Minnesotans have a lot in common with each other. We care about our neighbors and our shared future. We want to see everyone succeed in our communities. No matter our differences, including where we live, we all want good jobs that can support our families, good schools for our children, clean air to breathe, clean water to drink and affordable, high-quality health care.
There are those who seek to divide us. Some people seek to score political points by contending that there is an “us” and a “them” in Minnesota. Some people focus on what they contend divides us — whether that’s geography, race, religion, national origin or some other characteristic — rather than focusing on the values that unite us. (“Minnesota’s urban-rural divide is no lie,” July 28; “I’d like to expand on my thanks to the president,” Oct 15; “The Twin Cities don’t speak for the entire state,” Nov. 11.)
Minnesotans expect and deserve better than a politics of “demonize and divide.”
For our part, DFLers are hard at work with Minnesotans building a state that works better for all of us, no matter what we look like, where we’re from or where we live. Our party represents the entire state — from the Iron Range to the cornfields of southern Minnesota, from the fertile Red River Valley to the granite city of St. Cloud and throughout our suburbs to Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Working with our DFL governor, our DFL majority in the House is implementing solutions that benefit our entire state.
This year’s bipartisan budget agreement preserved funding for health care for 1.2 million Minnesotans. It increased funding for schools and contained the strongest wage theft law in the country to ensure Minnesotans receive the wages and benefits they have earned.
Led by Rep. Jeanne Poppe from Austin, chair of our Agriculture and Food Committee, DFLers delivered for farm families and rural communities in a time when our Republican president is destructive and destabilizing for Minnesota’s farm economy. Our budget makes especially strong investments in Minnesota’s dairy farmers. DFLers enacted new laws that expand markets for our farmers, increase funding for agriculture emergency preparedness, and support new and beginning farmers. Earlier this year, DFLers acted swiftly to provide low interest emergency loans to farmers impacted by catastrophic snow events that led to barn collapses throughout the state.
DFLers secured funding to expand broadband in greater Minnesota, which will help businesses compete in today’s global economy, expand educational opportunities and help people stay in touch with their health care providers.
Our tax bill, authored by Rep. Paul Marquart of Dilworth, preserves funding for health care for 1.2 million Minnesotans and finally conforms Minnesota to federal tax changes. This year’s budget includes the highest aid for local governments since 2002, helping communities all across our state. For farmers, we increased the school building bond agricultural credit. As a result, farmers will eventually see a property tax cut of 50% on their existing school district building bonds and a 70% property tax cut on new school building bonds. This is already helping both farm families and our schools.
DFLers know there is more work to be done. We’ve passed bills in the DFL-led House to provide paid family and medical leave and earned sick and safe time so all Minnesotans can take time off from work to care for themselves or their family members without facing financial hardship. DFLers are continuing to work to convince Republican lawmakers that Minnesotans deserve paid family leave and earned sick and safe time.
We’ve passed bills in the DFL-led House to make health care more affordable — with a focus on lowering the costs of prescription drugs and establishing a public option for health insurance. We’ll keep trying to convince Republicans that Minnesotans need more affordable health care.
DFLers believe that every Minnesota child deserves a world-class school, regardless of their ZIP code. This year, we prevented Republican-proposed cuts to our schools, teacher and staff layoffs, and larger class sizes. We know that we need much stronger funding to ensure our children have the resources they need to succeed, and we’ll continue fighting for it.
We’ve passed proposals to increase access to affordable child care and housing, and to enact criminal background checks on all gun sales. But we can’t pass these bills alone. In each case, Republicans who control the Senate have failed to act.
We face real challenges in our state — both in the metro area and in greater Minnesota. But they are challenges that can be met by Democrats and Republicans working together.
We invite pundits and Republicans to join us in focusing on how we can work together to solve problems instead of manufacturing divides between us. Minnesota families and Minnesota values reach across geographic divides and solutions to our problems do, too. Join us as we work for a Minnesota that works better for all of us.
Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, is speaker of the Minnesota House.