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Performer Mayyadda singing at the University of Minnesota Juneteenth Celebration “We Are The Noise: The Echoes of Our Ancestors” captured on Saturday, June 15.
Best photos of June '24
Published June 23, 2024

Q&A with Gov. Tim Walz

The DFL incumbent candidate for governor touched on abortion access, public safety and student debt relief.
Walz+has+recently+come+under+scrutiny+for+how+his+administration+handled+the+Feeding+Our+Future+fraud+case.++Photo+courtesy+of+the+Walz-Flanagan+2022+campaign.+
Walz has recently come under scrutiny for how his administration handled the Feeding Our Future fraud case. Photo courtesy of the Walz-Flanagan 2022 campaign.

Gov. Tim Walz is running for reelection for Minnesota’s governor. The former teacher was elected as a member of the House of Representatives in 2006 before being elected to the state’s highest office in 2018.

A member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) party, Walz is running a reelection campaign focused on investing in the state and funding state education. During his term as governor, he and his cabinet navigated the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the riots that occurred in May 2020 after former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd.

After the Supreme Court decision in June that overturned Roe v. Wade, Walz signed an executive order that offered legal protection to those coming in from out of state seeking abortion care; a state Supreme Court decision, Doe v. Gomez, found abortion is a constitutionally protected right in Minnesota.

In recent weeks, Scott Jensen, the Republican candidate for governor, has lambasted Walz for the controversy surrounding Feeding Our Future, a hunger non-profit accused by the Department of Justice of accepting nearly $250 million in fraudulent funds. A judge in Ramsey County published a press release stating, even after the Department of Education stopped payments and had internally flagged the organization, the administration continued to make payments to the group.

Walz answered all questions from the Minnesota Daily via email.

One of Dr. Jensen’s main criticisms of your time in office was your COVID response. In hindsight, would you have done anything differently? Do you feel his characterizations are accurate?

“Minnesota’s response to COVID has been recognized as one of the best in the country. We have lower death rates than our surrounding states, and we also have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation. There are always things you wish you could do differently, but the data show that Minnesota led a strong, balanced response using the best information we had at the time to protect lives and livelihoods.

My opponent, on the other hand, has undermined efforts to save lives and get people vaccinated at every opportunity. He has falsely claimed that the COVID vaccine has caused 10,000 deaths, sued to prevent 12 to 15-year-olds from getting the vaccine and promoted disproven COVID treatments like Ivermectin. He can’t be trusted to tell the truth about the pandemic.”

Abortion is top of mind in this election. Beyond Minnesota’s Supreme Court decision Doe v. Gomez, would you advocate further for any abortion protections?

“After Roe v. Wade was overturned, I issued an executive order to protect people who come to Minnesota for reproductive health care from legal repercussions in anti-choice states. The order prevents state law enforcement agencies from coordinating with anti-abortion states to extradite and prosecute women who come here for reproductive health care.

In my second term, I will fight to ensure that a woman’s right to choose remains protected in Minnesota. My opponent has repeatedly said he would ban abortion – even in cases of rape and incest. That will not happen on my watch.”

President Gabel said at the Sept. 8 Board of Regents meeting that, out of 65 officers, the University of Minnesota Police Department is still short 15. In your proposed supplemental budget last year, you did not include any money for the University’s public safety budget. Even after your recent announcement with State Patrol officers and UMPD, would you do anything different this legislative session?

“Executing the partnership between the State Patrol and UMPD will be a high priority for our administration. By assisting with patrols and bolstering law enforcement capacity in the area, we can help address the safety concerns near campus. I also proposed a plan that would have provided hundreds of millions of dollars to local police departments across the state, including in the Twin Cities. Addressing safety concerns is an inter-agency effort, so strengthening local police departments would help UMPD too.

Unfortunately, my opponent successfully encouraged Senate Republicans to walk away from a bipartisan deal that would have provided hundreds of millions for public safety.”

The Board of Regents, in the last year, has been criticized by students for not making significant decisions with their input. When vacancies appear, what criteria would you use to appoint future regents?

“Ordinarily, legislators fill vacancies on the Board of Regents, not governors. But due to unusual circumstances, I have appointed two, including the first Native person to ever serve on the board. My goal is to find appointees who will do a good job of ensuring that all voices – including student voices – are represented when decisions are made.”

Would you approve any form of state student debt relief or help to make public education in the state cheaper across all fields (apprenticeships, community colleges, public universities, etc.)?

“I was pleased to hear that the Biden Administration was forgiving $10,000 to $20,000 of student debt, but we know that will only help so many Minnesotans. What we need to do now is come together to pass a bill to fix the law that – if left unchanged – will make that debt relief taxable for the purposes of Minnesota state taxes. My opponent has said he does not support this common-sense fix.

We’ve also increased our state financial aid grants across the spectrum of income categories and added funding for 2,700 new students. And our administration helped pave the way for the University of Minnesota and Augsburg to offer tuition and fee waivers for Native students. The state’s Minnesota Indian Scholarship is also now fully funded with no waiting list, and eligibility has been expanded to include all citizens that Tribal nations and Canadian First Nations recognize.

Finally, just this month, we created ‘Direct Admissions Minnesota’ to authorize the direct admission of qualified public high school seniors to participating Minnesota colleges and universities without them having to first formally apply. The new program will address enrollment disparities and ensure that students have the opportunity for admittance to postsecondary institutions.”

Feeding Our Future has also been used as campaign fodder. Regardless of the Judge’s order and your administration’s interpretation of such, what protections would you put in place to ensure an instance like this does not happen again?

“This kind of criminal fraud is completely unacceptable, and the people who carried out this scheme will go to prison. Federal regulations that govern these kinds of programs were relaxed early in the pandemic, which made it much easier for this kind of scheme to succeed. Those regulations are now back in place, which will go a long way toward preventing fraud of this scale and nature from happening again. But we need to do more, which is why we’re also working at a state level to tighten processes and make improvements going forward. I’m committed to rooting out fraud and protecting taxpayer dollars.”

 

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

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  • lostoncampus
    Oct 11, 2022 at 3:24 pm

    Sure Timmy – just like those who stole millions in the Day Care Fraud.