Minnesota Democrats rejected an amendment to limit monthly rental payments on a temporary governor’s residence to $2,500 a month, calling it a “piddly” amount that doesn’t properly “honor” the people of Minnesota.
Gov. Tim Walz and his family will be temporarily relocating to a Sunfish Lake mansion for 18 months while the governor’s residence in St. Paul is renovated. Monthly rent on the home will exceed $17,000 a month.
“When I heard the number earlier this week, as I’m sure you all did, I had to double check the number and make sure there wasn’t an inadvertent zero added to something,” said Rep. Jim Nash, R-Waconia.
He proposed an amendment to an omnibus state government finance bill during a Thursday committee hearing that would limit the amount that can be spent on a temporary rental property for the executive to $2,500 a month.
“This is a Manhattan solution to a Minnesota problem,” he said of the $17,000 monthly payment.
Democrats said there are no properties available for $2,500 a month that would meet the security needs of the governor.
“I don’t even know where to go with that, $2,500,” said Rep. Ginny Klevorn, DFL-Plymouth. “This amendment, more than any other amendment we have heard this year, is a waste of our time.”
Democrats voted down an amendment that would have limited how much taxpayer money Gov. Walz can spend on rent while the Governor's Mansion undergoes renovations.
He is currently slated to move into a $17,000 per month lakeside mansion. pic.twitter.com/6yscxvBnbi
— MN House GOP War Room (@MNHRCWarRoom) March 30, 2023
She said the governor’s residence should “honor the people of Minnesota because it’s the people’s house, it’s not the governor’s house.”
“If you can find that [$2,500 a month] house, I would be happy to talk with you about that and I’m sure the governor’s team would be happy to look at that as well,” she continued. “Not one of us on this committee wants to waste money. I feel like this amendment is totally a gotcha amendment.”
Rep. Mike Freiberg, DFL-Golden Valley, joked about putting the governor and his security detail in a studio apartment.
“I think your characterization of this as a gotcha amendment is absolutely correct. It’s just not practical. There’s no apartments you could find that would meet the piddly amount put in this amendment,” he said.
Nash said he was open to increasing the amount listed in the amendment.
“What number would you like to put in there? We can do an oral amendment right now here in committee and we could put in an appropriate number,” he said. “I think there are much more modest things that can be found. I’m willing to talk about what is the appropriate amount, but $17,000-plus a month is not that amount.”
The DFL-controlled committee rejected the amendment in an 8-4 vote.