Our latest blogpost revisits the state of early childhood education and urges Minnesota decision-makers to double down on this crucial investment in our future workforce. Guest blogger Brendan Klein, a St. John’s University junior who was a Growth & Justice intern last summer, observes: “In a recent ranking of best states on early childhood measures, Minnesota came in 7th for program quality but 17th for percentage served by pre-K enrollment. Thousands of our youngest people who need support and high-quality intellectual and emotional development still do not receive it, in part because the market is not responding to the demand with sufficient supply, particularly in rural communities and Greater Minnesota.”
Growth & Justice participated in a social media “thunderclap” this week, coordinating simultaneous statements on Facebook and Twitter with dozens of other nonprofits and other Minnesota organizations in opposition to the pending federal tax bill. We agree with many economists and non-partisan analysts that the bill would significantly increase economic inequality, exacerbate racial disparity, worsen the national debt, and eventually threaten the economic security of the elderly and all middle-and low-income Minnesotans and Americans. KSTP-TV (Ch. 5) picked up on this coordinated effort with a story on the evening news.
We’re beginning to see some creative homegrown solutions to the child-care crisis in rural Minnesota. One of the most promising was featured in a MinnPost article recently about a new co-op model being created in New York Mills, a town of 1,100 in the Detroit Lakes region. From the article: “Public agencies are working with nonprofit organizations and a handful of employers to create a day care cooperative that will provide care for at least some children who need a place to go. A center planned for an unused space in a county office building is expected to open next year and will have room, eventually, for as many as 36 children.” Key to this co-op model is participation and subsidy from local employers, including a local boat manufacturer, whose workers are desperate for high-quality child care. Growth & Justice has long advocated local partnerships involving all three sectors––public, private and non-profit––to solve problems.
We are wary of putting too much stock in any single ranking of Minnesota’s business climate or quality of life. But an overwhelming preponderance of various rankings over many decades, and especially in the last 10 years, indicates that Minnesota’s traditional preference for progressive public policy has been good for our people and good for business too. The latest such ranking comes from USA Today, which ranks us #1 for “Best Run States.” A Star Tribune story on the “Best Run” ranking notes that “a healthy economy and good fiscal management has allowed the state to save more money than most other states, with 10 percent of its annual budget put in a rainy-day fund. The study also found that the state has a nearly perfect credit rating from Moody's and a stable long-term outlook.”
“A recent study by Minnesota Public Radio found that 60 percent of Minnesotans believe they get a good value for their taxes. More than 80 percent said they're more hopeful than fearful about what lies ahead for Minnesota.”––Star Tribune Staff Writer Tim Harlow, in article linked above on Minnesota as “Best Run” state.