I hope that this email finds you safe, healthy, and staying warm! This week saw an important milestone in the legislative session, as Governor Walz announced his two-year budget proposal – details below. Legislators will review the plan over the next few weeks, before an updated budget forecast is released in late February. At that point, the Governor will revise his proposal, and the House and Senate will put together and eventually pass budget proposals of their own.
Governor Walz Announces COVID-19 Recovery Budget
The proposal from Governor Walz for spending and revenue over the next two years is called the COVID-19 Recovery Budget. It focuses on supporting working families, ensuring students catch up on learning, and helping small businesses stay afloat while driving Minnesota’s economic recovery. In my view, we can’t cut our way through the challenge of COVID-19. In order to ensure a bright future for all Minnesotans as our state recovers from the pandemic, we’ll need to make strategic investments in education, health care, and our economy. Again, my House DFL colleagues will unveil our specific budget priorities in March, though broadly we share the Governor’s priorities to invest in ensuring all Minnesotans are able to make it through the COVID-19 pandemic and thrive beyond it.
Expanding Access to Health Care
COVID-19 has highlighted the need for affordable, accessible healthcare for all. Earlier this week, our House DFL caucus joined small business owners, health care experts, and faith leaders to unveil the MinnesotaCare Public Option. MinnesotaCare is a current program which provides health care for low-income Minnesotans, taking advantage of lower out-of-pocket costs and access to a strong network of providers. Under the proposal, Minnesotans beyond the current income guidelines could enroll in the program, paying premiums on a sliding, income-based scale. I’m proud to be a coauthor and look forward to watching the proposal move through the legislative process. KBJR aired a story on the legislation, and a fact sheet is available here.
A Unified Statement in Defense of Our Democracy
The events of January 6, and the broader attempt to undermine our elections, continues to reverberate. On Monday, a strong bipartisan majority (111 to 8) of the House voted to support a resolution supporting our democracy and condemning violence against elected leaders and U.S. and State Capitols. So much more needs to be done to defend and strengthen our democracy, but this is at least an early step towards preventing further attacks.
Reviewing Actions Under the Peacetime Emergency
I’m honored to have been appointed to serve on the House Subcommittee on Legislative Process Reform, which is holding a series of hearings to review the Executive Orders issued by Gov. Walz during the Peacetime Emergency. Over the past several months, the Governor has used his authority to respond swiftly to the ongoing and evolving threat of COVID-19. Now that we’re back in regular session, we can work together to determine the best path forward. I look forward to continuing this important work.
Benchmarking Our State’s Early Childhood Policies
Every child deserves a great start in life. Knowing where our state is falling short is critical to meeting that obligation. On Tuesday, the Early Childhood Finance and Policy Committee – which I chair – received a report from national researchers comparing Minnesota’s early childhood policies against those of other states. The report indicated that the comparison is good in some areas but that we’re falling short in others. In particular, our state needs to implement paid family leave, which would give parents and guardians time to welcome and bond with a new child. We also remain below federal guidelines in terms of child-care support for needy families. I’ll continue to be a champion on both of these issues.
I appreciate all of the questions, ideas, and feedback that I’ve received during the first month of the legislative session. Please continue reaching out!
State Representative, District 64B
503 State Office Building
Subscribe to my email updates: www.house.leg.state.mn.us/64b
Follow my office on Facebook: facebook.com/repdavepinto