InForum: Letter: Investing in families should be a top priority for Minnesota legislators

Some of Minnesota’s elected leaders have pledged to create the most child-friendly state budget in the nation. To accomplish this goal, our Legislature must prioritize needs over wants—just like every hardworking Minnesota family. And the first thing Minnesota families with dependent children need is a state child tax credit (CTC).

Taking care of first things first

To sustain a flourishing state, our Legislature must prioritize the well-being of Minnesota’s most critical infrastructure— its families. When families budget, they start with the essentials, look to their children’s needs, and then try to get top value for every dollar. Families are frequently required to make difficult choices to sustain their households. Our lawmakers should follow suit.

Investing in families should be a top priority because many, if not most, of the social problems that state government spends money to address arise from the breakdowns in the family unit. Families are the most important contributors to society. The family plays a unique role as the first economic unit, the first classroom, and the first community that each of us experience.

Yet, mounting economic stress on the family has led to declining rates of marriage and childbearing, as well as family fragmentation and rising substance abuse. Although promoting greater economic security is not a silver bullet to cure what ails society, it is certainly an important start. Healthy families lead to healthier children who develop into more responsible adults.

Flexibility is what families need

Minnesota has the fiscal resources to elevate itself as the best state in the nation to raise children and be a child; the only remaining ingredient is political will. Dedicating around $1.25 billion dollars annually towards a new, fully refundable Minnesota CTC should be an easy “aye” vote, especially when one considers that the next biennial state budget is projected to be nearly $54 billion dollars. Health and Human Services expenditures are projected to account for 33% of that budget, while E-12 Education will comprise nearly 40%. Surely, we can make an annual commitment of about 4% of the biennial budget to properly provision the families who are doing the irreplaceable work of nurturing the next generation of thinkers, artisans and caregivers.

Continue reading the complete letter to the editor on InForum.

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