By Tina Rucci, Advocacy Manager
As the end of the legislative session approaches, Greater Twin Cities United Way’s advocacy team continues to advance our 2023 Policy & Advocacy Agenda through collaboration with our coalition partners and our efforts at the legislature. The Minnesota legislative process can be complicated. This update will highlight our progress, what to expect in the coming weeks, and how to get involved.
Supporting Minnesota Families
The House and the Senate have released their omnibus bills, which are large bills containing individual bills that are bundled together to allow the legislature to pass multiple measures at the same time. We are happy to report that many policies we have been advancing in Household Stability, Educational Success, and Economic Opportunity are included in the omnibus bills and remain in consideration!
With a $17.6 billion surplus, and support from both bodies AND the Governor’s office, we are hopeful our efforts will continue to advance and positively impact our communities.
During these final weeks, we will continue to support many policy and funding measures still under consideration, including:
- Increased investments to stabilize the early child care and education workforce and expand access to culturally responsive, trauma-sensitive early child care and education for all children prenatal to age five. This includes Early Learning Scholarships; Community Solutions Grants; Childcare Stabilization Grants; support for Family, Friend and Neighbor providers; modifications to the Childcare Assistance Program; and the creation of a Department of Children, Youth and Families. More than 35,000 children in the state of Minnesota don’t have access to quality early care and education. Investments in early child care support healthy development, result in improved educational and health outcomes, and allow parents to fully participate in the workforce – all of which support thriving families and a thriving state.
- Advance policies that remove systemic barriers and mitigate the impacts of the “benefits cliff” to create pathways toward economic independence for working families. This includes six-month (rather than monthly) budgeting periods for MN Family Investment Program recipients; continuous eligibility for Medical Assistance enrollees up to age six and 12 months of eligibility for ages 6-19; and modifications to Housing Support so that recipients of this program will no longer have to pay more than 30% of their income toward housing. By smoothing out these cliffs, we can provide pathways for Minnesotans to gain long-term financial security while supporting a thriving state economy.
- Provide holistic services to prevent homelessness and build pathways to stable housing for populations experiencing high risk of housing instability, such as those exiting the foster system and transitioning out of incarceration. This includes funding for the Homeless Youth Act, the creation of a trust for survivor benefits for foster youth, and investments in a landlord risk mitigation fund.
Innovation at the Capitol
Additionally, we sought our first direct appropriation ask with bills for each of our innovation initiatives. We were invited to testify on behalf of Full Lives, 80×3, and Career Academies in committee hearings. As a result, Career Academies has been included in the House omnibus bill. We continue to support state investments in public/private partnerships that address systemic inequities in our communities.
Advocate Alongside Us
We are committed to our 2023 advocacy agenda — and you can help. Join our Advocacy Network to stay tuned for action alerts in the coming weeks. Things move quickly at the legislature, and we appreciate your timely support.