I grew up in this state. To me, Minnesota is not what it used to be. I grew up in a middle class family. My parents did not have to go to college to afford a home and raise their family comfortably and in a safe neighborhood. This isn’t the case anymore. My family has been affected by our failing economy, the same as many across the state.
My approach to issues is that they are all connected. We must be committed to fully understanding the issues we face, and their interconnectedness, in order to create the solutions we need to move our state forward.
If we need more parents working, we must have affordable childcare in place and transportation to get them there. If we want a robust and dynamic workforce, we need to ensure students across the state are receiving the education necessary to prepare them to work in the 21st century. People need housing that they can afford in communities with good schools for their kids so they can be involved in their education.
As a person of faith, I am struck by the rising number of people living in poverty. One out of 10 families in Minnesota are now living below the poverty line. In St. Cloud School District 742, more than half of the students receive free or reduced-price lunch. More than 400 students were documented as homeless this past year and many believe the actual number is much higher. From 2007 to 2011, more than 8,000 homes were foreclosed in the St. Cloud tri-county area. These issues are not unique to St. Cloud.
Over the past two years, my organizing work on transportation has reinforced the idea that families and people across the state are hurting. Many Minnesotans have trouble putting food on the table, accessing reliable transportation to get to work or school, or paying healthcare bills. In faith communities across the state, I have heard people talk about food insecurity. Increasingly it isn’t just access to food that is the problem; it is whether families can get to the food shelter. Transportation is not only about getting to work and school for many families today. For some, it is about whether they will have food.
I will work to strengthen the systems that affect many of us and the livelihoods of our families and communities. I want more access to affordable health care, housing and childcare for Minnesotans. We need policies such as paid family leave, which would protect families and create a healthier business climate. I am committed to working across party lines to address these issues and look for solutions that will strengthen our economy, create more efficiencies and have broad impact for families across our state.