Attorney General’s budget ‘a win for Minnesota families and consumers’

AG Ellison praises 17 percent increase to base budget of Attorney General’s Office, including more resources to fight wage theft and antitrust behavior

Highlights Senate’s failure to fund much-needed criminal prosecutors to help fight violent crime in Greater Minnesota; AG ‘baffled why the Senate refuses to help us help prosecutors in Greater Minnesota make their communities safer’

July 1, 2021 (SAINT PAUL) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison today hailed the passage of the State Government budget bill that includes a 17 percent increase to the base budget of the Attorney General’s’ Office for the new biennium (July 2021–June 2023). That increase includes additional funding for the growing wage theft and antitrust units of the Attorney General’s Office, both of which have been priorities of Attorney General Ellison since he took office in 2019. Though the Legislature passed only partial funding of the Attorney General’s requests for these units, Attorney General Ellison will use the funding provided to expand the Office’s enforcement of the anti-wage theft law the Legislature passed in 2019, and to expand the Office’s work to hold companies accountable for antitrust behavior in agriculture, the pharmaceutical industry, and the tech industry, among other areas. 

“This budget is a win for Minnesota families and consumers. It will help ensure Minnesotans take home every dollar they earn and help them be free from abusive antitrust practices that make it harder for all of us to afford our lives,” Attorney General Ellison said. “I want to thank the Legislature and the Governor for passing this significant increase to the core functions of the Attorney General’s Office. I want to extend my particular appreciation to Governor Walz, who fully funded my Office’s full budget request in his proposed budget, to Speaker Hortman, and to Chair Mike Nelson of the House State Government Committee for his terrific work in shepherding it through the House and conference committee. This increase will benefit all Minnesotans, and all Minnesotans have them to thank.” 

The new biennial budget for the Attorney General’s Office also includes full funding of Attorney General Ellison’s requests to improve information technology and security for the office. The information technology funding will allow the Office to improve software, databases, and case-management systems that will improve service to State agencies and Minnesota consumers. The budget additionally includes the funding that Attorney General Ellison requested to retain valued employees of the Office. 

At the same time, the Legislature did not fund Attorney General Ellison’s request for $1.8 million to add prosecutors to the Office’s Criminal Division to assist county attorneys, mostly in Greater Minnesota, in the prosecution of violent crime. The House of Representatives voted to fully fund that request, but the Senate voted not to fund it at all and refused to accede to the House in conference committee — despite more than enough money remaining in the State Government bill target to fully fund this request. 

The Minnesota County Attorneys Association, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi, and other individual county attorneys expressed their support of this budget request to the Senate and House. 

This marks the second biennium that the Senate has refused to fund Attorney General Ellison’s request to provide county attorneys in Greater Minnesota with more help in prosecuting violent crime. 

“I’m disappointed that yet again, the Senate denied us the resources to help county attorneys fight violent crime — especially this year, when crime is rising in both urban and rural communities around Minnesota and when the money that could have fully funded this request was deliberately left on the table,” Attorney General Ellison said. “This is a real need that will continue to grow. I’m baffled why the Senate refuses to help us help prosecutors in Greater Minnesota make their communities safer. 

“We will not let up in our efforts to support our county attorneys in every corner of Minnesota, and we will continue to ask the Legislature to fully fund the work that county attorneys themselves are asking for in their pursuit of justice and safety,” Attorney General Ellison concluded. 

The Attorney General’s Office 2021-23 biennial budget requests are available on the MMB website, beginning on p. 10.