State of the State: Refreshing Defense of Progressive Values
It was refreshing to see Governor Dayton defend Minnesota’s business climate, our progressive values, and our loyal, diligent public workers in his State of the State address. For the past decade, conservative leaders worked to undermine these assets to justify their “no-new-taxes” policy.
They bashed teachers while cutting an inflation-adjusted 13 percent in state school funding since 2003. They complained about public workers as they slashed real per capita revenue sharing with local governments in half. They protected Minnesota’s richest from paying their fair share while failing to properly invest in the assets that make our state a great place to start or expand a business, work, play and raise a family.
Minnesota thrived survived through that failed conservative fiscal experiment because of previous generations’ progressive investments in an educated private and public workforce, local communities, and health care. Minnesota can only coast on past commitments for so long. Soon these amazing human and infrastructural resources will break down without recapitalization.
However, in the short term, they continue paying dividends, which Governor Dayton was quick to point out.
“Minnesota’s job growth in 2012 was the 12th best among all 50 states; and we outperformed three of our four neighbors. Iowa ranked 30th; South Dakota was 44th,” according to the governor.
“Wisconsin, which by the way is open for business, helped bring up the rear at 42nd. …their unemployment rate last month was 20% higher than ours, while our per capita income was 12% higher than theirs,” he went on to joke.
The governor also highlighted the return on investment for businesses that invest in Minnesota.
“The facts show that states offering businesses and their top executives the lowest taxes usually offer the rest of their citizens the lowest incomes, the fewest public services, and the highest crime rates,” Dayton said. “Furthermore, their job growth typically lags ‘high value and high performance’ states like Minnesota.”
When it comes to attracting businesses to Minnesota, the governor’s ideas for tax fairness aren’t exclusive to middle- and working-class folks. His plan levels the playing field for businesses committed to Minnesota. It lowers the corporate tax rate while cutting loopholes for companies that send jobs and investments overseas.
The plan does ask those who can afford it to contribute a more proportionate share of their income to invest in these assets that will keep Minnesota a strong state. Not everyone likes Dayton’s budget path. There are certain parts of it that Minnesota 2020 believes need improvement. But taken as a whole, it puts Minnesota back on a path to shared prosperity, re-investing in our schools and communities.