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Our Opinion: 'Rebooting' initiative yields bold ideas

Our Opinion: 'Rebooting' initiative yields bold ideas

January 13th, 2011 in News

"Rebooting Government" is the catchy title of a Senate initiative to solicit ideas to streamline structure and cut costs.

But is this simply a feel-good exercise to mollify the public while state services are being cut? Or is government embracing people's ideas and taking action?

The evidence indicates the latter.

"Rebooting Government" recently was resumed by new Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer, R-Dexter, after it was launched last year by his predecessor.

A working group's recommendations, based on last year's suggestions, are available on the Senate's website, www.senate.mo.gov. The 16 pages of recommendations add up to total taxpayer savings estimated between $690 million and $790 million.

A number of the recommendations were approved and implemented last year as Gov. Jay Nixon and lawmakers struggled to meet the constitutional mandate to balance the state budget.

Among them: State retirement system changes are expected to save $660 million over the next decade; merging agencies, including the highway and water patrols, will save up to $1 million; and eliminating printing the Official Manual, the Blue Book, will save $1.7 million in printing and postage.

With "rebooting" rebooted this session, senators this week have been divided into seven panels to study additional suggestions from Missouri residents.

Some of those suggestions are bold.

For example, the panel on government pondered suggestions to reduce the size of both the House and Senate and to adopt a four-day work week for state employees as an alternative to possible furloughs.

And the education committee considered ideas to: reduce or consolidate Missouri's 522 public school districts; alter the "hold harmless" provision of the formula for distributing state aid to school districts; and eliminate a provision allowing schools to use higher, two-year-old attendance numbers to calculate state aid.

The panels will finish their sessions this week and will advance recommendations to the entire Senate next week.

Those recommendations may herald profound changes in governance, education, transportation, public safety and the delivery of state services.