Olseen Column: Economic Recovery is Top Priority

Monday, January 19th, 2009 at 8:42 am

(Column from MN Sen. Rick Olseen)

Unfortunately, Minnesota’s unemployment rates continue to rise and economists are warning that our state could face the longest economic recession since World War II. More families are being hurt by additional layoffs and the inability to find new employment. Our state faces a $4.8 billion budget deficit, and this shortfall is only expected to grow larger. This being the economic reality facing our state, the Legislature has made economic recovery and job creation the top priorities of the 2009 session.
An important first step in this process will be partnering with the federal government on President-elect Barack Obama’s recovery plan, which is projected to create or preserve up to four million jobs in the United States. The very first bill introduced in Minnesota’s legislative session, Senate File 1, was aimed at maximizing our state’s benefits and participation in the federal package.
Congress is expected to pass the economic recovery package within the upcoming weeks. State legislators have already been working closely with Minnesota’s Congressional Delegation to ensure that we have a plan in place to respond quickly to any federal aid provided to our state. We want to be sure we have the necessary processes and projects lined up so we can turn these federal dollars into new jobs for Minnesotans. We’re very fortunate to have our own Congressman Oberstar, chair of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and key player in the federal recovery package, working to bring dollars for infrastructure improvements, and thus job creation, to our state.
It’s also imperative that our state advocate for our fair share of the federal recovery package. Currently, Minnesota only gets back 72 cents of every tax dollar we send to the federal government. By working closely with our federal delegation, legislators are hoping to capitalize on every dollar available to our state. Given the serious nature of our state’s economic crisis, Minnesota simply can’t afford to have our dollars being spent elsewhere. We must closely coordinate our state resources with the available federal funds so Minnesota’s economy and infrastructure can achieve the maximum benefit.
While the federal economic recovery will provide the dollars to bring in jobs in the short-term, we must also lay the framework that will allow businesses to continue to thrive and expand in our state. We must position Minnesota to be competitive for the jobs of the future. To this end, legislative committees are developing proposals to attract more private investment to Minnesota businesses. Our state has a lot of potential to capitalize on investments in the emerging bioscience and renewable-energy industries, so we must take full advantage of these opportunities.
I know folks are struggling during these tough times and you are concerned about the economic uncertainties facing your families. Rest assured that I am working hard to help our state recover and begin on a path to prosperity.
As always, I encourage you to contact me with your questions or comments on any issue. You may call me at 651-296-5419, send an e-mail to sen.rick.olseen@senate.mn, or write to G-24 State Capitol, St. Paul, MN 55155.

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