Last November, for the first time in a decade, Minnesotans entrusted DFLers with full control of state government. They were clear that they wanted to see an end to the era of gridlock in divided government. DFLers were focused on the issues Minnesotans across the state value and told us they cared about: investing in public education, making health care more affordable and building an economy that works better for everyone.
We also heard clearly in the election that Minnesotans wanted us to protect reproductive freedom, take action on climate change, address gun violence and strengthen our democracy.
With the work of the session finished on time and a new two-year state budget in place, Democrats delivered for the people of Minnesota and worked to do the most good for the most people.
Minnesota has long been known as the education state, but we've been coasting on past accomplishments for far too long. This year, we made historic investments in every level of education, from early care and learning through higher education and job training. We enacted universal school meals, worked to make child care more affordable and to expand early education scholarships, made significant investments in the general funding formula and indexed it to inflation, cut the special education cross-subsidy in half, froze tuition at Minnesota State colleges and made college tuition free for families making less than $80,000 a year.
All Minnesotans deserve quality, affordable health care. Our budget includes a Prescription Drug Affordability Board to reduce drug costs and caps copays for prescription drugs to treat chronic diseases, including insulin, inhalers and EpiPens, at $25 for one month's supply.
And at a time when care facilities are struggling to recruit and retain workers, DFLers made substantial investments to raise wages for those in caregiving professions.
Many people feel like the economy is tilted against them. DFLers fought for workers and families, passing paid family and medical leave, earned sick and safe time, historic investments in infrastructure and housing affordability, and improved worker safety for those in warehouses, meatpacking facilities and refineries. Our budget makes our tax system fairer, will reduce childhood poverty by 33% and targets the largest tax cuts in state history to those who need help the most.
While Republicans in Minnesota and across the country pursue extreme abortion bans, DFLers defended reproductive freedom through the Protect Reproductive Options Act and by repealing unconstitutional, outdated, unjust and harmful statutes. We passed protections for doctors and patients who need access to the full range of reproductive health care options.
The climate crisis is one of the greatest threats to Minnesota's future. In the face of Republican denials that climate change is real, DFLers took action, requiring 100% clean energy by 2040 and making investments to boost our economy, lower energy costs and ensure Minnesota is a clean energy leader.
Minnesotans deserve to be safe at school, at work, at home and in their communities. After more than a decade of heartbreak from gun violence, DFLers passed commonsense measures like criminal background checks and red flag laws to keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them. These laws will save lives in Minnesota.
In the last election, Minnesotans said loudly that they were tired of extremism, insurrectionists, violent political rhetoric and those who would seek to undermine our democracy. We responded with the Democracy for the People Act, which strengthens access to voting with automatic voter registration; allows 16- and 17-year-olds to preregister to vote; allows all voters to choose to vote by mail on a permanent absentee-ballot list; prohibits voter intimidation, harassment and deceptive practices intended to interfere with the vote, and more. Our democracy works best when all Minnesotans have the opportunity to participate and make their voices heard.
This session was full of accomplishments, but while we've made historic progress, we understand that a single legislative session can't solve every challenge.
The good work accomplished over the past five months will benefit Minnesotans for generations to come. Democrats will continue to listen to Minnesotans about the things they value most and work to build a Minnesota that works better for everyone.
Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, is the speaker of the Minnesota House. Kari Dziedzic, DFL-Minneapolis, is majority leader of the Minnesota Senate.