Race and Inequality
“To address the problems surrounding inequality, race, and justice will take a lot of hard work by a lot of people, in every community, and from every walk of life. We have to change the political, economic and social structures that continue to contribute to our present experience.”
If we want to make progress, poverty and inequality must to be alleviated. We need a living wage of $15 an hour. The free tuition I have proposed for our technical colleges and 2-year campuses removes a barrier for everyone to have access to technical skills or a college education.
We must change our criminal laws so we are not jailing twice as many of our citizens as Minnesota. Truth in Sentencing standards need to be changed. Bail procedures must be changed. We need more effective probation and parole. Supports are essential in helping those released from prison to reintegrate into our communities. We need treatment alternatives to prison for those with substance abuse and mental health problems.
By taking the federal Medicaid expansion money, and freeing up state money, I propose making a big investment in community-based mental health services. My proposal includes preventive mental health services, culturally competent mental health professionals, youth counselors and addiction recovery programs.
We must improve our inner city public schools. We must recognize that many children from low income families cost more to educate because their parents didn’t have the resources to prepare them for kindergarten. Changes to our funding formula that address the pervasive effects of poverty will help both urban and rural districts.
We need free drivers’ education available to every youth, preferably in their own school. We need a big influx of state dollars into mass transit so everyone has a reliable way to and from work. Bus routes should be expanded, not cut. Too long the state has starved communities of mass transit dollars. We need summer programs for youth, mentorships and youth job programs.
We need to expand home ownership. Take the empty houses and turn families now renting into home owners. As Governor, I would create a private public partnership to renovate inner city abandoned houses and turn them into owner occupied homes.
By working with local financial institutions, nonprofits and minority-owned and union construction companies, we can make home ownership a reality for families. We can reduce the crime and drug activity that too often happens in abandoned houses.
Neighborhoods with a higher percentage of owner occupied homes are more stable. Affordable homes are an essential part of building community.
We must also reform our rental housing laws so landlords are held accountable to maintain the properties they own. Renters are not evicted unjustifiably, and a prior conviction or eviction cannot be held against a renter.
We need to build trust between our citizens and law enforcement. President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing shows us detailed steps toward building this trust.
Finally, we must move toward more local control so that people who live in a community have a real say in how the community is run. Those who are closest to the problem are also closest to the solution.
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