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Governor Dayton: Good News for Minnesota

Posted on December 18, 2013 at 12:03 PM

2013 Budget Release

The principal credit for Minnesota’s terrific budget forecast belongs to the people of Minnesota. We proved again that we have the best business innovators and the most productive workers anywhere. By working hard and working together, we turned a $6 billion deficit predicted just 3 years ago, into a projected surplus of $1.086 billion over the next 18 months.

The financial experts, who prepared this forecast, made it clear that these surpluses are being generated by our state’s exceptionally strong economic growth. Minnesota’s economic recovery leads most states and the nation. 122,000 more people are working in Minnesota today than when I became governor in January 2011. The growth in our total state economy last year was the 5th best in the nation.


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Governor Dayton recognizes state employees for reforming state government

Posted on December 10, 2013 at 12:26 PM
Categories: Reform

Governor’s Continuous Improvement Awards recognize cost savings, better service delivery

2013_12_10_continuous_improvement_awards_dhs_team.jpg

Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson (back left)  and the pharmaceutical safety team

Today, 78 state employees from 15 state agencies were recognized for outstanding achievements that have reformed state government and saved taxpayer dollars. In the Governor’s ongoing effort to build a Better Government for a Better Minnesota, state agencies have worked hard finding innovative ways to deliver better services to Minnesotans while eliminating wasteful spending, improving efficiencies, and strengthening measures of accountability.

The Governor’s Continuous Improvement Awards celebrate individual and organizational achievements that have increased the productivity and efficiency of state government services, while improving the delivery and responsiveness of customer service. Twenty-eight teams from across the administration were nominated for this year’s awards, with six receiving recognition at today’s award ceremony for their extraordinary achievements.


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Minnesota’s Growing Economy Pays Back School Debt in Full

Posted on December 05, 2013 at 3:47 PM

Today’s budget forecast closes chapter on years of irresponsible borrowing from Minnesota students

Today’s budget forecast closes chapter on years of irresponsible borrowing from Minnesota students  

After years of irresponsible borrowing, all of the $2.8 billion that was borrowed from Minnesota schools has been repaid due to the budget surpluses generated by Minnesota’s growing economy. A new economic forecast released today by the Minnesota Department of Management and Budget (MMB) shows that the additional $1.086 billion surplus projected for the current biennium will permit the immediate repayment of the final $246 million, still owed our schools. Changes made last session by the Legislature and Governor Dayton accelerated that repayment by mandating in law that any additional surplus would go immediately to the schools.
 
Today’s announcement comes after Minnesota added 13,400 jobs since August and over 122,000 jobs since January 2011 – regaining all of the jobs that were lost in the Great Recession. Minnesota was recently ranked eighth in the “Forbes 2013 List of the Best States for Business,” and had, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, the fifth-fastest growing state economy in the nation last year.


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Kicking off Thanksgiving Week in Minnesota

Posted on November 26, 2013 at 9:12 AM
Categories: Agriculture

The Governor was joined by Minnesota Turkey Growers Association President John Zimmerman, Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson, and Colleen Moriarty of Hunger Solutions Minnesota for the occasion. The event marks a time-honored tradition, going back more than two decades, of Minnesota’s Governor kicking off Thanksgiving week in Minnesota.

At the event, Zimmerman announced the donation of approximately 10,000 pounds of turkey to Hunger Solutions Minnesota, which will be distributed to food shelves and food banks across the state. That amount of turkey will feed over 12,500 people.


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Governor Dayton Kicks Off Thanksgiving Week

Posted on November 25, 2013 at 3:50 PM
Categories: Agriculture, Jobs

Governor Dayton greets this Minnesota turkey

This morning Governor Dayton kicked off Thanksgiving Week with the help of a feathered friend. The Governor was joined by a Minnesota-raised turkey, Minnesota Turkey Growers Association President John Zimmerman, Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson, and Colleen Moriarty of Hunger Solutions Minnesota for the occasion.

The Minnesota-raised turkey that took part in today’s festivities comes from a distinguished family – President Obama is pardoning his brother later this week. The turkeys were raised in Badger, Minnesota by John Burkel, Chairman of the National Turkey Federation, and his family.

Minnesota has more independent turkey farmers than any other state with roughly 600 farms. Many of these farmers are fourth and fifth generation turkey farmers – highlighting the long-standing tradition Minnesota has in turkey farming.


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UI Tax Cut Will Save Minnesota Businesses $346.5 Million

Posted on November 19, 2013 at 11:22 AM

Commissioner Clark Sieben speaking with CEO Ravi Norman of Thor ConstructionMinnesota businesses will save $346.5 million over two years starting in 2014, thanks to a cut in unemployment insurance taxes that was proposed by Gov. Mark Dayton earlier this year and approved by the Minnesota Legislature.

Effective Jan. 1, 2014, for-profit employers will pay lower taxes for funding the unemployment insurance trust fund, which provides temporary jobless benefits to workers who are laid off.

The trust fund went into deficit during the Great Recession because of growing demand for unemployment insurance benefits. In response, the state raised the unemployment insurance tax rate on businesses and borrowed money from the federal government so that it could continue paying temporary benefits to Minnesotans who lost their jobs. But with the state economy improving and new claims for unemployment insurance benefits at their lowest level in nearly a decade in Minnesota, the trust fund now has reserves of $1.2 billion, enabling officials to reduce the tax rate on businesses.

“Given evidence of an improving economy and a healthy trust fund balance, the unemployment insurance tax cut is a smart move that will result in real savings for Minnesota businesses,” said Katie Clark Sieben, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), which manages the Minnesota Unemployment Insurance Program.

Among the Minnesota companies benefiting from the reduced tax rate will be Thor Construction Co., a Fridley-based firm that began operations in 1980. The company expects to save approximately $500 annually per worker because of the lower tax rate.

"Construction companies, with high volumes of seasonal workers, often have a harder time adjusting to the tax climate,” said Ravi Norman, the company’s CEO. “This unemployment insurance tax cut is a great mechanism for savings in our industry. It will add thousands of dollars to Thor's bottom line over the next two years, which will enable us to further reinvest in our employees as a greater competition for talent occurs during this projected local construction boom."

Currently, Minnesota businesses pay unemployment insurance taxes on the first $29,000 of annual wages per employee. Effective Jan. 1, the base tax rate they pay on that amount will be reduced from 0.5 percent to 0.1 percent. An additional 14 percent assessment that employers paid on their total unemployment insurance tax bill also will be eliminated starting in 2014.

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Commonsense Reforms for Minnesota Veterans

Posted on November 12, 2013 at 8:00 AM
Categories: Veterans, Jobs, Public Safety, Military Servicemembers

Nearly 400,000 military veterans call Minnesota home. We are proud to have them. Our veterans have bravely answered the call to service. From the Battle of Gettysburg to Iraq and Afghanistan, Minnesotans have fought to protect our country and our freedoms. Many of Minnesota’s veterans don’t stop serving when they leave the military either.

In 2013, Governor Mark Dayton signed new legislation to help our veterans make the transition. The new reform makes it easier for active duty service members to transition into jobs on the police force. The bill allows military service members to take a police officer reciprocity exam while they are on active duty. Previously, service members were only allowed to take the reciprocity exam after they were honorably discharged. This change allows men and women in the Armed Forces to move into civilian service without a long delay in employment.


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Statewide Health Improvement Program building a foundation of good health for all Minnesotans

Posted on November 04, 2013 at 2:00 PM

The Dayton administration believes in investing in healthy families

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than half of all Americans live with a preventable chronic disease, and many such diseases are related to obesity, poor nutrition, and physical exercise. A recent study found Minnesotans could save more than $4 billion during the next ten years, if our average Body Mass Index decreased by five percent. And right now, unhealthy lifestyles come with a price – costing Minnesotans nearly $6 billion in yearly medical costs.

Continuing the effort to improve the health of Minnesotans, and reduce health care costs through low-cost, preventive measures, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has awarded more than $21.2 million in Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) grants to counties and cities across Minnesota. The grants will be used by communities – in partnership with local businesses, schools, and local governments – to implement projects and programs that will promote exercise and physical activity, improve nutrition, and decrease tobacco use. 

“The Statewide Health Improvement Program helps win the fight against both chronic diseases and rising health care costs,” said Governor Mark Dayton. “By supporting preventive health measures and encouraging Minnesotans to make healthy choices, our state can realize significant health care savings and help people of all ages live healthier, more fulfilling lives.”

The new grant awards announced this week come after Governor Mark Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature restored funding for the SHIP initiative during the 2013 Legislative Session. Funding for the program had been cut by nearly 70 percent, forcing the Health Department to offer the grants in only about half of the state. But the new state budget signed into law this spring increased SHIP funding by $20 million, restoring the opportunity for communities statewide to participate in the program. This additional funding allowed 25 more counties to receive SHIP funding.



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Countdown to Learning: STARBASE Minnesota is helping create next generation of engineers

Posted on November 04, 2013 at 10:00 AM
Categories: Education


You can find more STARBASE Minnesota videos on their Youtube channel here.

We all know science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are incredibly important to Minnesota’s economy. Right now, Minnesota simply isn’t producing enough engineers and scientists to meet the demand. One Minnesota non-profit is working to change that.

STARBASE Minnesota is working to foster an interest in science, technology, engineering, and math in elementary school kids. Their innovative program exposes Minnesota students to exciting science experiments, model rocket launches, and high-tech engineering software. 

When children arrive at STARBASE’s Fort Snelling location for the weeklong program, staff greet them wearing blue flight suits ready to take them in to a hands on world of science based learning. The organization isn’t just sparking a brief interest in science either. A recent study by the Wilder Foundation found that kids that participate in the program are more likely to graduate from high school on time, attend college, and pursue a career in a STEM field.

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Accelerating Growth at Minnesota Manufacturers

Posted on November 01, 2013 at 12:00 PM
Categories: Jobs, Economy

Harmony Enterprise Manufacturing
Photo Content: Flickr User recycleharmony; Smart Pack Trash Compactor

Floe International Inc., a dock and boatlift manufacturer in McGregor, MN, was hit hard by the recession. After watching revenue drop to half its typical amount, the company turned to Enterprise MN – a business consulting non-profit – for help. Floe used Enterprise MN’s Growth Acceleration Program (GAP) to provide funding for 20 of the company’s 70 employees to receive special training that transformed the entire company.

Now Floe’s revenue per employee has more than doubled. Sales in 2012 hit an all-time high, which allowed Floe to build a 40,000 square foot addition. Floe International President Don VanderMey believes this GAP-funded training will continue to inspire the company’s growth.

This legislative session, Governor Mark Dayton worked with legislators to promote job growth and invest in small businesses located in Minnesota. They provided $750,000 for the Growth Acceleration Program. This grant will allow Enterprise MN to continue helping Minnesota manufacturing companies grow.

Since it was created in 2008, the Growth Acceleration Program at Enterprise MN has helped over 245 Minnesota manufacturing companies invest in their organizations. GAP is a matching grant that enables small manufacturing companies to access business improvement services. GAP provides up to $1 of state money for every $3 a company invests. The initiative has helped these companies create or retain 1,700 jobs.

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