For more information contact: Tyler Blackmon 651-296-8826
With policy deadlines past, we have now entered the part of the session that focuses primarily on building a budget that reflects the needs and values of Minnesota families. From this point forward, we will need to negotiate with Republicans in order to invest in education, health care, and working families.
As you may have noticed, I've also decided to change up the format of my legislative updates. Who says emails from legislators have to be boring?
A Budget That Puts Minnesotans First
Too many Minnesotans are working hard without getting ahead. They are faced with a lack of economic opportunity to build a better future for themselves and their families. The rich, powerful, and well-connected continue to do better, while most Minnesotans don’t. This needs to change.
With uncertainty at the federal level, we should budget responsibly and invest in the areas that have made Minnesota’s economy strong and stable—like education. But the Republicans’ priorities will increase the economic gap between most Minnesota families and those already at the top, making our future worse and not better. We can achieve a better future with bold leadership that ensures more fair and successful outcomes for everyone.
In Minnesota, we value community. That’s why we should invest in our schools, in our infrastructure, and in affordable and accessible health care that will keep our communities strong and improve outcomes for our families and neighbors.
We value fairness. That’s why we should prioritize better outcomes for Minnesota families no matter where in the state they live. We do this by investing in good jobs, quality benefits, and a level playing field for hardworking Minnesotans.
We value success. That’s why Minnesotans should come first, not wealthy special interests, corporations, or the rich. Minnesota is successful when all Minnesotans are successful.
As budget negotiations heat up, you can count on these values to be my guiding principles.
Deep Cuts to Health Care & Education
Despite a $1.65 billion budget surplus, House Republicans have proposed a $600 million budget cut to health and human services in order to pay for tax breaks for the wealthy. We don't know yet where those cuts will land, but if the federal health care debate is any guide, expect it to mean more people being kicked off their insurance and higher premiums for sick Minnesotans. Our values tell us we must stand up for the most vulnerable among us, and the Republican budget simply does not meet that standard.
Ironically, the current majority was still able to find nearly $400 million to bail out insurance companies in a "reinsurance" scheme with no guarantees to consumers that this incredibly expensive proposal would actually bring down premiums. A far simpler solution would be to adopt the Governor's MinnesotaCare Buy-In that allows anyone in the state to buy into a program that has been around for decades. After a $12 million start-up cost, this proposal would pay for itself with premium dollars and contain costs by forcing private insurers to compete with an affordable public option.
The Star Tribune also reported yesterday that Minnesota Republicans are seeking dramatic cuts in early education - one of the best investments we can make for the future of our economy.
In contrast, the Governor has proposed $175 million to provide access to voluntary Pre-K to 12,900 more Minnesota four-year-olds and their families across the state. Combined with the 3,300 four-year-olds already enrolled in Pre-K, this would bring the total number served to more than 16,200 four-year-olds, with 1,000 additional students gaining access each year beginning in 2019.
There are a host of issues with for-profit prisons, including weakened safety and security, and adverse effects on low-income Minnesotans and people of color. But profiteering off incarcerated Minnesotans is just fundamentally at odds with our values. We should be looking at ways to help Minnesotans reform their lives, instead of incentivizing corporations to throw more people in jail to make money.
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