, IT reforms have reduced technology purchasing costs. Since 2011, these reforms have saved taxpayers more than $60 million.
“Next session I will urge the Legislature to work with me to protect the long-term fiscal stability of our state, which is essential for Minnesota’s future,” Dayton said.
“Working together, I know we can deliver even better services, and better value, for the people of Minnesota.”