WASHINGTON — This week, the Washington Post reported on how partisan control of state government can have a real and tangible effect on the well-being and life expectancy of Americans. Looking at nearby communities in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York, the Washington Post details how policy decisions in the state legislature led to better outcomes for those in states where Democrats wield more power, than those under GOP control.
- “Americans are more likely to die before age 65 than residents of similar nations, despite living in a country that spends substantially more per person on health care than its peers. Many of those early deaths can be traced to decisions made years ago by local and state lawmakers over whether to implement cigarette taxes, invest in public health or tighten seat-belt regulations, among other policies, an examination by The Washington Post found. States’ politics — and their resulting policies — are shaving years off American lives.”
- “State lawmakers gained autonomy over how to spend federal safety net dollars following Republican President Ronald Reagan’s push to empower the states in the 1980s. Those investments began to diverge sharply along red and blue lines, with conservative lawmakers often balking at public health initiatives they said cost too much or overstepped.”
- “Today, people in the South and Midwest, regions largely controlled by Republican state legislators, have increasingly higher chances of dying prematurely compared with those in the more Democratic Northeast and West, according to The Post’s analysis of death rates.”
At the DLCC we’ve seen additional proof points writing the next chapter of this story as our newest Democratic majorities have moved quickly this year to pass legislation to better the quality of life and health outcomes of their constituents.
In Michigan, Democrats passed both a red flag law and a law to require safe storage of firearms, taking a proactive step to protect their citizens from gun violence. Michigan Democrats also eliminated asset tests for food aid, which could help over 700,000 Michigan households receiving benefits by eliminating red tape for those in need. Finally, legislators prioritized health care for the most vulnerable by passing a package of legislation aimed at streamlining and expanding access to the state’s Medicaid program.
In Minnesota, Democrats passed legislation to fund free breakfast and lunch for K-12 students, ensuring students won’t go hungry in school and can learn to their full potential. Democrats also increased funding for mental health services, and expanded MinnesotaCare to undocumented residents, granting access to more than 40,000 people in the state. DFLers also passed a paid family and medical leave program so that workers don’t have to choose between their health and a paycheck. Finally, DFLers passed legislation to protect Minnesotans’ access to abortion care.
Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee President Heather Williams issued the following statement:
“States are better off and residents live longer when Democratic legislatures are able to implement common-sense policies that keep Americans safe and healthy. This isn’t a political statement or spin – this is based on data and evidence that Democratic policies at the most important level of the ballot have a real impact on people’s lives.
“Look no further than two states that recently gained a Democratic trifecta – controlling the gubernatorial mansion and both branches of the legislature – Michigan and Minnesota. In Michigan, Democrats made steps to protect residents from gun violence and improve public health. In Minnesota, Democrats passed legislation to fund free breakfast and lunch for K-12 students and increased funding for mental health services. State Dems are delivering. Our mission is to ensure more of them get elected to all levels of state government.”
As the DLCC finishes 2023 strong and prepares for our 2024 strategy, we will continue to lead the fight to build state power for Democrats – the most important level of the ballot.
The DLCC is the official Democratic Party committee dedicated to winning America’s state legislatures. Last year, the DLCC defied the odds by not losing any state legislative majorities, flipping four key chambers, and creating four new Democratic trifectas – the best midterm year for the party in power since at least 1934. State legislatures are the building blocks of our democracy and pass the policies that have the biggest impact on Americans’ day-to-day lives.