Gov. Walz outlines health, safety budget proposals
Increasing public safety across the State, lowering gun violence and violent crime, and investing in meaningful criminal justice reform are some of the main points to Gov. Tim Walz’s Health and Safety Budget proposal.
“This piece of the budget will enhance ability to have a home,” said Walz. “It’ll enhance the ability to access medical care, and it’ll enhance our public safety professionals and communities to make good decisions to make sure that Minnesota becomes again, that best state for children.”
This is the third of four packages within the Walz Administration’s One Minnesota Budget, also aimed at lowering costs and expanding access to high-quality health care for children and families. The plan also aims to make it easier for Minnesotans to purchase a home, afford rent, and maintain stable and secure housing. Additionally, the budget includes investments to permanenty fund the work to end veterans’ homelessness statewide.
The Governor’s public safety package provides over $300 million in public safety aid for local governments, stands up a statewide violent crime initiative, and supports victims of crime and domestic violence, while investing in a more fair and equitable criminal justice system.
Expand Access to High-Quality Health Care
The Governor proposes increasing health care access and affordability by establishing a MinnesotaCare public option that will offer more affordable comprehensive health insurance options for Minnesotans, including the nearly 300,000 Minnesotans who remain uninsured. The Walz Administration is also proposing expanding Medical Assistance (MA) eligibility to reduce health coverage interruption that prevents Minnesota kids from seeing a doctor when they need to. The One Minnesota Budget will require health insurance plans regulated by state law to provide preventive services at no cost. The proposal will also improve prescription drug transparency by updating the Prescription Drug Price Transparency program and extending it to include pharmacy benefit managers and wholesalers. Additionally, the One Minnesota Budget includes targeted investments to remove barriers to health care access for Minnesotans and proposals to reduce health care costs. The Walz Administration is also proposing a series of investments to address gaps in the mental health continuum for children and adolescents and improve access to residential and outpatient mental health services.
Combat the Addiction, Opioid Epidemic
The One Minnesota Budget includes a $22 million proposal that expands access to non-narcotic pain management service; enhances prevention and supportive services for people experiencing homelessness; and improves surveillance and identification of substances involved in overdoses. The budget will support better outcomes for people and families impacted by substance and opioid use disorder by providing ongoing funding to support grants for healing and overdose prevention.
Ensure Every Minnesotan Has a Safe and Affordable Place to Call Home
Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan believe housing is the foundation for health, safety, and growth. Their One Minnesota Budget invests $100 million in community stabilization to leverage private and philanthropic funds to acquire, rehabilitate, and preserve existing rental and homeownership housing so that it remains affordable. To help more Minnesotans become homeowners, the One Minnesota Budget includes a new First-Generation Homebuyer Program and down payment assistance and closing cost loans to help Minnesotans who are ready to become homeowners. The budget also provides rental assistance to Minnesotans with lower incomes and disabilities through the Housing Trust Fund and includes investments in the Greater Minnesota Workforce Housing program to provide grants to local units of government to build new rental housing in smaller communities.
“There are so many Minnesotans who do have housing but are rapidly feeling the effects of increased rent and rising costs,” said Rhonda Otteson, the Executive Director of the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless. “This budget also works to make rent more affordable, create pathways to make home ownership a reality and builds more affordable homes across the state. As someone from greater Minnesota, I can tell you that every single community throughout the state needs housing.”
Over the last year, Gov. Walz has announced that Central Minnesota and St. Louis County have effectively ended veteran homelessness. Just two regions of the state, Hennepin and Ramsey Counties, remain. To achieve Minnesota’s goal of being the fourth state in the country to declare an end to veteran homelessness statewide, Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan’s budget will permanently fund the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs work to identify gaps in the statewide homeless veteran response system, develop strategic solutions to ensure rapid housing outcomes for veterans experiencing a housing crisis, and connect at-risk veterans experiencing homelessness with Social Security Disability benefits.
To prevent homelessness before it begins, the Governor recommends investing in programs that ensure youth have stable housing. To better support Minnesotans experiencing homelessness, the Administration recommends more funding for emergency services, transitional housing, and homeless youth. They have also proposed one-time funding to acquire, build, or renovate emergency shelters. To support victims of domestic and sexual violence, the One Minnesota Budget provides funding for the Domestic Violence Housing First Program and Domestic and Sexual Violence Transitional Housing funding to better meet the unique housing needs of survivors.
Reduce Gun Violence and Keep Communities Safe
The Governor recommends spending $300 million in public safety aid to cities, counties, and tribal governments across the state, enabling local governments to meet their community’s public safety needs. To reduce gun violence across the state, the One Minnesota Budgets proposes universal background checks on all firearm sales, extreme risk protection orders to help remove firearms from those who pose an immediate threat to themselves or others, raising the minimum age for purchasing military-style firearms to 21 years old, banning high-capacity magazines, and promoting safe storage of firearms. Increased violent crime is a threat to thriving communities across Minnesota. The Governor is proposing the Violent Crime Reduction Strategy, a new statewide initiative to address violent crime. The proposal also includes $4.5 million up front and $1.5 million ongoing for grants to help local agencies purchase body cameras.
The Administration is proposing investing $1 million each year to support firefighter training and education and increasing the funding formula for the Fire Safety Account to ensure local fire agencies across the state will have sustainable resources to support their critical work.
“There’s a cost of readiness and response and to be able to do the things we need to do as emergency responders,” said Chief David Brosnahan, of the Roseville Fire Department. “Fire departments and public safety agencies throughout the state share the same mission, but oftentimes have different means and needs to complete that mission.”
The budget establishes the Office of Missing and Murdered African American Women to promote the safety and success of Black women and girls, through training, advocating for systems change, and ending violence against and trafficking of Black women and girls.
Build a Fair and Equitable Justice System
Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan say they recognize that meaningful rehabilitation for people who are incarcerated reduces their risk of reoffending upon release. The One Minnesota budget proposes the Minnesota Rehabilitation and Reinvestment Act to create incentives for people in the custody of the Department of Corrections to participate in and make progress toward individualized treatment plans to help them return successfully to their communities. To address the chronic shortage of education opportunities inside Minnesota’s prisons, the One Minnesota Budget includes opportunities for robust educational programming for every willing participant committed to the custody of the Department of Corrections.
The Governor and Lieutenant Governor will announce additional components of the One Minnesota Budget this week to cut taxes and improve the state’s infrastructure. The entire two-year budget will be released on January 24.