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Walz calls for $1.2 billion more spending in revised budget

Topping the list of recommendations is the boost to local public safety aid. It now sits at $550 million in the new proposal — $250 million more than what the administration first proposed.

light skinned man and woman wearing suits speak with three people
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan talk with agency commissioners Thursday, March 16, following a news conference announcing new public safety spending requests in the Walz administration's updated budget proposal.
Alex Derosier / Forum News Service

ST. PAUL — Gov. Tim Walz is calling for additional local public safety aid in his revised budget proposal released Thursday, March 16, which calls for $1.2 billion in additional spending on top of his original budget recommendations from earlier this year.

The proposal would go toward programs ranging from lead pipe replacement to electric vehicle tax credits.

Topping the list of revised recommendations from Walz's office is the boost to local public safety aid. It now sits at $550 million in the new proposal — $250 million more than what the administration initially proposed. Those dollars could be used by state agencies as they see fit, whether it's buying equipment, community involvement programs or hiring more police officers, Walz said.

"Minnesota has traditionally and will continue to be one of the safest states in the country. But as we've seen upticks in crime. ... There's a need to make sure we're reinvesting," he told reporters at a briefing Thursday.

Increased public safety funding, more than $240 million for replacing lead drinking water service lines, and $160 million to address opioid-related overdoses and addiction through community and addiction harm-reduction programs are just a few of the new spending proposals in the governor's budget proposal, which would now likely top $66 billion for the next two years. Overall, the Walz budget represents a roughly 25% increase over the current two-year state budget.

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Safety aid would be distributed to cities, counties and tribal governments across the state and would be distributed based on local population. The Walz administration said it would help offset local property taxes. A proposal backed by DFLers moving through the Minnesota Senate mirrors Walz's original $300 million proposal and would provide funding to local and tribal governments to pay for public safety personnel and “other efforts” to enhance public safety.

Lead pipe replacement funding would be used for replacement projects in water systems and homes and for local governments to help identify and map out lead service lines in communities. The earlier budget recommended just $6 million. Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan told reporters it will likely take about a billion in aid to replace all lead water lines remaining in Minnesota.

The revised budget recommendations also include several spending proposals the administration said are focused on Minnesota's "economic future," including a new $2,500 tax credit for people buying new electric vehicles that would run the state around $19 million. New funding for the University of Minnesota in the next four years would be more than $100 million.

The governor is required to make his budget recommendations to the Legislature each odd-numbered year, but the final budget is the product of negotiations between lawmakers and the governor. Democratic-Farmer-Labor lawmakers have complete control over state government, and while the governor and DFLers have considerable overlap in their priorities, they are not identical. DFL lawmakers' priorities will become more clear as lawmakers introduce their budget bills.

Republicans in the minority are not completely powerless either: Some Democrats share the GOP goal of eliminating the tax on Social Security income and could join the minority party. That could become key in negotiations in the coming months.

GOP lawmakers promoted their own public safety legislation package last week that they say will fight crime by stiffening criminal penalties and strengthening police forces. Creating a new carjacking offense, boosting penalties for illicit fentanyl, and a new system tracking judges’ sentencing decisions are just a few proposals they're pushing for.

GOP lawmakers also want $168 million for the police and first responder pension funds; $15 million for body cameras; $15 million for more police on Metro Transit in the Twin Cities; and $3 million to be split between the Minnesota State Patrol for air patrol and the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office for violent crime prevention.

Follow Alex Derosier on Twitter @xanderosier or email aderosier@forumcomm.com .

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Alex Derosier covers Minnesota breaking news and state government for Forum News Service.
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