There’s still no such thing as a free lunch

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There’s still no such thing as a free lunch.

Anyone watching the House Ways and Means Committee Monday got a glimpse of the raw philosophical divide between Democrats and Republicans. It was brought to us by Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn (DFL-Roseville) in her speech supporting a plan to provide free breakfast and lunch to EVERY student in Minnesota public schools.

“At a base level, if our government can’t make sure that our children are fed, I mean, this should absolutely be a priority.”

That statement sums up a big part of the DFL agenda at the Capitol this session, and their view of government in general. Rep. Becker-Finn and her DFL colleagues think the government should make sure our children are fed, not parents. Few Democrats in Minnesota will admit it out loud, but the cumulative result of their proposals is, in fact, socialism.

The full quote from Becker-Finn doesn’t make the statement any better:

“I just don’t understand why there’s any disagreement about this issue. When folks in other countries need our help, when there are disasters like hurricanes, what’s the first thing we do? We give people shelter and we feed them. At a base level, if our government can’t make sure that our children are fed? I mean, this should absolutely be a priority and I’m just happy that we’re bringing it forward, we’re making it a priority early on in session because, ultimately, we should be able to agree on making sure our kids have food.”

She equates daily school lunches with disaster assistance during a hurricane. As a single dad who raised three kids, I made school lunches every school day for the better part of 16 years. I never thought to ask state government to buy me a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter. What a sucker I was. I should have asked for a free lunch.

But there is no free lunch. Someone has to pay for it. In this case, providing free breakfast and lunch to all students, whether they need it or not, will cost state taxpayers $200 million a year.

Period products

Lunch is not the only thing Democrats are benevolently taking over this year. They also plan to put “period products” in every school bathroom, girls and boys, down to the 5th grade. This freebie will only cost state taxpayers $1.8 million per year. As we wrote about before in Capitol Watch, this discussion provided an early nominee for most outrageous statement of the year from bill author Rep. Sandra Feist (DFL-New Brighton):

“Not all students who menstruate are female.”

Paid family leave

Paid family leave is the third “free” thing Minnesota Democrats are promising Minnesotans this session. Every worker will now have up to 24 weeks of “free” paid leave to take care of a relative or recover from a pregnancy and bond with a new child. Of course the program is far from free. Gov. Walz’s version of paid family leave includes using $670 million of the surplus to create the fund necessary to pay benefits. And a brand-new payroll tax on every employee and employer will be levied to provide ongoing support for the fund. If you already have a family leave program from your employer that you like, it’s likely going away as it won’t meet the requirements of the new law. In other words, if you like your family leave program, you won’t be able to keep your family leave program. Thanks Obama.

Free lunch, free period products and free time off are just the 2023 version of government handouts. A much longer list already exists in federal, state and local government.


What started out as government programs to help people achieve the American Dream, such as loan programs for veterans or tax credits for developers, has turned into huge appropriations of cash to simply build houses and apartments for people and hand them the keys. We tell ourselves the help is only temporary until families can get back on their feet, but it’s a lie. Without skin in the game, the beneficiaries of free or ridiculously cheap housing will not make the changes necessary to become self-sufficient. Why should they?


Like housing, somewhere along the way we stopped providing assistance to families who need childcare and now simply throw money at the problem, ignoring government’s self-inflicted wound to the system known as excessive regulation. American Experiment produced a revealing report on childcare that showed putting more money into the system without loosening regulations actually drives up the costs for everyone.

Heating assistance

With the passage of the Blackout Bill this week, energy bills in Minnesota are going to keep rising. The Minnesota Department of Commerce recently raised the home heating crisis benefit from a maximum of $600 to $1500 per household. The state will spend $129 million of federal tax money to pay the energy bills of families who meet income guidelines. That’s one of the key parts of each of these free programs: income guidelines. The number of people who pay the taxes but don’t benefit from any of the free stuff is getting smaller every year.


Our state, with the help of the federal government, also provides healthcare for 1,257,694 Minnesotans through Medicaid. That’s one-fifth of the population. And we subsidize healthcare for another 100,000 Minnesotans classified as the working poor through the MinnesotaCare program, a benefit most states don’t provide. Democrats boast of these large numbers as a source of compassion. But trapping over one million families in the cycle of poverty is nothing to be proud of.

City basic income plans

The big cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul have taken free lunch to another level with their experiments in basic income plans. Each city is granting eligible families (not yours) monthly cash payments of up to $500. No doubt the money will temporarily help those families, but at what point do you recognize this transfer of wealth for what it is? At some point, the people paying are going to stop. Or move.

This list of freebies also includes free student loans, free rides on public transportation and free Internet service no matter where you choose to live. Lastly, Gov. Walz and the Democrats in St. Paul granted an extra free day off to celebrate Juneteenth each June 19th. There was no fiscal note accompanying the bill so we don’t even know how much it will cost. But we know it’s not free.

Update: Blackout Bill passes Senate, awaits Walz signature

The Senate passed the Blackout Bill on Thursday after a long debate with many attempted amendments. Once again, legislative Democrats avoided the conference committee process buy passing the same exact bill in the House and Senate, allowing no amendments to pass.

American Experiment facilitated the delivery of 30,000 emails to Gov. Tim Walz and members of the Minnesota Legislature opposing the bill. There is one last chance to email or call Walz this week. Maybe he will listen to reason before sending Minnesota down the path of higher energy bills, blackouts and no measurable change in the climate.

Last Chance to Oppose the Blackout Bill

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