Thank you Gov. Dayton for work done in session

Published 10:02 am Tuesday, June 9, 2015

My Point of View by Robin Brown

I was listening to the news this afternoon and heard that our governor has not scheduled a special session and will not do so until agreements are made. I’ve got to say that I have been impressed with our governor and the way he has held fast to the priorities he believes in. Gov. Dayton did a fantastic job this session defining priorities as evidenced in his very public support for infrastructure: education, clean water and roads and bridges. He acted as a statesman, with the next generation in mind, not as a politician (you know the quote).

Robin Brown

Robin Brown

Every action that is taken in government comes at cost and our governor knows that well. It is through taxes and user fees that communities (local, state and federal) pay for their priorities. Providing a comprehensive public education, protecting the environment and building a safe and efficient infrastructure are all in the public interest and should be prioritized and supported with public dollars — taxes.

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With our current tax structure as the base, we need to remember that tax cuts, breaks and credits decrease the available tax dollars in the same way adding programs and services do. Mathematically, both actions are identical when speaking of surpluses and deficits. Philosophically, however, they can be very different. The famous statement by Paul Wellstone, “we all do better when we all do better,” can be used to focus and define our monetary responsibilities for the public good. I think the public good was what our governor had in mind as he held fast to his beliefs and priorities during the legislative session.

I was proud of our governor as he championed public funding for voluntary, half-day preschool for all 4-year-olds in Minnesota. Research supports the monetary and educational benefits of strong preschool programs. In a time when the education gap in Minnesota shows little sign of improvement, it seems that we should be supporting those programs most likely to move us closer to a place where all students can enter kindergarten ready to learn. And although the final education agreement did not include funding for all 4-year-olds, it did provide a beginning, with $125 million worth of scholarships for needy children.

The governor was also able to move the Republicans’ initial proposal of 0.6 percent funding added to the education funding formula to 2 percent for the 2015-16 school year and 2 percent for the 2016-17 school year, an amount below the current cost of inflation, but one that most school administrators will find manageable.

To his further credit, our governor took steps to improve Minnesota’s lakes and rivers. Even though we all need clean water and believe it should be protected into the future, there are individuals and industries that balked at the idea of legislating buffer zones for just that purpose. Still, the science supports the benefits of such zones to protect our water systems. Kudos to our governor for listening to science-based research and his willingness to put that research into action. Minnesota’s water systems are still at the point where they can be saved for future generations and it will take a statesman thinking beyond the next election to do what’s right for the public good. Thank you Gov. Dayton.

Here in Greater Minnesota, we understand the need for safe farm-to-market roads, bridges that will support school buses as they move our children to and from school and roads free of pot holes that could land you in a ditch at the worst or cost you tires and an alignment at best.

Gov. Dayton should be praised for his long-term plan to pay for road and bridge repair. At a time when gas prices were $2.25 per gallon, the governor proposed a gas tax that would add less than 20 cents per gallon, pay for road repair and did not involve borrowing into our future.

So, with a special session still on the horizon, I am confident that the governor will continue the fight for the future of Minnesota — doing what is right and in the public’s best interest even when obstacles arise. He will continue to do so because, as Abraham Lincoln once said, “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”


Robin Brown is an educator, former legislator and member of the Freeborn County DFL Parry.