On the last day of April I had the pleasure of sitting alongside former Vice President Walter Mondale as Governor Mark Dayton gave his State of the State Address. His speech resounded with hope for our state, noting just how far we’ve come since the start of the 2013 session. He told us,
“I promised ‘A Better Minnesota.’ Tonight, I can report that the state of our state is better – much better – than before. It’s better for us, and it’s better for those who will inherit it from us.”
Jobs numbers were a particular highlight in the Governor’s speech – noting that there are more than 2.8 million jobs in Minnesota today. That’s more jobs than ever before in our state’s history. He also noted that 150,000 of those jobs came along after he was elected Governor in 2010. Private sector expansion has chugged along at an ever-increasing pace – an example of this, I’m proud to say, resides within our district in the Northwest suburbs. Baxter Healthcare Inc. in Brooklyn Park promises to provide around 60 high-paying jobs by next year – and possibly as many as 190 jobs by 2023. The Governor has made job creation a priority across our state and I’m happy to see he has succeeded. We have shown that public-private collaboration works.
Speaking of jobs – higher wages will soon become a part of all minimum wage jobs thanks to the hard work of the Legislature and the Governor. Just days before the House and Senate went into Easter/Passover break we voted to raise the minimum wage from $6.15 per hour to $9.50 per hour by 2016. Starting in 2018 the wage will also be tied to inflation, thereby ensuring Minnesota won’t fall behind again when it comes to paying a progressive minimum wage. I’m proud to represent a state that values hard work and paying a living wage. The minimum wage bill means 357,000 low-wage workers across the state will be better able to provide for their families.
The Governor’s speech also touched on how improving education is very closely tied to good jobs, economic growth, and our citizens’ health and well-being. He touted several key pieces of legislation I’ve worked hard on including all-day kindergarten, which will begin next fall and increased early childhood education funding. Studies show that both early childhood education and all-day kindergarten can make a huge difference in boosting students’ performances and closing achievement gaps. Equally important is ensuring our kids feel safe while they’re learning, and passing the Safe and Supportive Schools Act this spring was a huge victory for the students and families of the state. Minnesota is a state that has always valued a good education, and it’s inspiring to see the Governor touting our efforts and pushing us to do even more next year.
As the 2014 session begins to wrap up, I am comforted and urged to work harder by these words from the Governor:
“We want Minnesota to be the best. To be the very best it can possibly be. Because we live here. Many of our children and grandchildren will live here. We want them to achieve the best they can for themselves and for their families.”