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Over 57,400 Children Enrolled in All-Day Kindergarten Statewide

Posted on March 12, 2015 at 11:01 AM

New data show all-day kindergarten enrollment is exceeding initial state projections


ST. PAUL, MN – In its first year of implementation, new data from the Minnesota Department of Education shows that 57,479 students are now benefitting from the state’s all-day, every day kindergarten initiative. That number amounts to 99.6 percent of all kids enrolled in kindergarten throughout the state, and exceeds original state predictions by nearly 3,500 students. The data also shows that every public elementary school in the state – except one – are now offering free, all-day, every day kindergarten programs for their students.

“Before we made this important investment, just 54 percent of Minnesota children had access to all-day kindergarten,” said Governor Mark Dayton, who led the charge for a major investment in all-day kindergarten in 2013. “Now, during its first year of implementation, 99.6 percent of kids are getting the great start they need in classrooms across our state. This is outstanding news for our kids, and for our state’s future. I thank the teachers, administrators, school boards, parents, and legislators who made this achievement possible.”

All-day, every day kindergarten is the result of a $134 million investment made by Governor Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature in 2013. Districts were then given a year to prepare for the move from partial day to full-day programming. Many families were previously paying thousands of dollars to send their children to all-day kindergarten, sometimes as much as $2,500-$4,200. Now, because of the state’s new investments, over 57,400 children across Minnesota are attending all-day kindergarten, free of charge.

“It is amazing to see how quickly schools scaled up their kindergarten programs to offer full day classes,” Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said. “It truly goes to show how necessary and important this investment was for Minnesota families. These students now have more time to develop academically and socially, creating a strong foundation that will propel them forward for success in the future. Just as exciting, with every child gaining access to the same opportunity of a great first start, full day kindergarten will undoubtedly be a game changer for closing the achievement gaps in Minnesota.”

Throughout Minnesota, 57,714 children are currently enrolled in a kindergarten program with 57,479 of those students being served at a full day, every day site. Parents can opt out of enrolling their child in a full-day program, which accounts for the remaining 238 students enrolled in partial day programs.

“Thanks to the leadership of Governor Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature, thousands of our youngest learners are now benefitting from all-day Kindergarten,” said Lt. Governor Tina Smith. “High-impact investments like all-day kindergarten and early learning initiatives are helping close Minnesota’s achievement gap, and creating brighter futures for all of our students.”

This year, Governor Dayton is working to further his commitment to early learning by investing $347 million in statewide, all-day preschool for every four-year-old in Minnesota. This proposal, and other proposed investments in early learning proposed by Governor Dayton, would build on the success of all-day kindergarten and help ensure every child gets a great start, and has access to an excellent education.


Over 600 Road and Bridge Improvements Funded by Governor’s Proposal

Posted on February 17, 2015 at 1:42 PM
Categories: Transportation, Budget

2,200 miles of roadways and 330 bridges would be repaired or replaced statewide

Governor Dayton and Transportation Comissioner Zelle announce the more than 600 projects that would be funded under the Governor's plan

Governor Dayton and Transportation Comissioner Zelle announce the more than 600 projects that would be funded under the Governor's plan

ST. PAUL, MN – Governor Mark Dayton and Transportation Commissioner Charlie Zelle today released a detailed list of more than 600 road and bridge improvements that would be completed if the Legislature passes the Governor’s proposed investments in transportation. The comprehensive list, sorted by county, details the more than 2,200 miles of state roadways and 330 bridges that would be repaired, replaced, or expanded over the next ten years under the Governor’s proposal.

“Minnesotans rely on these roads and bridges every day to get to work, bring their kids to school, and get their goods to market,” said Governor Dayton. “If we fail to act, the condition of these roads and bridges will only get worse. I urge all Minnesotans to review this list of projects and decide for themselves whether these investments are worth making.”

Road and bridge improvements funded by the Governor’s proposal are urgently needed. Right now, more than half of Minnesota’s roads are more than 50 years old, and 40 percent of the state’s bridges are more than 40 years old. In just the next three years alone, one in five Minnesota roads will pass their useful life. And in the next ten years, nearly 40 percent of our roads will be past their useful life.

“After decades of decline, Governor Dayton’s transportation proposal would make needed investments in roads and bridges across Minnesota,” said Commissioner Zelle. “The Governor’s proposal would help reduce travel times, improve safety, and build a modern transportation system that would meet the needs of our state’s growing population and economy.” 

Projects included in the list released today are based on the recommendations of the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT). In selecting pavement and bridge improvements, MnDOT gave priority to projects that would extend the life of roadways and bridges beyond the current 20-year State Highway Investment Plan (MnSHIP). MnDOT used the following criteria to select the projects included in the list released today:

  • Fixing Roads in Urgent Need of Repair – Priority was given to projects that would reduce the total miles of roadway statewide that have no remaining service life (meaning they are in very poor condition, and in need of repair). Over the next ten years, roughly 4,370 miles of roadway on the state system will have zero remaining service life.

  • Making Longer-Term Fixes on Currently-Planned Projects – Instead of just making temporary fixes that would need to be repaired again in just a few years, this list of projects includes upgrades of currently-planned projects to make sure those repairs last longer, and would extend the useful life of more Minnesota roadways.

  • Preventing Problems Before They Happen – Projects were included in the list released today that would provide for preventive maintenance that would reduce the need to do longer-term work in the near future. By preventing further deterioration, these new investments would forego the need to perform costlier fixes down the road.

  • Strategic Expansion – The list also includes projects that make targeted investments in key freight routes across Minnesota that are important for business expansions, job creation, and economic development.
    The list of projects released today includes $1.6 billion in new Corridors of Commerce funding that would be provided under the Governor’s proposal. These funds would be used specifically on projects that would strengthen Minnesota’s transportation system by adding capacity, reducing congestion, and improving the movement of freight across Minnesota.

  • Local road improvement projects – funded with help from the state, but chosen by local governments – are not included on the list released today. Over 40 percent of the new revenues raised in the Governor’s proposal ($2.356 billion) would be directed to cities, counties, and townships; giving local leaders the resources and flexibility to repair and replace roads and bridges statewide. These new investments would add hundreds of additional road and bridge improvements in communities across Minnesota.

About Governor Dayton’s Transportation Proposal 
Several weeks ago, Governor Dayton proposed a straightforward, honest solution to fix Minnesota’s aging transportation systems. The Governor’s plan would invest $6 billion over the next ten years to address the state’s highway funding deficit, invest $2.356 billion in local government transportation projects, and provide $2.92 billion for Metro and Greater Minnesota transit systems. To learn more about his proposal, click on the links below:

List of Projects – Review the list of projects – released today by the Governor and MnDOT – that would be completed over the next ten years if the Governor’s transportation proposal is passed

News Release – Read the news release from the Governor’s transportation proposal announcement

How it Works – Read about how the plan would be funded

Fact Sheet – Get all the facts on the challenges facing our transportation system, and how the Governor’s proposed investments would address those challenges

Local Funding Increases – Learn how much funding each city and county would receive under the Governor’s transportation proposal 

Maps – Take a look at the transportation projects that would be funded, by region


Children and Families Top Governor Dayton’s Budget Priorities

Posted on January 27, 2015 at 11:20 AM

With $1 billion budget surplus, Governor Dayton proposes bold new investments in education

ST. PAUL, MN – After a decade of deficits, state leaders are now facing a $1 billion budget surplus created by Minnesota’s strong and growing economy. As Minnesota begins the discussion about where to invest the state’s budget surplus, Governor Mark Dayton today proposed a two-year budget that would make bold new investments in education, put more money in the pockets of working families, and make long-overdue investments in the state’s aging and underfunded transportation system.

“Minnesota’s future success – the health of our families, the vitality of our communities, and the prosperity of our state – will depend upon our making excellent educations available to all Minnesotans,” said Governor Dayton. “That is exactly what my budget proposal aims to do.”

Governor Dayton’s budget proposal, released in detail today, would invest Minnesota’s budget surplus in creating a free, voluntary PreK learning program for all 4-year-olds, and increasing funding for every K-12 school in Minnesota. Additionally, the Governor’s budget proposal would invest in higher education to make it more affordable for Minnesota students and their families, deliver $100 million in child care tax credits for working families, and make other crucial investments in children and the middle-class.

“Our budget priorities are clear: provide excellent, affordable educations for every student, and give Minnesota families the support they need to raise happy, healthy children,” said Lt. Governor Tina Smith. “We cannot resolve all the state’s many pressing needs in just one budget. But these bold new investments would make an important difference in the lives and educations of many thousands of young people and families. They would set our state on course for an even brighter future.”

Excellent Educations for Every Student
When Governor Dayton took office four years ago, he promised Minnesotans that he would increase funding for education every year he was governor – no excuses, no exceptions. Over the last four years, the Governor and Legislature invested $895 million in PreK-12 education. The two-year budget introduced today delivers again on that promise, investing an additional $373 million in PreK-12 education. It would also provide $93 million for initiatives that would improve our higher education system, and make it more affordable for Minnesota families. These bold new investments would help ensure every Minnesota student receives an excellent education.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the vision Governor Dayton shared today with his budget that puts children and education first,” said Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius. “Not only is he keeping his promise to make education funding a priority every year he is in office, but he is doing it in a way that will transform our efforts to help all children succeed. Every single child matters in this budget – no matter their race, zip code or economic circumstance – and with it, we help give every Minnesota student the opportunity for an excellent education from start to finish.”

Statewide PreK – The Governor’s budget would invest $109 million to provide 31,000 four-year-olds access to free, high-quality PreK learning opportunities.

More Funding for Every School – The Governor’s budget would invest $373 million in PreK-12 schools statewide, increasing the per-pupil funding formula to $5,948 by 2017. It would give local school districts the resources and flexibility to meet the needs of their students and classrooms – from lowering class sizes, hiring new counselors, investing in technology, or providing other needed programs and services.

Tackling the Achievement Gap – In addition to statewide PreK, the Governor’s budget would invest in a multi-layered approach to narrow the state’s achievement gap. It would eliminate the current Head Start waiting list, provide support to help all students read well, target educational support to parents of at-risk children ages 0-8, make additional investments in English Language Learning, and more.

Healthy Schools, Healthy Kids – The Governor’s budget includes important new investments in school nutrition and behavioral health in our schools. It would provide free breakfasts for all PreK-3 students, fund in-school programs to improve student behavior, and support parents of at-risk children.

Investing in Higher Education – In 2013, the Governor and Legislature reversed a decade of funding cuts, investing $250 million in initiatives to make higher education more affordable for hundreds of thousands of students. This year, the Governor’s budget would invest an additional $93 million to hold down tuition growth at the University of Minnesota, expand the State Grant Program, continue reciprocity arrangements with neighboring states and improve research outcomes at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

Investing in Children and Families
Governor Dayton’s proposed budget would invest an additional $144 million in children and families over the next two years. Those new investments would help make high-quality child care more affordable for 130,000 low- and middle-income families, and provide better services to low-income families and at-risk children in Minnesota. These proposals would put more money in the pockets of working families, and help ensure all children receive the care and support they need to succeed in school and life.

“Governor Dayton’s budget proposal would provide important, targeted investments to improve the lives of children, and to support strong and healthy families in Minnesota,” said Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson. “These new and needed investments would help ensure all Minnesota children receive the support and services they need to succeed in school, and live safe, healthy, and productive lives.”

The following is a brief overview of Governor Dayton’s proposed investments in children and families:

Child and Dependent Care Credit – Minnesota is the 4th-most expensive state for child care in the nation, with annual care costs totaling over $10,800 for one child. The Governor’s budget proposal would invest $99.9 million in expanding the Child and Dependent Care Credit, making child care more affordable for 130,000 low- and middle-income families. The average family would save $429 per year.

Supporting Children and Families – The Governor’s budget would also invest an additional $44 million to improve access to high-quality child care for low-income families, provide additional outreach to parents of at-risk children, increasing the state’s investment in children’s mental health services, and enhancing the state’s child protection efforts.

Fixing Minnesota’s Aging, Underfunded Transportation System
For years, state leaders have failed to adequately fund Minnesota’s highways, roads, bridges, and public transit systems. Insufficient funding has left them inadequate, congested, and needing repairs. That is why Governor Dayton yesterday proposed a straightforward, honest solution to fix Minnesota’s aging transportation systems. The Governor’s proposal would create an estimated 119,000 new jobs, and build the infrastructure necessary to meet the demands of a growing population and an expanding state economy.


Additional information about Governor Dayton’s budget proposal is available online. You can also follow the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.


Governor Dayton Details Plan to Fix Minnesota’s Aging, Underfunded Transportation System

Posted on January 26, 2015 at 10:44 AM
Categories: Transportation, Budget

Comprehensive proposal would fund roads, bridges and transit across Minnesota, and create 119,000 new jobs 


Governor Dayton announces his proposal for a straightforward, honest solution to fix Minnesota’s aging transportation systems.

For years, state leaders have failed to adequately fund Minnesota’s highways, roads, bridges, and public transit systems. Insufficient funding has left them inadequate, congested, and needing repairs.

Today, Governor Mark Dayton proposed a straightforward, honest solution to fix Minnesota’s aging transportation systems. Governor Dayton’s plan would invest $6 billion over the next ten years to address the state’s highway funding deficit, invest $2.356 billion in local government transportation projects, and provide $2.92 billion for Metro and Greater Minnesota transit systems. The Governor’s proposal would create an estimated 119,000 new jobs,* and build the infrastructure necessary to meet the demands of a growing population and an expanding state economy.

“Inadequate transportation clogs our lives with worse traffic congestion, longer commutes, more dangerous travel conditions. Those deficiencies restrict our future economic growth and detract from our quality of life,” said Governor Dayton. “If we continue to avoid these problems, they will only get worse. It’s time to begin to solve them. I urge the Legislature to work with me this session to begin to repair and improve Minnesota’s transportation systems.”

“Minnesota’s roads, bridges, and transit networks form the backbone of our economy. After decades of decline, we must invest in these systems to protect Minnesota's long-term economic vitality,” said Lt. Governor Tina Smith. “The plan that Governor Dayton and I are proposing would provide the resources we need to build a modern transportation system – driving continued business and job growth, and protecting the quality of life enjoyed by all Minnesotans.”

The problem is real. In 2012, Governor Dayton convened a bipartisan panel of experts – including policymakers, business and labor leaders, Cabinet officials, and city and county officials from across the state – to study the funding needs of Minnesota’s highways, roads, bridges, and public transit systems. The Transportation Finance Advisory Committee’s (TFAC) analysis concluded that Minnesota faces a $6 billion state highway transportation funding deficit over the next ten years to preserve our existing system, and make the improvements needed for our long-term prosperity. Facing a large and growing list of transportation needs, declining revenues, and an expected one million new residents over the next 25 years, the need for a major new investment in transportation is clear.

“The state’s foremost experts agree on two things: this problem is real, and it cannot be resolved without a major investment,” said MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle. “But Minnesotans didn’t need a bipartisan panel of experts to tell them what they already know – that our transportation system is in serious disrepair, and getting worse. This problem presents us with two simple and starkly different options: invest for the future, or do nothing and let the problem get much worse. We choose to invest.”

Governor Dayton’s Plan: What It Buys
Governor Dayton’s transportation plan would allow for significant improvements to roads, bridges, and transit systems statewide. Right now, more than half of Minnesota’s roads are more than 50 years old, and 40 percent of the state’s bridges are more than 40 years old. In just the next three years alone, one in five Minnesota roads will pass their useful life. And in the next ten years, nearly 40 percent of our roads will be past their useful life.

With new funding proposed by Governor Dayton, the state can make needed repairs and new investments in our transportation and transit systems – ensuring that Minnesotans are driving on safe, reliable roads and bridges, and have better access to a variety of low-cost transit options. Those improvements would include:

Better Roads and Bridges. The Governor’s plan would repair or replace 2,200 miles of state roads. It would repair or replace 330 bridges statewide. Forty percent of the new revenues raised in the Governor’s proposal would be directed to cities, counties, and townships; giving local leaders the resources and flexibility to repair and replace local roads and bridges statewide.

Better Transit Across Minnesota. The Governor’s plan would fund 20 new transitways, increase metro area bus service by 27 percent, increase Metro Area transit ridership by an estimated 80 percent, meet 90 percent of all transit needs in Greater Minnesota, and increase transit service in Greater Minnesota by nearly 500,000 hours of service each year.

More Corridors of Commerce. The Governor’s plan would provide an additional $1.6 billion for the Corridors of Commerce initiative, making targeted investments in key freight routes that are important for businesses’ expansions and economic development.

“By 2040, Minnesota’s population is expected to grow by over 1 million people; 800,000 of them will live in the Twin Cities Metro Area,” said Metropolitan Council Chair Adam Duininck. “For the future livability of our region, and for the competitive benefit of our entire state’s economy, we need to invest today in expanding and improving our transit systems. The future of our state, and our ability to leverage the federal funding needed to build a modern transit system, depends on the wise and necessary investments we make today.”

Governor Dayton’s Plan: How it Works
The Governor’s transportation plan would bridge the $6 billion state highway transportation funding gap over the next ten years by raising new dedicated revenues for roads and bridges. It would also increase revenues for transit.

New funding for road and bridge construction would be provided by a 6.5 percent gross receipts tax on gasoline, raising the current 1.25 percent base tax on vehicle registration fees to 1.5 percent, and raising car registration fees by $10. The Governor’s plan would also require MnDOT to generate efficiencies of 15 percent from all new revenues, allowing the Department to do $6 billion of work for $5.38 billion in new funding.

The chart below describes how new revenues would be used to address Minnesota’s transportation needs.

Road and Bridge Funding Over 10 years

  State Funding (Trunk Highway) – $5.38 billion
$3.38 billion in new revenue
$2 billion in trunk highway bonds

Source : Gross Receipts Tax and Registration Fee

  County, City, & Township Funding – $2.356  billion
Direct funding to Counties – $1.58 billion
Direct funding to Cities – $490 million
MNDOT funding for Counties and Cities – $153 million
Townships – $133 million

Source : Gross Receipts Tax and Registration Fees

Transit Funding Over 10 years

  Twin Cities Metro Area – $ 2.8 billion
Source : ½ cent sales tax increase in 7-county Metro

  Greater Minnesota Transit – $120 million
Source : General Fund

Bike and Pedestrian Funding Over 10 years

  Bike and Pedestrian Infrastructure/Safe Routes to Schools - $ 75 million
Sources : General Fund and ½ cent sales tax increase in 7-county Metro

*Job creation estimates for road and bridge improvements are calculated using a Federal Highway Administration fomula of 9,500 construction jobs and 4,300 construction support jobs created by each $1 billion in transportation investments. Job creation estimates for transit improvements are calculated based on the Metropolitan Council’s experience in building the Green Line (Central Corridor) LRT project.


FACT SHEET: Governor Dayton’s Transportation Plan
FACT SHEET: Investing in Roads, Bridges, and Transit
SNAPSHOT: Investing in Roads and Bridges
MAPS: Transportation Projects


Governor Proposes Tax Credit for 130,000 Minnesota Families

Posted on January 20, 2015 at 10:35 AM

Governor Dayton proposes major expansion of Child and Dependent Care Credit


The Steffan family, the Clark family, and Barb Mikelson, a child care provider, shared their stories about how the Child Care Tax Credit would help their families.

Governor Mark Dayton today released details of his proposal to expand the Child and Dependent Care Credit in Minnesota, providing $99.9 million in direct tax relief to 130,000 Minnesota families. The Governor’s proposal would expand eligibility for the tax credit, allowing more middle-income families to claim a refundable tax credit for costs associated with child care, and dependent care for family members who are aging, or have a disability. Under Governor Dayton’s plan, the average family would receive $481; an eligible family could receive a maximum tax credit of $2,100 per year.

“Rising childcare costs have put hard financial strains on many Minnesota families, making it increasingly difficult for working parents to hold their jobs while assuring quality care for their children,” said Governor Dayton. “My Child Care Tax Credit helps to provide Minnesota families with options – so they don’t have to choose between working and caring for their families.”

On average, child care in Minnesota costs $901 per month, or $10,812 per year, for one child. Because of the high cost of child care, many parents are forced to leave the workforce because it makes more financial sense to care for their children at home than keep their jobs. To make child care more affordable for working families, Governor Dayton is proposing a major expansion of the Child and Dependent Care Credit to help provide Minnesota families with greater economic security – and to provide more flexibility for families with small children, aging parents, and family members with disabilities.

Michelle Steffan, a working mother of two, and her husband, Jake, are among the 92,000 Minnesota families who would be newly-eligible for the Child and Dependent Care Credit proposed today by Governor Dayton. Michelle and Jake live in Minneapolis, and their children attend Jardin Spanish Immersion. The Steffans’ weekly child care costs are $425 per week for two children; totaling nearly $22,000 annually. Under Governor Dayton’s proposal, Michelle and her family would receive $1,200 to help offset their child care costs – direct tax relief that will make child care more affordable.

“It’s important to me to keep working, so that I can maintain connections in my profession,” said Michelle Steffen. “Right now, with a three-year-old and nine-month-old in our family, any income I make goes directly to the cost of child care. This tax credit would help my family’s bottom line.”

A Closer Look at the Governor’s Proposal
Under current law, the Child and Dependent Care Credit provides direct tax relief to just 38,000 Minnesota families. But the plan proposed today by Governor Dayton this session would ensure that a total of 130,000 low- and middle-income families would receive the tax credit. The credit would also apply to families paying for dependent care for disabled or aging family members. The plan would keep the credit refundable, while retaining Minnesota’s exceptions for newborns and daycare providers.

Here is a closer look at the governor’s proposal, by the numbers:

38,000 –     Number of families currently eligible for the tax credit
92,000 –    Number of new families eligible under the Governor’s proposal
130,000 –    Number of families eligible for the tax credit under the Governor’s proposal
$39,000 –    Under current law, a family must make less than $39,000 to be eligible
$124,000 –    Under the Governor’s proposal, a family with two or more children earning less than $124,000 would be eligible for the tax credit
$2,100 –    Maximum tax credit a family could receive under the Governor’s proposal
$481 –         Average tax credit per family under the Governor’s proposal

Attachment: FACT SHEET: Making Child Care More Affordable 

Attachment: Minnesota Stories


Governor Dayton Announces Launch of TransparencyMN Website

Posted on January 02, 2015 at 2:52 PM

New website allows Minnesotans to learn how their tax dollars are being spent
Continuing his administration’s efforts to build a Better Government for a Better Minnesota, Governor Mark Dayton today announced the launch of a new state website, where Minnesotans can easily see how their tax dollars are spent. On the new TransparencyMN website, the public can find useful information such as details on state agency budgets, local governments and school district finances, and state audits and reports.
“Minnesotans expect and deserve this level of transparency and accountability in government,” said Governor Dayton. “This new online tool will provide Minnesotans 24-hour access to the information they need to understand how their tax dollars are being spent.”
According to MMB Commissioner Jim Schowalter, the new website brings together information on the financial activities of the state from a variety of different sources.
“A state government that is accountable to Minnesota taxpayers is an important part of being efficient and effective,” said Commissioner Schowalter. “The new functionality of this website will allow citizens, the media, and legislators more access to information about how state dollars are spent.”
TransparencyMN is designed to provide a current picture of the state’s operating budget, as well as daily expenditures made by state agencies-directly from the state's accounting system. Information is updated nightly – showing budgeted amounts available to agencies, amounts budgeted in specific categories, and actual payments made for goods and services. The website also includes a searchable database where information on contracts and grants, state appropriations, and state employee salaries can be found.
Better Government for a Better Minnesota
The TransparencyMN website is part of Governor Dayton’s ongoing commitment to make state government more accessible and easy for Minnesotans to understand. Since 2011, the Dayton Administration has implemented reforms across state government. These efforts have eliminated over 1,000 outdated laws and saved taxpayers more than $1 billion.


Health officials offer tips and guidance to prevent the spread of influenza in Minnesota

Posted on December 23, 2014 at 1:08 PM

billboard-severe-flu-season.jpgGovernor Mark Dayton and Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger today urged Minnesotans to take precautions to prevent the spread of influenza in Minnesota. According to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), Minnesota is currently experiencing one of the worst influenza seasons in recent memory, with 359 people hospitalized since October.
“I urge Minnesotans to be vigilant, and take all necessary precautions to protect themselves, their children, and their loved ones from the threat of influenza,” said Governor Dayton. “We are taking this threat very seriously, and will continue doing everything possible to prevent the further spread of this illness in our classrooms and communities.”
“Influenza can be a serious, life threatening illness for people of all ages,” said Commissioner Ehlinger. “Every year in Minnesota we see serious illness and scores of deaths from influenza. This year’s strain of influenza appears to be causing more severe illness than in the recent past. It’s important that all Minnesotans take steps to protect themselves and their loved ones and prevent the spread of influenza.”

Preventing the Spread of Influenza
Governor Dayton and Commissioner Ehlinger today offered the following information and guidelines to Minnesotans today on preventing the spread of influenza in Minnesota.

  • Get Your Flu Shot – The best way to prevent influenza is to get a flu shot – and it is not too late; the influenza season typically lasts through the month of April in Minnesota. The Department of Health offers this simple online tool Minnesotans can use to find a clinic in their area to obtain a flu shot. Influenza vaccinations also may be given at other locations and times not listed on the vaccine finder tool. Check with your physician's office or regular walk-in clinic about getting vaccinated against the flu.
  • Stay Home – Stay home from work or school if you are sick. Avoid exposing yourself to others who are sick with flu-like illness.
  • Cover Your Cough – Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue whenever you cough or sneeze. Then, throw the tissue away. If you do not have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your sleeve.
  • Keep Clean – Clean surfaces you touch frequently, such as door handles, water faucets, refrigerator handles, and telephones.
  • Wash Your Hands – Wash your hands often with soap and water, or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
  • Rest and Exercise – Get plenty of rest, physical activity, and eat healthy to stay healthy.

The symptoms of influenza, which tend to come on suddenly, can include a sore throat, coughing, fever, headache, muscle aches and fatigue. People who become severely ill with influenza-like symptoms should see a physician.
For more information about influenza, and how to prevent the spread of the flu in your home, workplace, school, or community, visit the Minnesota Department of health website at


Minnesota Bridges Go Gold for After-School Programs

Posted on October 22, 2014 at 11:52 AM
Categories: Education

Minnesota students participating in after-school science programs

A student’s learning does not end at the school bell. Even though a child spends most of their time outside of the classroom, educators can keep students engaged by offering high-quality after-school programs to extend the learning day.

Governor Mark Dayton has proclaimed October 23 Lights on Afterschool Day, connecting Minnesota to a national celebration of after-school programming. More than 90 after-school programs throughout the state will host events on Thursday, and in recognition of this, the lights on the I-35W Mississippi River Bridge and the Lowry Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis will glow gold tomorrow evening. The iconic Empire State Building in New York City will shine with the same color that night, connecting the Midwest to celebrations across the country.

This will be the 15th annual Lights on Afterschool celebration, which is organized by The Afterschool Alliance, an organization dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of after-school programs and advocating for more investment in them.


Governor Dayton proclaims week of October 19-25 to be “Minnesota Manufacturers Week”

Posted on October 20, 2014 at 3:12 PM
Categories: Technology, Jobs, Economy


Governor Mark Dayton at a plant tour during the Minnesota Manufacturers' Week

Minnesota’s manufacturing industry is a critical part of the state economy – employing one out of every nine workers in our state. In honor of their contributions to our state, Governor Dayton has proclaimed this week to be “Minnesota Manufacturers Week.” The Governor’s proclamation highlights the important role manufacturers’ play in the success of the state as well as ample opportunities for employment.

“Last year, manufacturing contributed over $43 billion to our state's economy and employed over 300,000 workers,” said Governor Dayton. “This week we celebrate the hard work and many accomplishments of Minnesota’s manufacturers, and reaffirm our commitment to their continuing success."

About 307,000 people work in manufacturing in Minnesota, primarily in such areas as computer and electronic products, foods, fabricated metal products and machinery. Manufacturing contributes $43.7 billion to the state economy – 16 percent of Minnesota’s gross domestic product – and the industry accounted for $19.3 billion in state exports last year.

Salaries in the sector are much higher than most other industries in the state because many manufacturing jobs require high-tech skills to operate advanced technology and computer-controlled equipment. The average manufacturing position in the state paid $59,565 last year, over $10,000 more than the typical job in Minnesota.

In recognition of Minnesota Manufacturers' Week, activities including plant tours, keynote speakers and educational activities are planned to help promote the growing industry. To read more about Minnesota Manufacturers' Week or to schedule a tour of a facility, visit

If you are interested in the manufacturing industry, here are additional resources:

  • To find a plant tour near you, click here
  • For job opportunities in the manufacturing industry, click here
  • To explore careers in manufacturing, click here 
  • To learn about the upcoming Scott County Career Fair, click here


Unison Comfort Technologies Expanding Minneapolis Operations

Posted on October 15, 2014 at 11:03 AM
Categories: Jobs

Unison Comfort Technologies, a manufacturer of heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems for the commercial sector, is expanding its facilities in north Minneapolis and will add 75 jobs. The company, headquartered at 60 28th Ave. N., said it is expanding because of increased demand for its HVAC products, which include air handling equipment, rooftop units, energy recovery systems, dehumidification units, and heating and cooling coils. The company plans to invest $627,000 in the expansion and will create jobs paying an average salary of $16.90 an hour.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) is assisting with the expansion with a $400,000 grant from the Minnesota Job Creation Fund. The company will receive the funding after meeting its hiring and investment commitments.

The Job Creation Fund, which was first proposed by Governor Mark Dayton to encourage job growth in Minnesota, will award $24 million in business incentives that were approved in the 2013 legislative session. Officials said the program is helping the state to compete for new jobs and businesses.
“The Minnesota Job Creation Fund is working, helping businesses expand and create thousands of new jobs across Minnesota,” said Governor Dayton. “I congratulate Unison Comfort Technologies for their success, and thank the company for the 75 good-paying jobs this expansion will create.”


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