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From Infrastructure to Education, New Laws Going Into Effect in Minnesota

Posted on July 01, 2014 at 1:33 PM
Categories: Education, Economy, Reform, Human Rights, Health, Jobs

Governor Dayton Signing the Women's Economic Security Act

Governor Dayton signs the Women's Economic Security Act, one of several laws now taking effect. 

Governor Dayton is committed to improving state government – from investing in education and improving the state's infrastructure to taking steps to ensure high-quality health care. Through the work done in the 2014 legislative session, many great strides were made in keeping this promise. Here are ten of the laws and reforms signed by the Governor that are going into effect today:


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Governor Dayton Serves Breakfast to Coon Rapids Elementary Students

Posted on June 04, 2014 at 1:39 PM
Categories: Greater Minnesota, Education, Health

2014_06_02_GMD_serves_breakfast.JPG
Governor Dayton serving students breakfast alongside Coon Rapids staff. 

All Minnesota students should have access to a healthy meal. And thanks to a bill signed into law by Governor Mark Dayton two weeks ago, more than 125,000 students across Minnesota will have access to healthy lunches and breakfasts in school. The legislation (Chapter 312, HF3172) invested $4 million in school lunch and breakfast programs statewide. 

Today, at Morris Bye Elementary School in Coon Rapids, Governor Dayton highlighted one key component of that new law which included $569,000 for an initiative ensuring all 64,000 Minnesota kindergartners have access to a healthy breakfast, free of charge. 

“We cannot expect our students to succeed on empty stomachs , said Governor Dayton. “ Healthy meals are crucial to our students’ achievements. I thank Senator Alice Johnson, Representative Jerry Newton, Senator Jeff Hayden, and Representative Yvonne Selcer for passing this very important measure.” 

Governor Dayton was joined today at Morris Bye Elementary School by Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius, state Senator Alice Johnson, and state Representative Jerry Newton. Senator Johnson and Representative Newton authored the provision this session to ensure all kindergartners have access to a free and healthy breakfast. 

"When a child is hungry, they have a difficult time learning and concentrating in school," said Senator Johnson. "Studies show a nutritious breakfast will reduce absenteeism, help close the achievement gap and increase graduation rates. I thank Governor Dayton for his leadership on this issue." 

"I thank Governor Dayton and legislators that worked to make sure all of our kids have access to a good meal and a great start to their school day,” said Representative Newton. “We have accomplished a great deal over the past two years to improve our schools and provide Minnesota kids with a world-class education." 

In addition to providing breakfast for every kindergartner, the new law also included $3.5 million for the school lunch program. In January, Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid released a report revealing that 46 Minnesota school districts had policies that denied students access to a nutritious lunch, if those students do not have sufficient funds to pay for their meal. This new funding will help ensure 61,000 students from low-income families have access to healthy meals at lunchtime. 

“Providing our students with access to nutritious meals is a critical part in making sure they are ready to learn when they enter the classroom. A healthy meal gives students the energy and nourishment necessary to focus on their number one job: learning.” said Commissioner Cassellius. “This initiative paired with other new investments will help our schools prepare students for success in career and college.” 

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Governor Dayton's 2014 State of the State Remarks

Posted on April 30, 2014 at 9:23 PM
Categories: Jobs, Transportation, Reform, Public Safety, Lt. Gov. Prettner Solon, Greater Minnesota, Education, Economy

Governor Dayton addresses a joint convention of the Minnesota legislature at his 2014 State of the State Address

Governor Dayton addresses a joint convention of the Minnesota legislature at his 2014 State of the State Address

Remarks of Governor Mark Dayton – As prepared for delivery
State of the State Address
Wednesday, April 30, 2014

 
 
When I ran for Governor four years ago, I promised “A Better Minnesota.”  Tonight, I can report that the state of our State is better – much better -- than before.  It’s better for us, and it’s better for those who will inherit it from us.  But the economic growth and social progress we have achieved, also reminds us of the work we still have left to do.
 
Becoming a parent introduces a longer-term perspective.  We begin to consider the effects of our actions not only on our own lives, but also on lives that will extend beyond ours.
 
Becoming a grandparent, as I did a year-ago, thanks to my terrific son and wonderful daughter-in-law, Eric and Cory Dayton, who are in the gallery tonight, adds another generation to that timeline.  It also raises the stakes.
 
Somewhere down the road, my grandson and his generation will assess the state of the state we have left to them.  They will decide whether we, through our actions or inactions, made their lives better.  Let’s keep them in mind, as we choose our state’s path.  
 
In my first State of the State, three years ago, I said, “I know what we must do to create that better future for all of us. To progress, we have to invest.
 
“We have to invest in more jobs. Invest in better education.  In improved transportation.  In the health of our citizens, our communities, and our environment.  In the transformation of government services.”
 
In other words, we have to invest in growth, quality, and effectiveness.
 
 
JOBS & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
 
Well, we invested in jobs.  Minnesota’s private sector and public sector both invested in jobs.  We are blessed with so many outstanding businesses, located everywhere in our state, operating everywhere in the world – and who, during the past three years, rediscovered that they can be successful and profitable here in Minnesota.  As a result, we have the 5th fastest growing economy in the country.
 
There are more than 2.8 million jobs in Minnesota today.  More jobs than ever before in our state’s history. 150,000 more jobs than when I became Governor three years ago.
 
This economic growth is happening all over our state.  A recent newspaper story was entitled, “Lots of jobs find a home on the prairie in southwestern Minnesota.”  It said that, for example, Jackson County reported a 5 percent increase in jobs during 2013.  The City of Jackson’s economic development coordinator is quoted saying that, “Everybody who is able to work, and willing, is probably employed.”
 
Jackson’s largest employer, AGCO, has doubled its workforce to more than 1,300.  Nearby, HitchDoc, which manufactures automotive and farm equipment for 300 customers, has grown from a dozen employees to 140.  “And I’m looking for another 30,” said the company’s owner, Brad Mohns. “I’m turning down work, because I can’t find enough employees.”
 
Some people believe there is no role for government in private sector expansion and job creation.  To see that they’re mistaken, just look around Minnesota.
 
There would not be a new stadium under construction in Minneapolis without the financial support of the City and the State of Minnesota.  7500 construction workers will have jobs building that stadium over the next couple years.  Over one-third of them will be people of color.
 
Located right next to the stadium will be a $400 million private sector development, the largest in a generation.  It will provide office space for 5000 Wells Fargo employees, residential apartments, stores and shops, a hotel, and a new, two-block public park.  Its construction will employ another 1000 Minnesotans.  And that is just the beginning of the area’s revitalization.
 


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Investing in Jobs for the Future

Posted on April 22, 2014 at 1:47 PM
Categories: Bonding, Greater Minnesota, Jobs, Education

Katie Clark Sieben, commissioner of DEED, and Larry Pogemiller, commissioner of the Office of Higher Education, visited the Moorhead campus to highlight the governor’s support for expanding and improving the college’s Transportation Center.

Katie Clark Sieben, commissioner of DEED, and Larry Pogemiller, commissioner of the Office of Higher Education, visited the Moorhead campus to highlight the governor’s support for expanding and improving the college’s Transportation Center. 

Commissioners from two Minnesota state agencies visited Moorhead to show their support for $6.54 million in bonding that Gov. Mark Dayton is recommending for Minnesota State Community and Technical College (M State). M State is a member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System.

Katie Clark Sieben, commissioner of DEED, and Larry Pogemiller, commissioner of the Office of Higher Education, visited the Moorhead campus to highlight the governor’s support for expanding and improving the college’s Transportation Center. Plans call for new and larger diesel technology labs that will accommodate modern diesel agriculture, construction and transportation equipment.

The upgraded and expanded center will enable automotive students to work on vehicles in groups of two instead of in groups of four, providing more hands-on training opportunity. Programs space focused on alternative fuels and hybrid power sources will also be created.

“The proposed improvements to the Transportation Center at M State will provide students with the up-to-date knowledge and hands-on experience they need to be successful in a rapidly changing job market,” Pogemiller said.

The Transportation Center upgrades are part of $233 million in bonding that Gov. Dayton is proposing in this legislative session for improvements at higher education institutions in Minnesota. The proposal includes funding for world-class labs and expanded classroom space at campuses around the state, including Lake Superior College in Duluth, Southeast Technical in Red Wing and Bemidji State University.

“The governor’s proposals are a wise investment that will help ensure that Minnesota keeps its competitive edge when it comes to preparing students for the jobs of tomorrow,” Commissioner Sieben said.


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Katie’s Story: College Tuition Tax Deduction

Posted on April 21, 2014 at 0:00 AM
Categories: Education, Reform, Budget

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Thanks to new tax cuts enacted by Gov. Mark Dayton and the MN legislature, the Zuzeks family are expected to save about $160 this year and another $220 on their state taxes in 2014.

Paying for college tuition can cost Minnesota students and families tens of thousands of dollars every year. But a new college tuition tax deduction signed into law by Governor Dayton will help reduce that financial burden, saving 40,000 Minnesota college students an average $140 per year.

The Zuzeks of Hastings, Minnesota, were born to be teachers.

“From a young age, I always knew I wanted to be a teacher,” said Katie Zuzek, a senior at St. Mary’s University in Winona. “And in order to realize that dream, I knew I had to go to college – there wasn’t any other option.”


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MnDOT Safe Routes to School grants support 138 Minnesota schools

Posted on April 18, 2014 at 8:00 AM
Categories: Transportation, Education

Safe Routes to School

International Walk to School Day at Lyndale Community School in Minneapolis

The Minnesota Department of Transportation has announced the recipients of $4.8 million in federal grants for Safe Routes to School. The grants will support Safe Routes to School at 138 schools in 50 communities.
 
“These projects will help communities increase opportunities for children to walk and bike to school,” said MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle. “More students walking and biking means less traffic on the road and in front of schools, improving safety and promoting healthier kids.”
 
Schools received grants in two categories:

  • Planning – Funding to complete a Safe Routes to School plan to help analyze existing conditions, gather public input and identify potential infrastructure and non-infrastructure solutions at K-8 schools. Plans will be completed by the Regional Development Commission or a planning consultant hired by MnDOT.
  • Infrastructure – Funding for improving the environment and infrastructure around the schools such as crosswalks and trails.

 
MnDOT announced the available grants in December 2013. It received 85 applications and funded 60 applications. The total amount requested was $11.3 million.
 
All Safe Routes to School grants in this solicitation are federal funds. The infrastructure grant includes a 20 percent local match. Each infrastructure grant includes a resolution of support from the local governing body to ensure community support. No local match is required for planning assistance grants.
 
Since 2005, MnDOT awarded nearly $15.5 million in federal funds to communities to support Safe Routes to School. The majority of funding—$13.1 million—was awarded for infrastructure projects. The remainder was allocated for non-infrastructure items and activities.
 
This solicitation used the remaining federal Safe Routes to School funds. Federal funding for the program is now available through the new Transportation Alternatives Program. Safe Routes to School projects occur in all 50 states.
 
The list of grant recipients is below. More information is available at www.mndot.gov/saferoutes.


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New Rankings Help Families Choose Quality Child Care

Posted on April 03, 2014 at 10:53 AM
Categories: Education

Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson finger paints with children at Amanda Rupar’s Family Child Care in Sartell, Minn
Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson finger paints with children at Amanda Rupar’s Family Child Care in Sartell, Minn., to highlight growing participation in the Parent Aware quality rating system and recent investments in early childhood education
For Minnesota’s children, school begins in Kindergarten, but learning starts long before that. According to cognitive scientists, the first five years of brain development can make or break future learning outcomes. Parents play a vital role in stimulating their children’s minds, but when they leave for work, this responsibility also falls on daycare providers.

Last year, Governor Dayton and the legislature worked together to invest in high-quality early learning opportunities. One of these newly implemented initiatives is Parent Aware, a program designed to rate different pre-k educational services. Based on a four star rating system, the program relies on voluntary evaluations of different day-care providers, and, through educational workshops, equips them with information on how to create a safe and stimulating day care environment. When looking for place to send their kids parents can simply go to the Parent Aware Website, and look up ratings.

The minimum standard for a 1 star ratting requires ongoing documentation of a child’s learning progress, while achievement of a four star rating takes much more: including sensitivity to cultural differences among children, evidence that lesson plans are tailored to the learning needs of individual students, and training for pre-k care for students with disabilities.

Minnesota’s Parent Aware rating system will help parents assess their options for childcare, but also encourage providers to become up to date on the latest techniques for encouraging early cognitive development.

The process of accreditation requires that providers frequently participate in workshops to learn about the latest research in early childhood education. This ensures that they remain up to date about the best approaches to early learning, and can continually revise their curriculum.


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Streamlined FAFSA makes it easier for Minnesota students to access financial aid

Posted on April 02, 2014 at 11:59 AM
Categories: Education

FAFSA tools can help Minnesota students get access to financial aid

Getting ready for college or career school can be easier than you think. Visit the FAFSA website for more information.

Governor Dayton knows that providing all of our students access to affordable post-secondary education is vital to preparing all Minnesotans for great jobs for generations to come. Last year, Governor Dayton worked with the Legislature to increase financial aid for our students and freeze tuition at public colleges and universities. Now, the Minnesota Office of Higher Education encourages students to take advantage of the recently improved Free Application for Federal Student form (FAFSA) to access additional student aid.

The U.S. Department of Education improved the FAFSA by adding two new features to make the application simpler to complete and to encourage more Americans to get the education they need for bright futures. The new FAFSA Completion Tool and Financial Aid Toolkit make the application process straightforward, and help high school principals and counselors identify students who should complete the form. Here in Minnesota, the Office of Higher Education has ratcheted up its outreach efforts to help students and families complete the form.

FAFSA Reform – By the Numbers

23 minutes    Time it takes to complete the FAFSA online

58%        High school seniors completed the FAFSA in 2012-2013

70%    High school seniors who completed the FAFSA that enrolled in college or university

Increasing educational opportunity for all Minnesotans is critical creating good jobs and bright futures. The Governor is dedicated to ensuring that Minnesotans have access to post-secondary education – making it easier to get financial aid will help achieve this important goal.


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Blogg[ed]MN: The Benefits of Investing Early

Posted on April 01, 2014 at 1:18 PM
Categories: Education

Governor Dayton and Governor Dayton read to a group of early learners

This blog post originally appeared on the Minnesota Department of Education website blogg[ed]MN. 

Since taking office, Governor Mark Dayton has made a number of critical investments in early education. One significant investment came in 2011 when Governor Dayton and the Legislature invested $5.45 million in the Minnesota Reading Corps to expand the program and help more students gain access to one-on-one tutoring.

In fact, 30,000 students benefited from the Minnesota Reading Corps AmeriCorps individualized, one-on-one tutoring to kindergarten through third grade students and using proven literacy interventions last year.

And the best part is: It’s working.

Today, a new report shows that this work is resulting in big improvements for the state’s youngest learners.

The study, conducted by the Corporation for National and Community Service, analyzed the impact of the Minnesota Reading Corps on improving student achievement in reading. It looked at a sample of 1,350 Minnesota students from Kindergarten through 3rd Grade, and followed their performance over a 16-week period in the 2012-2013 school year.

Check out some of these amazing highlights from the report:

  • The average Minnesota Kindergarten student with a Minnesota Reading Corps volunteer tutor performed twice as well as students without one
  • Minnesota Reading Corps tutors helped the average first grade student perform 26 percent better than the expected level for on-track students
  • Students with higher risk factors who received Minnesota Reading Corps tutoring significantly outperformed students who did not

Interested in reading more about the study? Here are some links to materials from today’s report:


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Minnesota High School Graduates Making Big Gains in Postsecondary Education

Posted on March 27, 2014 at 11:35 AM
Categories: Education

Click here to explore the 2014 interactive Minnesota Measures infographic: A Report on Higher Education Performance.

Click here to see interactive infographic  

New research shows the percentage of young Minnesotans enrolling in higher education has increased dramatically. Between 2003 and 2011, the rate increased from 68 percent to 78 percent – a 10 percent jump. This is great news for Minnesota’s fast growing economy, which depends on a highly educated workforce.

To make further progress, last year Governor Dayton and the Legislature made the largest investment in student aid in a generation. This investment was important and urgent because Minnesota students borrow more money for education than the national average. This was a huge step in making more financial aid available for the students of Minnesota.

The Minnesota Measures: 2014 Report on Higher Education Performance also shows that 71 percent of first-time, full-time undergraduates depend on grants and scholarships to pay for their education. Commissioner Larry Pogemiller said the increasing enrollment of recent graduates shows the importance of the Minnesota State Grant, which provides need-based grants to over 100,000 Minnesotans.



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