Minnesota Report

In his release following the $2.5 billion deficit through 2021 announcement the following is attributed to Governor Tim Walz (DFL-MN).

  • “Today’s budget outlook confirms what we suspected: COVID-19 will badly damage Minnesota’s economy.”
  • “As I said during my State of the State address, there is a long winter ahead. COVID-19 is upending life as we know it—and our economy will not be spared.”
  • “This will mean shared sacrifice among all of us. Hard decisions will be made.”
  • “But thanks to smart budgeting, Minnesota is in a much better position than other states to weather the storm. We must not undercut what got us there: Investing in our children. Expanding access to health care. Putting Minnesotans first.”
  • “These last few weeks have been difficult, and it’s only going to get harder.”
  • “It is more important than ever that we lead with our values and protect Minnesota’s quality of life.”
  • “Minnesotans will look out for one another. We will help each other back on our feet. We will get through this winter—together—and we will see spring.”

The joint statement from Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-36B, Brooklyn Park) and Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (DFL-46A, Golden Valley) on budget projection reads as follows.

“While we expected the state’s financial picture to worsen, I am relieved that the size of the projected deficit was not larger,” said Speaker Hortman. “Thanks to prudent financial management of the state’s resources by the executive and legislative branches over the past decade, Minnesota has enough resources in the budget reserve and the cash flow accounts to weather the downturn. I’m pleased Minnesota has received $1.87 billion in federal aid, which allows us to take measures to provide economic security to Minnesotans to help them get through the COVID-19 downturn. Investments are needed to make Minnesotans secure in their housing, help small businesses, facilitate distance learning and telemedicine, and to ensure we have the workforce we need to provide care for the elderly and people with disabilities. The federal assistance allows us to make these needed investments, while our state’s savings will cover our expected dip in revenue.”

“Minnesota has the resources we need to address this crisis; we just need the will to act,” said Majority Leader Winkler. “We must stay the course to reduce the impact of COVID-19, save lives, and help Minnesotans get through the storm. Minnesotans need investments in the things that will help them make it through this crisis and thrive after it, including quality health care, economic security, a good education, and safe and healthy communities.”

In response, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-09, Nisswa) countered with the following.

“The state is going to have less money next year. About $4 billion less. That falls on the shoulders of the legislature to manage. We are doing everything we can to limit the negative financial impact of COVID, but it’s clear a holding pattern is not enough.

“Today the Senate Rules Committee implemented a salary freeze for our own employees. We will likely impose a hiring freeze this month as well. The next most responsible move for state government is to renegotiate the second year of state employee contracts so thousands of state workers won’t face layoffs from budget shortfalls in the 2021 budget. We need to say, “no” to any new spending increases that won’t be reimbursed by the federal COVID relief funds or help us reopen the economy. And we must exercise caution when it comes to the bonding bill because every $100 million in borrowing costs the state $142.72 million in debt service over the next 20 years.

“Most importantly, we need to open the economy to revenues that fund essential government services. That’s why we’ve asked Mike Vekich and other top thinkers to work on this now as part of the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Taskforce.

“At the end of the day, we need to be able to look into the eyes of the small business owner and the laid-off worker and tell them state government is making sacrifices too. Empathy is not enough. Actions speak louder than words.”

Additionally, Sen Julie Rosen (R-23, Vernon Center) is quoted, “Thankfully, our smart budgeting over the last several years has put the state in a good position to weather the economic side of this crisis in the short term, but not if we continue our current approach. We have to take the coronavirus seriously, but we cannot ignore the economic devastation. The House should pass the Senate’s Tax Relief and Economic Recovery package to help farmers, businesses, and workers get through this, and we should get businesses back up and running – but with safety and health as our top priority.”