Walz won’t provide clear answer on school vaccine mandates

He also criticized Gov. Walz for endorsing Rep. Ilhan Omar after she called for “dismantling” the Minneapolis Police Department. 

Dr. Scott Jensen and Gov. Tim Walz participate in their final debate Friday afternoon on MPR. (MPR News/YouTube)

Dr. Scott Jensen repeatedly called on Gov. Tim Walz to provide direct answers to Minnesota voters during a debate Friday afternoon in what was the last and most intense meeting of the two candidates before the election.

The last time Jensen was on a debate stage, he stood next to an empty podium.

“I think Minnesota parents want to know right now, will Tim Walz pledge to never mandate COVID-19 vaccines for their kids in order to attend school?” Jensen asked Walz, pressing the governor on the CDC’s recent decision to add COVID shots to its childhood immunization schedule.

“There’s a process that will come forward on recommendations. Right now, there is no plan to do that,” Walz said but then claimed he will “see what future iterations of COVID bring.”

“We will see what happens with some of the new variants,” he said. “But to make this pledge, Scott is saying no matter what happens we will never look at it. There’s a process in place. It’s not the governor’s decision to make.”

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, only 3.5% of children between six months and four years old have received a completed vaccine series. Just 0.4% of children ages 5-11 and 4.7% of children ages 12-15 are up to date on their booster shots.

On the topic of education, Jensen pressed Walz to clearly explain what he means when he calls for “fully funding” schools. Jensen said Minnesotans already pay more for public education than neighboring states but aren’t seeing positive results.

Walz provided the example of increasing funding for mental health services in schools.

With crime top of mind for voters, Walz cited his administration’s mobilization of the State Patrol over the summer and promoted his proposed $300 million public safety plan.

Jensen said he would like to increase the number of cops on the street, mandate minimum sentences for certain violent crimes, and hold negligent prosecutors accountable.

“We can’t have our people going rogue and saying I’m not going to enforce these crimes or these felonies,” Dr. Jensen said of prosecutors.

He also criticized Gov. Walz for endorsing Rep. Ilhan Omar after she called for “dismantling” the Minneapolis Police Department.

The moderator ended the debate by asking Walz to explain when he found out about Feeding Our Future’s allegedly fraudulent activities.

“When the case came forward in November, when Feeding Our Future was suing the Minnesota Department of Education, who were the whistleblowers on this, who were very early there and who understood that they needed to do something, they brought that case forward, Feeding Our Future, and it’s at that point that we knew,” Walz replied.

Jensen said over $200 million went out the door “after Tim Walz was made aware of this.”

“We had a billion dollars of cost overruns with the Southwest light rail. We had hundreds of millions in daycare. We had tens of millions that did not help house the homeless. Over and over again we have seen a culture of waste, fraud, abuse, and cost overruns swept under the rug,” he continued.

The debate was the final chance for voters to hear directly from the candidates before the Nov. 8 election, which polls show could be one of the closest gubernatorial contests in years.


Alexander Henderson

Alexander Henderson is a freelance writer with a background in management and a degree in business finance.