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ENEWS: Help Us Fight for Minnesota Equity & Against Pandemic’s Inequalities

Date Published: 05/08/2020

Author: Jane Leonard

Give At Home MN for Growth & Justice, Please!

Special message from Growth & Justice President Jane Leonard:  “We urgently need your financial support this week.  As a part of the Covid-19 #GiveAtHomeMN fundraising campaign for non-profits and schools, we’ve created a special fundraiser page for Growth & Justice, at  https://www.givemn.org/story/Equityblueprint and I’ve  kicked off the donations with a gift of my own.   Please consider a donation yourself at this special fundraiser site.  The #GiveAtHomeMN donations will be used to support dissemination of and conversations on the Minnesota Equity Blueprint this spring and summer via virtual events (which  had originally been planned as face-to-face gatherings).   Our Blueprint is a uniquely comprehensive document that will serve as a guidebook to rebuilding a more equitable and inclusive Minnesota.’’

Fighting for Federal Aid to the States

Growth & Justice has joined dozens of non-profit organizations in a letter to Minnesota’s congressional delegation,  urging members to fight hard for increased federal assistance to the states and local governments as they grapple with pandemic damage to public health and their economies.   For better or worse, the federal government is largely deferring to the states to chart their own course and a compelling case for helping states meet those challenges  is laid out in a brief by the Minnesota Budget Project.  A crucial point:   Minnesota has long been a net contributor to the federal government, paying billions more in taxes that it receives back in federal outlays.   A recent Star Tribune editorial makes a strong argument for federal aid to both blue and red states, noting that the former are net contributors to the federal coffers while the latter tend to be net recipients.   Minnesota, for instance, gets only 53 cents for every dollar paid in federal taxes, while Kentucky receives $1.49 for every dollar paid.

Pandemic Widens Existing Inequalities

Evidence continues to mount documenting  the pandemic’s devastating impact on existing racial, regional and overall economic inequality.     A recent MinnPost story details how the pandemic is accentuating existing racial disparities in employment and income.    A recent Mother Jones article focuses on North Minneapolis print shop owner whose business has been crippled by the pandemic and has found promised federal and state aid hard to obtain.  And NBC News recently examined the question with a report headlined “Why Are So Many Black Businesses Shut Out of PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) Loans.”

Justice & Growth: Ending Driver’s License Suspensions for Unpaid Fees

Writing in the MinnPost Community Voices feature this week, three county attorneys representing the MN County Attorneys Association -- from rural, suburban, and urban Minnesota -- called for support of HF 1061/SF 1376 to stop the practice of suspending driver’s licenses due to unpaid traffic tickets. The authors, Karin Sonneman (Winona County), James Backstrom (Dakota County), and John Choi (Ramsey County), noted that the current practice causes detrimental and unintended consequences: people lose their jobs, already strained law enforcement and prosecution resources are further strained, and more uninsured drivers are on the road. “Driver’s license suspensions should be reserved for the sole purpose of ensuring safe roads, not demanding payment from people who may be struggling to meet their families’ basic needs.” (Special note: Karin Sonneman is the twin sister of Growth & Justice President Jane Leonard.)


“The African American population has little or nothing when it comes to commercial stores, businesses, housing—you know, in terms of ownership…and the coronavirus crisis is only making things worse…The existing population is losing ground.”—K.B. Brown, owner of North Minneapolis print shop, in Mother Jones article cited above.

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