State of the State Address: Walz touts childcare, education investments

Speaking from the Owatonna High School, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz gave his 2024 State of the State Address.

"The work we’re doing to improve the lives of children all across Minnesota," Gov. Walz said on Tuesday evening.

Last year, Gov. Walz touted what he called a progressive vision for Minnesota in his State of the State Address.

This year, he took time to promote investments the state had made from the historic budget surplus lawmakers had last session.

"We’ve made the largest education investments in state history. Expanded access to pre-K and affordable child care," Walz said on Tuesday, while also noting the promotion of green energy investments, and $300 million in local community safety departments. "We’re going to keep building families and communities, roads and bridges, for our kids and their kids – for generations to come."

Walz said that looking toward the future, lawmakers had reached a tentative agreement on budget targets and work done for Minnesotans that would be remembered long after their individual political careers.

"House DFLers share Governor Walz’s vision and goal of building the best state in the nation for children and families. We made historic progress together in last year’s state budget, and as that budget continues to be implemented, it will ensure Minnesotans have more opportunities and tools to build better lives for themselves and their families," said Minnesota House of Representatives Majority Speaker Melissa Hortman in a statement following Walz’s speech. "House DFLers are looking forward to working with the Governor and the Senate to complete the work of this session, including a strong bonding bill. We’ll continue working to build a Minnesota that reflects the values that we all share."

Republican response

Lawmakers across the aisle had a decidedly different view on the current state of things in Minnesota.

"Our governor painted a very rosy picture of Minnesota. While things look good on the surface, I just want to remind you of what we’re dealing with," said Rep. Lisa Demuth (R-Cold Spring), the House Minority Leader, following the speech from Walz. "Under full Democratic control in Minnesota, $18 billion in surplus was spent, and not returned to Minnesota taxpayers in a meaningful way. If Minnesota wasn’t such an expensive place to live, those tax credits wouldn’t be needed."

Republicans pointed to the surplus being spent without noticeable tax relief as a detraction from the slate of accomplishments.

"We grew the government in a way that is unsustainable," said Rep. Demuth.

Republican lawmakers are also intent on increasing provisions for law enforcement, pointing to the recent shooting deaths of three Burnsville first responders as part of the motivation.

"We have serious challenges ahead. While Walz and Democrats keep bringing up the past, we’re looking to the future and the contrast could not be clearer," said Rep. Demuth. "Without balance restored to state government, we are on a crash course to even more partisanship, challenging deficits, and a bureaucratic state government bloated with inefficiencies, fraud, and wasteful spending."