Walz hopeful about agenda in second term

By: - November 9, 2022 3:24 pm

Gov. Tim Walz on Wednesday, Nov. 9, holding a press conference at the Capitol the day after winning reelection. Photo by Michelle Griffith/Minnesota Reformer.

Gov. Tim Walz said during a post-election victory news conference that full Democratic control of state government would allow his administration to enact a long-delayed progressive program. Perhaps as shocked as other politicos about the outcome of what many thought would be a commanding Republican victory, Walz provided few specifics on what his first priorities will be in the months to come. 

Still, opportunities abound, he said. “There’s a new dynamic here in terms of a Senate that is not trying to stall on (my) agenda as much as one trying to move one,” Walz said.

The DFL governor indicated that increased funding for schools and public safety, initiatives to ease the effects of rising inflation on families, cannabis legalization and codifying abortion rights into Minnesota’s constitution are on the agenda.

He said some of his past proposals that are broadly popular among Minnesotans — like so-called red flag gun control laws that would take someone’s guns if they are a threat — “have a much better chance of going through” now that Minnesota Democrats control state government for the first time since 2014. 

“We’re not going to see things that Minnesotans need (get) stalled,” Walz said.

Last year, Walz proposed using the state’s $9 billion budget surplus on rebate checks for families to blunt the impacts of rising inflation. Senate Republicans, who had their own tax cut plan, declined to go along. Walz later agreed to cut income taxes and the state levy on Social Security benefits, but that deal also never came to fruition. Walz said Wednesday that he wanted to “put money back in people’s pockets.”

A range of interest groups are demanding Walz and the DFL Legislature enact their agenda. Education Minnesota, a strong ally of the former teacher, wasted no time interpreting the election results.

“The mandate is clear for the governor and the leadership of the House and Senate to come together and pass the multi-billion-dollar investment in public schools needed to provide every student with the personal attention from their educators, a healthy learning environment and access to world-class educators in every classroom,” said Denise Specht, president of Education Minnesota. “The voters — and educators — of Minnesota expect nothing less.” 

Walz said that people can get a sense of his priorities through the $52 billion budget he proposed last year, which included tax increases on wealthy Minnesotans and large corporations, assistance for businesses struggling from the impact of COVID-19 and more education funding.

“You can look at those things that we said we wanted to get done — we’re going to do that,” Walz said.

Regarding his Tuesday win, Walz said he believed his positive message and proposals helped propel him to victory. He also credited his support for abortion rights, and the backing of younger Minnesotans, particularly Gen Zers, who surpassed expectations for a midterm election this year. 

Walz emphasized that he wants to ensure his policies are benefiting the majority of Minnesotans, even those who didn’t vote for him

“The sense of hopefulness and optimism that I feel is not just from winning the election,” Walz said. “It’s a validation of how we won this election … by rejecting a negative, divisive view of Minnesota.”

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Michelle Griffith
Michelle Griffith

Michelle Griffith covers Minnesota politics and policy for the Reformer, with a focus on marginalized communities. Most recently she was a reporter with The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead in North Dakota where she covered state and local government and Indigenous issues. For two years she was also a corps member with Report for America, a national nonprofit that places journalists in local newsrooms and news deserts. She lives in St. Paul and likes to knit and watch documentaries in her free time.

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