Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton (D) recently signed into law bipartisan legislation that will help state policymakers study the effectiveness of corrections and human services programs and identify those with the greatest return on public investment.
The legislation, part of an omnibus measure, contains language from two bills titled, “Return on Tax-Payer Investment” (S.F. 844 and H.F. 0795). It directs the state to appropriate $121,000 in fiscal year 2016 and $122,000 in fiscal 2017 to Minnesota Management and Budget to implement the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative’s innovative benefit-cost model. The management and budget agency will work with other state agencies, legislators and legislative staff, county personnel, and other key stakeholders to collect and analyze program data and issue a progress report to the governor by Jan. 31, 2017. A recent editorial in the St. Paul Pioneer Press cited the legislation as an important step toward increasing government performance while controlling costs.
Results First Initiative research shows that policymakers can achieve better results by using rigorous evidence to inform budget and policy decisions. To date, 18 states and four California counties have partnered with Results First to apply this customized approach to policy and budget decision-making. The approach has been shown to help public leaders compile and analyze program, population, and cost data; interpret results; and make evidence-based decisions to eliminate ineffective programs and shift resources to those with the best outcomes for constituents. Five states—Iowa, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, and Vermont—have used the Results First framework to redirect $81 million in funding to more effective programs.
In Minnesota, a bipartisan group of policymakers—led by the bills’ sponsors, Senator Michelle Benson and Representative Tara Mack, both Republicans, and several Democratic co-sponsors—worked across the aisle over several years to build support for implementing Results First methods. This legislation represents a key investment in evidence-based policymaking and demonstrates Minnesota’s commitment to funding government programs that have been shown to work.