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At her first official stop since getting sworn in as a U.S. senator, Tina Smith “promised to take a message about Minnesota’s labor shortage back to Washington, D.C.” The problem is that lots of Minnesotans are leaving the state. According to Minnesota’s Department of Higher Ed, of “the % of MN students choosing to go to a public 4-year university/college”, 57% of all graduating seniors from Minnesota who choose a 4-year college “choose to stay in” Minnesota. Compare that with 78.2% of South Dakota graduates attending a college/university in South Dakota, 81.5% of Iowa HS graduates attend an Iowa 4-year college or university, 83.4% of North Dakota HS graduates attend a college or university in North Dakota. 84.9% of Wisconsin graduating seniors who choose a 4-year college or university attend a 4-year college or university in Wisconsin.

What can Washington do about this? This is a state issue. The dirty little secret is that people are deciding to move out of Minnesota. No federal government program will fix that. Throwing a little money at the situation won’t fix anything. It’ll help Smith say she did something but it won’t help her honestly tell people that she fixed anything.

In 2013-14, there was a DFL governor and DFL majorities in the House and Senate. Rather than make Minnesota a more attractive state for workers, the DFL raised taxes, making the state less attractive for workers and employers. That’s part of why state “economists have warned of shortages as baby boomers retire, shrinking the state’s workforce. Economic development partnership Greater MSP projected that by 2020 the state will have a shortage of 114,000 workers.”

In her role as Dayton’s No. 2, and as his chief of staff before that, Smith was regarded as a tough but kind facilitator. Many people said she has a knack for finding solutions while working with opposing groups. She was involved in DFL politics in Minnesota long before joining the Dayton administration.

“She has been in politics for a lot of years and she understands she needs to start her job running,” said Chaffee, who has worked with Smith on other issues over the years, and is confident she will work hard to accomplish things over the next 10 months.

Comparatively speaking, Smith is a better negotiator than Gov. Dayton. Then again, Gov. Dayton’s negotiating skills have led to 3 government shutdowns in 4 budget sessions. How difficult is it to be better than the worst negotiator in Minnesota’s history?

Tina Smith is a cookie-cutter Twin Cities Metrocrat. There’s nothing worthwhile about that. She’s anti-mining and anti-blue collar worker. She’s opposed the various pipeline projects, which means she’s been at odds with the private sector unions most of her time in office.

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