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January 24, 2022

Governor Walz and House DFL Announce Their Vision for 2022 

A week from today, the Minnesota Legislature will gavel in the 2022 legislative session. While the House of Representatives will continue to conduct most of its activities remotely, the Senate is expected to have some sense of normalcy as the Minnesota Senate Building will be partially open to the public with access by appointment and hybrid committee hearings.

 The legislature is expected to focus the majority of its energy on the biennial capital investment or “bonding” bill and the allocation of a record state budget surplus. In early December the Minnesota Department of Revenue announced a historic $7.7 billion budget surplus, the largest in state history. However, Democrats and Republicans hold near polar-opposite views on what should be done with that money. Matters are further complicated by 2022 being an election year for all 201 legislators and the governor. Add in the state’s ongoing response to COVID-19 and it’s likely this session will be highly contentious.

Walz Releases Recommendations for 2022 Bonding Bill:

Last week Gov. Tim Walz’s released his recommendations for what would be a record-setting $2.7 billion capital investment. In his announcement, Walz presented the package as being intended to focus on job creation, equity, infrastructure, and local projects. “Our 2022 Local Jobs and Projects plan will help build stronger, safer, and more equitable communities across the state,” said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. Some key aspects of the bill include:

  • $260 million to the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State (formerly MnSCU) schools.
  • $120 million for local bridge replacements; $90 million for local road improvement projects; and $200 million in local water infrastructure grants and loans.
  • $450 million in affordable housing projects, including $250 million in housing infrastructure bonds.
  • $400 million in community building projects with $100 million dedicated to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) communities.
  • $111 million to the Department of Natural Resources for building repair and trail preservation.
  • $262 million in environmental stewardship which includes:
    • $20 million for flood hazard mitigation
    • $8 million for dam repairs
    • $60 million for improvements to bus rapid transit
    • and $13.8 million investment in statewide electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

House DFL Leadership Announce 2022 Priorities:

Last week House DFL leadership announced their vision for the 2022 legislative session, which includes a legislative agenda that they hope will support workers, increase affordable housing, and address the unemployment insurance trust fund deficit. Speaker of the House Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Center) and Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley) both indicated the previously agreed-upon $250 million for frontline worker pay is an extremely urgent matter this session. Both Hortman and Winkler have advocated for increasing the funds dedicated to worker bonuses as a way of breaking the nearly five-month deadlock.

According to DFL leadership, Rep. Ruth Richardson (DFL-Mendota Heights) and Rep. Liz Olson (DFL-Duluth) will again take leadership positions in promoting paid family and medical leave and earned sick & safe time proposals respectively. When combined, the two DFL proprieties are expected to cost $1.6 billion for the first two years. Meanwhile, Rep. Mohamud Noor (DFL-Minneapolis) and Rep. Rob Ecklund (DFL-International Falls) will take the lead on affordable housing, broadband, and the looming $1.2 billion deficit in the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund.

Gov. Walz Releases Supplemental Budget Proposal 

On Thursday, Gov Walz released his recommendation for the 2022 supplemental budget. Highlights include $1 billion in frontline worker pay—effectively quadrupling the $250 million set aside as part of the 2021 budget agreement—and $700 million in direct payments to taxpayers, colloquially being referred to as ‘Walz Checks’ (alluding to the ‘Jesse Checks’ issued in the late 1990’s as part of a budget surplus proposal promoted by then-Gov. Jesse Ventura). Details of the governor’s budget recommendations include:

  • Frontline Worker Pay: Appropriates $1 billion in one-time payments to frontline workers (including first responders, hospital staff, homecare workers, and others deemed “essential” in early 2020 who were unable to work remotely). The governor’s proposal would cover eligible workers who make $70,000 or less and would amount to a roughly $2,000 payment per worker. 
  • ‘Walz Checks:’ The proposal would include roughly $700 million in direct cash payments. Couples making up $273,470 can get $350 and single taxpayers making up to $164,400 can get $175 in direct payments. An estimated 2.7 million Minnesotans would be eligible for a payment.
  • Workforce Development: Gov. Walz’s proposal allocates $115 million for workforce retention targeting individuals who provide care for people with disabilities. The budget proposal also included $15 million for the Department of Employment and Economic Development to modernize its workforce development program.
  • Tax Cuts for Families and Small Businesses: The Walz proposal allocates $2.73 billion to restore it to the pre-pandemic balance and offset tax increases designed to help restore the fund. The proposal also includes an increase to the income threshold and maximum credit amount for Minnesota’s Dependent Care Credit. The budget also recommends increasing eligibility for the Education Credit to make it easier for Minnesotans to buy school supplies.
  • Broadband: The proposal included $170 million in broadband funding to increase internet access for rural Minnesotans as part of the state’s “Border-to-Border” program, effectively ensuring 93% of Minnesotans have access to high-speed internet.
  • Agriculture: The proposal also includes a $10 million investment for farmers who suffered losses during last year's drought, including $5 million in rapid response grants to livestock producers and specialty crop growers and $5 million for the Rural Finance Authority’s Disaster Recovery Loan Program. 


House DFL Climate Caucus Announces 2022 Initiative:

The House DFL Climate Caucus announced a $1 billion plan to fight climate change. The plan consists of about 30 separate bills tackling different issues. The plan invests $105 million in energy, $130 in land, $355 million in built environment, and the largest portion invests a massive $376 million in transportation. However, it’s not very clear how the collection of bills will be received by the Republican-controlled Senate.

Please reach out to any of the Larkin Hoffman Government Relations team members with any questions. 


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Larkin Hoffman provides counsel to a wide variety of ‎organizations, from ‎small businesses and nonprofits to  Fortune 500 companies, in ‎many areas of practice including ‎corporate and governance matters, litigation, real ‎estate, government relations, labor and employment, intellectual property, ‎information technology, ‎franchising and taxation. The firm also serves the needs of individuals in many ‎areas ‎including trusts and estates, personal injury and family law.


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