Only money matters

If I were a space alien visiting Earth for the first time and I attended the town hall meeting in Marshall on June 1 with Senator Dahms and Representative Swedzinski, I would conclude that the most important thing to Earthlings was money. Money is the god people worship here. People don’t matter, only money matters.

Our two local legislators spent most of the meeting complaining about spending and the cost of programs. Nearly every accomplishment of the Minnesota legislature this session was decried as “too expensive.” There was almost no mention of how the new funding and programs enacted by the Democrat-controlled legislature and governor’s office will solve problems and benefit people. All that Dahms and Swedzinski could focus on was money. Apparently, their top priority is money and not people.

In contrast, Minnesota Democrats (the DFL) care about people. Democrats worked hard this session to enact programs and policies that will improve people’s lives, make Minnesota a better place to live, and strengthen our families and communities. There are so many legislative accomplishments this year I cannot list them all here, but I will highlight a few.

Starting next school year there will be free breakfast and lunch for every child in Minnesota’s public schools, regardless of income. This will ease some of the financial stress many families face and ensure that the gnawing pains of hunger do not prevent kids from learning.

Families will also benefit from the new child tax credit of $1,750 per dependent for those making less than $35,000 as well as free college tuition at any public state college or technical college in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system for students from families making under $80,000 per year.

Democrats increased funding for student support services (such as mental health services and support for basic needs insecurity) at Minnesota’s colleges and universities, provided $300 million in public safety aid for cities and counties and $240 million to remove and replace lead pipes in communities across the state so that people will have safe drinking water. Legislation was also enacted that bans Conversion Therapy and protects access to gender-affirming healthcare.

Minnesota Democrats passed a number of bills that will help family farmers, including extending and expanding the Beginning Farmers Tax Credit and creating a grain indemnity fund that will pay out funds to farmers who are left with unpaid grain contracts if a grain elevator goes bankrupt.

Will these things cost money?

Yes, but the cost pales in comparison to the benefits they provide and the problems they solve for people–all of which will ultimately help our state economically. Farmers will be protected. Children will get a good education and bring their skills to the workforce. Families will have more money available to buy what they need. People will move to Minnesota for our worker-friendly and family-friendly policies.

Democrats also enacted the Paid Family & Medical Leave Act. What a blessing it will be to be able to take paid time off from work to heal from surgery or deal with a life-threatening illness, care for your new baby, nurse your sick child, or assist your mother as she battles breast cancer. This is one of the most pro-life policies imaginable, and one that will benefit all of us.

At some point in our lives, every one of us will either need care ourselves or will need to provide care for a family member. No one should miss a parent’s final days of life or their baby’s first smile because they couldn’t afford to take time off from work.

Rather than bemoan how much the Paid Family & Medical Leave Act will cost, let’s consider how this program gives us the freedom and ability to love and care for our families.

What is more important?

Taking care of your new baby, sick child, or dying parent or the Almighty Dollar?

Republicans seem to care only about the dollar amount and how much it will cost. Democrats care about people.

All of these things make Minnesota a better, safer, more compassionate place to live — a place where farmers, families, and workers can thrive. I am proud of what the DFL accomplished this session. I am happy that Minnesota Democrats put people first.

— Anita Gaul was a 2022 candidate for the Minnesota State Senate and currently lives in Marshall.


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