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“We can disagree on what to do about the facts, but we usually get to a point where we agree on what the facts are and then we can have a healthy debate,” says Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans. (File photo: Kevin Featherly)
“We can disagree on what to do about the facts, but we usually get to a point where we agree on what the facts are and then we can have a healthy debate,” says Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans. (File photo: Kevin Featherly)

Breaking the Ice: MMB commissioner aims to focus on the facts

Name: Myron Frans

Title: Commissioner of Minnesota Management and Budget

Education: B.A., criminal justice, Washburn University; M.A., criminology, Sam Houston State University; J.D., University of Kansas School of Law

Myron Frans, commissioner of Minnesota Management and Budget, says the key to getting along with legislators — even on contentious issues such as health care costs, stadium financing and overhauling the state’s tax system — is honesty.

“We can disagree on what to do about the facts, but we usually get to a point where we agree on what the facts are and then we can have a healthy debate,” Frans said.

Such debates were part of what Frans enjoyed during 27 years as a tax attorney in private practice, before Gov. Mark Dayton named him revenue commissioner in 2011 and management and budget commissioner in 2015. In his current role his responsibilities include serving as the chief financial and chief accounting officer for the state.

A Kansas native, Frans worked at a Washington, D.C., law firm before joining firms in Minneapolis. He left law practice in 2009 to work as president of a manufacturing company.

Q. What’s the best way to start a conversation with you?

A. I love hearing about unusual places to visit in Minnesota. I’ve been here for 32 years, my wife is from Minnesota, and we like to go exploring in different places around Twin Cities or in greater Minnesota.

Q. Who was the first presidential candidate you voted for and why?

A. Hubert Humphrey. I grew up in Kansas so I wasn’t voting Hubert because I was from Minnesota. I voted for him in kind of a Republican state because I didn’t trust Richard Nixon and I liked Hubert Humphrey. And I was right.

Q. What books are on your bedside table or e-reader?

A. On the nonfiction side, “The Silk Roads” by Peter Frankopan. It’s a great story about the way the East and West transacted business. On the fiction side, John Grisham, “The Whistler.”

Q. What is a pet peeve of yours?

A. People not listening. It’s just amazing how often people are looking at you and you’re saying words and they’re watching you say words but all they’re doing is waiting until you stop so they can start talking.

Q. If someone visits you in your hometown, what would you take them to see or do?

A. Two good choices: I could take them to the jail or to the Burger Shake. My father was the chief of police in this small town, Marion, Kansas, for many years. Then he was the sheriff for a while. Back in those days the sheriff’s family lived on first floor and the jail was on the second floor. My mother would cook for the inmates.

After my father retired, he and my mother started this short-order hamburger place, called Charlie’s Burger Shake. It had the best double cheeseburgers in the world.

Q. How has an event or person inspired you?

A. Mark Dayton. His heart is completely in this job. He is really focused on doing nothing more than what’s right for Minnesota.

Q. What would be one way to end partisan polarization?

A. It goes back to the listening thing a little bit. Everyone is listening to their own world. So many people limit what they read, what they hear. It’s all sort of self-fulfilling stuff. None of us has the big picture. We’ve got to figure out a way to share more common information.

Q. What is the highlight or lowlight of your daily commute to work?

A. When I can ride my bike. During summer I ride almost every day from Minneapolis. It’s about 13 miles one way. If I can ride my bike, that’s a great day by definition.

Q. What is something very few people know about you?

A. I danced with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor when she was on the bench. I was working at Miller & Chevalier in D.C. Her husband, John O’Connor, worked in that firm and we got to know them. We went out dancing one night so I asked her to dance. She’s quite the dancer. The problem was she wanted to talk and I was busy counting. I didn’t want to step on her toes.

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