"Back-to-back billion-dollar surpluses show that the level of taxes on individuals and business owners is too high," the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce said at the start of this year's legislative session. "The best way to grow and expand the state's economy is to reduce uncompetitive business taxes."
Republicans sought to undo the tax increases this year, while Dayton proposed increasing the gasoline tax. The two sides fought to a stalemate in a rancorous legislative session in June that ran into overtime, meaning Dayton's original tax hikes stand for now. But Republicans won a promise to revisit tax relief next year.
Meanwhile, the legislature approved an additional $500 million in education spending demanded by Dayton, aimed at bolstering an area where Minnesota is already strong.
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In our study, Minnesota finishes in second place for Education, thanks in large part to some of the best-performing K–12 students in the nation. Minnesota has led the nation in average composite ACT scores nine years in a row, and 4th and 8th grade math and reading scores are among the best in the nation as well.
In Quality of Life, Minnesota finishes third. Crime is low—just 234 violent crimes per 100,000 inhabitants in 2013, the most recent full-year figures available. The air is clean, and in the home of the Mayo Clinic, people are healthy.
We have never considered weather when measuring quality of life—it's just too subjective. But anyone who has lived through a harsh Minnesota winter knows that Minnesotans don't just adapt to the cold, they embrace it—and are then rewarded with glorious springs and summers.
Other top 10 finishes for the state include fifth place in Economy, sixth place in Technology & Innovation and ninth place for Infrastructure. Those strengths are enough to outweigh Minnesota's 35th-place finish for Cost of Doing Business and 32nd for Cost of Living.