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2019 Minnesota Legislative Session Wrap-Up

By Rubén Vázquez, VP of Racial Justice and Public Policy
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A Close to the Legislative Session

Last month, the 2019 regular legislative session officially came to an end. After a nearly 21-hour special session, the 2019 Minnesota Legislature completed their work with the passage of the state’s final budget.

Some accomplishments were made this session:

  • A net increase to the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) – families who use this program will earn $100 more per month, the first increase to the program in 33 years.
  • Education funding included $540 million for the next two years with a two percent per-student increase, school safety funding, additional special education funding and $46 million for a continuation of 4,000 slots for voluntary pre-K, among other things.
  • Minnesota lawmakers voted to make wage theft a felony crime and increased the state’s budget for enforcement.
  • A package of proposals was passed to address sexual assault, including a new task force to examine how authorities investigate and prosecute sex crimes and the launch of a Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Task Force.

No Increase for Early Childhood Education

On the other hand, the final budget left little for early childhood education. As a result, over 32,000 children in Minnesota will still not have access to early childhood scholarships. The final Health and Human Services budget was reduced by $358 million for the next two years, which will primarily impact families who participate in the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP). CCAP provides care for 30,000 children and helps 15,000 parents go to work across all 87 Minnesota counties.

A Decrease in Workforce Development Funding

Another outcome was a decrease in funding for early childhood education workforce development, which provides access to comprehensive training and support for participants to complete their Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. This training provides a professional career pathway for participants – many who are working to enter or re-enter the workforce and are often supporting a family themselves.

Despite both Governor Walz and House Representative Mahony (Chair of the House Jobs Committee) having included workforce development in their respective budgets, as things moved through conference committee, the Senate decided this was not a big enough priority for our state.

Improving Economic Security for Women and Eliminating Barriers

The 2019 legislative session was frustrating for early education advocates. YWCA Minneapolis will continue to keep early childhood care and education as a top legislative priority at the capitol. YWCA’s public policy agenda aims to improve the economic security of women, while eliminating racist and sexist barriers to workplace participation. Our entire community benefits from state and federal funding for early learning and youth development programs that allow parents to go to work or school, and workforce development programs that ensure equal access to stable jobs.

As we work through the summer and fall, we look forward to working with community partners and legislators to develop an agenda that continues to make improvements for children and families. We must keep moving forward and building momentum as we head into 2020!

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