In honor of Governor Mark Dayton’s upcoming State of the State address, his past addresses to Minnesota remind us of the progress we’ve made over the past few years. From streamlining regulatory processes to investing in education for all ages, the fact remains that while there’s still work to do, living in Minnesota has gotten much better since 2011.
Here are some highlights from the Governor’s past State of the State addresses:
- 2011: During his first State of the State address, Gov. Dayton established a platform on which he’s continued to stand since becoming governor: One that established him as a fierce proponent of education. “Better education is key to a better Minnesota. It is why I was so pleased to reaffirm last week my promise to increase state funding for public K-12 education every year I am Governor, with no excuses and no exceptions.”
- 2012: By his second year in office, Gov. Dayton was already able to take solace in knowing his approach was working, especially in comparison to the rest of the nation. “While the national economy has regained less than half of the employment lost from the depth of the Great Recession, Minnesota has regained all of its lost employment. The number of employed Minnesotans today is at an all-time high.”
- 2012: Working to make government more effective is often a goal of all legislators, but evidence that bipartisanship in Minnesota was successful became clear in the Governor’s 2012 address. Experts who work in other states even mentioned how effective some of the state’s regulatory processes are in comparison to other parts of the country. “I look forward to continuing our bipartisan collaboration in streamline permitting processes even further, reducing the costs of public services, and making them more cost-effective. We have already made real progress. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and the Department of Natural Resources now complete 99 percent of their priority permit reviews within 150 days. We can make it still faster, and we will. It is already paying off, however. Recently, an energy consultant asked the MPCA about air permitting for a potential new business. MPCA staff walked him through the general timelines and process. Staff also offered to meet with the company in advance to help improve the proposal and provided a pre-application checklist. This consultant said he helps businesses in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, South Carolina and California; he had never heard of another state providing this kind of service. And our 150 day turnaround seemed shorter than other states.”
- 2013: Things got even better the following year when the Governor was able to take a subtle dig at some of our neighbors in the Midwest. “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 best; South Dakota was 44th. Wisconsin, which by the way, is ‘open for business,’ helped bring up the rear at 42nd. And, help spread the word across the St. Croix, their unemployment rate last month was 20 percent higher than ours, while our per capita income was 12 percent higher than theirs.”
- 2013: Gov. Dayton also emphasized his concern with the state’s taxation system in 2013. It was during this State of the State address when the Governor made it crystal clear that requiring those who have more than enough to pay their fair share is the only way for everyone to succeed. “Thanks to the excellent work of Minnesota 2020, I recently became aware of a new study, by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, which confirms the Department of Revenue’s analysis. It found that middle-class Minnesotans pay 26 percent more state and local taxes per dollar of income than do the top one percent of our state’s income earners. When people who have the most pay the least, this state and nation are in trouble. When lobbyists protect tax favors for special interests at the cost of everyone else’s best interests, this state and nation are in trouble.”
- 2014: Gov. Dayton has earned a reputation for being a huge supporter of education initiatives, but his 2014 address reaffirmed his emphasis on improving schools across the state. In this address, the Governor praised investments in special education, early childhood education, and the repayment of $2.8 billion to schools that had been borrowed from previous legislatures. In 2014, however, there was also a simple yet important education reform the Governor praised, and it deserves to be re-recognized now. “Just weeks ago, the legislature passed strong anti-bullying legislation. That is also important education reform. Children don’t learn at school, if they are scared. Or made to feel bad about themselves.”
- 2014: Although Gov. Dayton touched on marriage equality in his 2013 address, it wasn’t until 2014 that he was able to praise the legalization of same-sex marriage in Minnesota. “Here in Minnesota, we greatly enhanced the well-being of many of our citizens by passing into law last year’s Marriage Equality legislation.”
- 2011: At his first State of the State address, the Governor said something that ended up becoming an overarching theme of his policies. “Anyone who drives our state’s deteriorating roads and highways, or is stuck in ever-longer metro traffic jams, or waits longer times for poorer bus service, wants a better Minnesota than this. Any parent who has to find child care for their children because of four-day school weeks, while they’re working five, wants a better Minnesota. Any 5th grade teacher in a classroom with 36 students wants a better Minnesota. Any college graduate, saddled with many thousands of dollars in student loans and unable to find a job, wants a better Minnesota. Anyone unable to find a job wants a better Minnesota.”
- 2014: And three years later, Gov. Dayton reminded Minnesotans that plans for a better Minnesota were still at the top of his priorities. “When I ran for Governor four years ago, I promised ‘a better Minnesota.’ Tonight, I can report that the state of our State is better–much better–than before.”
Catch Governor Dayton’s 2015 State of the State address on Thursday April 9, 2015 at 7 p.m. on the radio (WCCO), on TV (WCCO, PBS), or online (MPR or Startribune.com).