Ground Level: What's 1 thing you want changed in Minnesota in 2018?

BNSF bridge over US 10 in Moorhead, Minn.
A welcome to Minnesota sign greets motorists as they head east along U.S. 10 in Moorhead, Minn.
Ann Arbor Miller | MPR News File

People across the state would like to see Minnesota change for the better, but how that gets done differs depending on who you talk to.

As part of the Ground Level survey conducted by MPR News and the APM Research Lab, 1,654 Minnesotans were asked the question: "If there is ONE thing that you would like to see changed in Minnesota to improve our state, what would that be?"

Respondents mentioned possible changes to politics, education, economy, environment, immigration and infrastructure — with politics standing out as a top theme statewide.

It's been a divisive year in state and national politics, to be sure. But when it comes to the people we see and interact with everyday, Ground Level seeks to find where our divides — political and otherwise — are rooted, and where Minnesotans might find common ground as we move toward a, hopefully, better future.

Here's a look at just a few of the trends we saw in respondents' ideas for bettering the state. (The responses are posted verbtim.)

What changes would you like to see in Minnesota? Click here to share your thoughts.

Changes in the economy

Common themes among responses focused on the economy included: raising wages, increasing job opportunities and making housing more affordable.

While some respondents left it at that. Others got more specific:

• Make it a right to work state. Get rid of required union memberships.

• Raising the minimum wage and lowering prices on utilities and food.

• Housing. There's a huge number of homelessness among the younger people like college students.

Changes in education

Roberta Rasmussen reads one of her favorites books to students.
Teacher Roberta Rasmussen reads one of her favorite children's books to a group of students inside of Roseville Central Park Elementary for Read Across America Day in March.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Many responses mentioned education as something that needs to change generally. Some specifically pulled out changes to curriculum, high tuition and disparities in the education system:

• Education — go back to teaching people that physical work is what you are supposed to do. Not twiddle your thumbs. Young people have to use a calculator, they can't think for themselves.

• More money given for daycare for people who have to work. Keep the children safe. All preschools should be state funded.

• Improve education for the young people. From what I see, the education is not good. Everyone is retiring, who is going to run everything?

Changes in the environment

Again, responses were broad, but overall most said energy, water and mining were important topics to focus in on:

• Conservationism comes first, people come second. People think we own the planet, but we don't and if we don't take care of it, we will be gone too.

• The land. Basically, keep it all the same. I'm tired of seeing everything get torn down just to see houses get built.

• Huh, the only thing I'm worried the mining and the pipeline because of the water quality.

Changes to immigration

People hold signs while leaving after a city council meeting.
People hold signs while leaving after a city council meeting Monday, Oct. 23, 2017, in St. Cloud City Hall in St. Cloud, Minn.
Dave Schwarz | St. Cloud Times via AP

A recurring theme in this category was an emphasis on regulating the number of immigrants and refugees that should be allowed in to the state. With a few answers tying the issue to economic and political issues.

• To see less of the immigrants coming in because they are using up our social security benefits.

• Stop welcoming so many people into the state and the country when were in debt.

• They should screen them more. "They" refers to the government, "them" refers to immigrants.

Changes in infrastructure

Mankato utilities workers remove road signs.
Two Mankato utilities workers remove road signs on Homestead Road as flash flooding receded.
Jackson Forderer for MPR News 2016

Some mentioned improving our bridges, others pointed to public transportation as an area for improvement, but most respondents in this category had one request:

• Better roads.

• Roads and streets need to be repaired and maintained.

• Roads. They just need to get fixed.

Changes in politics

The big one. The majority of respondents — regardless of region, age, education or income — pointed to politics in some form as the thing that needs to change in order to make Minnesota better. Within the category though, the ideas varied greatly.

• Get rid of the Democrats.

• To get rid of the Republican party.

• Get a different governor.

• I would like to see our legislators get along better.

What do you think? If you could change one thing about the state in order to make it better, what would it be? Share your thoughts below.

Learn more

Read the full survey and detailed analysis by the APM Research Lab.

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