by Scott McClallen
Gov. Tim Walz suggested sending half of the state’s $9.2 billion surplus back to taxpayers in a 15-minute special session.
Walz last weekend proposed sending individuals $1,000, and married couples $2,000.
Only Walz can call a special session, but he hasn’t after a GOP and DFL broad deal for $4 billion in tax relief and $4 billion in savings disintegrated in May as the regular session concluded.
“It would be a 15-minute special session, a one-page bill … It’s about $2,000 a family,” Walz said in a WCCO interview. “The biggest thing we can do to improve the quality of life of Minnesotans right now is to put the money back in their hands.”
First, Walz pitched sending $500 checks. Now, he’s doubled that offer as the statewide average per-gallon of gasoline price reaches $4.74.
“Minnesotans need it,” Walz said. “We are seeing this both nationally and globally – inflationary pressures, especially on gasoline and food. Let us give half of it back. It would be a 15-minute special session, a one-page bill. My revenue department is prepared and ready to go.”
He tweeted: “Minnesota Senate Republicans can’t sit on billions of dollars while Minnesotans struggle with rising costs like gas. Let’s send half our surplus back in checks today and keep working to fund our mutual priorities – education, public safety, and tax cuts.”
Senate GOP spokeswoman Rachel Aplikowski responded to Walz’s proposal, saying: “During the legislative session, Senate Republicans passed permanent, ongoing tax relief of more than $8 billion dollars so every person who pays taxes would receive immediate relief that doesn’t go away with the election,” Aplikowski said in a statement.
GOP gubernatorial challenger Dr. Scott Jensen said Walz’s proposal was a “Hail Mary” gimmick that other DFL lawmakers wouldn’t support.
“The reality is that the only individual who has the power to call a special session is Governor Walz and he can do so today,” Jensen said in a statement. “So, I encourage him to honor his word, prove this isn’t election year politicking, and give back all of the state surplus to those Minnesota taxpayers who created it. Because, Minnesota families desperately need relief from crushing Walz-Biden inflation, out of control gas prices, and rapidly rising utility bills. However, Governor Walz has a problem in that the DFL-controlled House of Representatives is not likely to go along with his new single-subject special session plan. So, his proposal may be little more than a “Hail Mary” gimmick to appease voters and pander to political winds. After Governor Walz advocated for more than two years for an increase to the state gas tax, voters must ask themselves if this is a sincere gesture or not.”
Lawmakers are up for re-election in November.
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org.