Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad
We are governors from neighboring states and different political parties. We don't agree on everything, but we stand united in our belief that our nation needs a robust Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and together in our opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency's proposal to weaken the RFS.
Since Congress enacted the RFS in 2005 by huge bipartisan margins, it has provided the secure policy foundation that rural America needs to continue investments in renewable fuels. Those investments yield excellent returns. They diversify our nation's energy portfolio, clean the air, grow opportunities for businesses, create good paying jobs in rural America, add value to farm products, and give consumers lower-cost choices at the pump.
Big Oil dislikes renewable fuels, and has used its clout in Washington D.C. and at state capitals to thwart their progress. When Minnesota became the first state to require all gasoline sold to contain at least 10 percent ethanol (E10), Big Oil predicted fearsome disasters. They warned that ethanol would clog cars' carburetors and explode their engines, disrupt supply lines causing gasoline shortages, and increase the price at the pump for consumers. None of that happened.
The petroleum industry also claimed that the RFS causes higher fuel prices. In fact, the opposite has proven true. On February 4, 2014, regular gasoline in Cresco, Iowa, a town about 15 minutes from the Iowa-Minnesota border, was selling for $3.44 per gallon. E10 was selling at $3.13 per gallon. E85 fuel, which is 85 percent ethanol, was selling for $2.60 per gallon at the same station - 84 cents per gallon cheaper than regular gasoline.
A recent study at Iowa State University found that, "Feasible increases in the ethanol mandate in 2014 will cause a small decline in the price of E10. Our results should reassure those in Congress and the Administration who are worried that following the RFS commitment to expanding the use of renewable fuels will result in sharply higher fuel prices for consumers."
The Environmental Protection Agency previously estimated that by 2022, renewable fuels would replace 13.6 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel consumption and save motorists nearly $12 billion each year. The EPA also predicted that this displacement of gasoline and diesel would reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by 138 million metric tons, equivalent to removing 27 million vehicles from our nation's highways. Ethanol can increase competition and save consumers money, provide real choice at the pump, and drive innovations and efficiencies that are good for the economy.
Photo content: Flickr User Doug Kerr; US Highway 10 – Minnesota
Minnesotans depend on their roads, bridges, and highways every day. Minnesota businesses also require access to good roads as they move goods and services to market. Recently, Governor Dayton and the Minnesota Department of Transportation announced that ten highway construction projects will receive funding through the state’s new $300 million Corridors of Commerce program. These new projects will reduce travel times and improve safety for Minnesota citizens and help businesses transport their products more efficiently.
The new license plate unveiled at the Pheasant Opener.
On Friday Governor Mark Dayton announced that a new ring-necked pheasant critical habitat license plate will be available later this fall. Governor Dayton made the announcement during the Governor’s Banquet at the Pheasant Hunting Opener, hosted by the City of Madelia.
The first critical habitat plate was created in 1995 as a way for Minnesota citizens to voluntarily contribute to conservation and show that commitment with a special outdoor-themed vehicle license plate. More than 100,000 Minnesota vehicles have critical habitat license plates, with the 2002 loon plate being the most popular. These plates generate about $3.5 million per year. They have generated more than $44 million for habitat conservation since the program began.
Motorists who have purchased habitat plates have helped wildlife in every corner of the state. They have funded Wildlife Management Area acquisitions, trout stream easements and helped support loons, eagles, rare plants and many other species. The new pheasant plate will help us preserve some of our rapidly disappearing grasslands – which are critical to the future of pheasants.
This month, Governing Magazine (one of the most credible sources of nonpartisan news and policy analysis covering state and local governments) reported the results of a new survey conducted by Thumbtack.com and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation ranking the Most (and Least) Small Business-Friendly States in the country.
According to the survey, Minnesota ranked 11th in the nation for overall business friendliness, confirming our state remains one of the best places in the United States to start, own, and expand a small business.
According to Governing Magazine:
“When it comes to how business-friendly an area is, smaller companies care about much more than just taxes...Training and networking programs were found to be the best predictor of overall scores, followed by a state’s economy and licensing requirements.
“In fact, the majority of businesses surveyed didn’t think their taxes were unfairly high. The larger the business, though, the more negatively it perceived its taxes.
“When a small business owner decides where to set up shop, they’re most likely to choose where they already reside. For this reason, taxes typically aren’t their chief concern initially, said Katie McConnell, a senior associate with the National League of Cities’ Center for Research and Innovation.”
Neighboring Wisconsin ranked 17th for overall business friendliness, and Iowa ranked 21st. In addition to being ranked the 11th best state to own a small business, Minnesota received an A- grade for overall business friendliness, which was a marked improvement from the B grade Minnesota received in 2012.
You can read more about the survey, and how Minnesota’s small business environment compares to other states, on the Governing.com website.
Minnesotans need a strong economy we can depend on for good jobs, living wages, and a strong middle class. That is why Governor Dayton’s budget invests in measures to create jobs, strengthen our infrastructure, and make Minnesota a more competitive place to do business. These investments will yield new jobs, vibrant communities, and additional state and local tax revenues that will far exceed these initial investments.
Investing an Additional $86.5 million in Economic Development
Creating thousands of jobs by leveraging $1.475 billion in private investment.
Two years into his administration, Governor Mark Dayton remains committed to building a better Government for a Better Minnesota.
One important aspect of continuing this progress is improving the value, efficiency, and accountability of state government. Building a better government for Minnesota requires new thinking, and changing the way the state conducts its business. Governor Dayton is focused on using every tax dollar wisely to deliver valuable services that improve the lives of Minnesotans. This includes using new technology to improve efficiency and reduce waste, controlling cost increases, and eliminating programs that don’t work.