Says State Still Has Work to do to Continue to Address Pandemic Needs
Senate DFL Leader Melisa López Franzen (DFL-Edina) said a hard-fought compromise agreement which passed the Senate today will send bonus checks to 667,000 Minnesota frontline workers who got the state through two years of a deadly pandemic, and it will prevent tax increases on thousands of Minnesota businesses by replenishing the state’s Unemployment Insurance (UI) Trust Fund. The measure passed both the Senate and House Friday and is expected to be signed into law by Governor Walz soon.
With the pandemic now in its third year, Sen.López Franzen said Minnesota families and businesses have been through a lot, and the compromise will help address the health and economic fallout that has hit Minnesota hard.
Months-Long Effort to Reward Frontline Workers
Senator López Franzen said the $500 million in frontline worker bonuses were long-overdue and will send $750 to Minnesotans working in health care or long-term care facilities, to child-care workers, grocery store staff, and retail employees. These workers had to report for work in the darkest days of the pandemic, without the option of staying home, she said, and they got Minnesotans through a very tough time.
“I regret the delays in getting these bonuses to our frontline heroes – we should have gotten them out the door last. year. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Minnesota has benefitted from their effort and sacrifices, when they put their own health and safety on the line to keep our state running,”said Sen. López Franzen. “They provided health care when we’ve needed it, kept older Minnesotans safe in long-term care facilities, kept groceries and retail stores open and kept public transportation running.And – importantly – they provided the safe childcare that has allowed families to get back to work and businesses to stay open.Without them, the health and economic crisis caused by the pandemic would have been much worse. They deserve our thanks.”
Senator López Franzen said the DFL Caucus has worked for months to enact the bonuses, including twice pushing measures on the Senate floor to reward frontline worker, only to be blocked by the Republican majority. She said those efforts were important because the $500 million in bonuses is double the amount that Republicans were willing to agree to until this week, and the funds will go to hundreds of thousands more Minnesotans.
Preventing Tax Increases for Minnesota Businesses
Senator López Franzen also backed the $2.7 billion that will be used to replenish Minnesota’s UI trust fund that was depleted when the pandemic put thousands of Minnesota workers out of a job. The fund was critical in keeping afloat the unemployed families and individuals who lost their jobs through no fault of their own.
“As a small business owner myself, I know how hard the last two years have been on employers and employees alike,” she said. “The UI trust fund worked, and our families and our businesses were fortunate to have that safety net during such a difficult time. It’s now time to replenish it, and I’m glad we are putting the resources towards doing so.”
Senator López Franzen said the state still has work to do to address ongoing problems caused by the pandemic, but she will push to get the bonus checks in the hands of frontline workers as soon as possible, and to ensure the UI trust fund is replenished so that it protects the economic well-being of Minnesotans into the future.