Walz talks education, health care, community prosperity in first State of the State address

Governor Walz gave his first State of the State address Wednesday following his recently revised budget.

Gov. Tim Walz speaks at the Minnesota State Capitol on Wednesday, April 3 during the State of the State address. Walz spoke about education, healthcare and road maintenance.

Tony Saunders

Gov. Tim Walz speaks at the Minnesota State Capitol on Wednesday, April 3 during the State of the State address. Walz spoke about education, healthcare and road maintenance.

Erin Wilson

Gov. Tim Walz, gave his first State of the State address at the Capitol Wednesday, highlighting the stories of eight different Minnesotans and emphasizing the need for a bipartisan government.

The DFL governor said the state of the state is “strong” and stressed the need to fund state education, health care and community programs.

“It’s not by mistake that the proposals, … the policy proposals and the budget proposals that I put in front of you, center around some pretty clear themes, because that’s what came to me from people,” Walz said in the address. “We want to have health care, we want good education and we want our communities to prosper.”

DFL legislative leadership responded to Walz’s address, showing support for his call for a unified state.

“The stories told by Governor Walz were like so many we have heard from Minnesotans across the state: we want good schools, affordable health care and economic security. We care about our neighbors, and we want to see one another succeed,” Minnesota House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, said in a statement. “As session continues, I’m optimistic we can find solutions and pass a budget that will ensure that Minnesota is a state where everyone has the opportunity to succeed.”

House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, said Walz has been “ambitious” in proposing new taxes in order to fund education, and that House Democrats are strongly in support of his plan.

“The governor values higher education, and I think that when the legislative session is done we will be pursuing things like a funded tuition freeze at the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State system. And we believe strongly in that approach … to [hold] down tuition and [make] sure that as we invest more in higher education that students benefit,” Winkler said. 

The address follows Walz’s recently revised budget proposing an $11.9 million increase in the University’s funding, in addition to the $39.2 million he originally proposed.

Rep. Connie Bernardy, DFL-New Brighton, said the House is currently very focused on holding down higher education costs in the state. The governor’s values are consistent with that goal, she said. 

“I believe the governor shares the values that we share in the Minnesota House, and education is a huge priority,” Bernardy said. “And our budget is important to living out those values, and … freezing tuition, and making college more affordable and reducing the debt in our state that students carry by … getting a degree.”

Rep. Bud Nornes, R-Fergus Falls, said higher education budget issues this session are “the same struggle” as past years. 

“My personal feeling is that higher [education] has … for quite some time been falling short of even coming close to what they’ve been requesting and it’s not… much different this session, except the governor in his budget has more money than we’ve had, the last couple years anyway, designated for both the University and Minnesota State, which is encouraging,” Nornes said.