Seeking common ground -- between left and right, DFLers and Republicans, social justice advocates and business leaders – has always been our modus operandi at Growth & Justice. We often say that the ampersand is the most important character in our label. In that spirit, our op-ed in the Star Tribune last week praised recent commentary by conservatives agreeing that inequality is becoming an existential problem. We noted how liberals are acknowledging a neglect of rural disparities, and we urged consideration and action on our One Minnesota Equity Blueprint legislative priorities released the previous week. As we say in the op-ed: “We are committed to a practical and business-minded equity imperative, writ large, strongly integrated with climate action and rebuilding our physical infrastructure. We believe that our damaging disparities are deeply interrelated, that these inequalities are limiting our human potential in rural regions, which also are becoming more racially diverse, and in metro Minnesota, too. All our regions can benefit from the jobs and private-sector growth stimulated by new investments in human capital, climate action and infrastructure renewal.”
In keeping with our ever stronger emphasis on climate action and environment, Growth & Justice has joined the nascent 100% Campaign, just now getting underway. Integrating equity concerns with environmental priorities in public policy advocacy has become crucially important, and we embrace the “Who We Are’’ statement on the campaign website. It says: “The 100% Campaign is grounded in the idea that ‘to change everything, we need everyone.’ We are organizing a cross-sector, statewide, multi-racial, intersectional campaign to build an equitable clean energy economy that works for everyone in Minnesota.’’ Bi-partisan public support for climate action is growing fast, according to recent polls. And the case for urgency was hammered home last week in several hours of testimony with fresh research reports from scientists and economics experts in front of the Minnesota House Energy and Climate Policy Committee. MPR’s Elizabeth Dunbar provided quality coverage on both the “House committee climate change boot camp” and a feature story about a U of M doctor warning of health impacts from climate changes, especially for lower-income populations.
Urgency around the child-care crisis in Greater Minnesota, and emergence of the issue as a primary obstacle to economic growth, came through loud and clear in a southwestern Minnesota conference covered by the Pipestone County Star. A spokesperson for a local ag processing company reported that the company can’t find daycare for their second shift parents, that infant care is nonexistent and that the “cost is astronomical” when employees are making $13-$14 an hour. Extremely low pay for child-care providers also emerged as a key contributor to the crisis. Our policy priorities for the 2019 Legislature puts child-care under the Economic Development label and we put a strong emphasis on lifting pay and benefits so that working people are not poor. Here’s what we say about general direction for child-care that serves both rural and metro parents and kids: “Increase investment in widening access to quality child care for (working or studying) families, by increasing funding for CCAP and assisting communities in Greater Minnesota to develop more robust child care solutions for working families.”
“By the middle of this century, summertime conditions for Faribault are projected to be similar to the conditions currently felt over 500 miles or farther to the South…the equivalent of moving the city 315 feet south every day.” – From PowerPoint delivered by Jessica Gutknecht, assistant professor at the University of Minnesota’s Department of Soil, Water and Climate.