Tom Stinson, the state economist since 1987, is stepping down from his post at Minnesota Management and Budget.
A critical adviser to budgetmakers who commanded respect on both sides of the aisle, Stinson said he will devote himself to his job as a professor of applied economics at the University of Minnesota. He will be replaced as state economist by Laura Kalambokidis, another economics professor at the U.
Stinson said now is a good time to step down, because the economy appears to be recovering, the state is on a firm financial footing, and Kalombokidis, an excellent replacement, is available.
"This is the best job that I could have," Stinson said. "I'm going to miss it greatly."
Stinson said he learned over his 26 years on the job just how good Minnesota's economy is, mostly because of the quality of its workers.
He is a champion for education and workforce development, and said Monday that falling high school graduation rates are his biggest concern for the future of Minnesota's economy. Some 91 percent of the workforce has a high school diploma, which is one of the state's great strengths, but high school graduation rates are now in the 70 percent region.
"We're diluting the quality of the workforce just on that simple measure," he said.
Stinson, 70, of Roseville, was an economics researcher in a Twin Cities office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture when he was named to the position in 1987. He has been by far the longest-tenured state economist since the position was created in 1975.
Kalambokidis said she has helped with the past two budget forecasts.