House DFLers, Senate Republicans and Gov. Tim Walz worked together this year and delivered a bipartisan budget agreement that serves Minnesotans.
Minnesotans were clear and consistent about their values through the 2018 election season and the 2019 legislative session: They value world-class schools, affordable and accessible health care and economic security. Minnesotans value these things for their own families — and they want them for their neighbors, too.
Minnesotans deserve a budget that embodies these values, and they deserve it without having to endure partisan rancor that threatens to shut down state government.
The House, Senate and governor — representing both political parties and vastly different opening positions — rolled up their sleeves and worked to achieve a compromise in the best interests of Minnesotans.
This budget delivers on what Minnesotans value. It invests in E-12 schools and higher education, preserving prekindergarten opportunities for our youngest learners and addressing the rapidly increasing cost of special education. Our compromise budget secures health care for 1.2 million Minnesotans by preserving the 27-year-old provider tax. We increased economic security for families — ensuring that Minnesotans receive the wages and benefits they’ve earned by holding unscrupulous employers accountable when they steal employee wages. Minnesota now has the country’s strongest wage-theft-prevention law.
We invested in broadband and increased aid to local governments across our state so communities can afford to provide basic public services, no matter their ZIP code or property tax wealth.
This budget agreement didn’t contain everything DFLers would have liked, because we compromised with Republicans. There is more work to do to build a state that works better for all of us.
While the compromise budget adequately funds our schools, DFLers supported much stronger funding. Schools need resources to better support our children. Republicans initially proposed an education budget that would have meant teacher layoffs across the state and larger class sizes. While Republicans said “no” to stronger investment in our schools, DFLers will keep working to ensure all Minnesota children have the resources they need to succeed in school.
House DFLers fought for a tuition freeze at our public colleges and universities because Minnesotans’ high student-debt loads are holding back our families. Student-debt payments make buying new homes and paying for child care unaffordable. Republicans said “no” to a tuition freeze, but DFLers will keep working to ensure Minnesotans have access to affordable higher education and job training.
DFLers fought to improve health care by advocating for more-affordable prescription drugs. We pushed hard to enact the Alec Smith Emergency Insulin Act to provide lifesaving insulin to Minnesotans. While Republicans have said “no” so far, DFLers will keep working to address the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs.
Minnesotans work hard, and they deserve the opportunity to meet both their work and family obligations. Taking care of a new baby, helping a relative transition into assisted living or recovering from illness shouldn’t bring economic devastation. DFLers will keep fighting to make paid family and medical leave a reality for all Minnesotans. Republicans have said “no” so far, but we will work to persuade them to support paid family and medical leave in 2020.
Beyond our core values of education, health care and economic security, Minnesotans have called on legislators to make communities safer by addressing the epidemic of gun violence. Republicans have said “no” to common-sense gun violence prevention measures that have become law in Republican-led states — criminal background checks for all gun sales and red-flag laws to prevent people who have indicated an intent to cause harm from possessing firearms until the danger has passed. These measures would save lives. DFLers will continue efforts to enact these provisions into law.
In divided government, this year’s bipartisan compromise is a positive step for Minnesota. Minnesotans expect and deserve more. We can make our state more prosperous and more equal, and improve education, health care and economic security.
DFLers will continue to say “yes” to Minnesotans who expect and deserve more progress on the things they value — and DFLers will work hard to move Republicans from “no” to “yes” on stronger education funding, affordable insulin, gun violence prevention, and paid family and medical leave in 2020.
Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, is speaker of the Minnesota House.