(The Center Square) – Gov. Tim Walz says he plans to send 2.7 million Minnesotans “Walz Checks” up to $350 as part of his 2022 Local Jobs and Projects Plan.
“To continue growing Minnesota’s economy, we must invest in the people who made it strong in the first place,” Walz said in a statement. “By investing in workforce development, cutting taxes for the middle class and working families, lowering costs, and expanding access to resources like technical education and high-speed broadband, we will improve economic prosperity across the state and grow the workforce we need to compete.”
The proposal aims to deliver $700 million in direct payments to Minnesotans funded by Minnesota’s tax surplus.
Single tax filers earning up to $164,400 would receive $175. A married couple filing jointly earning up to $273,470 would receive $350.
Walz wants to spend $1 billion in payments to frontline workers – a two-year delayed legislative promise – and spend $115 million investment to adult care workers and $15 million to modernize the Department of Employment and Economic Development’s workforce system.
Other spending includes:
- $10 million annually to educate historically underserved students and students in Minnesota.
- $15 million in the Tech Youth Training program – to prepare Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) workforces for the tech industry
- $2.73 billion to replenish the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund to prevent pandemic-related tax increases for businesses.
- $170 million to complete broadband access statewide.
- $7 million for the Angel Tax Credit in fiscal year 2023 and $10 million in FY2024-FY2025.
- $5 million to launch startup accelerators and help them scale.
- $10 million to help Minnesota farmers and livestock producers who suffered losses caused by the severe drought this past growing season.
Duluth Chamber of Commerce President Matt Baumgartner welcomed the proposal to restore the UI Trust Fund via legislative dollars, which otherwise would be funded via business tax hikes.
“Without this action, many businesses might find the additional tax hike to restore the UI Trust Fund as the tipping point during our ongoing recovery,” Baumgartner said in a statement. “When this session begins, we encourage swift action on this proposal as the March 15th deadline looms near.”
Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, called the direct payment policy “nothing more than an election year gimmick, and it will barely cover the inflationary costs of everyday necessities,” he said in a statement. “We’ll propose permanent, ongoing, targeted tax relief for working Minnesotans so they see savings every single year. “