Racial justice committee wants $1 billion to ‘dismantle systemic racism’ in Minnesota

Racism was declared a public health crisis by the Minnesota House in July. As a result of this, the Select Committee on Racial Justice has been “analyzing legislative efforts through an intersectional race and equity lens” since early fall.

Minnesota Capitol Building in St. Paul/ Unsplash stock photo

In a report issued last week, the House Select Committee on Racial Justice recommended new funding and policies to rid Minnesota of “systemic racism.”

The committee’s recommendations include financial backing for “economic development, housing, education, public safety, health and human services, and environmental justice.”

Specifically, the committee wants $1 billion to go toward a Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Capital Fund, which would provide funding for grants, equity, loans, “cultural malls, corridors, destinations, [and] districts,” “business incubators and maker spaces,” the “development of organizations serving BIPOC businesses and workers,” and more.

Racism was declared a public health crisis by the Minnesota House in July. As a result of this, the Select Committee on Racial Justice has been “analyzing legislative efforts through an intersectional race and equity lens” since early fall.

In a news release, co-chair Rep. Ruth Richardson, DFL-Mendota Heights, cited COVID-19 and the “senseless murder of George Floyd” as events that have shed light “on the historical and contemporary injustices that are still embedded in our society.”

“I’m proud of the Select Committee’s hard work this year to help Minnesotans understand the historical context behind systemic racism, and to give the unacceptable racial disparities throughout the state the attention they deserve,” said Rep. Rena Moran, DFL-St. Paul, co-chair of the Select Committee.

Moran urged the Legislature to go through with the funding recommendations to “help Black, Indigenous, and People of Color live healthy, safe, and prosperous lives full of opportunity to reach their full potential.”

“Next year the Legislature will create a new budget, and this select committee’s recommendations — and the voices it is lifting up — should be at the center of our work,” said House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley.

Rep. Jeremy Munson, R-Lake Crystal, posted a statement on Facebook regarding the Select Committee’s proposal, declaring that Democrats are “unabashedly partisan from the gavel’s drop,” whereas Republicans are more likely to begin with a compromising action. Munson wrote, “Proposals like this one, spending an extra billion on new programs declaring racism a public health crisis, will move the negotiations even further from reality.”

“Unlike federal lawmakers, which lack the moral or constitutional obligation to balance the budget, MN state lawmakers are constitutionally required to spend no more than we take from the taxpayers,” he wrote.

Next year’s budget negotiations will have to address an expected $1.2 billion deficit for the 2022-23 biennium, which begins in July 2021, though Munson pointed out that the budget forecast assumes “the government will spend MORE while the people are making less.”

“In some desperate acts of compromise, both sides agreed to grow the government every year automatically,” he continued. “If this wasn’t an assumption, and the government kept spending at the current budget, we would have a $2.8 billion surplus next year. Don’t let RINOs tell you the growth is the law. When we pass a budget, it becomes law. We could actually reduce spending instead of ‘slowing the growth.’”

Munson encouraged readers to reread his points and “tell a friend.”