Legislature gives up and repeals jobs report after bureaucracy ignores it for 8 years

MMB created a spot on their website to house the reports and it remains empty today.

State Capitol Building/Minnesota Department of Administration

(Center of the American Experiment) — In January 2012, Gov. Mark Dayton proposed a $775 million bonding bill and claimed it would create 21,000 jobs. This is a common part of the sales pitch for borrowing bills — they will not just create jobs, they will create a very specific number of jobs. As the 2012 legislative session progressed, Republicans who controlled the House and Senate added a provision to that year’s borrowing bill to require a report on the number of jobs created from each project. Show your work ­— if you claim 21,000 jobs, let’s see if that really happens.

“Subd. 4. Report on jobs created or retained. By September 1 of each odd-numbered year, the commissioner must report to legislative committees with jurisdiction over capital investment on the jobs created or retained as a result of capital project funding by the state, whether with state general obligation bond proceeds or other state funding sources, during the previous biennium. Each state agency must provide the commissioner the information necessary, and must require its capital project grantees to provide the information necessary, for the commissioner to make the report. The report must include, but is not limited to, the following information: the number and types of jobs for each project, whether the jobs are new or retained, where the jobs are located, and pay ranges of the jobs. The Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota, the Board of Trustees of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, and each state agency receiving an appropriation for a capital project shall collect and provide the information at the time and in the manner required by the commissioner.”

So how did Gov. Dayton’s job claims hold up to scrutiny? We’ll never know. Turns out Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB), the agency tasked with producing the report each year, didn’t get it done in 2012. Worse than that, MMB ignored the reporting requirement altogether and never bothered to submit any reports to the Legislature on how many jobs were created from any capital borrowing project. Ever.

MMB created a spot on their website to house the reports and it remains empty today, a telling reminder of the power of the bureaucracy to ignore the will of the Legislature, even when a report is written into state law.

But wait, there’s more! It turns out MMB had such a difficult time counting the jobs created from state borrowing projects, they asked the Legislature last year to stop making them try. That’s right — if you didn’t already dislike the 2020 bonding bill because it borrowed a record-shattering $1.9 billion, here’s one more reason: they voted to repeal this common-sense jobs report.

MMB will no longer have to compile a report that they never bothered to compile in the first place. They should really take down the empty web page — it’s embarrassing.

Bill Walsh

Bill Walsh is the Communications Director at Center of the American Experiment.