With Crisis as Catalyst, Govs Push Big Changes
Governors are using the economic crisis to sell big changes in how state and local jurisdictions operate, promising overhauls that could alter the face of government around the country.
The proposals include cutting off public funds to the nation's oldest state fair in Michigan, sharing state helicopters between Minnesota and Wisconsin, erasing dozens of laws in Connecticut and shrinking Pennsylvania's system of 500 school districts to just 100.
“It is time to get back to basics. It is time to return to our core mission — to educate our children, protect our people (and) help those truly in need. The economic challenges we are facing give us a rare opportunity to realign state government,” said Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell (R) as she laid out her plans for revamping state government for legislators Feb. 4.
It's a familiar refrain in state capitols, especially because of the tremendous strain state governments are now under. States are trying to close what, in many cases, are unprecedented budget deficits while still delivering services, such as unemployment benefits and health insurance for the poor.
As a result, governors are increasingly pitching the idea of consolidating agencies, streamlining processes and cutting out layers of local government.
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