St. Paul, Minn.—DFL legislators were pleased to see Governor Mark Dayton’s funding for equity programs in his budget released yesterday. The $100 million proposal funds programs that work to eliminate economic and racial disparities through education, training, work experience, housing, business development, and community development. $33 million of the proposal is recommended to be at the discretion of the legislature, which is a thoughtful recognition of the first-hand knowledge legislators have of their districts and communities and the unique needs and programs that can best support equity for people of color. Senators Hayden, Torres Ray, Franzen, and Hawj, as well as Representatives Allen, Flanagan, Mariani, and Moran have all released statements of appreciation for the Governor’s significant investment recommendations.
Senate Deputy Majority Leader Sen. Jeff Hayden (DFL-Minneapolis) expressed his appreciation for several programs that create ladders out of poverty.
“I am pleased Governor Dayton has made equity a serious area of investment in his budget. Programs like Pathways to Prosperity and Youth at Work have a reputable track record of breaking the cycle of poverty for people of color. Governor Dayton’s leadership and attention to elimination of economic and racial disparities has elevated this conversation to a level that up until this point in Minnesota history has been unparalleled,” Hayden said. “I know my colleagues share my appreciation that Governor Dayton recommended $33 million in statewide equity funding be at the discretion of the legislature, recognizing the unique expertise of legislators.”
Sen. Patricia Torres Ray (DFL-Minneapolis), Chair of the State and Local Government Committee in the Senate, was pleased that the proposals recognized the diverse needs of people of color in Minnesota.
“Governor Dayton’s plan is the first supplemental budget proposal Minnesotans of color have ever seen that directly acknowledges and addresses the challenges faced by minority communities in our state. It is not going to fix economic and educational disparities overnight, but I appreciate the effort that has been put forward, and will work with my colleagues in the House and Senate to take these initial plans and improve them even further. Communities of color bring much to our state, and by addressing these issues directly, they will grow stronger just as we help all of Minnesota to grow stronger,” Torres Ray said.
Rep. Susan Allen (DFL-Minneapolis) was glad to see the Governor’s initiative to end racial disparities.
“Many of the most complicated challenges facing members of my community today come back to an uncomplicated root – racial bias, and it’s wrong. If we can reduce and eliminate racial disparities we can improve quality of life, end generational poverty, and strengthen the fabric of our communities. The Governor’s pledge to invest $100 million of our budget surplus to address racial disparities is needed, and it is critically important for the health, education, and economic opportunity for everyone in our community,” Allen said.
Rep. Peggy Flanagan (DFL-St. Louis Park) was pleased the Governor prioritized needs in all communities of color, and particularly the American Indian community..
“I appreciate Governor Dayton’s commitment to racial equity and that he had invited communities of color and American Indians to the table to ensure that we can offer our own solutions. The Governor has been a champion for children and families, and these initiatives, along with many others, give support to all families, especially families of color and American Indian families. I am always encouraged to hear his strong support for our students and especially the effort to help more students of color become teachers of color. We know, and I know, that the learning bond between teachers and students is only deepened when they share similar experiences. With the student debt crisis, and the current teacher shortage, we need to tackle this problem from many fronts and these efforts will help to that end. I believe we must also help low income families access the child care they need to get ahead and we must support child care providers themselves, many of whom are people of color. I appreciate Governor Dayton’s support to increase provider reimbursement rates and I’m hopeful we can augment his proposal with an increase to the CCAP funding for working families,” Flanagan said.
Sen. Melisa Franzen (DFL-Edina) highlighted the multifaceted nature of economic disparities in her remarks.
“I welcome the Governor’s recommendations for meaningful investments that can begin to tackle disparities for all Minnesotans – in education, healthcare, transportation and employment. The Governor’s budget is a first step in directly addressing this dilemma and will help to expand economic opportunity for all. I look forward to working with community stakeholders to make significant progress this session,” Franzen said.
Sen. Foung Hawj acknowledged the Governor’s dedication to bringing equity and opportunity to all Minnesotans.
“I applaud Governor Dayton’s emphasis on prioritizing the need to address racial disparities in Minnesota. Through the expansion of economic opportunities and education, I’m confident that we’ll see the progress we’ve been working toward. It should be our common interest to build an economy that works for all Minnesotans especially the most vulnerable. I’m grateful the governor has listened.”
Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL-St. Paul) was glad to see this historic investment.
“I am in support of these proposals, this plan is the largest major action ever taken by a Minnesota Governor to address huge, systemic racial disparities, with state investment. I look forward to shaping what that looks like as an end product given the broad diversity of our state,” Mariani said.
Rep. Rena Moran (DFL-St. Paul) highlighted these initiatives as important first steps toward eliminating racial disparities.
“The Governor’s support for our students and also helping their families better support them has been proven by his visits to schools in our neighborhoods, and now by the real funding he is putting toward important initiatives like getting more teachers of color in the classroom and helping students of color from low income families finish college. We can reduce and eliminate racial disparities in our state, but we must be intentional and honest about where those disparities are. I think the Governor’s supplemental budget makes an honest effort to target root causes to racial disparities that we can address now, and I hope to see his commitment and support continue and grow. These initiatives are good steps, but we must continue to do more,” Moran said.