Gov. Tim Walz is doubling down on sending money directly to Minnesotans, totaling around $2,000. Republicans are calling it a "gimmick" with elections right around the corner.
It's unlikely that a special session will happen again at any point for the remainder of the year, as state GOP and DFL lawmakers seem to be at a crossroads on multiple topics. One of them being the state's surplus money.
Walz renewed the push to use the money to give back to Minnesota taxpayers this week. Under his proposal, more than 2.7 million Minnesota residents would receive non-taxed payments, totaling $1,000 for individuals or $2,000 for couples. Individuals would have to make under $164,400 in income annually and couples would have to make less than $274,470 to qualify for the direct payment.
It's a renewed effort from a previous proposal from Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan's supplemental budget in January.
"It's simply unconscionable to be sitting on a $7 billion dollars while Minnesotans are trying to make those bill payments," the governor said Wednesday morning, referring to the recent inflation and gas price hike.
Republicans have claimed that Walz is "playing games with Minnesotans," showing their continued disapproval with the payment proposal.
House Minority Speaker Kurt Daudt told reporters Wednesday afternoon it was "election year desperation" on Walz's part, claiming that inflation and gas prices are due to "his policies."
"What Minnesotans really need is long-term, permanent tax relief," Daudt said. "We need to leave money in the pockets of Minnesotans, put money back in the pockets of Minnesotans, permanently — not just one time."
Daudt also claimed the governor's tax-free payments won't be untaxed. However, he said he would be open to one-time payments if they are part of a permanent tax cut plan, extending into the future.
The back and forth between Minnesota DFL and GOP members dates back to 2020. But most recently, talks between lawmakers on both sides fell apart, which resulted in a total of $7.2 billion of an original $9.2 billion budget surplus that went unused.
Walz has stated that he will refuse to call a special session without an agreement due to the belief that Senate GOP members would threaten to remove another of his commissioners as retribution, just as they did in 2020.
During the news conference Wednesday, Walz also made it a point to temporarily suspend the gas tax if the State Legislature approves. President Joe Biden did the same on Wednesday, calling on Congress to suspend the federal gas tax until further notice.