Original article from April 4, 2019
Last night, Governor Tim Walz delivered his first State of the State address before a joint convention of the Minnesota House of Representatives and the Minnesota Senate. The Governor used the speech as an opportunity to highlight his legislative priorities for the 2019 Legislative Session and emphasize his “One Minnesota” proposal.
The Governor’s address first focused on his push for a five percent increase on the K-12 education funding formula over the biennium. Walz also pointed out the education disparities throughout the state and the increasing reliance of local school districts on property tax revenue. “When we talk about education funding, it’s not a game,” Walz said. “When we put a budget together, yes, it’s a fiscal document, but it’s a moral document, and what these schools have said is they need to get 3 and 2 percent on their funding formula,” Walz said.
The second part of the speech highlighted the Governor’s priorities for healthcare. Specifically, Walz pointed to the importance of healthcare coverage for children. He cited the Healthcare Access Fund, which is funded by the provider tax set to expire at the end of this year, as critical for children to receive care before they get sick and to be healthy for learning.
Walz reiterated his belief that healthcare should be available in all communities and that Minnesota should not rely on the federal government for direction on healthcare changes. The Governor said that making sure there is a basic safety net for coverage is a critical way to prevent people from falling into a mental health crisis.
Walz then focused on community prosperity, including the importance of local government aid so that basic government services are delivered for local residents. The governor also highlighted the need to invest in community-based initiatives and tackle racial, economic, and geographic disparities, especially as it relates to affordable housing and childcare.
Additionally, Walz focused on the need for increased transportation funding and acknowledged that the Legislature will have a robust debate over the best way to fund transportation, between a higher gas tax, as he has proposed, or general fund revenue.
The Governor concluded his speech saying the state of the state is “strong” and called for bipartisan collaboration. He recognized that legislators on both sides of the aisle want to solve the same problems, but have different perspectives on how to address those challenges. “We can choose to follow the same story that was written ahead of time. We can choose to decide who belongs and who doesn’t. We can choose to let ideology drive us before people. Or we can do what Minnesota has always done: rise up and create a better way of life,” Walz said.
Walz and legislators must come to an agreement on the 2020-21 state budget by the end of the 2019 legislative session, scheduled to end Monday, May 20.