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Walz announces plan to minimize government shutdown for Minnesotans

Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan announced Tuesday, Jan. 15, the administration's plan to minimize the impact of the federal government shutdown on Minnesotans.

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Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz addressed reporters at the Capitol Monday, Jan. 7, 2019. He took the oath of office to become the state's 41st governor earlier that day. File photo: DANA FERGUSON / FORUM NEWS SERVICE
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Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan announced Tuesday, Jan. 15, the administration's plan to minimize the impact of the federal government shutdown on Minnesotans.

"The current federal government shutdown is the longest closure in our nation's history and the impacts are being felt here in Minnesota," Walz said in a news release. "The dysfunction in Washington must be met with deliberate and thoughtful leadership in Minnesota. Our plan will help mitigate the negative effects of the shutdown on communities across our state and protect the critical services Minnesotans need to support their families. If Washington won't lead, Minnesota will."

The Walz administration's action plan

• Federal grants help fund critical services in Minnesota. This includes support for Medicaid, highways, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, veterans health care, and food security programs such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program called SNAP and school lunch. Walz directed Minnesota Management and Budget to explore how to cover federal funds unavailable because of the shutdown.

• The U. S. Department of Agriculture issued a one-month extension of SNAP payments. However, the benefits for February will be loaded onto recipients' cards about Jan. 20. Many may not know the reason for this change or that those benefits will need to last until the end of February. Walz directed the Department of Human Services to help ensure Minnesotans are informed about any changes to their SNAP food benefits.

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• Tribal communities have been disproportionately impacted by the federal shutdown. Tribes are experiencing immediate budgetary cuts to tribal government and to Indian Health Service offices. Indian Health Services had to furlough staff. With many tribal members receiving their health care and other critical services through the federal government, the shutdown's ripple effect is particularly large in Native communities. The administration has begun consultation with tribes to understand the impact of the shutdown on sovereign nations and see how the state can help provide assistance.

• Walz reported he is working closely with Minnesota's Congressional Delegation to support Minnesotans adversely affected by the shutdown and coordinate with governors across the country to join together in action on behalf of states.

• It is critical to hold the federal government accountable for reimbursing Minnesota for the actions taken to ensure the state continues to run smoothly amid the shutdown, the governor's office reported. Walz stated he is committed to working with state legislators to include language in necessary appropriation bills to affirm that the federal government will reimburse states.

• The administration will work with the state attorney general's office to navigate legal issues to ensure Minnesotans are protected from the consequences of the federal shutdown. Walz directed his general counsel to engage with the attorney general and Minnesota Management and Budget to analyze legal remedies against the federal government if there is any failure to reimburse the state of Minnesota.

• As the shutdown continues, the action plan announced this week will need to be assessed on an ongoing basis, the governor's office stated. Walz assigned staff from his office to participate in the Statewide Contingency Response Team, which will continue to monitor the impacts of the shutdown and reevaluate the state's response.

Related Topics: PEGGY FLANAGAN
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