Walz proposes 49B dollar budget includes highest amount ever for state housing department

The budget also includes a 20 cent gas tax hike.

Susie Jones
February 19, 2019 - 4:02 pm

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Governor Tim Walz is proposing a $49 billion budget that includes a 20-cent hike in the state's gasoline tax along with significant increases in aid to local school districts. Republican leaders say they won't accept the tax increases that the governor has proposed, given the state's projected budget surplus.

Included in the document: Walz is proposing a budget of $283.6 million for the state's housing department, the largest amount the agency has ever received. 

Minnesota Housing Commissioner Jennifer Leimaile Ho said that Walz's experience as a former school teacher played a role in his decision to invest more in housing. 

"He knows that if kids don't have a stable home, they can't do well in school," Ho said.

There has been increased awareness about homelessness in the Twin Cities with an encampment set up along Hiawatha and Cedar in Minneapolis for months last year, and reports that hundreds of people sleep on the light rail each night.

RELATED: Reports of propane explosions in second fire at homeless encampment

Ho said that the state needs more homes, and that the ones that are available are too expensive for most people. "We have way too many renters who are spending too much of their income on rent. That's also an income problem. People are not making enough money to be able to afford a place to stay," Ho said. 

There are no easy answers.

"This is a long term strategy.  You can't put a house up overnight. This needs to be a vision of investing all across the state, at all levels... This is a long term game," she said. 

 

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