e know, from years of research acrossour country, that disparities in income,education, health care and other issuesexist for people of color, and while it’s hard tosingle out just one issue, I believe thatimproving access to health care is an importantstep forward.Minnesota has prioritized improving outcomesin health care for people of color through theEliminating Health Disparities Initiative. Asgovernor, I will continue to focus on changes toour health care system that truly prioritize acommitment to quality of care for all peopleregardless of their income level or insurancecoverage. We have to make sure that in 2015,and 2020 and beyond, our state’s health caredelivery system will look very different.
How will you supportpartnerships and systemsintegration to eliminate theeducation Achievement Gap?
I am concerned that recent studies by theUniversity of Minnesota’s Institute on Race andPoverty show a dramatic increase in schoolsegregation in our region. As Governor I willcontinue to pursue a New Minnesota Miracle, acomprehensive education funding reformsystem that will provide stable, equitableinvestments to all schools in our state. The NewMinnesota Miracle will also fully fund the stateshare of kindergarten and special education.As governor, I also will direct the MetropolitanCouncil to work with the Department of Education to address issues of housing andracial isolation that will help to close theachievement gap.We know that a focus on early childhooddevelopment, from birth to five, help ourchildren succeed academically as they grow, andI am a strong believer in funding and improvingthose programs.I also think there are ways to work with schoolsto narrow the achievement gap, by looking atinitiatives that cultivate achievement in theirstudents who live in challenging socio-economic backgrounds.
What will you do to increasehiring and contracting ofpeople of color by Minnesotagovernment units?
I am very supportive of the HIRE Minnesotacoalition’s efforts to hold MN Department of Transportation (DOT) accountable for reachingFederal goals for hiring people of color. DOThas fallen far short of these goals, and this isespecially problematic with hundreds of millions of Recovery Act monies coming intothe state for new construction projects. I willensure that all state agencies live up to theircommitments and obligations for hiring peopleof color.
What will you do, throughpolicy and practice, to makebest use of public resourcesfor Justice and Public Safetysystem reform?
Everyone deserves to live in a safeneighborhood, and I support law enforcementefforts to provide that safety and security to allof Minnesota’s families. However, it’s importantto speak out against practices thatdisproportionally single out one group and toaddress any imbalance in the justice system. Asgovernor, I would take the initiative to reallylook at whether penalties are handed downfairly, and also look at ways to reach out toyouth to focus on crime prevention andeducation.
What are your keyimmigration relatedconcerns, and how will yougo about addressing them asgovernor? How will youensure that our systemssolutions meet the needs ofnew Americans?
I am concerned that immigration continues to beused as a wedge issue. We cannot allow oursociety to be divided where immigrants arefalsely blamed and demonized for a variety of issues, including our economic crisis. I willensure that immigrants’human rights areprotected, and that New American’s needs areaddressed particularly in education and highereducation opportunities
Please reflect on your keyconcerns regarding the rightsand responsibilities of tribalgovernments, and upon thedirections you will pursue inthis area as governor.
I have a history of working with tribalgovernments, and honor the relationships wehave with tribes across the state. As Governor, Iwill respect Tribal Sovereignty. As Speaker of the House, I have, for the last three years,offered an Indian Law 101 seminar to educatepolicymakers on interactions between tribal andstate government. I also believe we have tohonor the gaming compacts with our tribes.
How will you make certainthat the Central Corridor LRTproject serves and advancesthe needs of residents,businesses andneighborhoods in closestproximity to the line?
As Speaker, I worked hard during the 2008legislative session to organize a diversecoalition of people to successfully override thegovernor’s veto of a transportation bill. Not onlywas this bill one of the largest job-creating billsin decades, it also helped fund new transitprojects such as the Central Corridor Light RailTransit system.
How do you reflect on the general preponderance of disparateoutcomes for people of color in Minnesota? Are there any inparticular that are of special concern to you? What is yourplan to address them?
Margaret Anderson Kelliher