Local Labor and Environmental Leaders Visit Rochester to Call for Balanced Budget That Ensures Minnesota Competes for the Jobs and Industries of the Future
ROCHESTER, 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 Rochester 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 Russell Hess from the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA). “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. ”
“As our state fights back from the Great Recession — with many Minnesotans still out of work, or struggling to get by — we need a real plan to protect our current jobs and create new opportunities in manufacturing, construction, education and other sectors,” said Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede.
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.
“Every school in our state could and should be a green school,” said Paul Pagel, a teacher at Zumbrota-Mazeppa Middle School and member of Education Minnesota. “Making our schools safer and more energy efficient will create good jobs and ensure the wellbeing of our most precious commodity: our children.”
“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, not just cut jobs,” said Greg Andrist, Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association Local 10. “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 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.”