TONIGHT: Governor Mark Dayton will deliver his State of the State address to a joint session of the Minnesota Legislature at 7 p.m.
The State of the State address will be broadcast on local television and radio and can be followed online.
Online: Watch from your computer at www.house.leg.state.mn.us/htv/mnhouse.asx
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Article by: Columnist Neal St. Anthony
Published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on February 12, 2012 at 6:22 p.m.
Mild-mannered Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman, described by Republican and Democratic predecessors as a good listener, has put the teeth back into the agency.
Rothman, a business lawyer by trade, was hired by Gov. Mark Dayton a year ago with a mandate to step up consumer protection, enforcement and financial literacy initiatives at an agency that was perceived as less-than-aggressive under Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Since Rothman took over, several deputies who oversaw insurance, enforcement and banking have retired or left.
Former Commerce Commissioner Glenn Wilson, a career mortgage banker, has disputed that the agency was slow to respond to the mortgage meltdown that brought the nation's economy to its knees in 2008. Regardless, the pace of investigations, enforcement actions and the agency's profile have picked up under Rothman.
"I sensed an opportunity to reorganize and emphasize some things that could be done better," said Rothman. "We're responsible for protecting the public. We also want to make sure that business has an opportunity to succeed. There's a balance there. There are some bad actors out there. But the overwhelming number of Minnesota companies, 99 percent, are good citizens."
Op/Ed by Minnesota Commissioner of Revenue Myron Frans
Published in the St. Paul Pioneer Press on February 9, 2012 at 5:56 p.m.
By most conventional measures of economic prosperity, Minnesota is outperforming other states. Yet a recent Pioneer Press editorial, promoting the findings of a flawed tax index, says otherwise - hardly the best way to position our state for more growth.
First, the facts: Minnesota has the nation's 10th-highest per-capita personal income, 7th-lowest unemployment rate, 13th-lowest business failure rate, and 8th-lowest poverty rate. We have regained more than 33 percent of jobs lost in the recession (compared with 25 percent nationwide). In 2011, total wages in the state increased four times as much as in the rest of the country.
Despite the economic reality in the state, the Tax Foundation's "State Business Tax Climate Index" claims that Minnesota is bad for business ("Minnesota takes a licking on tax climate," Feb. 7). This is misleading, and biased.
The index is focused only on tax rates, without documenting the real-world effects or considering what Minnesotans and businesses in the state actually pay. For example:
It knocks Minnesota for having a sales tax on manufacturing equipment, but does not acknowledge that taxpayers receive tax credits (refunds) that cover these costs.
It criticizes Minnesota's research and development credit and Angel Investment Credit, even though they are important priorities for businesses in the state.
It is biased against states with multiple income tax brackets, even though there is no evidence that multiple brackets are a detriment to business growth.
The index ignores the benefits provided by public investment when assessing our business climate - yet it is those public investments that draw employers to Minnesota. As state economist Tom Stinson has noted, our taxes have bought something for businesses - like productive workers, research, high-quality transportation and other business services.
Governor Mark Dayton knows that Building a Better Minnesota means our workers must have the skills and training to fill the jobs of the 21st century. That’s why Governor Dayton has made job creation and workforce development his top priority for the legislative session.
Today the Governor attended a meeting of the Governor’s Workforce Development Council (GWDC) to hear a presentation on their yearly report. The Council serves an important role in workforce development, providing analysis and recommending policies to improve workforce readiness.
The report, entitled “All Hands on Deck: Sixteen Recommendations for Strengthening Minnesota’s Workforce,” offers recommendations to improve worker training, skill development, and education. Many of the report recommendations mirror proposals laid out by the Governor and DFL legislators last month.
A year ago Governor Dayton ordered the Minnesota DNR and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to ‘move at the speed of commerce.” The Governor signed an Executive Order directing agencies to accelerate their permitting process and make final permit decisions within 150 days. DNR and MPCA answered the call, at their year-end reporting deadline both agencies have issued and approved 99% of their permits in less than 150 days; many of the determinations were made within just a few weeks.
The DNR and MPCA are responsible for handling between 3,000 and 5,000 permits annually, reviewing construction and expansion projects and protecting Minnesota's natural resources and environment. However, lengthy review processes can slow down growth and create headaches for businesses. To resolve this problem, Gov. Dayton directed the MPCA and DNR to accelerate and simplify their permitting process in order to allow more rapid business expansion and job creation. He asked the agencies to make permit decisions within 150 days and expedite the application process by allowing electronic filing. The State Legislature followed the Governor's lead, making the order law during the 2011 legislative session.
In 1926 Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a Harvard Scholar, established the observance of African American History with the view to reveal the contributions, achievements, and involvements of African American people in the development of our American Democracy. Today, as we head toward an era of greater communication and innovation, it is crucial that we continue to observe and learn from the historical contexts in which African American people fought for equality and the American Dream.
In Minnesota, we see every day African American people engaged in the community, as friends and neighbors, scholars, teachers, workers in industry, leaders, and contributors to our state’s quality of life. We must acknowledge and pay tribute to the generations of our citizens who struggled through adversity, risked their lives for justice, fought a fight that at times seemed impossible to win, persevered, and continue to advocate equality for all.
The month of February gives us a chance to honor the many heroes who are unknown and unnamed but who have contributed to the struggle of freedom and justice for all. This is why the Governor recently proclaimed February to be Black History Month. Black History Month encourages all Minnesotans to come together, reflect on our collective past and reveal history’s impact on present conditions. As a state, and as a nation, we can continue to work together to guarantee equal opportunity for all citizens.