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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Leon Lillie (DFL)

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Progress vs. Gridlock

Friday, October 11, 2013

Over the past several years, we’ve gotten a hefty dose of gridlock and grandstanding from politicians in Washington, D.C. – all at the expense of small businesses and middle class families.

Instead of putting aside their differences, lawmakers at our nation’s capitol caused the first federal government shutdown in over 15 years. As a result, hundreds of thousands of people are being hit with unnecessary economic pain and hardship. Workers are not getting paychecks, businesses are losing customers, and children from low-income families are being blocked from their classrooms.

Our federal lawmakers could learn a thing or two by taking a look at how we do things here in Minnesota.

After hyper-partisan Republican majorities forced our own state government to shut down in 2011, voters swept them out of office in 2012 and elected new DFL majorities on our pledge to make meaningful progress on priorities Minnesotans broadly share such as education and job creation.

Now, nearly a year after that election and well after the DFL-led legislature passed a new state budget, Minnesota’s economy is healthy and growing – and it’s all because we put people before partisanship.

For example, the most recent jobs report from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) showed that Minnesota employers added over 12,000 jobs during the month of August. Those gains mean that we’ve now recovered all the jobs lost during the recession.

Minnesota’s unemployment rate dropped to a seasonally adjusted 5.1 percent – the lowest level since April 2008 and well below the national rate of 7.3 percent. And our state recently ranked 8th on Forbes’ 2013 List of the Best States for Business. That’s a 12 spot improvement from where we were this time last year – the largest jump of any state. Earlier this summer, Moody’s Investor Service, a major credit rating agency, upgraded Minnesota’s financial outlook from “negative” to “stable” thanks to “strong financial management.”

We also recently learned that the “school shift” – an irresponsible gimmick Republicans used to borrow billions from our state’s schools to “balance” their budget in 2011 – is nearly repaid in full. About $2.6 billion of the $2.8 billion borrowed has been returned to schools thanks to an accelerated repayment plan we included in the new state budget.

Instead of creating more gridlock like we’re seeing in D.C., state lawmakers are making progress our top priority. We still have more work to do to create jobs and strengthen our economy, but all signs indicate that we’re heading in the right direction towards economic growth and shared prosperity.


Leon Lillie is a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party representing District 43B. He is currently serving his fifth term.