Minnesota’s Budget Should Focus on Creating and Maintaining Good Jobs in the 21st Century

Local Labor and Environmental Leaders Visit Mankato to Call for Balanced Budget That Ensures Minnesota Competes for the Jobs and Industries of the Future

July 6, 2011

Local Labor and Environmental Leaders Visit Mankato to Call for Balanced Budget That Ensures Minnesota Competes for the Jobs and Industries of the Future 

MANKATO, MN (July 6, 2011) – In the wake of the government shutdown over the budget disagreement in St. Paul, local labor and environmental leaders today in Mankato called for a Minnesota budget that secures current jobs, protects the environment, creates new economic opportunities for Minnesotans and ensures the state’s competitiveness by investing in the industries of the 21st century. The supporters of Jobs21! — a grassroots campaign coordinated by the BlueGreen Alliance working to ensure America leads the 21st century economy — said that the budget passed by the legislature will hurt Minnesota’s economy by eliminating jobs, defunding or cutting important economic development tools, and harming the state’s environment.

The legislature’s budget had large cuts to transit in the Metro area and Greater Minnesota, slashing 85 percent of the general fund budget for Metro Transit and cutting Greater Minnesota transit by over $3.7 million. And while the governor’s budget makes reductions to state departments, the Legislature’s plan would eliminate about 5,000 jobs.

“More than 20,000 state workers are laid off right now, but legislature’s budget would make 5,000 of those layoffs permanent,” said Jobs21! National Co-Chair Tarryl Clark, the former Minnesota State Senate Assistant Majority Leader. “We need a budget that builds the 21st century economy here in Minnesota — an economy that will create good jobs, reduce pollution, secure our energy future, and ensure Minnesota and the nation competes in the global economy. And, after this budget is set we need to start looking at implementing policies that will spur job growth in the long-term.”

“Minnesota has historically been a state that has based its planning on the future, but we see none of that in the legislature today,” said Leigh Pomeroy, President of the Mankato Area Environmentalists. “The answer is to look forward to the year 2050 and beyond, decide what we want to be then, and work back. To create jobs in Minnesota we need to develop our own natural resources – wind, solar, biomass, geothermal – and stop relying on outside resources that drain money from the state.

“Doing that will create clean energy jobs and boost Minnesota’s economy,” Pomeroy said.

Jobs21! is a statewide campaign to protect our current jobs and create new employment opportunities in Minnesota by making our economy cleaner, more efficient and more competitive in the global economy. The BlueGreen Alliance is a national, Minnesota-based partnership of labor unions and environmental organizations working to expand the number and quality of jobs in the green economy.

The group said there were investments that could be made now that will create jobs, such as a state fund for greening public schools to make them more energy efficient — saving taxpayer dollars and reducing unnecessary pollution — and ensure children are not exposed to dangerous chemicals and substances. In addition, a bonding bill would make investments in water infrastructure, local road and bridge repair, and updating aging buildings to be more energy efficient, creating an estimated 28,000 jobs. Finally, they lauded the guaranteed energy savings program put forward by Governor Mark Dayton that uses private investment up front, repaid with the cost savings generated by the improvements, to create good jobs making public buildings more energy efficient, saying they will help work the state follows through with the program.

“Together we can create the kind of economy that secures our jobs now and creates the jobs of tomorrow by building a 21st century economy in the United States. But we need action now — and in the future — to build state budgets that will create economic opportunities and aid those looking for jobs, not just cut jobs.” John Woodwick, the Executive Director of Minnesota Valley Action Council, Inc., the operator of Mankato’s Workforce Center that is closed due to the shutdown. “Renewable energy, efficiency, broadband, transportation, a smarter electrical, grid, recycling, green chemistry—these are the industries that will drive our future economy—supporting the jobs we have now and creating new ones along the way.”

“Minnesota has always been ahead of the curve — we’ve enjoyed our beautiful lakes and rivers, utilized our state’s rich natural resources, and counted our economy as one of the strongest in the nation,” said Clark. “We have done that by prioritizing our budgets to move our state in a positive direction. But instead of providing a real jobs plan, legislators in St. Paul are proposing to cut the very things that our state needs to secure the jobs and industries of the 21st century. The Legislature offered a firing plan, but what Minnesota needs a hiring plan.”

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About Jobs21!

Jobs21!, coordinated by the BlueGreen Alliance, is a nationwide, grassroots campaign to maintain our jobs now, create new employment opportunities, and to ensure America leads the 21st century economy. The BlueGreen Alliance is a national partnership of labor unions and environmental organizations dedicated to expanding the number and quality of jobs in the green economy. Sign up at www.bluegreenalliance.org/jobs21.