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Governor’s Budget Gets it Right on Equity and Inclusion

Bruce P. Corrie, PhD

Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith together with their team led by Chief of Staff, Jaime Tincher have slowly put pieces together to help get it right in terms of strategies for equity and inclusion in Minnesota. The Governor’s latest budget sets the right tone for this strategy. Integrated into every major spending category across most departments is a section explaining how that particular program fits with the goal of equity and inclusion, defined in very broad terms to include not only traditionally underrepresented populations but also rural Minnesota.

Governor Dayton embracing the mother of a homeless child after hearing about the child’s academic success (St. Paul’s Promise Neighborhood).

The key benefit of such a strategy where equity and inclusion is an integral part of government is that it helps to ensure that all Minnesotans benefit from government policies and programs. This strategy will also allow the process to go deeper at the program level to ensure that the diversity between and within groups are incorporated into policies and programs. In education for example, special attention to Karen students, in entrepreneurship programs for minority female entrepreneurs, in health care a focus on genetic patterns for diseases between ethnic groups, in workforce programs the integration of people with disabilities and so on. This effort will ensure that government operates with operational efficiency and cultural intelligence.

The major achievement is that all Minnesota state agencies are aligned in their thinking and beginning to ask the core question – Is this policy or program working for all Minnesotans?

Governor Dayton showed exemplary leadership during his state of the state address when he told Minnesotans, Some people want Minnesotans, who are different from them, to “go away.” In Minnesota today, children, teenagers, and adults are arriving at school or work to find words of racial hatred, religious bigotry, or other smears written on their walls, lockers, and bathroom stalls. This ugliness has no place in our schools, our workplaces, or our communities – and each of us has a responsibility to stand up, and snuff it out.”

Over 40 organizations joined to ask leaders to make a clear statement that Minnesota is open and welcoming to all. Governor Dayton chose the right time and place to make this strong statement.

When Governor Dayton fainted during his State of the State speech our spirits fainted too, not just for Mark Dayton the man, but Governor Mark Dayton a strong and courageous leader who has always stood side by side with the minority and immigrant communities.

His budget is the first one in recent memory that clearly and intentionally works to get it right for all Minnesotans.

Thank You Governor and Happy 70th Birthday!