At Humphrey School, Gov. Walz calls for open, transparent budget process
With the debate over Minnesota’s next state budget about to get underway, Gov. Tim Walz laid out his priorities during an hour-long public forum Wednesday at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, while also pledging to work together with the Legislature to get things done.
Walz, a DFLer who was elected to the office in November, spoke to a capacity crowd at the event, which was hosted by the Humphrey School’s Center for the Study of Politics and Governance.
The governor is set to release his two-year budget proposal on Tuesday, February 19, and he said the plan will emphasize his top priorities: education, health care, infrastructure, and community prosperity. The House and Senate will then consider the plan and must approve a final budget by the end of the legislative session on May 20.
“I believe a state budget is a moral document as much as it is a fiscal document, and mine is going to be a reflection of our values,” Walz said. “If you have the best educated and the healthiest population you will clearly have the strongest economy, because you will have the best capacity to innovate, the best capacity to attract workers here.”
While not revealing any specifics, Walz said his plan will include an increase in the gas tax, and other policies that might meet resistance in the Legislature, especially the Republican-controlled Senate. But he also emphasized his desire for an “open, honest, and respectful” debate that will lead to compromise that will “move Minnesota forward.”
“If you didn't hear in this last election what voters were saying, they want us to get together and get things done and focus on the future,” said Walz, referring to the partisan gridlock that has been the hallmark of politics at the Minnesota Capitol over the past several years.
Minnesota has the only divided state Legislature in the nation, with the two houses controlled by opposite parties. He noted that he and the two top legislative leaders, House Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL) and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R), have agreed on a process and timeline for acting on the budget in a less chaotic manner than in recent years. Hortman and Gazelka (in photo above, with moderator Briana Bierschbach) discussed their priorities for the session at a Humphrey School forum on February 6.
Walz said Minnesotans deserve to have higher expectations of what their government can accomplish.
“We're not playing a poker game. My job is not to have the best cards, and best the Republicans in the Senate,” said Walz. “My job is to help build the strongest coalition based on where this state wants to go, and on the best interests of all of our citizens.”