Our urban quality of life is built on safe neighborhoods, strong, reliable transportation options, and affordable public services. For Minnesota a high quality of urban life is a strategic advantage to attracting and retaining the next generation of businesses and employees to the state.
Funding Local Government Aid at the formula level allowing cities like Minneapolis to provide affordable and comprehensive services to residents and businesses. In 2013, as Chair of the Property Tax division I lead a reform of the LGA formula making it simpler and more responsive to local conditions. With that reform the legislature increased funding benefiting Minneapolis and communities across the state.
Public safety is a large portion of the city's general fund budget and everyone benefits when we have safe neighborhoods for all.
We must continue in our efforts to plan and build light rail, bus rapid transit, and neighborhood transit options while keeping fares affordable. If the DFL is able to regain the majority in the House and retain the Governorship, transportation funding will be a major emphasis in the next legislative session.
The state can play a key role in supporting the creation of jobs and should in this trying economy. That role can be direct through bonding for needed public projects-roads, bridges, public buildings-and enhance the ability of the private sector to create jobs through high quality public services, targeted policies that enhance the competitiveness of Minnesota firms and employ Minnesotans, and help position Minnesota as a leader in creating a greener 21st century economy.
Hard-working Minnesotans deserve good-paying jobs with decent benefits. The legislature made strong moves on this in 2014 when we raised the state minimum wage and indexed it to inflation so that employees and employers both can plan and anticipate for a wage that stays up with the cost of living.
Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and add to the uniqueness of our neighborhoods. By allowing them to flourish, we create and maintain jobs in our community.
In 2013, for the first time in over a decade, Minnesota balanced its budget honestly, without shifts and gimmicks that had become common under GOP dominance. In 2014 we were able to provide over $500 million in tax cuts to businesses and individuals because of the strong Minnesota economy and budget surplus. Responsible budgeting needs to continue to support Minnesota families and businesses.
A strong public education system is key to opportunity for all Minnesota students. The globalized 21st century economy demands a well-educated flexible workforce only possible through education. Every Minnesota child deserves an opportunity for a high quality, challenging educational experience.
We have both a moral and practical imperative to close the achievement gap in Minnesota.
We need to remember the whole child when we make education decisions and plan for their academic, social, and physical development.
We need to hold educators accountable but need to balance that with a collaborative approach respecting the professional insights and skills that they bring to work every day.
In 2013 we paid back the money that the state had been borrowing from schools and provided schools with greater stability in their funding.
Strengthening early childhood programs is key to providing all kids with an equitable start and strong base to build on for their future. In the past two years the state has created and funded with over $40 million dollars an early childhood scholarship program that holds promise.
Preserving Our Environment and Natural Resources
Minnesota’s natural resources are what make living here unique and are a major contributor to our quality of life. Respecting and preserving those resources, while assuring Minnesotans access to them, needs to be a priority in the state.
Stop politicizing the Legislative Citizens Commission on Minnesota Resources while also holding it to the highest standards of ethics and transparency.
Provide funding for both state and metropolitan regional parks equal with their use by Minnesotans assuring access and preservation.
Balance economic development with the needs to protect fragile natural resources.
Continue to monitor and act aggressively against the new generation of invasive species.
Utilize bonding to build wastewater treatment plants, secure easements on and around fragile lands and waters, and other efforts to preserve and improve the quality of Minnesota waters.
Tax Fairness and Relief
For too long tax policy has focused on benefiting the wealthy with income tax cuts while cutting programs that benefit middle and working class families. In 2013 in Minnesota that stopped with a broad tax reform package that was significantly progressive and funded services that Minnesotans want and need.
We need to continue to support tax policy that fairly spreads the burden fairly. Wealthy Minnesotans should pay at least the same percentage in taxes as do middle and working class families.
Tax policy should benefit local businesses that help build our local economy not national and multinational businesses.
Quality and Accessible health Care
The United States is the only industrialized nation without universal health care. Instead of being the best health care system in the world we rank 37th, lagging many nations in maternal and child well being, life expectancy, vaccination rates, and with a rising incidence of obesity and diabetes. We need a system that provides universal access to healthcare at an affordable price to all Minnesotans. While the Affordable Care Act is a meaningful step forward we still have work to do.
MnSure needs to work better. Period. While many of the technical problems have been fixed some still remain.
A universal system will create efficiencies and costs savings not available in our current disconnected approach.
We need to hold health care providers accountable to the quality of their services.
A universal system needs to emphasize helping individuals manage chronic health challenges.
We need to proactively engage health disparities among communities of color, leveraging health care as a tool in creating opportunity for all.