Friday, February 19, 2010

Cut State Government: Shrink the Legislature!

Watching Governor Pawlenty speak about "state" taxes this week, while cashing his paycheck and receiving Cadillac health coverage, set me to searching for some obvious and symbolic cost reductions. There was a rapid stirring among our 201 legislators to this State of the State speech, with sound bites galore.

Wait a minute. Why does Minnesota have so many legislative districts? For State Representatives there are 134. Two each in every one of 67 State Senate Districts.
The latest U.S. Census population estimate for the Gopher State is 5.22 million persons. Looking at our neighboring states to the East, Wisconsin holds 5.63 million persons, and Michigan, 10.0 million.

But their bicameral legislatures are smaller than Minnesota's! In Wisconsin's upper body there are just 33 Senators. In the lower Assembly, 99 State Representatives.

You guessed it. Michigan also has fewer legislators. In the State Senate, 38 Senators, and in the House are 110 Representatives.

Here is what I recommend. We need a Constitutional Amendment to redistrict Minnesota according to our 2010 Census, providing just 102 House Districts, down from 134.

And only 51 Senate Districts, no longer 67.

The money saved will be significant, when there will be one fourth fewer public servants to house and support in the Capitol, and across the state.

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