Walz, Flanagan outline efforts to minimize impact of federal government shutdown

January 15, 2019 06:52 PM

Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan on Tuesday announced their administration's efforts to try and minimize the impact of the federal government shutdown on the state.

Now in its 25th day, the shutdown is the longest such closure in U.S. history.

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Walz, Flanagan and other state officials were joined by faith leaders at a press conference Tuesday to discuss how the state will cope with the challenges the shutdown has produced.

"This is an issue that draws us together," Walz said. "It is about responsible government."

KSTP's government shutdown coverage

Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans says every day the shutdown continues brings more uncertainty.

"Uncertainty is not good for the Minnesota economy," Frans said at a news conference in the Governor's Reception Room. "The longer this shutdown goes on the more uncertainty it will bring."

Frans said 6,000 of 17,000 federal workers in Minnesota are either working without pay or on furlough. He says the state also relies on about one billion dollars a month from the federal government to pay for a variety of programs ranging from Medicaid to veteran's programs to food stamps.

"Just to be clear, those are Minnesota's hard-working tax dollars that went to the federal government and we give more to the federal government than we get back than all but three states, so this is a situation of not looking with Minnesota's hand out," Walz said. "This is looking and asking the federal government do your job. If you're not going to lead we will."

The administration's action plan includes:

  • Directing the Minnesota Management and Budget Agency to explore how to cover federal funds unavailable due to the shutdown - including support for Medicaid, highways, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Veterans Health Care and SNAP and school lunch programs.
  • Directing the state's Department of Human Services to ensure Minnesotans are informed about any changes to SNAP benefits.
  • Consulting with tribes to understand "the impact of the shutdown on our sovereign nations and see how the state can help provide assistance."
  • Working closely with the state's Congressional delegation to support those in Minnesota adversely impacted by the shutdown, as well as working with governors across the country on joint action on behalf of the states.
  • Working with state legislators to include language in appropriation bills to affirm that the federal government will reimburse states.
  • Directing General Counsel to work with the state's Attorney General and the Minnesota Management and Budget agency to study legal action against the federal government if there is any failure to reimburse the state.
  • Assigning staff from the governor's office to be part of a statewide contingency response team to monitor the impact of the shutdown on the state and continue evaluating the best response.

Walz said the state will be able to continue on through Feb. 15 without extending funds that have already been appropriated. 

"They've left a lot of states on their own," Walz said of the federal government. "They've left a lot of people on their own. But this is a state that will not leave anyone behind. This is a state that says we're all in this together."

After serving 12 years in Congress and experiencing previous shutdowns, Walz says this one is obviously different and more serious because it's now the longest in history.

"My final message is end this damn thing," Walz said. "Get a compromise and move on."

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