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Sunset Commission could determine fates of state boards, agencies

01 Jan

by Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio

December 26, 2011

St. Paul, Minn. — The future of 25 state boards, councils and agencies is at the mercy of a group of 12 policy makers called the Minnesota Sunset Commission.

No one on the board indicates whether they will recommend any cuts this year. But behind the scenes, agencies and their advocates have been working to make their case.

For example, people supporting the Council on Black Minnesotans sent an email calling on others to attend a Sunset Commission hearing to show support for the council. Rosella Collins-Puoch is the vice-chair of the Council on Black Minnesotans. She doesn’t think the Sunset Commission will try to eliminate her organization.

“People understand that communities of color still have many many challenges and there has to be some entities that ensure Africans and African Americans are treated equitably in the state of Minnesota,” Collins-Puoch said.

Kiffmeyer suggested the state could save money by asking boards and commissions to consolidate what is known as back office services. That includes human resources, information technology services and office management. Others, like Sen. Mike Parry,R-Waseca, said the Sunset Commission may look to consolidate agencies that are duplicating work. He said no agency should consider itself on the chopping block but said officials had better be prepared to answer how they’re spending public money.

“If they are out of the chute worried about not being in existence, that might lead some to believe that maybe they shouldn’t have been there in the first place. That’s why I’m hoping that all of the boards and agencies realize this is not and never was intended to be any kind of witch-hunt,” Parry said.

The Sunset Commission’s recommendations aren’t final. The Legislature could vote to keep some agencies open that the commission wants to close. And if it does put an agency, board, or commission out of business the state department of administration has to ensure that laws continue to be enforced.

Full article by MPR at http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2011/12/15/sunset-commission/

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