For more information contact: Tyler Blackmon 651-296-8826
This week, we are debating a series of omnibus bills, each one containing a package of finance items for one particular issue area. In each one of these debates, we have an opportunity to reflect the values and needs of Minnesotans. Budgets are moral documents, and as I think you will see, many of these budget bills have failed a basic moral test.
Leaving Vulnerable Minnesotans Behind
Today we are debating the Health & Human Services budget bill. Unfortunately, this bill follows a pattern of Republican budget bills this session of leaving vulnerable Minnesotans behind in order to pay for tax cuts for the rich.
Specifically, this bill does not expand the Child Care Assistance Program reimbursement rates, meaning that not only will parents have a harder time finding affordable and reliable childcare when they head to work, but the child care centers themselves will also struggle to keep their doors open.
Minnesota is also facing a home care worker crisis, with an aging population and stagnant wages for the hardworking Minnesotans taking care of our seniors and disabled Minnesotans. A raise for these workers would improve care for our loved ones and attract more workers to the field. But this budget does not rise to that challenge.
With high health care costs in the individual market, we could expand the MinnesotaCare Buy-In option to provide affordable health care coverage to all Minnesotans. Unfortunately, House Republicans have refused to even give the buy-in option a hearing.
We can do much better for Minnesota families than this Republican health care budget.
Pipeline Through Treaty Lands
Yesterday, we debated the Jobs & Energy Omnibus Bill, which neither invested significantly in jobs nor embraced 21st century energy solutions.
But the most heartbreaking part of the legislation was a provision that would allow the oil company Enbridge to build a pipeline straight through tribal land and wild rice beds in northern Minnesota.
I am so emotionally drained from having to constantly get up and defend Native people from attacks by this legislature. But when I saw a groundswell of support from young indigenous people at the State Capitol, I realized why I ran for the legislature in the first place. These young people give me hope, and I stand with First Minnesotans against this power grab by the fossil fuel industry.
Our job is to look out for the interests of all Minnesotans. The proposals in this bill are looking out for the interests of oil companies. It is critical that our state has the ability to conduct independent environmental review, hear the concerns of Tribal Governments, Indigenous people, land owners, and citizens and make recommendations based on sound science. I am disappointed in my fellow House members for even bringing this forward.
The High Cost of Student Debt
Minnesota has a world class higher education system, but continued underfunding has strained the system and made costs of college out of reach for far too many students and their families. Many young people are delaying major life events such as starting a family and buying their first home due to the burden of student loan payments, and Minnesotans carry the 5th highest amount of student debt. Despite a $1.65 billion surplus, Republicans admitted on the floor that their bill would increase tuition at the University of Minnesota.
Our students and their families simply deserve better than yet another tuition increase. We need to get serious about student debt so that our economy can thrive. I voted no on the Higher Ed omnibus legislation.
In Defense of Free Speech
Instead of taking time to listen to the legitimate racial justice concerns of Minnesotans, Republicans instead chose to silence our voices by including the infamous anti-protest bill in their public safety omnibus bill. Criminalizing free speech is fundamentally un-American, and this anti-protest bill shamefully punishes any Minnesotan who dares to speak truth to power about the reality of racial inequality in our state.
Peaceful protest and the freedom of speech serve as the foundation of American democracy. So I stood with the newly formed POCI Caucus by voting against this spiteful and discriminatory legislation.
I hope the conference committee will strip this language from the public safety legislation so we can vote for a clean bill.
Last week, I was proud to join the bipartisan Prenatal to 3 Policy Forum at St. Catherine's to discuss ways we can empower parents to give their children the best possible start to life.
The End of pre-K in Minnesota?
A key priority of Governor Mark Dayton's time in office has been the introduction of voluntary pre-K for many Minnesota four-year-olds. This year, I have supported an expansion of that successful program to serve many more families.
Unfortunately, the Republican plan not only fails to expand the voluntary pre-K program; it actually defunds pre-K altogether. What makes this cut even more painful is that the budget eliminates pre-K simply in order to fund a tax cut for the inheritances of millionaires.
If budgets are reflections of our values, surely we can do much better than this.
Listening Session This Weekend!
I'm honored to represent such an engaged district. To continue listening to your concerns, we will host one more listening session in the district. Details below:
Hennepin County Library Golden Valley
Sunday, April 9th12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.
I hope to see you there!
Rep. Peggy Flanagan
309 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155
Follow me on Facebook for more updates.
No image galleries found