Walz, GOP lawmakers at odds on major issues

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Minnesota Governor Tim Walz is optimistic he can reach an agreement with lawmakers on a variety of key issues ranging from the budget surplus to a bonding bill to insulin affordability, but he knows it won’t be easy.

In a one-on-one interview with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Friday, Walz touched on several topics facing state lawmakers this year.

The results of the session won’t come into sharper focus until mid-May, and that includes whether or not a package of state building projects Walz wants will be closer to his $2 billion proposal or the Republicans’ suggestion of half that amount.

"They came up with an arbitrary number before we even knew what our finances were. They’ve been proposing this same number for a little over a decade," Walz said. "We all know inflationary changes now have changed that so what I’m proposing certainly much different than 10 years ago, but the needs are there."

The governor also says he’s frustrated by a lack of willingness to compromise on an insulin affordability bill. He’s even more frustrated by insulin manufacturers he says won’t participate financially in finding a solution.

"I asked and we’ve been fighting on this. I’ve made it clear that I believe Minnesotans should be able to get insulin … the incredible increase in prices on this," Walz said. "I have asked the manufacturers to be partners in this. That’s the sticking point. They don’t want to help … and just yesterday I understand, last evening, the pharmaceutical companies and insulin manufacturers threatened to sue us for trying to get insulin to people. That is a horrible place to start."

There’s also an issue regarding U.S. Bank Stadium financing, with a big surplus coming in from electronic pull-tabs revenue that pay the bonds for the stadium.

"We do have this surplus. I think it’s worth taking a look at is there ways we can use that to benefit the state of Minnesota or does it makes sense to pay those bonds off sooner and save money?" Walz said. "I have not taken a position on it."

Some lawmakers want to use some of that surplus in the stadium fund to pay for other state needs while others say it should be used to pay off the stadium faster. The Minnesota Vikings also want the money to go toward stadium debt.

You can hear more from Walz Sunday at 10 a.m. on KSTP by watching "At Issue."