By Kristen Rosenberger, Director, Advocacy and External Engagement
At Greater Twin Cities United Way, we seek to disrupt inequities and foster a region where all people thrive, regardless of income, race or place. We are uniquely positioned as advocates to amplify community voices, educate lawmakers and co-develop solutions to influence effective policy change to support immediate community needs while also advancing long-term systems change.
Updates from the Capitol
The 2021 state legislative session is in full swing, and Minnesota remains the only divided state government in the nation with a DFL governor, DFL-led House and GOP-led Senate. As we launch into a budget year of the biennium, lawmakers are making funding decisions that will create the state budget for the next two years.
Fortunately, Minnesota’s budget outlook is significantly better due to an improved U.S. economic outlook bolstered by federal actions. The state anticipates a $1.6 billion surplus for the 2022-23 biennium in contrast to the projected deficit seen in December’s forecast.
On another positive note, Minnesota received significant funds to support urgent community needs – with another round of federal relief expected soon. Notable highlights from the most recent federal COVID-19 relief package in December 2020 include:
- $337 million for rental assistance
- $137 million to support child care providers
- 15% benefit increase for six months for families receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits
- Extension of nonitemizer charitable deductions extended through 2021: $300 for individuals and $600 for joint tax filers
Advancing our 2021 Policy Priorities
We are busy meeting with legislators to advocate for the many issues in our 2021 Policy and Advocacy Agenda. Specifically, we are leading efforts to:
- Prevent families from sliding into homelessness through eviction reform.
- Expand access to quality early childhood learning and development and increase workforce stability for providers.
- Ensure more resources and support for nonprofits, which are on the front lines addressing critical community needs.
In February, we testified in favor of eviction reform legislation alongside Otis Zanders, United Way Board member and executive director of our nonprofit partner, Ujamaa Place. All three bills were passed on to the next step in the legislative process.
New legislative bills are introduced every day in the House and Senate, and we anticipate many of the bills will be scheduled for committee hearings in the coming weeks. We will continue to monitor the hearings closely and provide testimony and letters of support on the issues we lead and support.
Upcoming Advocacy Events
This spring, we’re partnering with coalition partners on several advocacy events, in addition to hosting the 2021 Advocacy for Children Day virtual rally. We welcome you to register for these events, which are open to the public:
- Homeless Days on the Hill (March 9-11)
- Early Childhood Legislative Virtual Briefing (March 11)
- Advocacy for Children Day Virtual Rally (April 14)