Tuesday, May 26, 2009

June Public Hearings on Streamlining the Michigan State Government

I've been wondering what became of this idea ever since it was announced last winter. Eighteen departments consolidated down to eight probably will eliminate a lot of duplicate functions, increase efficiency, and afford easier accountability. You would think anyway. Looks like public hearings will be getting underway soon; June 16th and 24th to be exact for the first two, locations to be determined.

Get those ideas ready. You want reform? This will be some big-time reform.

How best to do that will be tackled in a half-dozen public hearings Cherry will lead around the state. He said his mission is to redesign a government that was created in the 1950s to sustain an auto industry that will no longer be as economically dominant.

“We need to ask, ‘What is it state government should do?’” Cherry told reporters.

That likely will mean fewer state departments, each designed with a specific purpose. Cherry said those purposes fall under seven core functions:

• Public safety
• Education
• Public systems, which includes roads, water and waste systems, utilities and communication systems.
• Well-being, which means freedom from hunger and access to medical care.
• Environmental sustainability
• Economic opportunity and prosperity by promoting jobs and entrepreneurship
• Efficiency and effectiveness

Massive undertaking, although by the time we cut another billion out of the budget, it might be easier than we think. The challenge will be to get all the "interest groups" to cooperate and surrender their fiefdoms. The same problems come up in trying to consolidate local governments and school systems; state government will be no different - and this is where we will meet the Republican stonewall of hypocrisy. The complaints about the cuts and/or elimination made to HAL and Agriculture show they will defend their "interests" vigorously.

Much of this will be accomplished by executive order once plans are finalized, end of the year is the due date, with more changes to be announced at the 2010 State of the State Address.

We are going to find out just how serious the Republicans are about "reform" now. Get ready to rumble!