Self-described ‘Walz Checks’ blasted as ‘election year gimmick’

Republicans criticized the "Walz Checks" as a stunt designed to get votes in the upcoming gubernatorial election.

Lorie Shaull/Flickr

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz is proposing a new budget package that includes $700 million worth of direct payments to Minnesotans called “Walz Checks.”

But Minnesota Republicans are blasting the checks as a distraction, an “election year gimmick,” and something that’s no longer good policy.

Gov. Walz, in an announcement with Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, said just a few of the goals of their proposed budgetary supplements are to cut taxes, expand technical education, and support “frontline workers” and caregivers.

“This plan builds our economy by putting people — our strongest asset — at the center of the blueprint. Right now, we have a remarkable opportunity to give money back to middle class Minnesotans, working families, and small businesses,” said Walz. “In this budget, if you are a frontline worker with children, earning up to $70,000 per year, you will get about $2,000 back in your pocket.”

The proposed “Walz Checks” would distribute up to $350 or more to 2.7 million Minnesota households. Republican legislators, however, aren’t thrilled with the idea.

“There is strong, bipartisan agreement with Gov. Walz to repay the unemployment insurance trust fund, and protect businesses from an unnecessary and harmful tax increase,” said House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt. “With a $7.7 billion surplus, the money is there, and we should do it week one so we can give certainty to our businesses and prevent it from being held hostage for other unrelated issues.”

In addition to calling for actual tax relief, Deputy House Minority Leader Anne Neu Brindley and Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller criticized the “Walz Checks” as a stunt designed to get votes in the upcoming gubernatorial election.

“Instead of gimmicky checks designed to boost approval ratings, we need permanent and ongoing tax relief,” said Neu Brindley. “Sending just a fraction of the surplus back to Minnesotans is unacceptable, especially with inflation at record levels. House Republicans will push for meaningful and permanent tax relief, and to send as much of the surplus back to Minnesotans as possible.”

Sen. Miller added that Walz’s proposed budget supplements don’t allocate “one dime” for the hiring of more police officers.

And in his own statement, Minnesota GOP Chair David Hann called the proposals “another taxpayer-funded spending spree that will only serve to drive up inflation while families and businesses already suffer under record-breaking price increases.”

Walz’s suggested budgetary supplements come on the heels of the 2022 Local Jobs and Projects Plan announced earlier this week. In that he and Lt. Gov. Flanagan are recommending $2.7 billion in taxpayer-owned historical asset and infrastructure preservation, affordable housing projects, and “environmental stewardship projects.”