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Walz pitches $226 million budget supplemental

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(The Center Square) – Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz proposed a $226 million supplemental budget funding rural emergency medical services, water quality and child welfare.

Walz said the supplemental addresses “pressing” statewide needs.

“This year, we’re prioritizing the nuts and bolts of state government,” Walz said. “Our supplemental budget delivers on the basic things that good government should provide, including funding for emergency medical services, water quality, and critical infrastructure.”

The supplemental would add to the $72 billion two-year current budget.

The budget plans $16 million to support ambulance services statewide, which have faced severe funding and personnel shortfalls. The budget aims to provide grants to organizations that serve victims of crime, in addition to funding services to prevent recidivism and overdoses for people released from prisons and jails.

The budget includes an additional 2,200 voluntary pre-K seats to prepare children for success and enhance their pre-reading, pre-math, language, and social skills.

The 2024 supplemental budget would provide funding for in-home water treatment, well replacement, and other services for contaminated wells. The supplemental budget also acts as a state match for federal Climate Pollution Reduction Grant that Minnesota is applying for in a competitive process.

The budget includes a $989 million infrastructure plan for drinking water, transportation, housing, and critical state infrastructure.

Sen. Andrew Lang, R-Olivia, said the proposed $16 million for EMS is a “laughable” amount.

“This summer we heard how rural communities are struggling to find and provide the care they need for emergencies,” Lang said in a statement. “This is not a luxury, in many cases it’s life or death. Suggesting $16 million in enough to triage the situation is offensive. The cost of an ambulance is about $400,000, and if distributed equally, $16 million is about $40,000 per primary service area.

Lang said that Walz left $3.5 billion in the state surplus.

“With $3.5 billion left on the bottom line, I’m stunned to learn the Governor wants to pinch pennies before funding emergency medical services for greater Minnesota,” Lang continued. “This is a laughable amount and no one should be proud of this proposal.”

The Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy welcomed the proposed $4 million to remediate nitrate pollution of drinking water in Southeast Minnesota.

“Thank you to @GovTimWalz & @LtGovFlanagan for including over $4 million in your supplemental budget to kick off Minnesota’s response to the nitrate pollution of drinking water in SE Minnesota,” the group posted on social media. “MN is leading among midwestern states in our response to pollution of private wells.”

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