We must ensure that women have no barriers to the education and training that will qualify them for the work of their choice, and we must support affirmative action (and pass legislation where needed) so they are not discriminated against when they apply for jobs for which they are qualified. Also, wage discrimination must not be tolerated. Finally, we must encourage girls and young women to consider jobs and professions that have been dominated by men. Women already in such occupations are important role models. As a legislator, I would support and/or introduce legislation protecting women’s rights at all stages of their lives, including freedom of reproductive health choices and paid family leave, which disproportionally affect women.
I strongly support pre-K to ensure school readiness and full funding for K-12. When our children are well-educated, they graduate as young adults who are productive members of our community. It’s in Minnesota’s economic self-interest to invest in tomorrow’s workforce and keep our reputation as a state where employers can find the employees they need. However, our state’s share of public school funding is (in real dollars) about 9% less than 15 years ago. This leads to teacher and staff layoffs, bigger classes, fewer student services, and often higher property taxes. To avoid these consequences, I would urge passage of a bill that fully funds public education by creating a dedicated fund that cannot be tapped for non-educational purposes.
The nonpartisan Minnesota Budget Project reports that income inequality between Minnesota’s richest and poorest households continues to increase. As they note, this can be bad for the economy: as those in low- and middle-income households have less to spend, the state’s overall economy suffers. Therefore, to build a vibrant economy in Minnesota, I would emphasize reducing income inequality. Steps to achieve this would include increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour, making health care and child care more affordable, and seeing that a good education is provided to our emerging workforce, i.e., our children. When all of our fellow citizens have an opportunity to thrive, so does our state.
Gun violence is a problem in our state, and in the United States generally. Therefore I support the passage of sensible gun laws. These would include: a “red flag” law that would allow use of a civil order to temporarily take a gun from someone deemed to be a danger to himself/herself or others; a law requiring a criminal background check for every gun sale in our state; and a bill that would allow the Minnesota Department of Health to collect data on gun ownership and gun violence, for the purpose of public health research. None of these measures would infringe on Minnesotans’ Second Amendment rights, which are understandably treasured by so many of our citizens.
Our current immigration policy allows for cruel excesses, such as separating parents from their children at the border. Also, I am skeptical that the construction of a border wall will effectively address the situation. I oppose proposals to reduce legal levels of immigration. I support citizenship for the “Dreamers” (people brought here as children, many of whom are now adults with jobs). I would also like to see pathways to citizenship for other undocumented people who are longtime US residents and have been productive members of society. Given the complexity of the issue, innovative ideas should be explored, such as short-term visas for needed workers and private family adoption of refugees.