Minnesota governor to use American Rescue Plan funds for law enforcement, gun locks
Gov. Tim Walz said he would dip into the remaining American Rescue Plan funds on Tuesday after negotiations about a special session to debate billions of dollars in supplemental spending and tax relief failed.
ST. PAUL — Gov. Tim Walz on Tuesday, June 28, announced a plan to spend just under $40 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds to boost public safety, mental health and child care needs around the state.
After negotiations for a special legislative session to pass $8 billion in tax relief and new spending fizzled to a halt last week, Walz said that he would use remaining American Rescue Plan dollars to increase funding to law enforcement agencies, the Department of Corrections and other groups that requested dollars from the state.
The new funding falls short of what Walz proposed in his supplemental budget proposal earlier this year but increases expenditures to some of his top priority items. Lawmakers on the Legislative COVID-19 Response Commission will have to green-light the plan before it could take effect.
"We put that money into programs specifically focused around gun violence prevention, around public safety ... some of the things I wish the Legislature would've been able to do and didn't," Walz told reporters at the Capitol.
Under the proposal, the Minnesota State Patrol and Department of Natural Resources Officers could see an additional $4 million to fill budget gaps, almost $5 million would help the Department of Corrections to address staffing shortages and $7 million would go toward opening up additional spots in the Child Care Assistance Program.
The governor's office also proposed starting a campaign to help Minnesotans learn about how to safely store firearms and provide free cable gun locks at community events.
School-based mental health programs could also see a $7 million boost under the plan and food banks, food shelves and other nutrition support programs could receive an extra $5 million.
Minnesota district and charter schools would also get an additional $1.5 million to increase teacher diversity, emergency shelters in Hennepin and Ramsey Counties would receive $7.8 million to keep housing people experiencing homelessness and $1.9 million would be set aside to pay workers' compensation claims for certain state workers who contracted COVID-19 earlier this year.