Governor Visits New Hope Gas Station to Highlight $2 Billion Plan for ‘Walz Checks’
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz visited a New Hope gas station Thursday morning to highlight rising prices and how his revised budget proposal will directly impact Minnesotans who need help the most.
The governor’s revised budget comes after the state’s projected budget surplus swelled to $9.3 billion. There is uncertainty whether Republicans and Democrats in the legislature can agree on the use of those funds. Walz believes there can be bipartisan support.
‘Walz Checks’ Would Include Tax Rebates Up To $1,000
“They’re hearing the same thing I’m hearing from people – ‘give me the money back,'” said Walz. “I think many of them understand that we invest collectively together, but a portion of this right now would really help families.”
The governor’s revised budget includes increasing direct payments to tax filers. Single filers earning up to $164,400 would receive a $500 payment. Couples jointly earning up to $273,470 would receive $1,000. The proposal totals $2 billion, an increase of $1.3 billion. The original budget called for single filers and married couples to receive payments of $175 and $350 respectively.
Gas Station Owners: ‘We see less traffic on site’
Chris and Mesa Robbins, the owners of the New Hope Holiday gas station on Bass Lake Road, say rising gas prices actually hurts them more than it helps. That’s because the profit margin on gas for convenience store owners is razor thin.
“What we see is people tend to drive less when the gas prices are high, they’re cautious of that. A fill up can cost over a $100 if you have a full-size vehicle. We see less traffic on site, less people going into the store, which obviously doesn’t help,” said Chris Robbins.
Robbins also takes an extra hit on a credit card purchases for gas over $100 because the merchant fee increases.
Walz believes his proposal would be the quickest and easiest way to help Minnesotans feeling the effects of rising costs.
“I think being careful about massive changes to the tax code at a time of great instability can cause great disruption,” said Walz, who mentioned Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine as another factor.
Budget Revision Proposal Includes Funds for Public Safety, Health Care
The revised budget from the Walz-Flanagan administration also includes extra funds for other priorities, such as public safety and health care. Those priorities include:
- A total of $15.6 million over the next two biennial fiscal cycles to replace one of the State Patrol’s aging helicopters.
- More than $20 million total over next two biennial fiscal cycles to continue a state program training certified nursing assistants (CNAs). The proposal aims to recruit and train approximately 3,000 each year. Data from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development lists this profession as sixth most in-demand job in the state.
- An additional $153 million over three years to recruit and retrain frontline workers who provide essential care for people with disabilities, older adults, people with behavioral health needs, and people experiencing homelessness. The total investment is more than $268 million over three years.
- Additional funding of $20 million for emergency shelter services for a total of $115 million. Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan said this funding would go a long way to reversing what she described as “decades of underinvestment” in helping Minnesotans who experience homelessness.
The governor’s original budget proposal also includes providing $1,500 payments to frontline workers. That proposal rests in the hands of the GOP-led Minnesota Senate. The DFL-controlled House approved the measure by a 71-61 vote.
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