Unions react positively to Governorís budget proposal
22 January 2013
|ST. PAUL - Minnesota unions reacted positively to the budget proposal unveiled Tuesday by Governor Mark Dayton that raises revenue and increases funding for education and other needs.
|Dayton’s proposal for the next two years calls for raising income taxes on those making more than $150,000 a year and lowering the sales tax but broadening it to include higher-priced clothing and services currently not covered.
“If the investments in my budget proposal are made, they will yield returns in new jobs, private investments, vibrant communities and additional state and local tax revenues; and they will help keep our economy moving forward,” said Governor Dayton. “They represent my best judgment about what Minnesota needs to grow our economy, expand our middle class, improve our quality of life and take care of those most in need.”
Minnesota AFL-CIO President Shar Knutson called Dayton’s budget “a great first step in restoring prosperity and expanding the middle class.
“This budget begins making long-overdue investments in job creation, E-12 and higher education, local communities, and infrastructure. These are investments that will put our state back on track and create the family-sustaining jobs Minnesotans want and need,” Knutson said.
Tom Dooher, president of Education Minnesota, said educators are encouraged by Dayton’s proposals, which include early childhood education for 11,000 young children, optional All-Day Kindergarten for 46,000 kids, and an increase in K-12 funding by $52 per student.
“This is the first time in many years that the Legislature has started with an investment mentality toward public education, from preschool to college,” Dooher said. “That’s good for our students and for our economy. We’ll continue to work with the governor and the Legislature on a final budget that’s best for Minnesota schools.”
Leaders of the Service Employees International Union praised Dayton for his “honest approach.”
“For too long, the system has been rigged to benefit elite corporations and the wealthy,” said Jamie Gulley, president of SEIU Healthcare. “Our state’s budget has been wildly unbalanced, giving tax breaks to wealthy corporations while our schools and seniors are forced to endure more and more cuts. Elite corporations and the wealthy must pay their fair share to make the crucial investments in education and care for our seniors.”
“This budget finally strikes a balance in our state which will allow us to invest in our priorities,” said Javier Morillo, president of SEIU Local 26. “The 1% continues to make its wealth off the backs of working families, locking people out of the middle class. We need to pay workers living wages so they can support their families. I am proud this budget puts an emphasis on rebuilding the middle class and investing in our communities."
“I am pleased to see Governor Dayton recognize the sacrifices our children have been forced to make,” said Carol Nieters, executive director of SEIU Local 284. “Investments in education – from early education through college – are critical to helping our state move forward. We look forward to talking with legislators about the need for a general education levy to solve the problems of investing in our children’s education. A child’s opportunity for a quality education should not be dependent on where a child lives.”
Jim Monroe, executive director of the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees, said Dayton has proposed “smart investment” in state services.
“ As part of a skilled statewide workforce, our members provide services and implement programs which help our seniors retire with dignity, our college students get a world class education, and help our jobless get the training they need to re-enter the workforce,” Monroe said. "We know that when we take care of our seniors, help our neighbors get new jobs and educate our children, we are doing our best to improve the quality of life for this state.
“By offering a balanced approach of tax fairness, investment in education and job creation, and ‘gimmick free’ budgeting, Governor Dayton’s has outlined a pragmatic direction to restore long term budget stability, while strengthening the middle class.”