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Showing posts from March 2013. Show all posts

Governor’s budget invests $2 million in crisis response services

Posted on March 13, 2013 at 3:14 PM

Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson met with Carver/Scott Mental Health Crisis Program staff, clients and community partners earlier this month to discuss the state’s effort to increase funding for these crucial crisis response services across Minnesota. 

Currently, mobile crisis response teams serve children in 59 Minnesota counties and adults in 49 counties. Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget proposed budget includes $2 million in the next two-year budget cycle to provide start-up funding for four new teams serving 16 additional counties and two tribes. 

“Crisis response teams reach people where they are when they are most in need of help coping with thoughts of suicide, anxiety and depression,” said Jesson, who led a roundtable discussion Friday, March 1, at the Carver County Government Center in Chaska. “Nationwide, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death and third leading cause for young adults ages 10-24. We need to ensure we have the capacity to respond to mental health crises as they arise.”


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Budget for a Better Minnesota: Closing the Achievement Gap

Posted on March 11, 2013 at 4:16 PM
Categories: Education

Commissioner Cassellius Reads with Governor Dayton       

Commissioner Cassellius stood with educators and education advocates to discuss how strategic investments in Governor Dayton’s budget will advance current efforts to close Minnesota's achievement gaps. Despite strong test scores, Minnesota is widely recognized as having one of the largest achievement gaps in the nation. Governor Dayton took a comprehensive look at education from early childhood through postsecondary and proposed $640 million in new investments in K-12 and Higher Education.

“If we’re going to address Minnesota’s significant achievement gaps, we need bold vision and leadership, which is exactly what we see in Governor Dayton’s budget,” said Commissioner Cassellius on Monday. “The investments take a strategic approach to meeting the needs of every student, especially those who come to us needing more, and position Minnesota to aggressively close the gaps that are some of the worst in the nation.

“I’m mystified why we are ranked as low as we are because I think we do things in the education realm better than most other states and it doesn’t obviously show in this case. We’re determined to close the achievement gap,” Governor Dayton stated in an interview on MPR in early March. “It’s going to be critical that all our citizens 10, 20, 30 years from now be productive and successful if we’re going to have a vibrant economy.”


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A letter from Commissioner Lucinda Jesson: Why MinnesotaCare Matters

Posted on March 07, 2013 at 10:48 AM
Categories: Health, Budget

Commissioner JessonAlmost 100 years ago, a nun of the Order of St. Benedict began selling tickets to lumberjacks in the camps of northern Minnesota. Those tickets entitled the holder to full care for a year at any of the five St. Mary’s hospitals. This person of faith began one of our country’s first hospital prepayment plans, and, together with the Mayo brothers, launched Minnesota on the path to become the nation’s most innovative state for health care.

In more recent history, Democrats and Republicans worked together to start MinnesotaCare, which made health insurance available to low-income, working families. MinnesotaCare’s bipartisan creation became a model for other states, and ultimately for the federal government.

Now, 20 years after its creation, MinnesotaCare needs improvement, to make it more streamlined and affordable. But, unexpectedly, we first must ensure that this nation-leading program continues to exist.

Federal health reform means that changes are coming. The new federal model expands Medicaid for the very poor. But absent action taken at the state level to provide for something better, people making more than $15,000 a year will now largely be given a federal subsidy to buy coverage through a health insurance exchange. This would include many people currently on MinnesotaCare.

For most states, this new model is a major step forward. And while the Medicaid expansion will bring progress for Minnesota, too, a wholesale switch from MinnesotaCare would be a step backward for vulnerable, low-income people. MinnesotaCare provides more-affordable care than the high-deductible health plans that many working families would access through the federal model.

That is why we again have Minnesota Republicans and Democrats coming together to fight for the future of MinnesotaCare. Last week, U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken joined U.S. Reps. Betty McCollum, Keith Ellison, Tim Walz, Collin Peterson, Erik Paulsen, Rick Nolan and John Kline to send a letter to the Obama administration requesting federal partnership to preserve and improve MinnesotaCare. A similar bipartisan letter from state legislative leadership was issued in late January.



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Skip’s Story: Why Special Education Matters

Posted on March 06, 2013 at 9:11 AM
Categories: Education, Budget

Skip's StorySkip Bruber is young man with multiple disabilities, including cerebral palsy and visual impairments. Growing up, Skip received special education services from St. Paul Public Schools starting when he was two years old and continued receiving support throughout his high school career.

The special education interventions and support services Skip received allowed him to graduate from high school. He went on to attend Augsburg College, where he recently received his bachelor’s degree and graduated with a 3.0 GPA.

Skip is currently receiving additional job skills training in order to find a position in which he can put his education and advanced skills in writing to use. According to his mother Elizabeth, Skip’s access to special education services means that rather than being defined by his disabilities, he faces a bright future that is allowing him to meet his full potential and live a rich and productive life.

Helping Thousands of Minnesotans Like Skip

Every child deserves the opportunities and support to succeed in school, regardless of his or her abilities. That is why Governor Dayton’s budget would invest $125 million in special education, making significant reforms and taking important steps to fix the state’s broken special education funding formula.

Increased funding proposed in the governor’s budget plan would provide an additional $180 per student, per year, for every school district in the state. This 13%increase in special education funding would be directed to the districts that need help the most. This new investment would finally begin to address the state’s long-underfunded commitment to special education.

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Minnesota Investment Fund: Why Supporting Job Creation Matters

Posted on March 05, 2013 at 1:32 PM
Categories: Jobs, Budget

Governor Dayton joins Gerdau employees and officials at a groundbreaking ceremony

In 2012, Gerdau Long Steel broke ground on a renovation project at its St. Paul plant. The renovation, made possible in part by a $249,000 MIF loan, will create a state-of-the-art facility for casting steel. This project helped create 40 new jobs.

The Minnesota Investment Fund (MIF) helps Minnesota compete with other states and nations for new high-tech and manufacturing jobs. MIF helps encourage local firms that have options outside the state to expand here, and provides incentives for firms outside Minnesota to locate in our state. Over the last 8 years alone, the program has funded 53 projects, creating thousands of jobs and leveraging $587 million in private economic development.

Governor Dayton has proposed investing $30 million in MIF to enhance Minnesota’s competitiveness, create thousands of new jobs, and leverage an estimated $990 million in private investment in Minnesota’s economy.

Polaris Industries in Wyoming, MN
MIF Loan: $400,000 Est. New Jobs: 115-350

Polaris Industries, the Medina-based maker of all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles, and motorcycles, broke ground in September 2012 on a 144,000 square foot expansion project at its research and development facility in Wyoming, Minnesota. The project, made possible in part by a $400,000 MIF loan, will double the size of the facility and create capacity for up to 350 more jobs. Polaris has committed to creating 115 permanent jobs within two years.

Gerdau Long Steel in St. Paul, MN
MIF Loan: $249,000 Est. New Jobs: 40

In 2012, Gerdau Long Steel broke ground on a renovation project at its St. Paul plant. The renovation, made possible in part
by a $249,000 MIF loan, will create a state-of-the-art facility for casting steel. This project helped create 40 new jobs.


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State Agencies to Eliminate Use of Harmful Chemical

Posted on March 04, 2013 at 4:59 PM
Categories: Environment, Health

Minnesota state agencies are eliminating the use of a harmful chemical in their offices found in several household cleaning products. Through Executive Order by Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton in April, 2011, all state agencies will no longer purchase hand soaps and dish and laundry cleaning products that contain triclosan by June of this year. State agencies are required to implement plans to reduce pollution and toxics, increase energy efficiency, and conserve resources.

The Interagency Pollution Prevention Advisory Team (IPPAT) has the ability make changes to the Model Sustainability Plan within Governor Dayton’s Executive Order 11-13. The state recently developed contracts for hand soap and dish and laundry cleaning products that are triclosan-free. In some situations, uses of triclosan-containing products may be allowed in medical or other specific settings.

Triclosan is antibiotic resistant and causes health and environmental problems. It is an ingredient in products such as hand soap, toothpaste, cleaning products, fabric, toys, kitchenware and industrial pesticides. There is no evidence that triclosan provides any benefit over washing with regular soap and water. Triclosan-free products are readily available in many stores.

“By purchasing items without triclosan, state agencies are doing their part to keep this harmful chemical out of Minnesota waters,” said Cathy Moeger, sustainability manager at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.


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Mayor Tabke's Story: Why Transit Matters

Posted on March 04, 2013 at 11:17 AM
Categories: Budget, Transportation, Economy

Shakopee Mayor TabkeGovernor Dayton understands that in order to achieve a world-class economy, we must prioritize investments in our metro area transit system.

That is why the governor’s budget includes a commitment to a multi-modal transit system that will give Minnesota a competitive edge for growing business and jobs, drawing new talent, and serving the transit needs of a growing and aging population. In support of Governor Dayton’s increased transit funding is Shakopee Mayor Brad Tabke.

Governor Dayton:

I write to express the support of the Shakopee City Council for your proposal to increase the sales tax for transit purposes by 1/4 cent in the seven-county Metropolitan Area. On Tuesday, February 19, the City Council and I voted to support this proposal. We share your belief that the development of a complete and competitive transit system in the Region is key to its long-term economic competitiveness and vitality. The development of a complete and multi-modal transit system in the Twin Cities Region will also be of great benefit to the Region’s workers and residents. The $200 million per year your proposal is expected to generate is essential to completing important rail, LRT, and BRT projects in the Region, as well as assuring that areas like Scott County can continue to expand local and express bus service that will help to best utilize the investments in regional roadways. In Shakopee, we have been committed to the beneficial expansion of transit options that serve our residents and businesses. Most recently, this has been expressed in the partnership between the cities of Shakopee and Prior Lake, and Scott County. This partnership led to the creation of the BlueXpress in July of 2007, a commuter service which has continued to experience among the greatest rates of growth of any regional bus service provider (9% increase in 2012). We look forward to working with you, your office, and the Legislature on the implementation of this important proposal.

Brad Tabke Mayor, City of Shakopee


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Infographic: Minnesota Investment Fund

Posted on March 01, 2013 at 12:28 PM
Categories: Budget, Jobs, Economy

Governor Dayton's budget calls for $30 million in ongoing funding for MIF to provide crucial incentives to companies expanding in or relocating operations to Minnesota. In the past 8 years MIF has used $7 million in public funds to stimulate $587 million in private development. Funded at Governor Dayton's proposed level, MIF would attract an estimated $990 million in private investment.

How MIF works


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Environmental work drives economic growth, creates jobs

Posted on March 01, 2013 at 8:43 AM
Categories: Environment, Jobs

Rainwater garden at Maplewood Mall

One of the projects overseen by the MPCA was the construction of the Maplewood Mall stormwater system, which will contribute to the improvement in Kohlmann Lake’s water quality by preventing 50 pounds of phosphorus and five tons of sediment per year from entering the lake.

Some of the most innovative engineering projects undertaken in Minnesota in 2012 were set into motion as a result of environmental initiatives undertaken by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
                      
The American Council of Engineering Companies of Minnesota (ACEC/MN) recently announced the winners of its 2013 Engineering Excellence awards. Several of the 29 award-winning projects were set into motion as a result of environmental initiatives undertaken by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
 
The projects represent some of the most innovative engineering work undertaken in Minnesota in 2012. Some were directly funded or overseen by MPCA; others were initiated in response to the agency’s environmental work. Three of these environmental projects will compete for recognition at the national level.
 
One of the award-winning projects converted an Edina parking garage into a new drinking water treatment plant. When it was discovered that the city’s groundwater was contaminated with vinyl chloride, a new treatment system was needed to protect the quality of the water supply.
 
The MPCA provided financial support for the project’s design, while the city funded construction and ongoing operation of the facility. The unique project, designed by the engineering firm AECOM,  allowed the city to reuse an existing structure. This eliminated the need to use valuable green space for infrastructure improvements.
 
Another project recognized by ACEC/MN was an innovative stormwater management system at Maplewood Mall. The system, designed by Barr Engineering, will capture and treat 90% of the stormwater runoff at the site. It incorporates rain gardens, permeable pavement crosswalks, a cistern that captures roof runoff for irrigation, and some 200 trees.


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