Local Labor and Environmental Leaders Visit St. Cloud to Call for Balanced Budget That Ensures Minnesota Competes for the Jobs and Industries of the Future
ST. CLOUD, MN (July 7, 2011) – In the wake of the government shutdown over the budget disagreement in St. Paul, local labor and environmental leaders today in St. Cloud 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 Todd Malcolm from Carpenters Local 930. “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.”
“The cuts to transit are going to cause reduced services across the state, making it harder for people to get to work, school, the doctor, and other places they need to go,” said Tony Kellen, President of Minnesota Public Transit Association and Director of Operations and Technology for St. Cloud Metro Bus. “We need a budget in Minnesota that protects our state’s cherished natural resources, one that ensures that the state has the tools it needs to ensure the protection of those resources, and ensures that the people of Minnesota have adequate modes of transit to get where they need to go.”
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.
“We can create the kind of economy that secures our jobs now and creates the jobs of tomorrow but we need action now to build state budgets that will create economic opportunities, not just cut jobs,” said Joe Perske, Mayor of Sartell. “Renewable energy, efficiency, and transportation 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 Jobs21! Co-Chair Tarryl Clark, the former State Senate Assistant Majority Leader. “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.”