State governors target ‘redesigns’ in speeches, analysis finds

In an analysis of 2011 State of the State addresses, governors hit upon the subject of government redesigns – to address budgets, size of state governments and jobs. Among the key components of gubernatorial plans to redesign state government, “consolidation,” “streamlining,” and “pensions” rang the loudest and most persistent.

The perennial list of topics, such as health care and education, were still heard in nearly every speech, but a new report by the National Governors Association indicated that, “Government redesign efforts are coloring virtually every aspect of state policy in 2011 as governors adjust to the new normal in the wake of the great recession.”

As mentioned in nearly half of the SotS addresses surveyed across the country, consolidation – of agencies, commissions, boards and services – was a key talking point. Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Kansas, Missouri, Nevada, New York, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming all issued calls to eliminate or consolidate parts of their state’s government. As previously reported by CivSource, efforts are well underway in Washington state, where Gov. Chris Gregoire recently announced her intention to reduce the number of state agencies from 21 to 9 to save $30 million over the next biennium. And North Carolina Gov. Bev Purdue has made proposals for the same kinds of redesigns.

“Government redesign efforts are a part of virtually every aspect of state policy in 2011 as governors adjust to the new normal in the wake of the great recession,” John Thomasian, director of the NGA Center, said in a statement introducing the analysis. “Governors are focusing on consolidation, streamlining bureaucratic processes and controlling employee and pension costs, while at the same time doing as much as they can to spur job growth.”

Regulatory and business process streamlining was also a key point in twenty of the speeches surveyed.

In a turn of phrase that might impress his old boss, Kansas Governor and former Senator, Sam Brownback, said he will establish an Office of the Repealer, which will rescind regulations that are deemed too costly, outdated or ineffective.

Similar, if less quippy, calls have been made by several other states, including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Other states have gone as far as to issue regulatory moratoriums.

Of course, many other topics were addressed in SotS addresses, including health care, education and employee costs. But you’ll have to read the report for the rest.

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