Senate GOP outlines alternative to Walz handling of pandemic, calls for no new taxes

    The Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul as the sun sets on Election Day, November 3, 2020. Photo by Tony Webster.

    Senate Republicans on Thursday outlined a package of legislative priorities that mostly focus on laying out an alternative to Gov. Tim Walz’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. They propose sending students to in-person learning, as well as opening up businesses fully as long as they have a COVID-19 safety plan.

    The proposals face an uncertain path in the months ahead; the House, controlled by the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, has been largely supportive of Walz’s approach to the pandemic. 

    Lawmakers will also have to debate a new two-year budget and close a $883 million deficit.

    Senate Republicans are also proposing state agencies impose spending cuts of 5% across the board, saying state government should also share in bearing the brunt of the economic downturn. 

    “Senate Republicans will work to safely reopen schools and businesses to recover our economy,” Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, said in a statement. “We will keep life affordable by balancing the budget — without raising taxes. That means no new gas tax, no new income tax, no new sales tax. And we are going to ask government to tighten its belt, as well.”

    Walz, the first term DFLgovernor, is expected to unveil his budget and legislative priorities next week, but proposals for new spending will not take fuller shape until the state budget office publishes a fresh budget forecast in late February.

    Ricardo Lopez
    Ricardo Lopez is the senior political reporter for the Reformer. Ricardo is not new to Minnesota politics, previously reporting on the Dayton administration and statehouse for The Star Tribune from 2014 to 2017, and the Republican National Convention in 2016. Previously, he was a staff writer at The Los Angeles Times covering the California economy. He's a Las Vegas native who has adopted Minnesota as his home state. In his spare time, he likes to run, cook and volunteer with Save-a-Bull, a Minneapolis dog rescue group.