(The Center Square) – In his State of the State speech Sunday, Gov. Tim Walz preached the value of compromise.
He praised Minnesota legislators for working together to balance budgets, invest in the future and provide tax cut for middle class families. He then urged them to unite further as the legislative session draws to a close and to listen to their constituents’ requests to reach solutions.
Compared with the rest of the country, Minnesota has the fifth-lowest unemployment rate, the third-highest job growth and one of the highest labor participation rates.
“The leadership that’s in front of me tonight, working together, reduced the price of insulin to save lives, increased education funding for every student, and passed the largest jobs bill in state history,” he said. “You did it together.”
Compromise must continue, Walz said.
“We may not agree on everything. And if we’re being totally honest, some of us won’t agree on anything,” he said. “That is the reality. That is a democracy. That’s the way some of this is. But we owe it to the people of Minnesota to try and find common ground, to try and put some of those differences aside to move at least some things forward.”
He asked legislators to use the state’s historic surplus to cut taxes for immediate relief for the middle class, without cutting taxes for massive corporations and Minnesota’s wealthiest residents.
“Cutting taxes for the wealthiest amongst us will not guarantee opportunities in Minnesota for the wider variety of folks, and it certainly won’t grow our economy from the middle out,” he said.
He asked legislators to prioritize frontline hero pay and to replenish the unemployment insurance trust fund for small businesses and workers who may need it in the future, without further delays.
He asked to continue funding for training, certifying and placing certified nursing assistants and promoted his budget’s proposal to invest $300 million for public safety through community-level program spending initiatives, expand preschool to 23,000 more children and invest more in mental health care in schools.
“Outside of school, let’s make sure there’s enough children’s in-patient beds for children in crisis so that they’re not in an emergency room or they’re not being shipped to Iowa to try and care for this,” he said. “Let’s create that infrastructure, people.”
He also prioritized building the workforce for child care and getting companies to invest in paid family leave.
House Minority Leader Rep. Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, told reporters after Walz’s speech that the governor should provide larger, permanent tax relief to residents to promote economic growth. He said Walz’s tax relief is “miniscule.”
“We could cut taxes 10% across the board and still meet our demands in state government,” he said. “And imagine the incentive and the economic benefit that would be to our state’s economy if we could do something like that.”
Daudt said solving the achievement gap in education in the country is crucial and Walz’s proposal for public safety spending is insufficient for real change.