While Republicans touted their allegiance to their homeplaces in Greater Minnesota in the last few elections, the Democrat from Greater Minnesota is making those promises come true.
And he’s doing it with a strategy and tone that yields to the consent of the governed.
Gov. Tim Walz, the first governor from Mankato in a century, will likely set down other historical markers before his term is up.
Just two months into the Walz administration, taxpayers in Greater Minnesota can start to feel that they won’t be left behind. Walz has proposed reinstating their local government aid lost as the hands of the Republican governor from Twin Cities nearly two decades ago.
There is no real argument about greatly expanding broadband in greater Minnesota, when just a few years ago a Republican committee chairman wanted to wait for better technology. A Republican House and Senate finally went kicking and screaming along with Gov. Mark Dayton’s broadband proposals that were usually double the dollars of the GOP plan.
The Republican talk of backing up Greater Minnesota and shutting down the “wasteful light rail” sounded good in Greater Minnesota, but mostly wasn’t true. Gas tax money is constitutionally guaranteed to roads and bridges and can’t go to fund light rail even when the GOP campaigners were making it sound like it did.
Walz has proposed increasing school funding in a way that again looks to local school boards to decide what to do with that money.
Critics say Walz won’t be able to deliver on all his promises due to budget restraints, but he argues these proposals were born of a statewide listening tour. It’s what the people favor.
It’s a simple, yet reasonable argument. If Minnesotans want Walz to spend less, there hasn’t been much of outcry from people to consolidate schools, or charge more for broadband. Most people don’t favor going another year without fixing potholes.
Walz’s governing style reflects his background as a teacher. He gathers evidence, verifies facts and draws reasonable conclusions. Politics are a concern but not an obsession.
So far, he has been successful at bipartisan deal making also. A recent compromise on the MNLARS auto licensing fix was a major win-win given the political backdrop.
Walz also questions the conventional wisdom. When he met resistance from doing a large bonding bill where the tradition has been to do them every other year, he asked why. So interest rates can go up?
Walz isn’t the first governor to tout the concerns of Greater Minnesotan in a campaign slogan, but he does appear to be the first in a long time to take those concerns seriously and be willing to spend money to make sure they’re addressed.