Saint Paul, Minn. — Today, the Minnesota House Ways and Means Committee passed HF 90, a bill designed to adequately fund Minnesota’s public defense system. The bill passed with a unanimous voice vote and was referred to the General Register where it awaits a vote on the House floor. Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn (DFL - Roseville), lead author of the bill and Chair of the House Judiciary Finance & Civil Law Committee, released the following statement:
“The funding this bill provides will ensure Minnesota meets its Constitutional obligation to provide justice for all,” said Rep. Becker-Finn. “This necessary funding is not a luxury, but is the least we can do to provide Minnesotans the rights they are entitled to.”
Minnesota’s public defense system has been chronically underfunded for decades. HF 90 increases funding to help Minnesota meet national standards for case loads, as well as providing for fair salaries for public defense staff. Underfunding public defenders disproportionately affects low-income, BIPOC, and rural Minnesotans. HF 90 will provide an additional $42.7 million in FY2024 and an additional $52.9 million in FY2025 to the Minnesota Board of Public Defense. This necessary increase in funding will help Minnesota’s public defense system become more equitable and benefit Minnesotans in all parts of the state.
The full presentation, testimony and debate on the bill will be uploaded here. You can watch the original bill presentation in the Judiciary Committee here.