From the MN Governor
As we look forward to the 2022 legislative session, Minnesota is well-positioned to expand opportunity for Minnesotans and move our state forward in a meaningful way. Over the last year, we’ve led on adult and child COVID-19 vaccinations and booster shots, we’ve saved lives by putting the health and well-being of our loved ones first, and our economy has continued to grow – in fact, we have an historic $7.7 billion budget surplus.
This surplus builds on Minnesota’s legacy of good governance and responsible budget decisions and reflects the decisions our administration has made throughout the pandemic to both save lives and protect the economy.
Last year, we passed a bipartisan COVID-19 Recovery Budget that invested in essential workers, small businesses, students, and working families to help those who have been hit hardest by this ongoing pandemic. We also made historic investments in schools, expanded access to childcare, and protected thousands of pre-K seats for Minnesota families.
We have a remarkable opportunity this session to build on that work. Together, we can lower costs for Minnesotans in permanent ways, invest in the people who made our economy strong in the first place, and lend a hand to those who haven’t recovered from the pandemic.
Our 2022 supplemental budget will be influenced by the thousands of Minnesotans who have reached out to our office with ideas about how the state should invest in their communities. Lieutenant Governor Flanagan and I have heard directly from Minnesotans about their priorities, including the need to make it easier for workers to take time off to care for a child or sick family members. For far too many Minnesota families, taking time off to bond with a new baby or care for a loved one who is sick comes at the risk of losing a paycheck or losing a job. Providing paid family medical leave is one bold step we can take to get workers and businesses back to better, and it’s essential for building a more equitable Minnesota economy.
The lieutenant governor and I have also heard from Minnesotans that affordable, quality childcare is critical to the wellbeing and economic security of all Minnesota families. With this historic surplus we can find solutions that lower childcare costs for families while supporting the workforce that takes care of our kids.
We know what needs to be done to grow our economy for all Minnesotans: Make long-term investments in our state and our people. We’ll expand economic opportunity for Minnesotans, invest in infrastructure projects, and create jobs across the state. We’ll make sure Minnesota is the very best state in the country for kids to grow up, and we’ll continue to take action to protect the health and safety of all Minnesotans, no matter where they live.
Tim Walz is the 41st governor of Minnesota. He is a 24-year veteran of the national guard and a former U.S. congressman, teacher at Mankato west high school, and football coach.
From MN Senate Majority Leader
When I was selected to lead the Senate Republican Caucus in September, I said it was an honor and a privilege. I’m incredibly proud of the way our majority has improved the lives of Minnesotans for the last five years. We cut taxes, passed historic funding for students, stabilized healthcare markets, fixed MNLARS, prioritized small business growth, and supported law enforcement. In 2022, we will continue to focus on the employees and families who drive our economy, empower parents and students as partners in their education, and prioritize public safety to address the uncontrolled criminal activity happening across the state.
A projected $7.7 billion surplus means government took too much from Minnesotans. The last two governors have tried to raise billions more from taxes on Minnesotans in the last five years. Taxes on employees, businesses, families, recreation, and transportation were stopped by our caucus. The surplus this year is a result of many factors but raising taxes on working families and small businesses isn’t one of them.
The priority for our caucus this year will be permanent tax relief. Republicans have been leading the fight to cut taxes for senior citizens and the middle class, and we will continue to do so. This enormous surplus means the government is doing very well, but we know some Minnesotans are struggling. There are shortages of basic necessities, and what we can find costs more than ever due to inflation. Many businesses are still struggling to recover from COVID restrictions, while many more can’t find enough staff to return to normal operations. No matter how you heat your home, your energy bills are dramatically higher due to the cost of fuel and electricity. Senate Republicans will fight for tax relief and policies which help Minnesotans through this uneasy economy.
We are also focused on preparing future Minnesotans for success. Many challenges will remain for our kids as COVID shutdowns exasperated the already poor education outcomes for too many children. The stubborn achievement gap hasn’t improved despite record education funding. Frustrated parents have been shut out of classroom decisions, despite most of the learning for the 2020-2021 school year happening in their homes. Our caucus will empower parents as partners in their children’s education and determine what education opportunities will meet their family’s needs the best. Parents are a child’s first and most important teacher, and they know their kids need more than an outdated one-size-fits-most approach that has failed to demonstrate meaningful change.
Finally, the top concern we hear from many constituents right now is the rising rate of crime. The failure of some leaders to address local crime has put the rest of the state at risk. Additionally, recent decisions by the governor’s appointed Sentencing Guidelines Commission to cap parole at five years and potentially reduce sentences for crimes committed on probation are the wrong direction for the state. Senate Republicans will continue to stand up for victims and support policies that hold criminals accountable as the first response to reduce crime and keep communities safe.
Senate Republicans have a proven record of restraining the growth of government, helping taxpayers keep more of their own hard-earned money, and making sure we have safe communities. We are proud to be the caucus that makes your lives easier and affordable. As we head into the 2022 session with a historic surplus, we are committed to providing permanent tax relief, growing our economy, improving educational outcomes, and keeping Minnesota safe.
Senator Jeremy Miller is currently serving his fourth term as a member of the Minnesota Senate. He represents Minnesota’s 28th District, which includes Fillmore, Houston, and Winona counties. Miller serves as the majority leader of the Senate and previously served as president of the Senate. Miller lives in Winona with his wife, Janel, and their three sons: Drew, and twins Luke and Tom.
From Senate Minority Leader
As we look forward to a new year and the upcoming 2022 legislative session, it’s important to look back at just how much has changed in our state, and our world, in such a short time. None of us could have foreseen a worldwide pandemic that would up-end each and every one of our lives, the unprecedented call for justice, reform, and action following the murder of George Floyd, or the shocking assault and insurrection against our democracy January 6. Each of these events alone would define a generation, and yet each of these occurred in the past two years. In the next year, it is up to us as policymakers to reckon with these challenges and to ensure that we are continuing to advance the legislation and policy that will help Minnesotans recover and move forward.
The effects of COVID-19 remain a challenge for our state – from the dire strain it has placed on our frontline workers and health care network, to the uneven economic recovery affecting our families, to the emergence of new variants that pose renewed challenges. Our number one priority must be to continue to respond to this crisis. Thanks to the hundreds of thousands of hardworking Minnesotans who made sacrifices to keep one another safe and federal aid to support our economy, we are well positioned to tackle these issues head on. With a projected surplus of approximately $7.7 billion, we must take care of those who cared for us, by providing hero pay to all our frontline workers and helping our small businesses who were most impacted by the effects of the pandemic.
We must also look to make real investments in needs facing our state. The federal infrastructure bill will provide hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to repair our roads and bridges, address aging public works, and create thousands of good-paying jobs – and the legislature can make this go even further with additional state funding through a robust bonding bill. For too long we’ve kicked the can down the road, but now we can afford to tackle needs in every zip code and every corner of our state.
It is not just the physical infrastructure we must address, but the human infrastructure that makes Minnesota a great place to raise a family and live. Our uneven recovery is being felt most by those who lack affordable and accessible childcare, health care, and housing. Now is the time for us to tackle these needs with meaningful investment. We can deliver paid family and medical leave for every Minnesotan, affordable and high-quality childcare, and major investments in affordable housing. These are foundational to ensuring that working families cannot just make due, but thrive in our state. By investing in these priorities, we can strengthen not just families but whole communities.
There is also work to do in addressing unfinished work in areas like public safety. Everyone, no matter what you look like or where you live, deserves to feel safe in their community. This means ensuring law enforcement has the tools necessary to intervene in crime and help keep our communities safe. It also means mental and chemical health resources for those who need it, and support for those facing housing instability, hunger, or lack of employment.
Though we have faced generational challenges, now we face a generational opportunity to deliver on priorities that will help all Minnesotans do better. We must not squander it.
Senator Melisa López Franzen is serving her third term in the Minnesota Senate and serves as the senate minority leader. Senator López Franzen represents senate district 49 serving the suburban Minneapolis communities of Bloomington, Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, and Edina. She lives in Edina with her husband Nathan and sons Philip and Arthur.
From MN House Majority Leader
Minnesotans are still hurting from COVID-19, and still facing an uncertain future. When this year’s legislative session begins January 31, state lawmakers have a historic opportunity to address the urgent needs and challenges facing Minnesotans; expand economic opportunity for workers, families, and small businesses; and build a stronger future for everyone.
Top of mind for every lawmaker, lobbyist, and advocacy organization heading into the 2022 session is the state’s $7.7 billion budget surplus — the largest in state history. The reason we find ourselves in this position is simple: Democratic policies work. When we find ways to invest in workers, families, and small businesses, the economy booms. It’s exactly what we’ve done at the state government level ever since the pandemic began.
State lawmakers face a consequential decision in 2022: should we double down and invest in things we know will grow our economy, like expanding paid family and medical leave and lowering the cost of childcare, or will we squander this opportunity by showering tax cuts on big corporations and rich individuals, and hope the wealth “trickles down” to the rest of us? With control of the legislature divided between Democrats and Republicans, both sides will offer competing visions for our state, listen to what Minnesotans have to say about our proposals, and negotiate a final agreement that can be signed into law by Governor Walz.
I’m hopeful a historic budget surplus means the legislature will quickly reach agreement on how to allocate $250 million in frontline worker bonuses, and set aside even more so that all frontline workers can benefit. The 2021 Frontline Worker Pay Working Group, which I chaired, sent two competing partisan proposals to the legislature for consideration.
Minnesota continues to confront a legacy of racial disparities in our criminal justice system and distrust between police and communities. Regardless of the recent guilty verdicts in the police killings of George Floyd and Daunte Wright, Minnesota has work to do to build a public safety system that protects everyone. House Democrats will continue to advocate for measures that establish accountability for police officer misconduct, improve trust between police and the communities they serve, and provide the funding and training law enforcement needs to address violent crime.
The legislature will also have the opportunity to unlock billions in federal funding from President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law to make new investments in roads, bridges, transit, clean water, and high-speed internet. At the same time, House Democrats would like to pass a statewide bonding bill to fund projects that are not eligible for federal funds. Think of all the good jobs and wages for workers and families we could secure if we invest in our state’s infrastructure and competitiveness.
Minnesota is in a strong financial position to help workers, families, and small businesses get through our current challenges. House Democrats will put the needs of workers, families, and small businesses first, and will work to support paid leave for all Minnesotans, higher wages for essential workers, and better education and health for all us. We will not cut taxes for big corporations and rich individuals at the expense of Minnesotans living paycheck to paycheck. The most recent economic and budget report shows that Democratic policies work. When we help workers, families and small businesses thrive, they grow our economy. We will continue to prioritize those Minnesotans, and won’t go back to the failed Republican policies favoring the rich.
Ryan Winkler represents four suburban Hennepin County communities (46A) in the Minnesota House of Representatives. In 2018 and in 2020, Ryan’s colleagues elected him their majority leader. Ryan lives in Golden Valley, and is a proud dad to his three sons.
From MN House Minority Leader
With the holiday season in our rear-view mirror, lawmakers and state officials are turning their attention to the 2022 session and how to navigate our state’s record-setting $7.7 billion surplus.
There’s no denying it — the massive surplus is good news for the state, and a testament to the hard work of Minnesota workers and businesses whose resilience during this unprecedented pandemic helped stabilized our state’s balance sheet.
But many Minnesotans are likely scratching their heads and wondering: if government is doing so well, why am I not seeing it? Unfortunately for too many families, the pressures of the past year are taking their toll on Minnesotans’ wallets and wiping out any increases they’ve seen in their paychecks.
As a result of trillions in spending — much of it still stashed away in government coffers — the Biden administration and Democrats have sent inflation soaring to levels we haven’t seen since the days of Jimmy Carter. Last month, inflation was rising at its fastest pace in three decades, with little relief in sight. But it’s not just inflation — gas prices are still more than 50 percent higher than they were when Biden took office, and home heating costs are set to sky-rocket this winter.
This isn’t an accident. This is the direct result of policies by Biden and Democrats in Washington DC and here in Minnesota designed to make your life more expensive. During the last budget negotiations, Gov. Walz and Democrats pushed for hundreds of millions in transportation tax hikes — including an automatic annual gas tax increase. Harmful energy mandates have caused energy prices here in Minnesota to rise even faster than other states. Instead of tackling inflation, Democrats have decided to double-down and are embracing policies that would make it even worse.
Republicans have been clear: let’s stop the runaway spending, and use our state’s surplus to give Minnesotans their money back. A full and permanent repeat of state taxes on social security taxes, a gas tax moratorium, and other tax relief should be at the top of our priority list in 2022.
It’s the same story on public safety and crime. Everywhere I go, Minnesotans talk about the concerning rise in violent crime not just in the Twin Cities, but increasingly in the suburbs and Greater Minnesota as well. Minnesotans have been begging city and state officials to do more to address the double and in some cases triple-digit rise in murders, carjackings, home invasions, and other types of violent crime, and all they hear back is deafening silence.
House Republicans have put forward dozens of proposals over the past two years to enhance public safety in Minnesota, and do more to hold criminals accountable for the crimes they commit. Unfortunately, there’s been little appetite from Democrats and Gov. Walz who instead are promoting policies to let criminals walk without bail, and even are supporting a controversial effort by an unelected board that would reduce sentences for repeat criminals.
The $7.7 billion surplus gives us a historic opportunity to make new investments in public safety and reducing crime in our state. Instead of foolish efforts to defund the police like we saw in Minneapolis, we should be investing in local police and making sure they have the resources and support needed to keep communities safe and build strong community relationships. We also need our judges and prosecutors to do more to hold criminals accountable for wreaking havoc in our streets. If they’re not willing to do so, the legislature should change the law to ensure stricter punishments are imposed.
House Republicans are ready to lead these conversations in 2022, guided by the feedback we’re hearing from Minnesotans. If Democrats are willing to listen, there’s no reason we can’t work together to deliver significant tax relief and meaningful action on public safety during the upcoming session.
Kurt Daudt represents District 31A in the Minnesota House of Representatives. He is the House minority leader and served previously as the 60th speaker of the Minnesota House from 2015-2019.