Once in a while, it’s important to take a break from reveling in being the third best state in the nation to make a living and reflect on how we compare to our neighbors, specifically those in Wisconsin.
The Badger State has been run by Republican Governor Scott Walker since 2011, which was the same year DFL Governor Mark Dayton took the helm in Minnesota. Let’s take a stroll down Wisconsin Memory Lane and see how it compares to Minnesota Reflection Road.
Last year, Gov. Dayton and the DFL-controlled Legislature passed one of the highest minimum wages in the country ($9.50). Gov. Walker said that raising Wisconsin’s minimum wage ($7.25) would cause employers to hire fewer workers.
However, our state proves him wrong. We have a higher rate of job creation than Wisconsin: Minnesota creates four jobs every time Wisconsin creates three.
Gov. Walker promised Wisconsin 250,000 new jobs when he took office, but he’s unlikely to create even half that many jobs by November. To add insult to Sconnie injury, private sector employment has lost over 50,000 jobs under Gov. Walker’s administration, while over 1,000 jobs have been added to Minnesota’s economy since Gov. Dayton was elected.
Gov. Walker? He ranked 40th. Out of 45.
Wisconsin doesn’t fare much better when it comes to unemployment, as their rates remain higher than ours. Even when people in Wisconsin DO manage to find a job, they still make an average of $5,000 less than us per year.
Unfortunately, it’s not just the state’s economy that’s suffering. Gov. Walker’s harsh budget cuts are being felt by one of Wisconsin’s most important groups: students.
Educators cite larger class sizes, fewer student opportunities, and a reduction in faculty as results of Gov. Walker’s $880 million slash from public school funding. Legislators fear that Gov. Walker’s cuts to education will ultimately slow the state’s graduation rate, and create more inequality across Wisconsin.
To compare the states, if Wisconsin’s current education system were to be considered “night,” Minnesota’s would be called “day.”
Gov. Dayton has already paid back the nearly $636 million legislative Republicans borrowed from Minnesota schools. He not only alleviated the financial stresses felt by our schools by repaying the debt, but Gov. Dayton’s administration has also increased K-12 funding by over $480 million. Considering our progressive legislators understand how crucial funding education is to the future workforce, it’s no surprise that Minnesota has the nation’s highest percentage of people with a high school diploma, while Gov. Walker’s massive cuts leave Wisconsin at 13th.
Minnesota also boasts the highest rate of child well-being in the Midwest, while Wisconsin is eight spots below us nationally.
Free all-day kindergarten for every child is now a reality in Minnesota. More funds for early childhood education are available. Our state is spending more per student than it was in previous years. Special education programs also have more resources. These are just a few of the educational advantages that Minnesotans can add to our (long, long) list of things to brag about when speaking to a Sconnie.
The overall economic situation within the two states paints a vivid picture of their futures. Experts say that due to the massive spending cuts under Gov. Walker’s administration, the state may end up with a deficit of over $1 billion. Us? Thanks to Gov. Dayton’s commitment to balancing the budget responsibly by asking the rich and big corporations to pay their fair share, our state faces a surplus of a cool $1.2 billion.
It’s been a good four years under Gov. Dayton and the DFL for our state. On behalf of Minnesota, we’d like to extend an apology to the unfortunate people who live in Wisconsin and have to deal with Gov. Walker overpromising on jobs.
He has not delivered, and it’s the population of Wisconsin who must pay the price.