Ken Martin: A better MN with more growth to come
When Gov. Mark Dayton took office, Minnesota faced budget deficits, high unemployment and our schools, roads and services for our most vulnerable citizens were eroding. Middle class families were struggling under the weight of higher property taxes and fees because Republicans refused to ask the wealthiest Minnesotans to pay their fair share.
Gov. Dayton knew we could do better and ran on the promise to build a Better Minnesota. In his fourth State of the State address, Gov. Dayton showed that four years later, this IS a Better Minnesota and he emphasized his commitment to making it better for generations to come.
Since Gov. Dayton took office, Minnesota has added 151,200 jobs. Today there are more than 3 million Minnesotans working — more than at any other time in state history. While Republicans predicted gloom and doom, saying businesses would leave the state under DFL control, that’s just not the case.
With an historic investment in education; $30 million for the Minnesota Investment Fund — which leverages $31 of private investment for every $1 of public money; and creating the Minnesota Job Creation Fund, Gov. Dayton has made it clear that Minnesota is a good place to do business. Forbes Magazine agrees, ranking Minnesota as the 8th best place in the nation for business.
Gov. Dayton also pointed to specific businesses who have added jobs in the state. From AGCO, in Jackson, to Segetis, in Hoyt Lakes, to AXIS Clinicals, in Dilworth, businesses across the state are growing thanks to financial partnerships between the public and private sectors.
And the work to grow jobs is not done. In his State of the State address, Gov. Dayton called for a $1.2 billion bonding bill. It will mean more jobs now and more jobs in the future. For example, communities in southwestern Minnesota desperately need water to expand businesses and attract new ones. Funding through a larger than currently proposed bonding bill could complete the Minnesota portion of the Lewis & Clark pipeline and turn on the water for communities in need.
While Gov. Dayton has worked to grow opportunities for business expansion, he’s also made a difference in the lives of hardworking Minnesotans. Gov. Dayton signed the first minimum wage increase in a decade into law, giving Minnesota’s 325,000 lowest-paid workers a well-deserved raise. As Gov. Dayton said in his speech, when the minimum wage increase is fully in effect, Minnesotans will earn almost $500 million more every year. With 137,000 children being directly impacted by this increase not only will families prosper, but Minnesota is poised to see economic growth because workers have more money to spend.
And this new-found prosperity under Gov. Dayton’s leadership is here to stay. By investing in education, especially for our youngest learners, and in other policies that lift all boats, we will work to ensure that all Minnesotans share in these new opportunities for years to come.
“Increasing our commitment to early childhood education will be one key to closing the achievement gap and enabling all of our children to become successful adults,” Gov. Dayton said. “We need ALL of them to succeed. If 95-plus percent of the new two generations become successful adults, this country will continue to prosper, even in more difficult times. If, however, only 85 percent are successful, 10 percent are unemployed and 5 percent are in prison, this country will struggle. And that struggle will affect everyone.”
While much has been accomplished in the past two years, after 10 years of disinvestment by Republicans more work remains to be done.
In the area of education, Gov. Dayton suggests afternoon and evening opportunities for students at schools and recreational centers. For older students, he wants to see the resources necessary to better align secondary and post-secondary education.
While many Minnesotans are working, too many Minnesotans are still unemployed or underemployed. Gov. Dayton understands that continuing to invest in entrepreneurs and small businesses and to “build on our legacy of innovation that has and will continue to drive Minnesota’s future economic growth” is one of most important ways that everyone can share in Minnesota’s prosperity.
In this State of State, Gov. Dayton has shown us where he has taken Minnesota in the past four years and he’s set a course for the future. Minnesotans have a clear choice this November: return the state to Republican control and a time when hardworking Minnesotans paid more in taxes and fees to protect corporations and the richest Minnesotans; or vote for Gov. Dayton who will keep improving education and the economy to build an even Better Minnesota.
(Ken Martin is chairman of the Minnesota DFL.)