Walz announces new leadership in education, corrections

December 20, 2018 07:22 PM

Minnesota's governor-elect Tim Walz has announced new leadership for some of the state's biggest departments Thursday.

Walz has named Mary Cathryn Ricker as commissioner of education, Dennis Olson, Jr., as commissioner of higher education and Paul Schnell as commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Corrections.

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The announcement comes just days after Walz announced his pick for transportation commissioner and other positions.

Tuesday, Walz named Margaret Anderson Kelliher as his transportation commissioner, who could help push for a gas tax increase.

"The Kelliher appointment tells you this is a very high-profile priority for the governor and he wants top talent pushing his priority," political analyst Steven Schier said. "Margaret Kelliher has had success getting tax increases through the legislature and she will be at it again."

RELATED: Walz pick for transportation commissioner signals gas tax increase

Kelliher was behind the first gas tax increase in 2008.

Walz has said he will consider pushing for a gas tax increase, though it could be tough fight with a split House and Senate.

Political experts have also said many newly-elected suburban Democrats may be nervous about raising prices at the pump.

However, Walz said he believes it would provide more stable funding to fix highways and bridges.

"Minnesotans are looking for leaders who have passionate energy, grounded in a humble approach that builds coalitions to build the lives around the state," Walz said.

RELATED: Walz names first state agency heads

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Rebecca Omastiak & Ashley Zilka

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