Gov. Mark Dayton used his first State of the State speech to summon the unity of post 9/11 America under George W. Bush, extol the Minnesota Miracle, and urge Republicans controlling the Minnesota Legislature to work together for the common good.
Then, in the spirit of bipartisanship, he ran through a laundry list of economic ills that he didn't directly blame on former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, but he might as well have.[jump]
- Real median income in Minnesota fell by 9% from 1999 to 2008, over double the national decline of 4%. Only two other states had a worse decline.
- Our employment growth averaged in the bottom ten among the fifty states during the past decade.
- Last December, there were over 77,000 more Minnesotans unemployed than in December 2002, just before Governor Pawlenty took office.
- Fewer people paying lower taxes has meant state per-pupil aid for our students from kindergarten through 12th grade has been reduced by 14% in real, after-inflation dollars during the past 8 years.
- The number of road miles in poor and mediocre condition has more than doubled. Minnesota's rank among the 50 states in road condition has fallen from 8th to 27th.
- How can states like Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi fund all-day kindergarten, while we in Minnesota do not?
Despite a projected $6.2 billion two-year deficit, Dayton wants more spending -- investment -- on education, roads and transit. He wants private business and government to work together to create jobs. And he cited the Bible to justify higher taxes on the rich:
"My father's favorite quote was from the Bible. 'To whomsoever much has been given, of him shall much be required.'
But he was thin on details, which we'll likely see when he offers his plan for balancing the state budget in less than a week. Meantime, the Legislature is pulling together its own plan to cut $900 million out of the state budget.
Watch the speech here: