Taking the oath of office to start his second term, Gov. Mark Dayton said he believes Minnesota is in better shape than it was four years ago when he first took office.
But there’s room for improvement, he said Monday in his inaugural address. And education is the key to increasing opportunities which will help ease the wealth and income gap, he said:
Many Americans would like to go back in time – to regain what they had before. The world, however, has moved into a new era – marked by Globalization – where companies and countries engage in fierce competition to create the lowest-cost production sites in the world and reap the profits from doing so.
This dispersion of economic activity has cost millions of Americans their jobs, their economic security, and their confidence in the future.
The world today offers many good opportunities. Yet, while there are many roads to successful, fulfilling lives, there is, essentially, just one path. It is through education, training, and the development of marketable skills.
Minnesota, he said, is part-way there on the education solution but more investment in schools and training is needed:
In one of the best initiatives of my first term, we now offer free, all-day kindergarten throughout Minnesota. We have created better opportunities for five year-olds everywhere to develop the intellectual and social skills they will need – not just to survive, but to thrive.
This new effort has also shown us the number of children, who are not ready for kindergarten. If our response is to do nothing – or too little – to remedy the disparities, we know that they will later cause worse crises for those kids – and for us.
So, we must expand and improve our early education and child-care programs. Additionally, some children’s needs go beyond early education. They must be better-protected from neglect and abuse.
We must do more to prevent the mistreatment of Minnesota’s children and to intervene quickly and effectively, when necessary. We must also develop the mental health resources to help them overcome those traumas.
And he said he’ll devote the next four years to “regaining our state’s position as a national and global leader in education excellence.”
He said he’ll make make proposals on transportation and other issues in the days to come.
The governor also said he’ll work to break down the divisions that have long plagued the state:
There’s Greater Minnesota against the Metro Area. Central cities versus suburbs. Urban schools against rural districts. East Metro versus West Metro. Cities, counties, and townships compared to other cities, counties, and townships.
Someone always believes that someone else is getting a better deal.
Those rivalries are not going to disappear. However, they cannot be permitted to blind us to the larger truth that we are all one Minnesota.
What binds us together is much more important than what pulls us apart. What helps one region usually benefits our entire state. Not always, but usually.
And to wrap up, he bragged a bit about the state:
When it’s all added up and all sorted out, most of us live in Minnesota, because we want to.
We know we’re not perfect; but we’re very good – and getting even better. Let’s not forget that our state is often recognized by national and international experts as among the best or even the very best.
Casting all Minnesota modesty aside – we should be proud. Because we so often are the best. And because, when we are, we have earned it. Through smart minds, good ideas, and hard work.
Through all of us pulling together and making our state – despite lacking the advantages of ocean beaches, or Rocky Mountains, or fossil fuel riches – into a place unique and extraordinary.