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News from Representative Petersburg 02-20-2015

Friday, February 20, 2015

Dear Friends,

Over the last two weeks there's been a number of news stories about the Governor giving pay raises to his commissioners. Earlier this month, the legislature learned that Governor Dayton approved more than $800,000 in pay increases for his commissioners in early January. Those raises varied from $11,000 to $35,000 per year.

He was able to do this thanks to a law passed by the DFL-controlled legislature in 2013 that gave the Governor unilateral authority to increase pay for members of his cabinet. While commissioner salaries do need to be competitive, in my opinion, this was a little excessive compared to the rest of the economy that we live in.

This week, the House voted to delay those pay raises and remove the Governor's authority to singlehandedly increase commissioner pay without input from the public.

The provisions were part of what's known as the deficiency bill, a stopgap funding bill to help agencies who face budget shortfalls due to unforeseen expenses, such as the ebola crisis and the preparations made by the state Department of Health last fall.

The bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support and now moves to the Senate.

Opinion Piece
I wanted to share with you an opinion piece I wrote that appeared in this week's local papers. The piece focuses on job creation and what we need to do to grow better-paying jobs in Minnesota. I hope you'll take a moment to read it over and let me know what you think. Read the story by clicking
here. I have also included it below.

Your feedback is always welcome at or by phone at 651-296-5368.

Have a great weekend,

John Petersburg
State Representative, District 24A


Jobs, Workforce Development needed in parts of Minnesota

Minnesota’s unemployment rate stands at an impressive 3.7%, one of the lowest rates in the nation. While this is encouraging news, we still have work to do to fully recover from the recession. Take-home pay has remained flat, and there are still some parts of the state where the unemployment rate is a bit higher than it is in the Metro.

All you have to do is look around some of the small towns here in Southeastern Minnesota to realize that parts of Minnesota still lag behind the rest of the state in terms of full economic recovery. That’s why House Republicans have unveiled a jobs bill that aims to grow jobs and develop our workforce to make sure we have talented workers to fill new and existing positions in technical fields.

The Jobs bill features a New Market Tax Credit, offering incentives to job creators who create or expand facilities in fields like high-tech, manufacturing, timber, and mining. There are also incentives for companies to conduct research and development here in Minnesota rather than in other lower-taxed states so that future innovations and discoveries are happening here, where Minnesotans can reap the benefits.

We also need to develop our workforce to make sure workers are trained with the skills they need to work in these highly-technical industries. That’s why our Jobs bill offers refundable tuition tax credits to students who graduates in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).

We also want to encourage young people to look at long-term care and nursing fields, and have expanded that tuition credit to cover students who graduate in nursing or other health professional fields, and work in an underserved part of the state.

Increasing and improving our workforce in long-term care and nursing home facilities is one of the top issues if we want to protect aging adults’ quality of life and make sure we have enough workers to care for our loved ones as Minnesota’s senior population grows.

There are several other provisions in this Jobs bill, and dozens more proposals making their way through the legislative process aimed at growing better-paying jobs and improving Minnesota’s workforce. I’ve co-authored two proposals including a bipartisan bill to make permanent a small business investment credit program, and a Greater Minnesota business development grant program that helps cities defray costs to upgrade public infrastructure for eligible economic development projects.

Reducing the unemployment rate in the parts of the state where it remains high will be a boost to the whole state. Likewise, growing take-home pay for families is not a Greater Minnesota or Metro-area issue. It’s a Minnesota issue.

If legislators on both sides are willing to put aside partisan rhetoric and focus on finding solutions to boost employment and better-paying jobs for families across the state, I’m confident we’ll have a very productive and successful remainder of the 2015 session. Many of these proposals are bipartisan in nature, and will hopefully be made better as the legislative process continues.