Yesterday, the Minnesota Legislature passed the last of the budget bills to avoid a government shutdown. The governor has now signed all of the budget bills into law. In the early morning hours of July 1, the legislature passed a tax bill and adjourned.
Following adjournment, Senate DFL Leader Susan Kent (DFL-Woodbury) released the following statement:
“The Senate DFL fought hard all session to build the state that all Minnesotans deserve. That includes fighting for equity and justice at home, work, school, in their environment, and at the ballot box. The values we share bring our communities together and serve as a guide for how we make our state work better for all of us, no matter what we look like or where we come from.”
“While the Senate DFL was fighting for an equitable state this session, the Senate Republicans chose to spend their time going after Governor Walz and playing partisan politics. Senate Republicans spent an excessive amount of time criticizing Governor Walz’s handling of the global pandemic and proposed dangerous legislation that would restrict voter access, discriminate against a sector of our student-athletes, and raid public school funding to pay for private schools. Minnesotans deserve better and the leadership that the Senate DFL will bring to improve the lives of Minnesotans across the state.”
Thanks to the advocacy of the House and Senate DFL, there are a number of provisions in the budget bills that will support Minnesotans. Below are a few highlights of the Senate DFL legislative priorities that are included in the budget:
- Support our Working Families
o Full tax relief for those hit hardest by the pandemic by not requiring those workers who received unemployment benefits last year to pay taxes on some of those payments.
o $70 million in Broadband investment to help more Minnesota communities connect to telehealth, education and business opportunities.
o Investments in housing, including Homeownership grants, and ensuring that everyone has access to safe and affordable housing and that disparities can begin to close.
o $250 million in bonus payments to long-term care and other frontline workers who served our communities throughout the pandemic.
- Investing in our Students and Schools
- Over a $1 billion investment in our students and schools over two years, with a focus on equity. This includes keeping existing voluntary PreK seats and a $4.5 million in Teachers of Color Mentoring & Retention Incentive Grants. In their initial budget, Senate Republicans proposed no new spending in education, causing districts to lay off teachers during a budget surplus. It was DFLers who fought for and successfully won this significant investment in public education.
- A Student Borrowers Bill of Rights will protect students and families using loans to pay for higher education.
- Provide a Clean Future
- Solar on Schools: invested $18.5 million in solar projects for local schools and state colleges/universities across the entire state
- A pilot project will provide training pathways into clean energy careers for students and young adults in underserved communities
- Created a revolving loan account for energy efficiency upgrades to state-owned buildings
- Protect our Democracy
- Avoided detrimental legislation that would have restricted voter access
- Fought against Republican-led legislation on provisional ballots
“There are several provisions in the budget bills that we can be proud of to create a sustainable and safe future for all Minnesotans,” said Senator Kent. “However, there were several important pieces of legislation that the Senate DFL advocated for that did not make it through, like Paid Family Medical Leave and Earned Safe and Sick Time. We also recognize that while federal money helped us significantly this year, there remains a need to discuss the need for ongoing funding to tackle long-term projects and programs that could address inequalities in our state. We will still need to continue to fight for comprehensive legislation to address climate change and major election policy reforms. And, perhaps, one of the biggest and most important items still left undone is to pass police reform measures that will truly lead to a state where everyone can feel safe in their communities.”
“The Senate DFL will not back down on the work still left undone and will continue to fight for Minnesota’s shared values. During the interim, we will continue to listen to and learn from our community members across the state and bring their stories back with us to the Capitol next session. We will come ready to continue to fight for the issues that will create a better Minnesota for everyone.”