Minnesota governor unveils green job growth plan

By Kris Bevill
Web exclusive posted Nov. 13, 2008 at 3:33 p.m. CST

Stating that the development of green jobs will be "one of the biggest changes in our economy since the industrial revolution," Gov. Tim Pawlenty, R-Minn., unveiled his plan to spur the creation of green jobs and investments to Minnesota's economy during a Nov. 10 press conference in Saint Paul, Minn. "We want Minnesota to be at the forefront of the competition to get its share and more of those jobs," he said.

Pawlenty's plan includes incentives to expand the production and infrastructure for methane projects through the implementation of a policy providing state utilities a credit toward their annual energy savings for methane purchased by or produced by the utility. The governor said he has received positive feedback from the utility companies that would be affected by the plan and feels the policy would encourage expansion of landfill waste-to-energy projects and other similar technologies.

Also included in Pawlenty's proposal is a Green JOBZ program aimed at attracting new investments to the state by offering a multitude of tax exemptions for 12 years on qualifying projects. Businesses considered under Pawlenty's plan include those that would create renewable energy or alternative transportation fuels.

Other sections of the plan include a job growth tax credit meant to entice investments in regional funds and a small business investment tax credit.

At a total cost of $86 million to the state over the course of six years, Pawlenty referred to the plan as the "the mother load of all tax breaks." Although the state legislature is on hiatus until early January, some Democratic members are already voicing skepticism that the initial $3.65 million investment on behalf of the state is worth it. Pawlenty stated, "I'd be hard pressed to find something they don't like about it."

During the 2008, the state legislature established a Green Jobs Task Force to advise the governor and legislature on ways to advance the state's green job growth. Led by state Sen. Ellen Anderson, DFL-St. Paul, and state Rep. Jeremy Kalin, DFL-North Branch, the task force is set to offer a draft of its action plan in December.