ASWAR RAHMAN'S ECONOMIC PLAN
The economic future of Minneapolis depends heavily on the decisions made in the Mayor’s Office over the next four years.
The core of my economic mission is to reduce the poverty rate of our city. We are at a staggering 25.3% – higher than New York City. Besides the moral dissonance of having a prosperous city and so many impoverished people, our dramatically high poverty rate is a massive strain on our city’s economy. Our current crisis in violent crime, our rising unaffordability in housing, inequities in education and justic, and just about every major issue in our city has its roots in our deep rooted poverty.
Here is the plan, to be enacted with full vigor over the coming four years, to strengthen and bolster our economy by reducing poverty.
1. Free UP $70,000,000/yr. IN CITY BUDGET
The following changes will be made to the budget over four years to free up $283m over 4 years (~$70m/yr).
The total budget of the city is approximately $1.3b, meaning this is 5.3% of the annual budget.
+$42,452,000 by replacing Meet Minneapolis with leaner marketing approach, funded by hospitality sector.
+$9,640,000 by capping Regulatory Special Revenue Operating Costs at 2020 levels.
+$19,400,000 by capping Traffic and Parking Capital fund to 2016 level.
+$101,800,000 by capping Public Water Works Capital to 2020 level.
+$17,136,000 by capping Self Insurance Fund Liability to pre-2016 level.
+$10,500,000 by cancelling Convention center plaza and related remodelling projects.
+$1,130,652 by capping City Coordinator General Capital to 2016 level.
+$12,467,568 by capping City Coordinator Internal Service Capital to 2016 level
+$5,737,616 by capping City Coordinator General Contractual Services Bring to 2014 level.
+$4,121,516 by capping City Coordinator Special Revenue Contractual Services at 2014 level.
+$6,722,824 by capping Finance and Property Department Internal Contractual Services at 2016 level.
+$1,337,920 by capping Human Resources Contracts at 2016 level.
+$14,547,568 by capping Information Technology Internal Capital at 2016 level.
+$1,551,476 by capping Intergovernmental Relations Special Revenue Capital Return to 2016 level
+$2,178,340 by capping Civil Rights General Department Salaries at 2016 level
+$760,936 by capping Civil Rights Department General Fringe Benefits at 2016 level
+$198,212 by capping Civil Rights Special Revenue Fringe Benefits at 2016 level
+$2,095,924 by capping CPED Special Revenue Operating Costs at 2016 level
+$12,531,872 by capping Public Works Contract Services to 2014-2016 levels
+$3,659,644 by capping Traffic and Parking Enterprise Operating Costs at 2014-2016 levels
+$12,412,184 by capping Transportation Planning and Engineering Capital Project Contractual Services at 2016 level
+$1,240,000 by matching Mayor and City Council Salaries to average household income (~$50k)
For details on the city’s current budget, visit http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/finance/budget/WCMSP-184999
2. Reserve 25% of FUND
It is crucial to set aside a sizeable portion of this newly recovered fund for contingencies. This will amount to roughly $20m.
3. INVEST $10M/YR. IN MCTC'S LOW-INCOME ENROLLMENT PROGRAM
MCTC is an exceptional institution that routinely changes lives in Minneapolis. Their programs, from aviation to tool-and-dye to nursing, provide high-paying jobs that lift entire families out of poverty.
MCTC currently has to turn away 75% of its low-income aid-seekers, due to a shortage of private funds – not a single public penny supports this program. This is an unacceptable situation.
We are going to face a workforce shortage in Minnesota soon. I want the residents of our city to be positioned to benefit from this shortage by creating the next generation of high-income workers for the state.
This investment will essentially make higher education and job training affordable to 25,000 students in Minneapolis.
4. Invest $20m/yr. in UNIVERSAL PRE-SCHOOL ENROLLMENT
Early childhood care is the most crucial long term investment our city can and must make. Life-long health, educational achievement, and, ultimately, poverty are all directly linked to the condition of one’s early childhood.
Pre-school enrollment is an economic godsend for families in poverty. The sheer cost of private childcare can make full-time employment impossible, particularly for single-parent households. The city’s investment will mean higher employment for parents in working poor households.
Pre-school is the strongest way to diminish the achievement gap. Currenty, our students of low-income backgrounds are academically disadvantaged long before they even begin school. Quality, accessible pre-school will bring the quality of early childhood development up to par for all children in Minneapolis, meaning they will be able to study on equal footing regardless of the wealth of their households.
$20 million per year will effectively cover every child in an impoverished household in Minneapolis, and hundreds more. Minneapolis, according to census data, currently has about 13,000 children ages 3 and 4. At the cost of roughly $5,000 per student, 4,000 children ages 3 and 4 will be qualified for the program.
5. INVEST $10m/YR. IN SMALL BUSINESS JOB GRANTS
Job growth is critically needed, particularly in low-income areas in Minneapolis. Unemployment for minority groups in particular is close to double-digits. This should be of grave concern to any observant resident.
This program is focused on small businesses in low-income areas as these will create the jobs most likely to be filled by unemployed residents. Any business with less than 10 employees which presents a qualified plan to add new employee positions, and retention plans for at least one year, will be given a grant, not to exceed $4,000 per employee, to be used towards intake costs and wage guarantee.
10,000 jobs will be created over 4 years, and will forseeably reduce our minority unemployment rate by up to 3 percentage points.
6. INVEST $5m/YR. IN YEAR-ROUND YOUTH EMPLOYMENT
The Step Up program will be expanded. The enormously successful summer youth employment program deserves an expansion into a year-round program, still tasked with providing gainful employment to 16-21 year olds in the city. The program will, of course, be on a part-time basis during the academic year, so as not to interfere with studies. In the summer, the employment may be part- or full-time.
7. INVEST $5m/YR. IN EMPTY STOREFRONTS GRANT
Empty storefronts are a blight on the community and have been strongly linked with rises in crime and lowering of quality of life for neighbors.
New tenants for long-empty storefronts will be provided a grant to help in its rehabiliation. This grant is not to exceed $10,000 per storefront. This program will be in part funded by new fees for storefront owners/landlords who are found to chronically neglect their space.
8. CREATE ANNUAL ASSESSMENT FOR MINIMUM WAGE IMPLEMENTATION
The biggest wildcard for our economic growth in the next four years will be the effect of the new minimum wage legislation. A full annual assessment is necessary to ensure that we implement this ordinance without causing economic harm. This assessment will be funded as a line item in our budget, to cost no more than $500,000.