Minnesota AFL-CIO President Bill McCarthy responded to news the state budget is projected to have $7.7 billion in unallocated funds:
“Thanks to Governor Walz’s stewardship, Minnesota continues to be on firm fiscal ground and in a unique position to invest in working Minnesotans and our families, strengthen our infrastructure, and work to close persistent racial and economic inequalities in our state.
“With additional money available, we can provide greater compensation payments to all frontline workers who continue to put their health and families at risk to do their jobs in person during a global pandemic.
“To further support workers, Minnesota should finally act on creating a paid family and medical leave program. Working people should never be forced to choose between a paycheck and taking care of themselves and the people they love, and lawmakers can take action so we never have to make that choice again.
“Today’s announcement means Minnesota can take full advantage of the recently passed federal ‘Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.’ State investments in roads, bridges, and other critical infrastructure in our communities will mean federal matching funds that will create tens of thousands of family-sustaining union construction jobs.
“With more resources available, we can make significant strides to fully fund our public schools, where both students and educators continue to feel effects from both the pandemic and years of inadequate investments.
“The pandemic has taught us the importance of our high-quality healthcare workers and infrastructure. Lawmakers should take further steps to ensure all Minnesotans can access and afford the healthcare they need.
“Despite our success in many measures of well-being, Minnesota continues to have some of the worst racial disparities in the nation. While it’s not a problem we can fix overnight, we know that economic justice is also racial justice. Making investments in these and other areas will make a significant impact towards closing Minnesota’s disparities.
“The 2022 Legislative session is quickly approaching and working Minnesotans will be closely watching to see whether our lawmakers stand with us or the narrow corporate interests seeking to line their pockets with surplus dollars.”