At the heart of the debates at the Capitol this legislative session are two competing visions for the future of Minnesota.
DFLers who control the House have passed our full Minnesota Values Budget, offering our vision of a Minnesota that works better for all of us. The House DFL budget will strengthen communities across the state through honest investments to improve education opportunities, support our families and increase economic prosperity no matter where in the state you live or what you look like.
Our budget reflects the promises we made on the campaign trail, and what Minnesotans have said they want. DFLers are investing in the people of Minnesota, because we believe everyone deserves the opportunity to succeed.
Too many Minnesotans are finding it difficult to get ahead or make ends meet. Republican trickle-down economics and tax cuts for the wealthy have resulted in the wealthy and corporations owning more and more of our economy, leaving the rest of us behind and robbing Minnesotans of the economic opportunity and security they deserve.
Honest investment and tax fairness are needed to address this inequality and correct destructive budgets put forward by Republicans — including the Republicans in control of the Minnesota Senate this year.
The Republican vision — tax giveaways for corporations and the wealthy, along with giveaways to insurance companies with no strings attached — takes investments away from education, health care and the things Minnesotans care about. We can’t make progress for our health care, schools, roads, bridges, transit or other priorities by giving more tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy while cutting public investments. Yet year after year, that’s what Republicans propose.
The Senate Republican budget doesn’t cover basic costs for our schools, much less invest in a better future for our children. Their budget would even take resources away from our public schools through a voucher program and send taxpayer dollars to private schools instead.
Republicans have no plan to improve economic security for families. They oppose DFL proposals for paid family and medical leave and earned sick and safe time for all workers. All Minnesotans deserve the opportunity to be successful, but too many have to choose between work and taking care of a new baby, a loved one or themselves. The time to act is now.
The Republican Senate health and human services budget is full of harmful cuts to Minnesotans and fraudulent accounting. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Cuts to Minnesotans’ health care mean kicking people off of their care, increasing costs and reducing access. And once again, Republicans are trying to restrict women’s access to health care.
The Republican transportation budget fails to repair our crumbling infrastructure and would do nothing to address growing congestion. Our poor pavement conditions and structurally deficient bridges are putting public safety at risk and costing Minnesotans time, gas and money — more than $1,000 a year. A safe and efficient transportation system is critical to economic growth, and Minnesota is falling behind. The problem will only get worse and more expensive the longer we wait to act.
Finally, at a time when the top 1 percent of this country owns 40 percent of the wealth — more than at any other time in the last 50 years — Republicans continue to protect corporations and the wealthy in their tax bill. Instead, the DFL plan is aggressive on tax fairness and would close corporate tax loopholes and ask the wealthy to pay their fair share.
Let’s be honest about the choices in front of us. We can continue down the Republican path of tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, leading to more income inequality, teacher layoffs, potholes and Minnesotans losing health care and basic economic security. The better choice is to follow the DFL path to improve tax fairness and make honest investments in the things Minnesotans value: affordable health care, great schools, safe and inclusive communities, and reliable roads, bridges and transit.
As we approach the final weeks of the legislative session, House DFLers will continue working for a Minnesota that works better for all of us.
Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, is majority leader of the Minnesota House.