Melissa Hortman

House Speaker Melissa Hortman speaks during a Jan. 4 press conference.

(The Center Square) – With more than a $17 billion projected surplus, the Democrats released their priorities at a capitol news conference Wednesday.

“We are moving swiftly because that’s what Minnesotans expect and deserve,” House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, said. “Although there were bipartisan wins over the last four years, many of Minnesotans’ priorities were blocked by the Republican Senate majority. With unified DFL control of state government, we now have an opportunity to work quickly to improve people’s lives. The DFL-led House and Senate are going to work hard and work together to meet the needs of Minnesotans and build a state that works better for everyone.”

Minnesota has the first DFL state government trifecta in 10 years and only the second in 40 years.

DFL lawmakers listed priorities for the upcoming session, including reproductive freedom, paid family leave and earned sick time, climate and clean energy, cheaper prescription drugs, early care and learning, public safety, education, housing affordability, worker protections, and infrastructure.

“Minnesotans made it clear in November that they were tired of the gridlock, division, and unfinished work,” Senate Majority Leader Kari Dziedzic, DFL-Minneapolis, said. “They elected a DFL trifecta because they want a Legislature that will work for them and help all Minnesotans thrive. That’s exactly what we will do in the upcoming Session.”

Dziedzic said the DFL plans to boost school spending, including special education.

A preliminary economic forecast released in December projected Minnesota has a budget surplus of $17.6 billion. The forecast doesn’t account for inflation, and more than $12 billion is projected to be one-time funds.

Lawmakers will use an updated economic forecast – due in February – to write a new two-year state budget.

“We know that Minnesotans care about their families, neighbors, and communities, and they want a state that works better for everyone,” House Majority Leader Jamie Long, DFL-Minneapolis, said. “The policy priorities we are announcing today reflect the values Minnesotans share. To keep our economy growing and provide economic opportunity for all, this Legislature will put workers and families first.”

Long said they will pursue a $3,000 child care tax credit for families with children five years old or younger with a cap of $7,500.

Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson, R-East Grand Forks, and House Minority Leader Lisa Demuth, R-Cold Spring, released a joint statement in response to the DFL legislative agenda.

 "The DFL priorities we heard today were what we expected: controversial and divisive," they said in a statement. "Rather than getting to work on balancing the budget and giving the massive surplus back to the people, they are rushing through their own top priorities without bipartisan support." 

The two promised to fight for tax cuts for the middle class, support funding for public safety, energy affordability, and focus on student achievement.

The new Legislature convened on Jan. 3rd and must adjourn by May 22nd.

Staff Reporter

Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.