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The Big Plan Revealed
By Martin Kaste
October 6, 1999
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Governor Ventura took his cabinet to Mankato yesterday for the official roll-out of what he calls his "Big Plan." The Plan is the governor's comprehensive vision for the rest of his term in office, and it emphasizes his philosophy of governing, rather than offering specific new policy proposals. The few legislators who attended the speech reacted with caution, and at least one lawmaker says he has a hard time taking Ventura's policy statements seriously, in light of Ventura's Playboy interview.

The Big Plan
See full text of the Big Planand here more reaction to it.
GOVERNOR VENTURA'S "BIG PLAN" seems to be first and foremost an "attitude," a restatement of his campaign promise to run the government without regard to ideology.
Ventura: The way we work is based on results, not politics.
Ventura's overriding mission in this plan is the same one he's had since he took office: to hunt down waste and duplication, eliminate turf wars, duplication and avoid the kind of regional competition that he believes bogs down government and wastes tax dollars.
Ventura:What matters is that we are working together, not the mistakes, but that we're working with a focus, with a big plan. The Big Plan is about working together for the results for Minnesota. And I say that again - Minnesota. Notice that I didn't say a town or specific city, I again said "Minnesota."
On specific issues, the Big Plan still appears to be a work in process. The Administration did not deliver detailed white papers filled with statistics and new proposals. Instead, each department head outlined a brief mission statement. In education, for example, the administration is aiming for the best possible public education for every child in Minnesota, while trying to get, in the plan's words, "bang for our buck."

This goal, like most of the Big Plan, is hardly controversial. Ventura's critics are already taking aim at what they say is a lack of specifics in the plan. House Speaker Steve Sviggum quickly issued a news release calling it "long on rhetoric, short on details.

Ventura's Director of Planning, Dean Barkley, says the critics are missing the point. He says Ventura's governing philosophy will make a concrete difference in daily life. For example, he says Ventura's preference for a set of principles known as "smart growth" will change the way the state decides whether to fund local development projects.
Barkley: Let's take Hannover, for example, right on the edge of Wright County and Hennepin County. They just got a grant to expand their sewer system, that city is going to grow four-fold in the next five years. Now, DTED gave them the money for that sewer project, but they did not consult with the Department of Transportation, they did not consult with Pollution Control Agency about the pollution on the Crow River, they didn't consult with anybody else when they made that. They were narrowly looking at economic development and growth, and not looking at the big picture. That would be the type of thing that would change, when we get all agencies looking at the same page. Is that something that would really make sense?
The governor is also getting more specific about his attitude toward state borrowing for capital projects, a topic of great interest around the Capitol as legislators get ready for the biennial bonding session this winter. Local governments have already made an estimated $1.4 billion worth of capital requests, but Ventura says he doesn't want the state to borrow more than $400 million. And he poured even more cold water on their capital project hopes.
Ventura:The day of the state being there to do every feel-good bonding thing has come to an end. We cannot afford to go out and give every little community - in short, they're going to have to learn to bond themselves. And not be reliant necessarily on the state of Minnesota to carry the ball for them.
Ventura says he's interested only in capital projects with regional significance, and that fulfill a state-wide mission. This sort of statement gives pause to legislators from outside the St.Cloud-to-Rochester regional corridor, such as Madison representative Doug Peterson.
Peterson: I just hope he hasn't laid out a vision that doesn't let small communities die. I always believed "When we do better, we all do better." And that was not in this statement of his vision.
Other legislators, particularly Ventura's Republican critics, still have the latest issue of Playboy on their minds, which appears to be making it hard for them to concentrate on the governor's policies. In his news release criticizing the Big Plan, Speaker Sviggum wondered whether Ventura could be taken seriously by the people of Minnesota, given the Playboy interviews and his general celebrity status. At a news conference following the Big Plan speech, a reporter cautiously raised the same question, and Ventura almost lost his cool.
Ventura: Judge me by my policies, judge me by my commissioners, and judge me by the work that we're trying to do. And not by a feeding frenzy of media so that you can get ratings and make money. Okay?
News reporters and legislators have at least three more chances to get their priorities right. The Ventura administration has promised three more installments of the "Big Plan" in weekly speeches through the end of the month.