In 2008, Tunheim developed a strategy for AMC to pressure the legislature into providing mandate relief.


Minnesota’s 87 counties are responsible for delivering most government services to state residents. When services are mandated by the state, counties often receive at least partial reimbursement from the state for the costs of delivering those services.

For more than a decade, the number of unfunded or under-funded mandates has steadily risen — creating a heavy burden on county government. Called “maintenance of efforts” (MOEs), these mandates force counties to maintain spending levels for certain programs at the expense of other programs that may be a local priority.


To remedy this problem, Tunheim conducted a strategy that:

  • Drew attention to the most egregious examples of MOEs to highlight the need for a redesign of the county-state relationship;
  • Positioned the AMC as an organization with good ideas to help save money for the state and taxpayers during a difficult budgeting year; and
  • Promoted AMC’s vision of “The Minnesota Redesign Project.”

Tunheim conducted high-visibility events that demonstrated the folly of MOEs and potential cost-savings of their repeal or modification. Editorial board tours were held in key media markets around the state to garner media support for AMC’s vision to reform the county-state relationship. Lastly, Tunheim worked with key legislators and the governor’s staff to advance AMC-supported legislative alternatives.


Because of Tunheim’s outreach efforts, the AMC “redesign” plan made significant progress and was widely discussed in the media and by the governor and top legislative leaders, paving the way for future passage. Gov. Tim Pawlenty recognized AMC’s efforts in his State of the State speech and personally pushed to repeal a significant mandate involving housing of short-term offenders (STOs).

Finally, AMC successfully defeated Gov. Pawlenty’s proposal to mandate consolidation of human services, instead forwarding its own legislative alternative.