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Citizen Solutions Minnesota Budget

As the Minnesota legislature approaches the 2013 session and the issue of the budget, it's helpful to remember that in July 2011, state government came to a standstill after the regular legislative session ended in a stalemate over how to solve the state's budget crisis.

Citizens Solutions Minnesota BudgetYet that same month, 130 ordinary Minnesotans proved it was possible to transcend their differences and decide together how to move forward.

They met in Grand Rapids, Bloomington and Rochester gathering across many walks of life and political beliefs to be part of Citizen Solutions Forums. Together they put aside their differences, found their shared values...and reached consensus on balanced budget solutions that refused to "kick the can down the road."

These citizens, plus 600 others who participated in a scientific poll, agreed on four key points:

  1. People of all ideologies share a universal desire to advance civil discourse, and to create long-term budget solutions around a foundation of shared values.
  2. Minnesotans want to find a comprehensive approach to budget discussions that includes spending cuts, tax increases and service redesign.
  3. Citizen participants almost universally reject one-time borrowing to solve Minnesota’s budget challenges, instead preferring that decision makers take a long-term view in making budget choices.
  4. Minnesotans believe that strategic and lasting public service redesign will ultimately be necessary to address the state’s long-term, structural deficit.

Citizen Solutions Report - Click to downloadIt took a special session for state leader to arrive at a solution that most said they were not happy with. The majority of individuals who attended the forums, however, were able to set aside their differences and reach consensus within a few hours. Their achievement underscores one of the Foundation's core beliefs: Often the best solutions to public problems lie in the shared experience and collective power of everyday citizens willing to work together.

We're pleased to share with you the outcomes of these Citizen Solutions Forums in the hope that other Minnesotans will take up where they left off...and that as state leaders begin their biennial budget conversations in January 2013, they will follow the example of those who participated in the forums and transcend their differences to work together.

Interested in learning more about the background, outcomes and next steps?

What brought the state to this point?

Watch this brief (and we think entertaining) video that sets the stage well.

What happened at the forum sessions?

Participants received information about the state's current budget crisis and a budget balancing worksheet that offered them the same options lawmakers had.

We invited Twin Cities Public Television to sit in on one table discussion at each forum to capture the conversations (watch the video, right).

Learn more about the methodology.


What conclusions did the participants reach?

The brief written report on the outcome of the sessions shows that Minnesotans are hungry for a new era of shared values, long-term vision and a common future.

What do other Minnesotans think about this problem?

In addition to convening the forums, we also contracted with Wilder Research to poll 600 Minnesotans about the state budget crisis.

What is the media saying about the forums?

Coverage by the press began with the first forum and continued through the release of the report. You can also read our press release.

How can I get involved in 2013?

Citizens Solutions’ greatest impact will be in its potential to inspire more conversations, like these, at community centers, in chat rooms and around kitchen tables throughout Minnesota, particularly as the legislature is once again addressing budget issues in its 2013 session..

Here are some of the things you can do to get involved:

  • Share this website with others to help spread the word.  You can also link to this work by following the Bush Foundation on Twitter and Facebook and using those platforms to share information (and your own thoughts) about Citizen Solutions with your networks.
  • Contact your elected officials and let them know what YOU think about the state budget and how decisions should be made in the future.  You can find contact information for your own legislators at
  • Learn from the budget presentation and the workshop materials from 2011.