Minnesota’s Economy Is Doing Really Well. So What’s Missing?

Something happened this week in Minnesota that hasn’t happened in many other states lately.

Minnesota budget officials announced that the state will have a surplus of about $1.1 billion. By law, the state must pay back $246 million to the public school system and $15 million to the state airports fund, leaving the state with a surplus of roughly $825 million.

This is great news, and it’s vindication of the progressive path taken by Gov. Mark Dayton and DFL lawmakers, who took control of both the House and Senate in 2012 after a disastrous, short-lived shutdown-ridden Republican reign.

But something Gov. Dayton and the legislature failed to do this year was raise the minimum wage — Minnesota’s minimum wage is $6.25, one of the few states where the wage is lower than the federal level.

With the budget announcement, Minnesota AFL-CIO Preisdent Shar Knutson made this announcement:

“Under the leadership of Governor Mark Dayton and the DFL Legislature, Minnesota is now investing in schools and job creation, making taxes fair, and growing the economy. Today’s news shows how honest budgeting, progressive taxes, and targeted investments lead to prosperity.

“Now, it’s time to keep the momentum going. All Minnesotans should be included in our state’s growing economy. There are still hundreds of thousands of working people making poverty wages. Nobody who works full time should have to live in poverty, especially when Minnesota’s economy is growing.

“When lawmakers return to the Capitol in February, they should continue their work and raise Minnesota’s minimum wage to $9.50 per hour, tie future increases to inflation, and preserve the prohibition on the tip penalty.

“Union members, along with our faith, non-profit, and community partners, will continue to have conversations with Minnesotans and lawmakers about raising the minimum wage.”

To get involved with Working America in Minnesota, contact Chase Brandau at cbrandau@workingamerica.org.

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