Minnesota Democrats are on a public relations blitz.

After an unusually productive legislative session, party leaders have made multiple trips to the White House and enjoyed victory laps in the national media. They've consistently used the shorthand "Minnesota Miracle 2.0" to describe their work, comparing it to the landmark policymaking years of the early 1970s.

"For the next 50 years, I hope people will benefit from and be able to brag about the benefits of this session," DFL House Speaker Melissa Hortman told the Star Tribune in May.

But how does this comparison hold up to scrutiny?

The "Minnesota Miracle" was coined to describe the 1971 session and subsequent special sessions tackling rising property taxes and massive disparities in education funding. What resulted was an overhauled government financing system that increased income taxes and the state's share of school operating costs while more equally distributing that funding to school districts.

Like DFL Gov. Tim Walz, then-Gov. Wendell Anderson was a Democrat who had just been comfortably elected to a four-year term. But back then, Anderson was battling to strike a deal with a Legislature completely controlled by the conservative caucus (essentially the Republicans, although the parties didn't use the same labels they do today).

Compromise was hard fought between the two sides, which spent months and multiple special sessions trying to come to an agreement. Walz worked this session with a DFL-controlled Legislature, although the party held the Senate by a single vote and could only lose two votes in the House. Work wrapped up on time — even slightly early.

"One of the truly miraculous aspects of the '23 session was the DFL leadership's ability to hold together their razor-thin majorities to achieve almost all of their initial objectives," said Dane Smith, who started a decadeslong career in the 1970s as a journalist writing about Minnesota politics and government.

In both the 1970s and today, lawmakers increased the size and role of government, Smith noted. Last session Democrats boosted school funding and created new government programs to tackle everything from climate change and legalized marijuana to paid family and medical leave. The next two-year budget is $72 billion, a roughly 40% increase from the current budget of about $52 billion, although much of it is one-time spending.

Still, some take issue with the comparison between the two. Mark Haveman from the Minnesota Center for Fiscal Excellence noted the 1971 session was primarily "about the redistribution and funding of existing government" to help address property taxes that were rising at an unsustainable rate.

"This session might best be described as 'Miracle Plus' — in which the state embarked on an expansive set of spending, tax, and regulatory initiatives to address societal concerns and welfare functions on top of recommitting to existing Miracle obligations," he wrote.

"As a 'laboratory of democracy,' Minnesota in 2023 had all the Bunsen burners turned to their highest possible setting and the beakers bubbling over," he added.

Smith said the "Minnesota Miracle" label is more fitting when comparing the 2023 session with what happened after the 1972 election, when Democrats swept control of both chambers of the Legislature, benefiting from voters' satisfaction with the accomplishments of the previous year.

What followed was a two-year period of policymaking that rivaled the current legislative session in its scope. From 1973 to 1974, the party expanded women's rights by ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment, increased the minimum wage, enacted sweeping election law changes such as same-day voter registration and passed new environmental policies.

Last session, Democrats codified abortion rights, created new clean energy mandates, created new workplace mandates for leave and sick time and added Minnesota to the list of states with automatic voter registration.

"The prodigious work of the '23 Legislature replicates the spirit and substance of those progressive policymakers during most of the 1970s," Smith said. "The 2023 version does a lot more to address existential threats, racial disparities and climate change."

While there are distinct differences between the politics and underlying financial situation of the state, he thinks the "Minnesota Miracle 2.0" claim is fair because it captures the "grand efforts to equalize opportunities and outcomes for Minnesotans."

Much like five decades ago, Democrats will continue tackling their agenda into the next legislative session, meaning their list of accomplishments seems certain to grow.