Yesterday we adjourned the 2021 special session after finishing our work to pass the state budget. As the only divided legislature in the country, it was a hard fought negotiation to finalize a state budget that invests in our kids, families, communities, small businesses, and environment. Democrats in the House fought hard to ensure that every budget bill we passed took an approach that advanced equity and focused our resources on the Minnesotans who need them most.
In the days and months ahead, I look forward to conversations in our community about the details of the budget that strengthen our communities and the places where it falls short. Although we’ve passed the budget, our work to pass policy that benefits Minnesotans - of every background, race, zip code, and generation - has only begun, and I look forward to doing that work with you.
The new budget contains robust investments that will improve Minnesotans’ lives. We delivered the largest increase in funding for public schools in 15 years, significant investments in public health, tax cuts for workers impacted by COVID-19, funding for clean energy and energy efficiency initiatives, rental assistance, grants to expand access to affordable child care, and more. However, Senate Republicans refused to support several of the things we fought for and approved in the House, including several police reform and accountability measures, measures to strengthen our democracy and the freedom to vote, strong action on climate change, earned safe and sick time, and paid family and medical leave. I will continue pushing for meaningful progress in these critical areas.
The State Government, Elections, and Veterans bill is the workhorse of the budget; it invests in the critical infrastructure of our state government and the people who make our state work. The budget we passed earlier this week ends Governor Walz’s emergency powers and provides the resources to:
As a member of the conference committee that developed this budget, I pushed back against Senate Republicans and their efforts to restrict the vote with voter ID and provisional balloting laws. We successfully defended Minnesota’s proud traditions of same-day registration and voter participation, but we have more work to do in order to build a strong, inclusive democracy centered on the voices of Minnesotans. You can watch my floor speech on this bill here.
We need a public safety and judiciary system where every Minnesotan is safe and respected. At this critical moment, Minnesotans asked us to pass meaningful police accountability reforms, and the House responded by passing them in the House’s public safety budget bill. But in the Conference Committee, we hit the brick wall of Senate Republican opposition and the House was unable to get key accountability measures into the final compromise bill. We know it is not enough and that the work continues. In this budget, we were able to secure the following changes:
Additional measures aim to decriminalize poverty, help more survivors of sexual assault get justice, and prevent violence against Black and Indigenous women and girls with steps like establishing an Office of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives. These changes will help make our systems more equitable, but we know more change is needed to prevent the deaths of Black, Brown, and Indigenous Minnesotans at the hands of law enforcement and ensure everyone can receive justice.
To set students up for success, we need to make strong, equitable investments in public education. Our E-12 Education budget contains the largest increase in funding for public schools in 15 years. It increases per-pupil funding by 2.45 percent for the coming year and an additional 2 percent the following year. Under the new formula, Minneapolis Public Schools will receive $304 more per student next year and $474 more the year after that. Richfield Public Schools will see per-pupil increases of $367 and $526 during that period.
This funding will help our schools retain teachers, keep class sizes from growing, and provide academic and emotional support for students who experienced learning disruptions and other challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. The budget also preserves voluntary pre-K opportunities, addresses special education and English learner cross-subsidies, and invests in recruiting and retaining teachers of color and Indigenous teachers with scholarships and other tools.
The Health and Human Services budget will help more Minnesotans get the care they need and address racial disparities in our health care system. There’s lots of great things in this budget, but here are some of the highlights:
Our Jobs and Labor budget prioritizes the economic security of workers, families, and small businesses. It invests in:
As we emerge from the pandemic, we need to ensure all Minnesotans have the resources they need to thrive. The Tax bill we passed yesterday makes it possible to invest in education, health care, and economic security for all. It includes:
I’ll provide more in-depth information about the budget in the coming weeks. If you’d like to read more about a particular area of the budget, you can click on the following links for a nonpartisan summary from House Public Information Services: Legacy; Agriculture and Broadband; Higher Education; Commerce, Climate, and Energy; Transportation; Housing; Environment and Natural Resources; Jobs and Labor; E-12 Education; Health and Human Services; Public Safety and Judiciary; State Government, Elections, and Veterans; and Taxes.
Thanks to the efforts of many Minnesotans, more than 70 percent of the adults in our state have been vaccinated, reaching the goal set by President Biden and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in advance of the July 4 deadline. I encourage everyone who hasn’t been vaccinated yet to get their shot as soon as possible!
Now that we’ve finished passing a budget, I’m looking forward to spending more time in our community and to continuing conversations about how we can better ensure all Minnesotans have the resources to thrive. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions, ideas, or feedback. You can contact me at email@example.com or (651) 296-4200.
I hope you have a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July weekend!