Senators Laine, Kent, and Wiklund continue fight to protect Minnesotans’ personal and financial information

Saint Paul, Minn. – State Senators Carolyn Laine, Melissa Wiklund and Susan Kent are hopeful that Minnesota Senate Republicans will finally take the state’s expanding cybersecurity needs seriously in the wake of a recent data breach at MN.IT. They note the cybersecurity committee hearing and the Republican news conference today are abrupt changes in Republican priorities from just six months ago when the Republican budget provided no additional funding for cybersecurity.

“We knew it was only a matter of time before MN.IT or another state agency would experience a data breach, which is why I advocated so strongly for robust funding for cybersecurity last session,” Sen. Laine said. “Unfortunately, Republicans rejected proposals to increase funding for cybersecurity, and we are already seeing the consequences just a few months later.”

Of the $26 million in cybersecurity funding requested by Governor Dayton last session, half of the money would have been used for essential cybersecurity staff and updated software, and the remaining half would have gone toward data center consolidation—which has become more difficult without new money. The Governor and DFL Senators realized the critical need to secure Minnesotans’ information from hacks and identity theft, but the request did not make it through final budget negotiations. “Republicans’ refusal to invest in cybersecurity has put Minnesotans’ personal and financial information at risk,” Sen. Wiklund said. “We must secure Minnesota’s IT systems. If they go down due to cyber-attacks, millions of Minnesotans’ private data, more than $28 billion in annual transactions, and more than 300,000 daily transactions are at risk.”

MN.IT identified and provided information last session on a clear solution to the problem through their strategic plan to consolidate IT centers and invest in cybersecurity staff and security software. Private sector IT experts have vetted the plan and recommended the state move fast on improvements.

“A sound cybersecurity protection plan was developed, but MN.IT needed funding to move the plan forward to implement this strategy,” Sen. Kent said. “Even with a budget surplus, Republicans chose to give tax breaks to big tobacco instead of insuring the privacy of Minnesotan.”