Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of articles submitted by the Cass County DFL Party that will be published once a month.

In the 2021 Minnesota Budget the DFL won important investments in Minnesota’s future.

One of the most important investments was made in improving Public Education the cornerstone of Minnesota’s future — $1.2 billion over four years — the largest formula increase in 15 years. Over the next two years $33.5 million will be spent to recruit train and retain teachers of color.

Right now only 4 percent of educators in Minnesota are people of color, compared to 34 percent of Minnesota students. An additional $100 million was budgeted for public colleges and universities throughout Minnesota. After school and summer learning programs to help students make up for lost learning during the COVId-19 pandemic. received $132 million.

Job Creation and Economic Development, another foundational asset of Minnesota, was granted $70 million in COVID-19 relief for small businesses across the state that have borne the brunt of this pandemic in order to protect their communities save lives.  A  transformative injection of $80 million to address the greatest economic development and redevelopment needs and build well funded infrastructure that is key for the success and livelihood of Minnesotans was granted.  Road construction and other physical aspects of infrastructure were granted $3.68 billion road construction.

Every day hard-working Minnesota families struggle to make ends meet. Tight family budgets make it hard for Minnesotans to pay for child care, education and training to build their skills. This budget helped working families and offered: $597 million to support child care businesses and increase access to affordable quality child care; $250 million in direct financial support to Minnesota’s essential workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 epidemic — from nurses to janitors to child care workers to nursing home workers; and a one time $435 payment to low-income families throughout Minnesota.

In Minnesota and across the nation access is critical — access to commerce, education and health care through the Internet and over local roads. In order to truly support and grow greater Minnesota, Internet access is crucial for every Minnesotan as it allows for the opportunity to participate in education work, health care and more.

Right now, 12 percent of Minnesota households do not have consistent internet and 1.5 percent of Minnesotan’s live in areas where under the Federal Communications Commission’s benchmark there is no broadband infrastructure. This budget specifically targets $70 million for expanding access to fast reliable broadband internet.

On average each Minnesota driver pays $543 in costs per year to drive on roads in need of repair. This year $30 million was granted for the construction and repair of small city and township roads and another $5.5 million for the Department of Transportation Local Road and Improvement Program to help municipal governments across Minnesota build or improve local roads.

Farmers and those who work in food production faced harsh realities during the COVID-19 pandemic as the agriculture industry experienced deep economic turmoil. Investments in the future of agriculture benefit both farmers and as importantly every single Minnesotan who counts on nutritious meals everyday. This budget called for $10.2 million increase in funding to the Minnesota department of Agriculture (MDA) to support their mission of strengthening Minnesota’s economy. An additional $2.67 million for the MDA’s Agricultural Growth, Research and Innovation Program, which works to create jobs, increase productivity improve efficiency and assist the development of agricultural and renewable energy products was granted.

There is need for meat and poultry producers to modernize and expand facilities and to that end $1.5 million was budgeted. Livestock farmers and ranchers were given $2.8 million in grants to help improve, update, and modernize their operations infrastructure and equipment.

The DFL understands the needs of all Minnesotans and responds.

The information in this column aims to be: fact based, relatable and based on issues people care about.

The views and opinions expressed in the “A fresh look” column are not that of The Pilot-Independent.

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