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Myron Frans: Minnesota's business climate is strong despite misleading 'tax index'

Posted on February 10, 2012 at 9:05 AM
Categories: Economy, Commerce, Jobs

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.


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‘All Hands on Deck’ for Minnesota Jobs

Posted on February 09, 2012 at 1:45 PM
Categories: Jobs, Economy

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. 


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Star Tribune Editorial: Dayton's first-year marks are high

Posted on January 03, 2012 at 5:40 PM
Categories: Jobs, Economy

Through 35 years of public life, Mark Dayton has shown little inclination to rest on laurels. That's reassuring, because Dayton is bound to hear a good deal of praise as he completes his first year as governor on Tuesday.
 
Dayton's term is only a quarter spent. Much that he set out to do remains undone. A 20-day government shutdown last July is a permanent blot on the records of both Dayton and the 2011 Legislature. The temporary fiscal measures used to end the shutdown do none of them credit.
 
But the DFL governor's overall performance to date has been strong enough to win over skeptics, rally support from unexpected sources and earn the grudging respect of partisan opponents. He has turned his political slogan -- "Building a Better Minnesota" -- into a credible description of not just intentions, but accomplishments.

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Building a Better Minnesota

Posted on December 21, 2011 at 10:56 AM
Categories: Economy, Jobs, Health, Education, Transportation

A year into Governor Mark Dayton’s first term, Minnesotans are seeing the value of a Governor who is committed to putting people back to work, protecting middle-class taxpayers and changing the way government does business.  Governor Dayton has made significant progress towards these goals by engaging the ideas of legislators from both parties, our state’s businesses, and most importantly, the people of Minnesota.
 
When he was inaugurated, Governor Dayton said that the way to get Minnesota working again was by working together.  His first year in office has proven that to be true.  Our state is recovering from tough times, but with Governor Dayton’s direction our state agencies continue to do more with less.  The Governor has been relentlessly committed to creating more jobs here in our state, and creating the kind of environment where private businesses can thrive.

“Let us dedicate ourselves to rebuilding a successful state, one that again is the envy of the nation, a leader of the world. Let it be written that we were Minnesotans who led the way to something better than before, who created something greater than ourselves, who achieved together what none of us could have accomplished on our own.”
- Governor Mark Dayton, January 3, 2011

Getting Minnesota Back to Work

- Under the Governor’s leadership Minnesota continues to outpace the national economic recovery.  Minnesota’s unemployment rate is 5.9 percent, compared to 8.6 percent for the rest of the country.  There are 53,000 more Minnesotans at work now, compared to the bottom of the recession. 

- Governor Dayton worked to pass a $500 million bonding bill, putting thousands of Minnesotans back to work improving bridges, roads and infrastructure.


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Rothman: Thousands of low-income households now warmer, more energy efficient

Posted on December 16, 2011 at 7:50 AM
Categories: Economy, Environment

By Mike Rothman, Commissioner
Minnesota Department of Commerce
 
 
As winter settles over Minnesota, more than 18,200 low-income households across our state are a little warmer, and a lot more energy efficient. That’s thanks to an effective partnership between the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources (DER), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and our local partners across Minnesota.
 
More than $132 million in federal funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) gave Minnesota’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) a big boost in 2009. Working together, we used that limited one-time funding to produce permanent energy savings for thousands of senior citizens (7,490), disabled Minnesotans (5,770), and low-income families with children (22,200).
 
Initially, Minnesota set a goal of weatherizing 17,000 low-income households by March 2012. We were one of the first states in the nation to meet our goal; in fact exceeding that goal several months ago. Now, with $7 million and less than 4 months left, the State of Minnesota is well its way to serving a total of 19,000 to 20,000 households by this spring, stretching every dollar to provide the maximum benefit to Minnesota families, our environment, and our economy.
 
Yesterday, Governor Mark Dayton and U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu highlighted the nation-leading work Minnesota has been doing to make money- and energy-saving investments in the homes and lives of low-income families. Governor Dayton pointed out in particular how important this program has been at a time when Minnesota families are struggling – not only to pay their utility bills, but to find jobs in a difficult economy.

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Governor Dayton and Energy Secretary Chu: 18,000 Homes Weatherized in Minnesota

Posted on December 15, 2011 at 2:19 PM
Categories: Environment, Economy, Jobs

Today Governor Dayton joined U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu on a conference call to announce that Minnesota has weatherized 18,000 homes, exceeding its goal under the Recovery Act by more than 400.

Under the Recovery Act, Minnesota was awarded $138 million to deliver energy efficient upgrades such as insulation, air-sealing, and more efficient heating and cooling systems in homes across the state.

Read the full announcement below:

Governor Dayton and Energy Secretary Chu Announce Major Recovery Act Milestone: 18,000 Homes Weatherized in Minnesota, 600,000 Nationwide
Recovery Act Program has Reduced Energy Bills for 18,000 Minnesota Households

Washington, DC -- U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu hosted a conference call today with Governor Mark Dayton to announce that states and territories across the nation have reached the goal of weatherizing more than 600,000 low-income homes– including more than 125,000 multi-family homes like apartment buildings – more than three months ahead of schedule. Under the Recovery Act, Minnesota was awarded $138 million to deliver energy efficient upgrades such as insulation, air-sealing, and more efficient heating and cooling systems in homes across the state. Through October, Minnesota has upgraded more than 18,000 homes, exceeding its goal under the Recovery Act by more than 400, and will continue weatherizing homes for the next few months with Recovery Act funds. The state reached this major milestone as part of its efforts with the Department to save energy and reduce home utility bills for families, while creating jobs in communities throughout the country.


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Star Tribune: Gov. Dayton and his team hit the road

Posted on December 12, 2011 at 1:53 PM
Categories: Education, Commerce, Economy

This weekend the Star Tribune highlighted the travels of Governor Dayton and his Administration across the state of Minnesota. Check out the article, "Gov. Dayton and his team hit the road," below:

Gov. Mark Dayton and his commissioners are fanning out across Minnesota.

Education, revenue, pollution control and agency heads are following their boss' lead by hitting the road to take the pulse of the people.

"I think it makes a better relationship between Minnesota citizens and their government," Dayton said. It is essential, he said, for administration officials to "get out from behind the desk and the office and really see firsthand what's going on there in the real world and get the dialogue going. I really encourage commissioners to do that. I am very proud of them for doing so."

As a candidate, Dayton toured Minnesota's 87 counties in 87 days, covering 9,000 miles in less than three months. At the tour's conclusion, he bragged that he'd probably been to more counties more often, "than all the other candidates combined."


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Minnesota Ranks Second in Nationwide Opportunity Index

Posted on November 28, 2011 at 2:39 PM
Categories: Education, Jobs, Economy

Opportunity Nation ranked Minnesota 2nd in the nation today in a new index that measures how effectively individuals can move up the economic ladder, according to Northland's NewsCenter.

The Opportunity Index ranked all 50 states using indicators such as the unemployment rate, poverty rate, on-time graduation rate, and others to assign a first of its kind Opportunity Score. Minnesota earned an Opportunity Score of 81.2 out of 100.

According to the announcement, Minnesota earned high marks:

Minnesota outperformed almost every other state in the union, earning an Opportunity Score of 81.2 out of 100.   A few of the highlights that helped set Minnesota apart include:

- Weathering the Economic Downturn: During a time when a majority of the country is struggling to make ends meet, Minnesota’s residents earn a slightly higher on average income than most Americans ($57,007 vs. $51,425).  In addition, their statewide poverty rate is just over 10% compared to the national average of 13.47% and their unemployment rate is significantly lower than the national unemployment rate (7.4% vs. 9.1%, respectfully).


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Governor Dayton proclaims Technology Innovation Month in Minnesota

Posted on November 18, 2011 at 11:23 AM
Categories: Economy, Technology

Governor Dayton has proclaimed November 2011 as Technology Innovation Month in Minnesota.

Technology has been a driving and innovative force in Minnesota’s economy. The state's deep and diverse technology base, which crosses many sectors and fuels Minnesota's economic engine, helps provide the tax base and economic support for Minnesota's high quality of life.

Minnesota is committed to promoting the success, sustainability, and global competitiveness of its technology industries. It has become a powerhouse of technological innovation, fostering groundbreaking collaborations across educational and industrial spheres.

The continued health of Minnesota’s technology sector is crucial to the future prosperity of our state.

To read the proclamation, click here.


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Governor Dayton receives high marks from North Minneapolis

Posted on November 17, 2011 at 7:45 AM
Categories: Jobs, Economy

Governor Dayton is receiving high marks for his attention and follow-through six months after meeting with community leaders at the Twin Cities Economic Development Summit, which was convened in March to address the need to spur economic growth in North Minneapolis.

According to MinnPost:

The reason: He was clear and deliberate in spelling out what changes he could order and where he'd be relegated to the role of cheerleader.

Regarding the former, he appointed specific staffers to keep tabs on his administration's commitments. And those staffers answer the phone.

Regarding the latter, well, it's been a l

ong time since such a highly placed cheerleader has kept the community's priorities on the front burner.

'Pretty authentic in his approach'
"The governor has been pretty authentic in his approach to this and has only pushed what he has the ability and the authority to get done," said Sen. Jeff Hayden, the former state representative from South Minneapolis who was recently elected to fill Linda Berglin's seat.

"He has been more visible and more accessible," Hayden continued. "He has more people of color around him and as his commissioners."


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