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Paul Marquart: Future is bright for Minnesota

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The 2013 Minnesota legislative session was very beneficial for rural Minnesota and our state’s economy is getting stronger by the day. The future is looking bright for Minnesota.

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That is why I was very surprised to see the recent “gloom and doom” op-ed by Minnesota Chamber of Commerce president David Olson. I’m glad he’s not in charge of our state’s “Welcome Wagon.”

Last month, the Secretary of State reported that there were 21,294 new business filings in Minnesota in the first four months of 2013, on track to exceed the state’s single-year record for new business filings. Minnesota is home to 19 Fortune 500 companies, the second most per capita in the nation and the state’s unemployment rate is 11th best in the country. Gov. Dayton and the Legislature continued this economic momentum with key investments to improve our economic climate.

Here is what Mr. Olson should have told you about this session’s legislative achievements.

The historic education bill will provide huge investments in early education and fully fund all-day every day kindergarten that will put students on the path to provide businesses with the “world’s best workforce” in the future. This ambitious law will be accomplished through a new student assessment system aligned with career and college goals and new reform holding schools accountable for results.  

A two year tuition freeze for students attending a college or university will help businesses find highly qualified and educated workers to meet the skills demand of an ever changing economy.

Businesses will see property tax relief due to an increase of $130 million a year in local government aid to our counties, cities and townships. A new homestead credit refund will provide property tax relief to homeowners whose property taxes are more than about 2 percent of their income — providing residents with more purchasing power to help businesses.

The new jobs bill will provide $30 million for new and expanding businesses and $24 million to help businesses hire new workers. Unemployment insurance taxes were cut, saving Minnesota businesses $347 million to invest in their business and our economy.

Our nursing homes, major employers in rural communities, will see a 5 percent funding increase after several years of stagnant funding.

I certainly recognize there will be changes to our tax system, but the changes we made will benefit middle class Minnesotan’s and our state’s future. The top 2 percent of income earners (those earning more than $250,000 per year) will pay 2 percent more on what they earn above $250,000. Some large corporations will see tax loopholes go away as well.

Except for smokers, middle-class Minnesotans will pay the same state income or sales tax rates, while receiving the benefits of over $400 million in additional property tax relief.

This new revenue will also fix a $627 million budget deficit without having to use one-time fixes or gimmicks, will provide investments in areas important to the success of small businesses and provide tax breaks for economic development projects around the state at the Mayo Clinic, the Mall of America and 3M’s headquarters, creating over 30,000 new jobs.

A balanced budget, stronger schools, more affordable college, lower property and unemployment insurance taxes and initiatives making businesses more competitive will greatly benefit our state’s economy and residents into the future. That’s the accurate and positive message we should be sharing about our great state of Minnesota.

(State Representative Paul Marquart (DFL – Dilworth) is the representative for District 4B and chair of the House Education Finance Committee.)

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