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Gimmick or no gimmick? Walz asks Minnesotans to weigh in on $1K rebate check plan

Faced with growing inflation, gas prices and interest rate hikes, Gov. Tim Walz proposed the one-time checks. He's not been able to find GOP support for the idea.

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 Wednesday, July 27, again pressed Republicans in the Legislature to return for a special session to take up proposed $1,000 rebate checks for Minnesotans.

It's not a new pitch. Walz for months has asked lawmakers to green-light the plan to use part of the state's $9 billion surplus to send money back to taxpayers.

But this time, the first-term Democratic-Farmer-Labor governor pushed back on the notion that the idea was an election year gimmick and countered that those opposed to the idea were the ones pushing a campaign ploy.

“I think it is absolutely unconscionable that we are sitting on money in the bank of Minnesota and it could go right back to families in cash right now,” Walz said during a news conference rolling out a 10-year plan for economic growth.

“I keep hearing, ‘It’s a gimmick you want to give back funds,’" he continued. "Well to that logic, it’s a gimmick not to give back funds, so I’ll let Minnesotans decide."

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Republican leaders rebuff idea

Democrats at the Capitol have supported the calls for a special legislative session to take up the rebate checks, a tax plan, as well as spending bills aimed at public safety, transportation and education.

But Republicans have said they don't support the rebate check idea and opposed a special session after the Legislature closed out the regular session without passing several tax and spending bills.

Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, on Thursday said GOP lawmakers who hold a majority in that chamber wanted to return for a special session to pass an $8.5 billion tax bill.

The Senate approved the plan earlier this year that would drop the lowest tax rate bracket and eliminate the tax on social security benefits.

"At a time when people are struggling with record high rates of inflation and retirement accounts are shrinking, we feel it’s more important than ever to give the money back," Miller said in a statement.

Leaders in the DFL-led House opposed the Senate tax bill and said lawmakers should pass a compromise plan, along with other supplemental budget bills.

Walz is the only person who can call a legislative session and he has said he would like to do so once legislative leaders can agree to the terms of what they'd take up during their time back at the Capitol.

House Deputy Minority Leader Ann Neu Brindley, R-North Branch, on Thursday said the push to return to take up rebate checks was "comical."

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"We had an entire legislative session to get these things done and they didn't get it done," Neu Brindley said. "That's just comical to say that as soon as the session ends, 'Oh, well, now the Democrat House says we've got to get this done.' That's silliness."

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

Related Topics: GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
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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