Now Minnesota's Economy Is One of the Best in the Country
C. Robert Gibson, HuffPost
Updated: 04/26/2015 5:59 am EDT
The next time your right-wing family member or former high school classmate posts a status update or tweet about how taxing the rich or increasing workers' wages kills jobs and makes businesses leave the state, I want you to send them this article.
When he took office in January of 2011, Minnesota governor Mark Dayton inherited a $6.2 billion budget deficit
and a 7 percent unemployment rate
from his predecessor, Tim Pawlenty, the soon-forgotten Republican candidate for the presidency who called himself Minnesota's first true fiscally-conservative governor in modern history. Pawlenty prided himself on never raising state taxes -- the most he ever did to generate new revenue was increase the tax on cigarettes by 75 cents a pack. Between 2003 and late 2010, when Pawlenty was at the head of Minnesota's state government, he managed to add only 6,200 more jobs
During his first four years in office, Gov. Dayton raised the state income tax
from 7.85 to 9.85 percent on individuals earning over $150,000, and on couples earning over $250,000 when filing jointly -- a tax increase of $2.1 billion
. He's also agreed to raise Minnesota's minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2018
, and passed a state law guaranteeing equal pay for women
. Republicans like state representative Mark Uglem warned against Gov. Dayton's tax increases
, saying, "The job creators, the big corporations, the small corporations, they will leave. It's all dollars and sense to them." The conservative friend or family member you shared this article with would probably say the same if their governor tried something like this. But like Uglem, they would be proven wrong.
Between 2011 and 2015, Gov. Dayton added 172,000 new jobs
to Minnesota's economy -- that's 165,800 more jobs in Dayton's first term than Pawlenty added in both of his terms combined. Even though Minnesota's top income tax rate is the 4th-highest in the country
, it has the 5th-lowest unemployment rate in the country
at 3.6 percent. According to 2012-2013 U.S. census figures, Minnesotans had a median income that was $10,000 larger than the U.S. average
, and their median income is still $8,000 more
than the U.S. average today.