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Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz digs in on $500 rebate check plan as Legislature enters final stretch

The governor said the plan to issue direct checks to about 2.7 million households was still 'very much alive' though Senate and House tax plans left out the proposal.

Gov. Tim Walz
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, right, and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, left, speak with reporters at the Capitol following a news conference on Monday, May 2, 2022.
Dana Ferguson / Forum News Service
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ST. PAUL — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Monday, May 2, dug in on his commitment to passing a plan to send out $500 rebate checks to about 2.7 million households and said it would be essential to an end of session deal.

The governor said he'd continue pushing for the direct rebate checks as legislative leaders entered end-of-session discussions about how to spend the state's more than $9 billion budget surplus. And he said he wasn't put off by the fact that neither the Republican-led Senate or Democratic-Farmer-Labor-led House of Representatives included his idea in their tax proposals.

“It’s very much alive,” Walz told reporters. “I’m willing to compromise, but I’m not going to compromise out a top priority of mine, so that’s it.”

Walz said the plan remained popular with Minnesotans and could provide a boost to Minnesotans as well as the state's economy. He said lawmakers didn't need to risk their political capital to bring it forward, as he was willing to take it on.

So far, leaders in the House and Senate have said they're open to the idea, but prefer tax plans being put forward in each chamber. Senate Republicans have proposed dropping the state's lowest-income tax bracket and eliminating the tax on social security benefits. Democrats in the House, meanwhile, have put forward a set of new tax credits that could help parents, homeowners, renters, Minnesotans on social security and those with student loan debt.

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Lawmakers are set to close out the 2022 legislative session on May 23 and while they could reach deals on billions of dollars of new spending and law changes, they don't have to pass anything during that time. Surplus money that remains on the bottom line could be left to the next Legislature to spend in 2023.

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Several incumbent state legislators, particularly in the Senate, edged out competitors with more extreme views on COVID-19, election security and more.

Follow Dana Ferguson on Twitter  @bydanaferguson , call 651-290-0707 or email  dferguson@forumcomm.com.

Dana Ferguson is a Minnesota Capitol Correspondent for Forum News Service. Ferguson has covered state government and political stories since she joined the news service in 2018, reporting on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the divided Statehouse and the 2020 election.
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