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All Due Respect

Alumnus balances budget and opinions with confidence

Myron Frans giving a speech

From The Ichabod - Fall 2018

Being respectful of one another — even when you disagree — is so important to Myron Frans, bs ’72, that one might even say it’s been the cornerstone of his career.

As the commissioner of Minnesota Management and Budget and right-hand man to Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton for the past eight years, Frans has had his work cut out for him. Building and maintaining relationships has been a crucial part of the job, and showing respect for others in all he does has helped Frans accomplish some big things for the state of Minnesota. One of his most challenging accomplishments? Bringing the state of Minnesota back from a crippling $6 billion deficit to a balanced budget and triple-A credit rating.

The budget didn’t balance itself overnight. Frans spent significant time negotiating better budget and policy deals for the state. He also spoke directly with the residents of Minnesota to learn what was important to them while explaining the position of the administration.

“I wanted to make sure that people know that while I’m there to represent the governor, I’m also there to respect their opinions even though we may differ,” Frans said. “I think if you’re able to engage with people, develop relationships and maintain respect, it allows you to reach across political divisions to reach a compromise. In the end, we have to do what’s right for our state.”

To get support and funding for the governor’s agenda — good and affordable education, reliable health care and clean water, to name a few — Frans had to get the public on board with changes to existing tax structures.

“One of the things I learned by traveling around the state is that people didn’t object to paying taxes, they just wanted to make sure that they were getting value for their dollar,” Frans said.

The result of his efforts led to a balanced state budget with a bonus annual surplus.

“When I started in 2011, we had virtually no reserve, and now we have over $2 billion in our rainy-day fund,” Frans said. “It’s a lot more enjoyable to be running state government when you have a surplus as opposed to a deficit.”

A Foundation of Respect

Frans grew up in Marion, Kansas, and chose to attend Washburn University because of his interest in criminology. He was one of the first students from Washburn’s criminology program, and Professor Ted Heim saw potential in him early on.

“He was bright and very conscientious,” Heim said. “We received a federal grant to do criminal justice planning training, so we hired him on as an assistant to help with that. He was the kind of student we liked to have at Washburn.”

Frans went on to obtain a master of criminology at Sam Houston State University and later attended law school at the University of Kansas. He was an associate at Miller & Chevalier in Washington D.C., before moving to Minnesota to join the firm Gray Plat Mooty and then Faegre & Benson LLP. He was president of Leeds Forensic Systems, a microscope manufacturing and distributing company based out of Minneapolis. He then served as the Minnesota Department of Revenue commissioner before Dayton appointed him to his current position in 2015.

Frans credits Washburn for his keen negotiation skills.

“What I learned at Washburn and in the criminal justice program was respect for people,” he said. “If you truly respect everyone you meet and deal from a respectful place, people will respond to you in a positive way.”

The Keys to Success

Frans’ journey has been an interesting one full of variety, and he notes the more you understand about the area you’re working in, the better you’ll be able to adapt to something new. He gives this advice to undergrads or those starting out early in their career: Whatever you do, dive in and do it fully.

“The key is knowing how to become fully engaged and knowledgeable about a particular area. The more you own and understand the area that you’re working in, the better you’ll be able to adapt to something new,” Frans said. “Once you’ve developed confidence, you can apply that to literally anything.”

Heim, who’s kept in contact with Frans over the years, said confidence was just part of Frans’ success.

“He’s energetic and dependable. It’s obvious he cares about people, and it doesn’t surprise me that he found his way back to public service,” Heim said. “You hope everyone you teach succeeds, but I knew he would
do well.”

In the Balance

With the administration coming to a close at the end of the year, the jury is still out on what Frans' next venture will be. He and his wife, Susan Segal, city attorney for the city of Minneapolis, live in Minneapolis and have two sons, Nathan and Isaac.

“Being revenue and MMB commissioner took a lot of things off my bucket list, but I’m not ready to retire yet,” Frans said. “I’m still looking for my next challenge.”

The Ichabod Fall 2018

The Ichabod tells our story with features on alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends, along with the latest campus news. Read the 2018-19 fall edition online and look for it in mailboxes by October.

View past editions

 

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