Dayton's Minnesota vs. Walker's Wisconsin

11-3-2017

Next time an anti-union zealot tells you that taxing the rich or increasing workers’ wages kills jobs and makes businesses leave the state, tell them about Governor Mark Dayton and what we’ve accomplished in Minnesota.

When Dayton took office in January 2011, AFSCME took back the Governor’s Office after 20 long years with Pawlenty, Ventura, and Carlson. Every voter we called and every door we knocked made the critical difference for Dayton. His campaign was refreshing for public workers. Dayton embraced government when others attacked it. He campaigned on taxing the rich when others promised “no new taxes.” He wore our shirt and defended our pay, pensions and health care, saying all workers deserve those benefits. He boldly did everything that most politicians were afraid to do – and he won.

Dayton filled us with hope for a better Minnesota that would work for everyone, not just the rich and powerful. He delivered on his promise.

Dayton's Minnesota Walker's Wisconsin
Progressive leadership Tea Party leadership
Tax the rich Tax breaks for the rich
Invested in education Cut education
Expanded collective bargaining Outlawed collective bargaining
56,000 AFSCME members 10,000 AFSCME members
Higher household income: $70,200 Lower household income: $59,800
37,800 new jobs added in 2017 18,700 new jobs added in 2017
Raised minimum wage to $9.50 Froze minimum wage at $7.25
Lower poverty rate: 8.7% Higher poverty rate: 10.7%
2nd best-run state 20th best-run state
3rd best place to do business 21st best place to do business
$1.5 billion state budget surplus $1.7 billion state budget deficit

Dayton’s story is one Republicans don’t want to tell, especially GOP governors in Midwest right-to-work-for-less states: Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Bruce Rauner of Illinois, Eric Holcomb of Indiana, and Eric Greitens of Missouri.

Dayton inherited a $6 billion budget deficit and a 7 percent unemployment rate from his predecessor, Tim Pawlenty, who prided himself on shrinking government and never raising taxes. 

In his first term, Dayton was able to pass $2 billion in new taxes to fund essential public services. He did that by targeting the top 1 percent of earners, raising the state income tax on individuals earning more than $150,000 and on couples earning more than $250,000. He also championed raising the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour, and passed a state law guaranteeing equal pay for women. Republicans warned that this would cause an exodus of job creators and corporations. Dayton proved them wrong.

More Minnesotans are working today than ever before. This year Minnesota has added 37,800 new jobs, more than double Wisconsin, according to the most recent state-by-state economic snapshot issued by the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress. That snapshot also shows Minnesotans have a median income that is $11,000 more than the U.S. average.

Despite Republican predictions of doom, Minnesota’s economy is one of the fastest growing in the United States. In fact, CNBC ranks Minnesota the third best state for doing business. Scott Walker’s “Open for Business” Wisconsin came in a distant 21st on the same list.

Progressive tax policies turned Minnesota’s budget deficit into a surplus. Governor Dayton reinvested the lion’s share of that revenue into public schools and the work we do. He guaranteed that every Minnesotan has access to affordable health care and free all-day kindergarten. Now Minnesota has the lowest percentage of people living in poverty or without health insurance. Those accomplishments placed Minnesota second on USA Today’s list of best run states.

The reason Governor Dayton was able to radically transform Minnesota’s economy into one of the best in the nation is simple arithmetic. Raising taxes on those who can afford to pay will turn a deficit into a surplus. Raising the minimum wage will increase median income. And in a state where education is a budget priority and economic growth is one of the highest in the nation, it only makes sense that more businesses would stay.

Dayton’s Minnesota is outperforming Walker’s Wisconsin by every measure, including job creation, economic growth, and quality of life. It is official: right-to-work and trickle-down economics are rubbish. Governor Dayton and AFSCME have proven it once and for all.