Minnesota Gov. Walz taking 'State of the State' address on the road

Gov. Tim Walz is taking his 2024 State of the State address on the road to the southern Minnesota city of Owatonna.

“Minnesota’s made a lot of progress in the last year, and I’m excited to talk about what’s next in our fight to make Minnesota the best place to live, work, and raise a family,” the Democratic governor said last week in a social media post previewing his Tuesday night speech.


Some of the themes Walz has said he will address include how Democrats have used their full control of the statehouse to try to make people’s lives easier, improving education, implementing gun safety laws and protecting abortion and other reproductive rights. He picked Owatonna High School as the setting to highlight how the community has made big investments in the relatively new school and in workforce development.

Tim Walz

FILE – Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz speaks at a press conference after two police officers and a first responder were shot and killed Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024, in Burnsville, Minn. Gov. Walz is taking his 2024 State of the State address on the road to the southern Minnesota city of Owatonna. He says Minnesota has made a lot of progress in the last year. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr, file)

This will be Walz’s sixth State of the State speech since becoming governor in 2019. Governors traditionally deliver them at the Capitol to large audiences of lawmakers, but he gave his 2020 address by himself via livestream from his official residence to stay socially distanced during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. He faced another online-only audience in 2021 when he spoke from Mankato West High School, where he was once a geography teacher and football coach.

Walz returned to the Capitol for his 2022 address and again for last year’s address, which he used to draw stark contrasts between Minnesota and Republican-led states. He highlighted how Democrats used their new control over state government to enact an ambitious liberal agenda, bucking the backlash seen in red states against abortion rights, trans rights, pushes for racial equity and other cultural flashpoints.

The governor and his fellow Democrats are pursuing a much more modest agenda this legislative session, given that the two-year state budget was set in 2023. While the state’s budget surplus inched up to $3.7 billion in a forecast released last month, Walz and legislative leaders agreed last week to spend only about $541 million of the extra money and bank the rest to stave off a potential shortfall in the next budget.


So the main task this session is still a public infrastructure borrowing package known as a bonding bill. The governor proposed a combination of $982 million in borrowing and cash in January. Even after lawmakers weigh in, the final package is still expected to have an unglamorous focus on maintaining existing infrastructure, like roads, bridges and water treatment facilities.

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