Incumbent's View: Always trying to do what's right as governor protects Minnesotans' freedoms
From the column exclusive to the News Tribune: "We still have more work to do. We need to expand opportunities for good-paying union jobs, not undermine them."
It’s no secret Minnesota has faced unprecedented challenges these last few years. Yet it was Minnesotans’ grit, determination, and care for their neighbors that helped our state overcome these challenges. We have met with Minnesotans across the state, listening to your challenges and accomplishments, and we are working to move our state forward so no one is left behind.
Together, we led Minnesota through the pandemic and saved lives with a response guided by scientists, doctors, and public health experts. Now, Minnesota has the lowest unemployment rate in the nation, the second-highest job-participation rate, and the fifth-highest job growth of any state. And earlier this year, we took bipartisan action that will get hero pay to the frontline workers who put themselves on the line for Minnesota during the pandemic. That’s because we led a recovery focused on helping working and middle-class families.
We made bipartisan progress that has improved Minnesotans’ lives. By bringing Republicans and Democrats together, we passed legislation to help thousands of Minnesota families afford insulin — and, in 2021, that law helped save Minnesotans millions of dollars. We also passed bipartisan solutions to address the devastating impact of the opioid crisis.
But we still have more work to do. We need to expand opportunities for good-paying union jobs, not undermine them. I am pushing the state Legislature to use Minnesota’s surplus to send $2,000 checks to Minnesota families, getting their hard-earned money back into their pockets. We need to make paid family leave and affordable child care available to all Minnesotans — because we can’t grow our economy for the middle class if we force families to choose between their families and their jobs.
As a former public school teacher and high school football coach, I know how important well-funded, well-supported schools are for our kids. I’m proud that we got a historic investment for our classrooms during my term, but we can do more. My opponent has proposed defunding and privatizing schools while eliminating the income tax for Minnesota’s wealthiest families. That would force local governments to raise property taxes and consider teacher layoffs and program cuts at our kids’ schools.
Rising crime is an issue across the country, but here in Minnesota, I’m working to tackle it head-on. My plan invests in local police departments to make our neighborhoods safer. I support more funding to help police departments hire more officers and give law enforcement the tools they need to get guns off our streets. But I’m not waiting for the Legislature to take action. Our administration is working to deploy our State Patrol and assist local law enforcement in curbing violent crime and holding criminals accountable. And I will continue pushing at the state Capitol to give local police departments the resources they need to tackle crime and hire and train officers.
My opponent has a different vision for Minnesota, one that takes us backward. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade has made the governor’s office the last line of defense against an abortion ban in Minnesota. My opponent has pledged repeatedly to ban abortion, even for victims of rape and incest. Now, he is trying to rewrite his past remarks. But let’s be clear: A woman’s right to choose what to do with her body is absolutely on the ballot. As long as I am your governor, that will never happen on my watch.
My opponent has also shown a dangerous enthusiasm for conspiracy theories and political retaliation. This spring, he suggested our Secretary of State Steve Simon be thrown in jail, citing baseless conspiracy theories about the 2020 election. And he vowed that if he becomes governor, he would fire the leadership of the state Board of Medical Practice, which has been investigating his medical license for pushing COVID-19 conspiracy theories and dangerous disproven treatments like ivermectin.
That kind of divisiveness is dangerous, and it’s not how we’re going to move Minnesota forward. We can only do that by working together. That’s how we grow our economy, improve our public schools, make our neighborhoods safer, and protect our rights and freedoms.
I haven’t gotten everything right, but I have always tried to do what’s right for Minnesota, and I will continue doing that in my second term.
Tim Walz of St. Paul is the DFL governor of Minnesota. He wrote this exclusively for the News Tribune at the invitation of the Opinion page.