Media visits focus on child care needs

When the Legislature takes its annual mid-session break, which they are on this week, GMNP staff often hit the road and meet with the media in Greater Minnesota to talk about our priorities and what is happening at the Capitol. This year, with the pandemic, we decided not to jump behind the wheel, but we did jump behind a computer screen and camera to make the same thing happen.

Greater Minnesota Partnership Executive Director Scott McMahon has spent a good portion of the week meeting with newspaper reporters and editors to talk about child care, our legislative proposals, and the opportunity Minnesota has to make a major impact on this issue as a result of the $520 million child care investment made through the federal American Rescue Plan. Continue reading

Notes from the Capitol

An update from GMNP Executive Director Scott McMahon:

We have hit the point in the legislative session where the budget is starting to take shape. During the past two weeks, Governor Walz, the House DFL, and the Senate GOP have all released their budget framework, thereby putting their stake in the ground on what Minnesota’s budget priorities should be for the upcoming biennium. The reality is the budget that ultimately passes in May (or June, if the past several budget sessions give any indication) will include more spending than the lowest target from all three frameworks.

Governor Walz’ plan calls for a $52.4 billion budget for the next two years, the Senate GOP is recommending a $51.9 billion budget, and the House DFL just released a budget framework calling for $52.5 billion. In the grand scheme of things, a $600 million difference in a $52 billion budget (a 1 percent difference) does not seem that significant, but the devil lies in the details. As the details of the two chambers’ budget bills begin to emerge in early April, we will see similar budget amounts. However, we will also see significant differences between how each chamber wants to invest those dollars. Continue reading

Federal stimulus includes $550M for child care in Minnesota

Minnesota’s child care industry is about to get a boost from the $1.9 trillion federal stimulus package signed into law last week. Included in the bill was more than $40 billion dedicated to child care providers. Of that, Minnesota’s share is approximately $550 million, which breaks down to roughly:

• $200 million for the Child Care Development Block Grant
• $325 million for child care stabilization
• $12 million for Head Start
• $9 million for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.

As you can imagine, there are lots of ideas on how to invest these dollars, and a few different ways to make it happen. The Department of Human Services says the Walz administration already has legislative authority to distribute the federal stimulus money, so as we have seen with past federal dollars, the ultimate allocation of the funds may rest solely in the Governors’ office. We anticipate seeing at least a Senate GOP proposal, and likely a House DFL proposal, on how “best” to allocate these resources. Continue reading

Governor Walz further rolls back COVID restrictions

On March 12, Governor Walz announced sweeping adjustments to COVID-19 restrictions. The announcement comes as a result of the progress the state has made in controlling the spread of the disease and providing more than one million Minnesotans at least one dose of the vaccine.   

Beginning Monday, March 15:   

  • Indoor social gatherings are limited to 15 people, and outdoor gatherings to 50 people maximum. 
  • Indoor and outdoor dining at bars and restaurants may open at 75% capacity with a maximum of 250 people. Parties may consist of no more than six people and bar seating open to parties of four. There can be no food or drink served between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m.  
  • Personal services such as hair and tattoo salons may open at 100% capacity with social distancing. Continue reading

Report provides new data on child care provider shortage in Greater Minnesota

The Center for Rural Policy and Development has released an updated child care report, available here. The report reaffirms our need to stay committed to advocating for policies and investments that address the unique circumstance Greater Minnesota faces due to our deficit of more than 39,000 child care slots.

One of the most startling findings from the report is that Greater Minnesota lost more than 20,000 child care slots between 2000 and 2020, a net loss of 17.4% of capacity. The total loss comes from a dramatic reduction in the number of family care providers, which saw capacity shrink by 35,455 slots. We actually saw an increase of 15,203 additional child care center slots in those 20 years, but it still left a total loss of more than 20,000 slots. Continue reading

Housing, child care bills in the spotlight

Last week was a busy time for our efforts to advance the GMNP’s economic development policies, with advocacy efforts in multiple committees across both the House and Senate.

On Tuesday, Dan Dorman and Austin City Administrator Craig Clark testified in the Senate Housing Committee in support of SF 752, authored by Sen. Jim Abeler (R-Anoka), which would appropriate $6 million into the Greater Minnesota Workforce Housing Development Program and make a policy change that will make the program more effective given Greater Minnesota’s market conditions. The bill was laid over for possible inclusion in the housing omnibus bill. Continue reading

House committee to hear child care bills next week

The House Early Childhood Finance and Policy Committee is scheduled to hear three bills GMNP-supported child care bills next Thursday. All three of the bill are authored by Rep. Liz Olson (DFL-Duluth).

  • HF413 provides $4 million to the six Minnesota Initiative Foundations to expand the impact of their child care provider support initiatives and community engagement programs. 
  • HF411 provides a $10 million appropriation from the general fund to the newly created Greater Minnesota Child Care Facilities Grant program. This program was established in the bonding bill that passed last fall. It provides capital funding to acquire land or an interest in land, predesign, design, renovate, construct, furnish, and equip facilities in which to provide child care or for other child care facility improvements in communities with a documented child care shortage and where the shortage is affecting economic development and job growth. Continue reading

GMNP legislative priorities receive hearings

January is always an interesting time around the Capitol. The first few weeks of hearings are always orienting members to the committee jurisdiction and learning about the various stakeholder groups who are impacted by the body’s decisions. Now that February is here, we are starting to see committees take a more active role in considering specific legislation.

The first GMNP priority to see action was HF14, authored by Rep. Rob Ecklund (DFL-International Falls), which would invest $120 million over the next two years into the Border-to-Border Broadband Grant program. This bill was heard in the House Industrial Education and Economic Development Finance and Policy Committee. This is the level of funding that is needed over the next 5 years to reach the state’s 2026 broadband goal of all Minnesota businesses and homes having access to at least one broadband provider with download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second and upload speeds of at least 20 megabits per second. In his budget, Governor Walz made a smaller recommendation of $50 million for the next two years.

Continue reading

Governor Walz releases his budget

On January 26, Governor Walz released his budget recommendations for 2022-2023. The budget proposes spending $52.4 billion over the next two years, which includes $1.3 billion in new spending. To address the currently projected $1.273 billion deficit and to support the proposed budget, Governor Walz recommended the following:

  • Spend down the budget reserve by $1 billion
  • Shift $130 million from the stadium reserves
  • Carry over $217 million from the current fiscal year surplus of $638 million to the next biennium
  • Generate $1.6 billion in new revenue by creating a fifth income tax tier for those making more than $1 million per year
Continue reading

Webinar to explore what happens to the rural workforce during a pandemic

The Center for Rural Policy and Development (CRPD) is gathering a panel of experts to discuss the findings of its latest research, Pandemic paints a different employment picture in rural Minnesota.”  Join the webinar from 2:30-4 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 21 as they explore the current realities of unemployment, the ongoing problem of high job vacancies in rural Minnesota, and the possibilities created by their convergence. They will also be looking at recommendations to help move rural Minnesota forward on positive footing.

Register for the webinar here.

If you have any questions, please email crpd@ruralmn.org.