After ten years of Republican destruction, budget slashing and poor management and after the epic Marriage Restriction Amendment fight, the 2013 legislative session felt like a new, fresh start for Minnesota.
We progressives have built many, many coalitions over the years. Many didn’t succeed, some partially blocked something bad the conservatives wanted to do. The MN United campaign and the 2012 election was the culmination, the coming together of so many different parts of the activist left. From the religious to labor to peace to … suffice to say that it’s a mighty long list.
Overall, how did the legislature do considering the unity we all basked in after the 2012 landslide?
I say pretty well.
Marriage equality was epic.
Passing a budget that fully funds education and eliminates our structural deficit by making the richest 2% pay a share closer to what the rest of us pay was huge.
Here a few more successes …
Dan McGrath, Executive Director of Take Action Minnesota points out these in an email I received:
A new health care exchange that puts people at the center. Ban the Box legislation that takes a step toward closing the racial jobs gap. Fairer taxation that closes corporate tax loopholes and invests in all-day kindergarten and a stronger MinnesotaCare.
$46M for early childhood gets two thumbs up from me. All day kindergarten is cool. Stable funding for education is needed. Read more at MinnPost.
“Finally, Minnesota is closing corporate tax loopholes instead of schools,” said Carol Nieters, Executive Director of SEIU Local 284 “It’s a much better investment for Minnesota’s future.”
“In a week where Minnesota celebrated equality, lawmakers showed that economic equality is important too,” Nieters continued. “It’s the right direction for Minnesota.”
The Dayton Administration claimed the following additional victories:
- Property Tax Relief for Minnesotans – Property taxes have increased by 86% statewide over the past decade, with increases falling hardest on the middle class, seniors, and small businesses. This session, we invested over $441 million in property tax relief for Minnesotans by restoring the state’s commitment to cities, counties, and school districts, and providing direct relief to homeowners and renters.
- A Historic Investment in Education: For the first time in its history, Minnesota will offer All-Day Kindergarten to every child in Minnesota. We are giving thousands of children access to high-quality preschool and child care. And we are freezing tuition for the next two years at the University of Minnesota and all MnSCU campuses and increasing student financial aid to make higher education more affordable for middle class families. With nearly a billion dollars in new money for education, this budget invests in every learner in Minnesota – from early education through higher education. This new funding will help give our kids access to a world-class education and train the best-educated workforce in the world. This budget will also eliminate the school shift by the end of the next biennium.
And the following for improving Minnesota’s economy:
A Growing Economy That Creates Middle Class Jobs
- Major New Investments in Job Creation. Highlighted by the Mayo Clinic Destination Medical Center, this budget contains provisions to support growth and expansion for a number of Minnesota companies. State investments in 3M, Mall of America, and Baxter International will help create tens of thousands of new jobs in Minnesota.
- Attracting and Retaining Businesses – By investing $30 million in the Minnesota Investment Fund, we were able to provide more competitive loans that will bring new businesses to Minnesota, help existing businesses expand, and create thousands of new jobs for Minnesotans.
- Leveraging Private Investment to Create Jobs – We created a new performance-based business incentive initiative to create thousands of jobs and leverage $450 million in private investment.
- Building the Infrastructure Businesses Need – By increasing funding for the Transportation Economic Development initiative, we invested in road and bridge improvements that will promote economic development and put people to work today.
- Making Minnesota Globally Competitive – By making new investments in global trade, we will finally have the resources to help expand Minnesota exports and connect our state’s small businesses with trade partners in foreign markets – which will support thousands of jobs here in Minnesota.
- Cutting Taxes for All Minnesota Employers – We cut unemployment insurance taxes by $346.5 million, saving Minnesota employers more money to invest in their businesses and our economy.
- Making it Easier to Do Business in Minnesota – Right now, when businesses invest in new capital equipment, they pay sales tax and get reimbursed later. More than 1,700 companies received capital equipment sales tax exemptions in 2012, totaling over $182 million in refunds. Under the Governor’s budget, businesses would instead receive an upfront tax exemption for these purchases, starting in FY2016. This will provide simplicity for businesses and spur additional growth.
- Helping Greater Minnesota Businesses Recruit Workers – This budget provides a sales tax exemption for established businesses in Greater Minnesota that add employees and a tax credit for those who hire interns in Greater Minnesota.
- A Missed Opportunity in Bonding – This budget includes a bonding bill that will put Minnesotans back to work on significant projects such as the renovation of the State Capitol. Unfortunately, opposition from Republicans prevented passage of a larger bonding bill that would have provided funding for the Security Fence at the Shakopee prison, downtown revitalization projects in Mankato, Rochester, and St. Cloud, and numerous state college and university buildings.