A recently introduced bill at the Minnesota Legislature would "redesign" the way Minnesota counties deliver social services to Minnesota's most vulnerable citizens.
The redesign efforts have been led by the Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC) and the Minnesota Association of County Social Service Administrators (MACSSA). AMC and MACSSA contend that the structural relationship between the state and counties is unsustainable--that the money the state directs toward certain human services programs would be more efficiently allocated by local county-level administrators. In the same way that the states are policy "laboratories" for the nation, the counties, serving as the administrative arm of the state, can be incubators for innovative solutions to state-wide service delivery challenges.
[Murray County's] juvenile mental-health treatment costs dropped $60,000 from 2004-05 levels when two young people turned 18 and moved away, [AMC director Jim] Mulder said. But state rules required the county to keep spending at the former level. The rule, not actual need for services, drove spending, he said.
Eliminating some county mandates, especially those that require counties to spend at prescribed "maintenance of effort" levels to help snare federal matching funds, could cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars.