Republican leaders announced Tuesday that they have greatly reduced the number of legislative committees in the Minnesota House and Senate and that they estimate cost savings at between $750,000 and $800,000. Future House Speaker Leader Kurt Zellers said the new structure will reduce the number of committees from 36 to 24, and future Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch said her caucus has reduced committee from 25 to 16. Zellers said the new structure will make it easier for businesses to navigate the process.
“We wanted to productively innovate to make government more user friendly,” Koch said at a press conference at the Capitol Tuesday afternoon. “It’s going to make the process much more transparent.”
She added, “We are estimating that in the Senate we will save $250,000 to $300,000.”
She said the new structure is a 36 percent reduction in committees.
On the House side, Zellers said that the new structure will help business owners and concerned citizens navigate the process.
“We’ve streamlined government,” said Zellers. “We set our structure up so that it’s to the advantage of the voters. It’s what the voter expected and demanded.”
He said saving will be “close to if not a half a million in savings.”
“There’s going to be one stop shopping in most cases, if you are a business owner,” he said. “It’s just a matter of how efficiently we run this place.” He said that his caucus had spoken to a lot of business owners who had trouble getting through to complicated committee structure when an issue came up.
“It’ll be a lot easier and more transparent,” he said.
The major changes include doing away with subcommittees and combining policy and budget committees as well as staff reductions.
“We’ve done some combining of policy and finance committees,” said Koch. “If you looked at a lot of the bills, policy and finance are so intertwined anyway, it just made a lot of sense.”
In terms of staff reductions in the Senate, Koch said it’s likely to be four to five people.
Zellers said in the House, “it is going to be a significant reduction.”
“I think it will be double digit,” he said, but noted that a lot of those cuts will come from positions left unfilled.
Senate Minority Leader Paul Thissen was not convinced that the new structure is a good idea. “My fear is that Republicans will use their new structure to reward the anonymous corporations who helped pay for many of the seats in this election,” he said.
Zellers dismissed his statement, “We’ll leave political pot-shots back on the campaign trail.”