Merger only looks good on the surface

Gov. Ventura announced Monday his plan to consolidate the Department of Public Service with the Department of Commerce. The merger would be a poor fit and would save the state little money. In his efforts to diminish the size of government, the governor should look for other areas to streamline.
According to the proposal, the two departments would merge and keep the Department of Commerce name. The regulation of weights and measures will not be merged into the commerce department, but will become a separate department.
The two departments do not seem like a good match, as their businesses are distinctly different. The commerce department regulates insurance, banking, real estate and securities, while the public service department acts as a consumer advocate to the gas, electric and telephone utilities.
Ventura does not appear concerned about the disparities of the two departments. Instead, he said, the merger would be convenient, as the departments are across the street from each other and their employees have a similar level of training. These are extremely superficial reasons for a merger.
Additionally, the savings would be marginal. No staff of either department would be laid off, and the savings are generously estimated at up to $1 million. The savings would occur over two years as a result of “computer sharing” and would account for only a small fraction of the state’s $25 billion budget.
Ventura’s plan does not amount to substantial savings in either money or efficiency as he would like Minnesotans to believe. The proposed merger would result in one department with divergent priorities. Ventura should shift his penny-pinching focus elsewhere.