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Gov.-elect Walz says Capitol gridlock will fall to him

Minnesota Lt. Gov.-elect Peggy Flanagan, left, Gov.-elect Tim Walz, center, and Gwen Walz walk toward the Capitol Thursday, Oct. 8, in St. Paul. Dana Ferguson / Forum News Service1 / 2
Minnesota Gov.-elect Tim Walz, left, and Lt. Gov.-elect Peggy Flanagan, right, speak with reporters Thursday, Oct. 8, at the Capitol. Dana Ferguson / Forum News Service2 / 2

ST. PAUL -- Governor-elect Tim Walz on Thursday said it would be his responsibility to break up political gridlock in the Statehouse.

Facing the country’s only split Legislature, Walz said he planned to take it upon himself to work with legislative leaders to avoid a political impasse.

“I think the responsibility falls with the governor to try and alleviate it as much as they can,” Walz said Oct. 8. “If it’s being gridlocked for purely political reasons, that story will get out, but I do think the responsibility to break that initially starts in this office.”

In the hours since winning his election Tuesday, Walz said he reached out to leaders on both sides of the political aisle to discuss their priorities. And he told reporters about some of his top goals; among them were proposals to bring the state’s tax codes in line with new federal tax law, implement a gas tax and drive down the cost of health insurance.

Walz also said he would also push legislation aimed at preventing gun violence in the wake of a shooting in a southern California nightclub that killed 12.

Republican Senate leaders said they'd also reached out to Walz and could find common ground on tax conformity and making health insurance more affordable. But they said lawmakers should reconsider a gas tax.

"People that say they want a gas tax are really saying, 'We want roads and bridges funded,' and so we’re all committed to making sure that we do that," Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka told reporters.

With a one-vote advantage in the Senate, Gazelka also promised to act as a check on DFL proposals that Republicans' viewed as going too far.

"If it's too far out of bounds, if we don't think it's in the best interest of Minnesota, it's just not going to get there," Gazelka said.

Walz also announced his transition team's first appointments on Thursday and invited Minnesotans to share their ideas with him via his website, mn.gov/tim-walz/.

He didn't say whether he planned to bring on Dayton administration commissioners and said his family was still weighing whether they would move into the governor’s residence in St. Paul.

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