Gov. Tim Walz (D-MN) was joined by a large cohort of bipartisan lawmakers, top administrative officials, and local faith leaders Tuesday to discuss the impact of the partial government shutdown on Minnesota.
According to Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans, the state receives roughly $1 billion in federal funding per month, and about a quarter of state agencies are currently affected by the shutdown. The group of state leaders stressed in particular the impact the shutdown is having on programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), veterans health care, and Medicaid.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a one-month extension for SNAP benefits that will last through mid-February, and Walz has directed the Minnesota Department of Human Services to ensure recipients “are informed about any changes to their SNAP food benefits.”
Attorney General Keith Ellison spoke at Tuesday’s press conference and argued that the “literally hundreds of federal streams of income” are “contractually obligated to flow.”
“From the attorney general’s standpoint, we’re here and we are busy working to make sure that these promises are kept. And we’re exploring the remedies that we have available to us to make sure the federal government meets its obligations,” he said.
Ellison went on to reveal that his office is prepared to take legal action against the federal government, and was open to the possibility of a multi-state lawsuit.
“We are researching our legal remedies at this very moment and have been, and we’re prepared to take full use of the legal system to enforce the contracts and the commitments that the federal government has made,” he said. “We’re working with the governor right now, this is a team effort. We’re working with legislative partners. We’re talking with our federal delegation. We’re talking with attorneys general around this country, but we’re prepared to take legal action.”
“It could look like that,” Ellison said in response to questions about seeking a court order to mandate the release of federal payments. “I don’t want to prescribe exactly what we’re going to do at this moment.”
Today, we are announcing our plan to help mitigate the negative effects of the federal government shutdown on communities across our state and protect the critical services Minnesotans need to support their families.If Washington won’t lead, Minnesota will.
Posted by Governor Tim Walz on Tuesday, January 15, 2019
Walz, meanwhile, urged the federal government to “do your job,” saying that “if you’re not going to lead, we will.”
“End this damn thing,” he said at Tuesday’s press conference, noting that the federal government has “left a lot of states on their own.”
“They’ve left a lot of people on their own. This is a state that will not leave anyone behind. This is a state that says we’re all in this together,” Walz said.
When pressed by reporters on who is to blame for the shutdown, he said he “certainly will” fault the president and congress, but said he doesn’t “think it helps in our situation.”
Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan discussed the impact of the shutdown on Minnesota’s tribal communities, whom she said have “been disproportionately impacted.”
“With many tribal community members receiving healthcare and other critical services through the federal government, the shutdown’s ripple effect is particularly large in native communities. This is due to treaty and trust responsibilities that are supposed to be upheld by the federal government,” Flanagan continued.
After the press conference, Walz released a seven-step action plan for monitoring the shutdown’s impact on Minnesota, which can be accessed here.
– – –