We need to create a new normal that works for all Minnesota families, regardless of race, zip code, or job. We can have the good things we need for our communities to thrive: wonderful schools, excellent child care, healthcare for every person, and policies that keep us safe and healthy. Key to getting there is asking the wealthiest Minnesotans, those families earning over a million dollars, and the largest corporations, to pay their fair share.
A few weeks ago, I was on a Zoom meeting with people from across Southeast Minnesota.
One woman took herself off of mute to share her story with me. She said, “I work in child care.
My son is fourteen, and he wants to learn how to drive. The trouble is, I can’t afford a car. I want to send him to college in a few years. How is that going to be possible when I can’t afford what we need from day to day? I’m also afraid my daycare is going to close, and I’m going to be out of a job.”
She ended by asking, “what are you going to do for people like me?”
We all deserve a fair return for our hard work. The challenge is that in child care, the business model doesn’t work unless the state is a strong partner, providing financial assistance to providers and families. Right now Minnesota’s Child Care Assistance Program reimbursement rate is among the lowest in the country. This is at the heart of why this child care worker can’t make ends meet.
Asking Minnesota families who earn more than a million dollars a year, as well as corporations who are sheltering profits overseas, to pay in a little more, is part of what allows the House DFL’s budget proposal to increase the Child Care Assistance Program reimbursement rate.
This will help support providers, their workers, and families too. When those working in early learning and child care are able to earn a living wage, they can afford to keep doing that work.
This stabilizes the childcare workforce making it easier for families to find childcare. Parents, and most often mothers, are able to re- enter the workforce. Businesses then have an easier time finding employees.
This is just one area where we see the benefits of a fairer tax structure. Funding our schools, providing access to health care, high speed broadband, and paid family and medical leave, all become possible.
Despite the fact that asking the top 1% to pay 1% more in taxes is broadly popular, Republicans in the Senate have opposed it. They have been siding with the wealthiest Minnesotans and the largest corporations, rather than working for Minnesotans who are struggling the most.
As budget negotiations continue, my focus will be an agreement that helps Minnesotans who are hurting because of COVID, and who were hurting before COVID even started. We can do that when we ask those at the top to pay their fair share.