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Opinion editor's note: Star Tribune Opinion publishes a mix of national and local commentaries online and in print each day. To contribute, click here. This article was written by Melissa Hortman, speaker of the Minnesota House, and Erin Murphy, majority leader of the Minnesota Senate.


What a difference a year makes.

In the last election, Minnesotans made clear that they were tired of the gridlock that had obstructed progress on the things they care about: investing in public education, making health care more affordable, keeping their communities safe, protecting their freedoms and lowering their costs.

So, in 2023, after Minnesotans elected a DFL majority in both the House and the Senate, we let them know that we had heard them. Their long-delayed priorities became our priorities, and we went about the job of building a state and an economy that works for everyone. In short, Democrats delivered not only a balanced two-year budget, but also the most productive legislative session in 50 years, and the positive impact of that work will be felt by Minnesota families and communities for generations.

We made historic investments in public education, from early care and learning through higher education and job training. To help keep money in the pockets of families week after week, we enacted universal free school meals. And to give middle-income college students a helping hand entering the workforce without debt, we enacted free college for families making less than $80,000 a year.

The DFL budget improved tax fairness, included the largest tax cut in state history and created a new Child Tax Credit that is already delivering on its promise of reducing childhood poverty by one-third. In just the first two weeks of tax filings, nearly 90,000 Minnesota children have benefited, with families across the state receiving an average credit of $1,373. We will continue working to ensure that the nearly 300,000 households — including 513,000 children — who are eligible for the credit know that they can claim it, totaling more than $1 billion in savings. That same tax package included public safety funding of $300 million that will help keep Minnesota communities safe.

Looking to our state's future well-being, we put Minnesota on a pathway to 100% clean energy by 2040, enacted commonsense measures like criminal background checks and red-flag laws to reduce gun violence, and strengthened access to voting and our democratic institutions. Our budget capped copays for prescription drugs to treat diabetes, asthma and allergies at $25 for one month's supply. We passed paid family and medical leave, earned sick and safe time, and historic investments in infrastructure and housing affordability.

And importantly, we protected and expanded the fundamental rights of Minnesotans to receive the care they need to live full lives, including guaranteeing the right to reproductive health care.

We're excited about the investments we're making in the people of Minnesota, and as the budget is implemented, we're committed to ensuring they make a positive difference for families and communities.

As the 2024 legislative session begins, we are focused on improving, protecting and building on the progress we have already made for Minnesotans.

With the state's two-year budget in place, the major work of the 2024 session will be a capital investment bill. Democrats are committed to investing in vital infrastructure through a robust, statewide local jobs and projects package. We were able to work together in a bipartisan fashion last session to pass the largest infrastructure package in state history. That measure will be felt across the state as it revitalizes our communities, strengthens our infrastructure and creates thousands of good Minnesota jobs.

In recent months, House and Senate lawmakers have traveled the state meeting with hundreds of community leaders to plan another bipartisan bill to deliver job-creating public works projects. By fixing our roads and bridges, repairing and improving assets at our colleges and universities, protecting natural resources and more, we can keep Minnesota on the path to long-term success.

While corporate profits soar, working families are still facing challenges to make ends meet and are feeling uncertain about their future. DFLers will continue our efforts to ensure Minnesotans are safe in the workplace, that they can access jobs with wages and benefits that can support a family, and that they have every opportunity to build a good life and enjoy a secure retirement.

Most of all, DFLers will continue working side by side with our neighbors and community members — rooted in the values we all share — to meet Minnesotans where they are, to improve people's lives, and build a Minnesota where everyone has the chance to succeed.

Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, is the speaker of the Minnesota House. Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul, is majority leader of the Minnesota Senate.