Walz announces revised budget after dimmed February forecast

Cuts are $131 million

Sloane Martin
March 22, 2019 - 4:32 pm

After the February budget forecast revealed a smaller surplus than expected from December, Gov. Tim Walz adjusts his budget proposal.

He’s cutting $131 million from the initial $49 billion plan, keeping administration staples such as affordable housing, education, opioid treatment. It includes $37 million in new spending and $142 million from unspent reinsurance funds.

"Many things we did we kept in place, but we talked about scaling," he said at the capitol Friday. "We looked at the economy, when we get a bump, we make the smart investment, we can do more. But something I was passionate about, all of these things that may seem small in a budget, but DNR trails. We have that in there but we had to scale it back a little bit."

"I think we struck the balance, though, in spreading this out amongst all the agencies. There were a few things that did not take a cut. Housing did not take a cut. You saw the headlines and your stories yesterday it was homelessness on the rise. We will achieve our veterans homelessness bill by the end of the year."

The revised budget does include $2 million to "strengthen oversight" of the Child Care Assistance Program after the legislative auditor confirmed fraud.

"We accept the findings of the legislative auditor in that there was a weakness in the oversight and this is making sure we have the capacity," he said. "This is some folks we're putting on the ground that have to go out and do these inspections."

House minority leader Rep. Kurt Daudt said in a statement, posted to the House Republicans' Twitter account: "It's disappointing that Gov. Walz has not backed off the most harmful elements of his budget—a billion dollar tax increase on Minnesotans' health care, and a crippling 70% gas tax hike." 

"The gov should focus on helping Minnesotans keep more of their hard-earned money, & work to fund basic priorities like roads & bridges with our budget surplus, rather than making health care more expensive & driving up the cost of everyday goods for all Minnesotans."

Walz says he expects to meet in the middle with Republicans, especially in regards to transportation.

"At some point you're going to have to move a little bit," Walz said. "This 'zero, nope, the hill we're going to die on is nothing on transportation, it's got to come out of the general fund' is a recipe for disaster."

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