Local Government Innovation & Redesign

To support local government redesign efforts and recognize the innovative work already underway, the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center has partnered with state associations to create the Local Government Innovation & Redesign Guide and host a yearly Local Government Innovations Awards ceremony.

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Local Government Innovation Awards

Last Wednesday I had the privilege of emceeing the Minnesota Local Government Innovation Awards event for the third year, and the winners were the best yet. For 2008/9 these awards should be subtitled: A Response to Tight Budgets.

Minnesota clearly has budget problems. Some at the capitol argue that the only response to these budget problems is to cut spending, as if government spending was unnecessary. No one wants to pay more in taxes and fees, yet polls regularly show that our citizens want the government services provided, particularly our local public services.

It is easy to understand people’s desire for local public services. I think of:

  • the firefighter hosing down a home fire on a freezing Minnesota night
  • the first grade teacher trying to help 6, 7, and 8 year olds to read
  • the sheriff’s deputy stopping someone for drug possession fearing what might happen next
  • the snow-plow drivers fighting the latest storm 12 hours at a time
  • the school counselors helping their adolescent students cope and think about their futures
  • the public health nurses making home visits to the often lonely and sick elderly

In Minnesota, local government employees work hard day in and day out to ensure that we have the public services we desire. We need to express our appreciation for their true service to us all. We need to challenge those who indirectly criticize our local government employees when they say that they are part of the “government bureaucracy” that needs to be cut.

The notion that “starving" government makes it more efficient is just wrong and is no justification for large cuts to local government. While cutting spending is seemingly appealing, there is a better way to continue to provide local government services without increasing property taxes or fees…that better way is innovation. Two plus two can equal five if we do it a better way.

Last Wednesday, we honored 14 local governments “doing it a better way.” Read more about all the winners and let me know what you think.

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