By Lt. Gov Peggy Flanagan
Boozhoo! What an incredible end to one of the most productive legislative sessions of my lifetime. The work we did together this session will make a generational impact on our state, lowering costs, improving lives, and cutting child poverty. None of these victories would be possible without deep partnership across community, across the legislature, and across our state. Thank you to everyone from community who showed up to help get this done.
There is so much good stuff in this budget – including things I have worked toward my entire career – and I’m so proud to share a few highlights of the One Minnesota Budget.
The bonding and infrastructure package makes much needed investments in community-led projects, roads and bridges, water treatment facilities, and other state-owned assets. Capital investments in nonprofits and community-led organizations are incredibly important to build capacity, preserve infrastructure, and serve their mission and their people.
I am thrilled that projects that are deeply embedded in community are included in this package, like Ain Dah Yung, which I visited this spring and saw firsthand the need for investment and renovation, Division of Indian Work, the Indigenous Peoples Task Force, New Native Theater, Little Earth Residents Association, Little Earth Neighborhood Early Learning Center, Indian Health Board, the Lower Phalen Creek Project: Wakan Tipi Center, the Native American Community Clinic expansion project, Red Lake Tribal College in Minneapolis, MNI Sota Fund, and the Leech Lake Wellness Center in Cass Lake, all led by and for the urban Native community as well as tribal nations and members.
The higher education omnibus helps to create more pathways for Minnesota students to attend college or workforce training. This includes the American Indian Scholar program, which covers tuition and fees for American Indian students residing in Minnesota and enrolled members of Minnesota tribal nations seeking an undergraduate degree at one of Minnesota’s two- and four-year public colleges and universities. This package also increases funding for the Tribal College Supplemental Grant Program and establishes the North Star Promise program, which provides free undergraduate tuition at public two- and four-year colleges and universities for Minnesota residents from families with a household income of $80,000 or less.
The public safety omnibus invests in a spectrum of public safety solutions to help keep everyone safe in their community. These historic gun safety and violent crime prevention measures include implementing universal background checks to close the loophole for private transfers of semiautomatic weapons and handguns and extreme risk protection orders; expanding the Office of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives with new full-time staff positions and funding the Advisory Council, as well as establishing a reward fund for information on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives; limiting the use of no-knock warrants; providing funding for Tribal Nations to hire their own tribal assistant probation officer staff to work in tandem with the Department of Corrections and county supervision agencies through a MOU; and investing in community-based crime prevention, juvenile justice, and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.
And one of the most meaningful items in this budget package is ensuring people who are incarcerated have access to free phone calls with family and friends.
The housing omnibus is a historic $1 billion investment, the largest single investment in housing in state history, that addresses the entire spectrum of housing stability – from our relatives experiencing homelessness to renters to first-time homebuyers. This balanced budget includes investments across the housing continuum and addresses needs in supply including both new development and preservation, affordability and downpayment assistance, and stability through rental assistance and strengthening supportive housing. This budget goes big so that everyone can go home!
The veterans and military affairs omnibus delivers meaningful support to protect the health and safety of our warriors and ensure our veterans have a safe and stable place to call home. This budget package will move Minnesota closer to its goal of becoming the fourth state to end veteran homelessness, expand service bonuses for veterans, fund veterans homes, and invest in the readiness of the Minnesota National Guard.
The agriculture and broadband omnibus supports rural communities with new resources and protections for farmers and agricultural producers and a $100 million investment to expand high-speed broadband across Minnesota. This includes funding to expand the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Emerging Farmers Office, allowing additional staff to focus on the needs of emerging farmers, including immigrant, Indigenous, Black, Latino, and Asian Pacific Islander farmers, producers, and agricultural business owners. This office helps remove barriers that prevent new or potential farmers from entering the field or succeeding.
We also passed $240 million to replace lead pipes across the state. Everyone deserves safe, clean drinking water. But right now, over 100,000 pipes are leaching lead into our drinking water, presenting the greatest risk to children and pregnant people and disproportionately harming marginalized communities across the state. This investment will help protect the health and safety of our children for generations to come.
I’ll be back next month to walk through more of the great items that were accomplished, including addressing the opioid crisis, legalizing adult-use cannabis, and ensuring all Minnesota workers have access to paid family and medical leave. While the 2023 legislative session may be over, Governor Walz and I are committed to continuing to work with our partners in the legislature, leaders in community, and people across the state make Minnesota the best state for ALL children and families to thrive.