Yesterday (Aug. 22) Wisconsin Governor and presidential candidate Scott Walker was in Alabama looking for votes. However, given the current mess we are having with coming up with a General Fund budget and the lack of leadership in Montgomery, we should have had Governor Mark Dayton of neighboring Minnesota down to tell us how to get out of our predicament.
Dayton, a former U.S. Senator, was elected governor in 2010, like our own Robert Bentley. He took over from Tim Pawlenty, another former GOP presidential hopeful. Dayton, the first Democrat to be governor of Minnesota in 20 years, inherited a $6.2 billion deficit, the fourth largest in the country at the time. Unemployment was seven percent and the legislature was talking about such things as closing portions of interstate highway to save money.
In fact, Dayton and the Republican-controlled legislature came to an impasse not long after he took office and state government shut down for several weeks.
But four years later Minnesota has a budget surplus of well above $1 billion, unemployment is the fifth lowest in the country and Forbes says the state is the ninth best in the country in which to do business (as compared to 32nd for Wisconsin).
At the center of this turnaround was Dayton’s willingness to increase taxes on the wealthiest citizens of the state. This generated $2.1 billion in new revenue. (Dayton is a billionaire and an heir to the Target Corporation.) He has also lead an effort to see that the state’s minimum wage reaches $9.50 by 2018.
For a more detailed look at Minnesota today, go here.
And given the fact that the Alabama legislature has no problem imposing education policy imported from outside the state, surely they might look at how Minnesota righted its ship of state.