Jun 10, 2020
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz June 10 Press Conference Transcript
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz held a June 10 press conference. Walz discussed police accountability and a special session is to be held Friday. He also said he hopes COVID-19 cases have plateaued in MN. Read the details in his speech here.
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Peggy Flanagan: (00:00)
Shook me to my core. She said, “God gave you Philando, but Philando wasn’t enough. And now God has given you George Floyd.” We cannot let this opportunity pass. It is too important. We will not Minnesota nice our way out of the situation we find ourselves in. This requires bold action. Special sessions have become not so special in that they are a regular occurrence in the cycle of Minnesota politics, but what’s before us in this moment is not business as usual. It is an extraordinary opportunity in an unprecedented moment. We must work with black and brown communities to pass meaningful changes to public safety and criminal justice systems. We must rebuild an economy that lifts up all Minnesotans, especially people of color and those in greater Minnesota, whose economic wellbeing and businesses has been hit the hardest.
Peggy Flanagan: (01:17)
We must follow our black, indigenous, and people of color, the leaders who’ve been doing this work for generations and on the front lines who have been continuously bringing solutions, but have not yet been truly heard. The entire world is watching Minnesota. They’re watching what happens next after the charges are filed, after the demonstrations end, and as folks desire to return to normal, will anything change. Normal was not working for people of color. This require systemic change. And our answer must be yes, that we are ready to step into this moment, that Minnesota can be a model and our state can show how we can listen to communities. They will be heard and seen and valued. And the solutions that come directly from them will be the solutions that we move in the legislature. Thank you
Tim Walz: (02:35)
With that. The Lieutenant governor and I are … And we have the Commissioner Harrington here and Myron Frans here from MMB to talk about what’s next so-
Peggy Flanagan: (02:46)
I was reading your executive order and down at the bottom, you extend the peace time emergency.
Tim Walz: (02:51)
Peggy Flanagan: (02:51)
So that’s what triggered the session, right? Not your [ego 00:00:02:55]?
Tim Walz: (02:55)
Yes. Well, we are extending the emergency. The emergency is still upon us. And again, Minnesota law is vague on a peace time emergency extending beyond 30 days. We have taken the conservative interpretation of that, that says the legislature needs to come back and needs to vote either yes or no. And if they can agree in the house and the Senate, if there’s an agreement to stop it together, then the peace time emergency would be taken off. I would caution against that in that we are still in this. When we started this, if you can remember clear back on March 13the, we talked about we were opening the toolbox that allowed us to do certain things. Those certain things are to allow us to use the national guard to test at sites across the state. They allow us to waive some of the licensing requirements to put people in positions where we need them. It allows us to lift some of the requirements on trucking.
Tim Walz: (03:49)
For example, when we needed to move the hogs from Worthington. Those types of things. Plus, it accessed $50 million a month in federal assistance. Every state in the union did this. Well over 40 of them are still in this. I spoke with Midwestern governors, Republican and Democrats last night, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and myself, all are in this situation. And all are keeping their peace time emergencies in place because it allows procurement to move faster because otherwise, we would be back with the seal bid process. It would take us 90 days to get masks in the regular order. And if we end up in a situation like Arizona where we need to react quickly, we think it makes sense but that is right and then to finish the unfinished business. Yes?
Governor, Senator Gaselka said something that sounded rather sensible that these once in a generation changes take time. It’s going to require hearings, it’s going to take work. Were you signaling a moment ago when you said that we are going to keep on going until we get this done? Are you saying you have all the time you need, we’re going to have a session that lasts as long as it takes to get that work done?
Tim Walz: (04:58)
Yes. I think we should get it done and saying that these take time, these ideas have been around for generations. These ideas were in our criminal justice reform bills last year that never got any hearings. So the idea that all of a sudden, “Oh, this just sprung upon us and we had no ideas that we should ban choke hold,” that’s been out there for a long time. This is the point where what fueled the rage on the streets was this idea that we’ll just wait until there’s a better time to fix this or this is going to. I’m not saying we need to rush headlong. And I’m not saying all this is going to happen overnight because let’s be very clear, police reform and police accountability is one piece of this. Educational reform and opportunity gaps is another. Inequities in healthcare is another. Inequities in how we do procurement in state government for people is another thing as well as all of this other, but the idea to say that we’re going to wait, why would they believe we would wait and get it done?
Tim Walz: (05:54)
We didn’t get anything done during the regular session. And I think it grinds down. I think now, what makes the legislature work is leverage and there’s leverage on the street and we can get this right. They’re smart people who have worked on these, they’ve worked in other towns. Commissioner Harrington himself has spent a ton of time in Camden, New Jersey, across the country, looking at different models, both in that. We’re looking at different models of education. So I would encourage them, let’s get as much done as we can. Let’s not believe this is too hard and push it off. Tom?
Governor, what do you say to the Minnesotans who say the representatives closest to them, their senators and house members, they have no say in a lot of the things you’re doing, especially with the economy, that they feel like they’ve become voiceless in this process as the emergency powers continue to get extended month after month?
Tim Walz: (06:44)
Yeah. Well, I don’t think that’s certainly true. That’s not. And the other thing is, is all of the authority under the emergency, that there was granted by the legislature and state law and that has been upheld in the courts. I, more than anything would have to tell you and I talking to other governors, I want to figure out how we unwind and get this back to a regular order working. But the fact of the matter is, all 50 states in the national government have a situation in place that recognize the regular order will move too slow in an emergency situation. I am more than willing and now, one of the things is we’ve been having this conversation about the local aid, the Corona relief fund. And 45% of this $667 million, I thought we should’ve got that out during the regular session. We are debating how that should be done. If every single decision gets drugged down in an emergency, it takes time. So I hear them. I think the folks … The legislature is a coequal branch as a whole. And at this point in time, that toolbox … We’re putting things back in that toolbox. We moved to phase three, we’re taking some of those things out, but I really worry. Just think about this, if I wouldn’t extend the emergency executive order, it’s $50 million in federal assistance for the month that goes away and we would have tens of thousands of evictions start Saturday morning. There is no legislative fix being proposed to fix these things.
Just a quick follow up. Senator Gazelka has suggested the possibility of more than one special session come back in. And the first one, do the bonding bill, some COVID-19 funding, things that were already kind of teed up and then adjourn. And then maybe come back a while later when there’s time to deliberate more on public safety and policing. Would you be open to that kind of scenario since they decide what-
Tim Walz: (08:24)
I don’t want to call the national guard back to the streets here because I think that’s what would end up happening if we don’t address this. I think the sense of urgency around those, I think we can multitask. I would ask them to try and do this. I mean, those things that were teed up in the work that Commissioner Harrington did, those things that were teed up in the POCI caucus are things that have been heard in years past. Many of them are endorsed as I said, by the business partnership. Not known as a bastion of liberalism on social issues, but they’re saying these are things that bring that back.
Tim Walz: (08:54)
So I think … I’m listening. It may be a series of special sessions but I would really, really encourage the legislature to not mess this up to … The state legislature in New York has already passed a statewide ban on choke holds. Now, we saw the Minneapolis city council do that but it is not in the state. We have cities across the state. Why would we not take that up now if the state of New York did it? I think Lieutenant Governor’s point on this is the world’s watching how we act on this. Let’s seize this moment. Let’s not think small. Let’s think big. How about-
Tim Walz: (09:30)
I’m wondering if you’re expecting more security at the capital, given passions around the items on the agenda?
Tim Walz: (09:40)
Yeah. And I know that the legislator’s speaking with state patrol Colonel Langer, they’re speaking with the historical society. I think there will be some changes. This is always a very delicate line because if the legislature’s in session, that’s the people’s house. The people need to be there. And I am anticipating just by the energy that’s out there, that folks will want to be on the lawn, will want to be a part of this. I think we have to strike a proper balance where their presence is felt, but we’re able to carry out business both from a COVID-19 perspective and a security perspective. So we’re working with them. This is one where this is a conversation amongst all of us. The legislature’s thinking about how they will do their business in this mode.
Can you give specifics of what you would want to see happen from some of these recommendations? And even people listening here today who say, “We’ve heard this before. We’ve heard justice reform being brought in, investigation leading up to [inaudible 00:10:39].” This happens again and again and again.
Tim Walz: (10:46)
Yeah. What I would say on that is, as you saw this last week, we took an unprecedented step. The Minnesota department of human rights under Commissioner Lucero brought the commissioner’s charge of discrimination against the Minneapolis police department. That charge was embraced by the city council and the mayor. They sat down and there was a list of things-
Tim Walz: (11:03)
By the city council and the mayor. They sat down and there was a list of things we wanted to see in the short run, they started doing that. That was the choke hold ban and some of those things. The POCI caucus, the People of Color and Indigenous caucus, in conjunction with the work that Commissioner Harrington and Attorney General Ellison, they put forward a set of things. We are not bringing administrative proposals because I think, as May’s point is right on this, they’ve heard some of this. And this idea that legislative leaders are going to step in with their proposals, this is going to have to have the momentum of the community behind it and many of those proposals that the POCI caucus is bringing up, we’re supporting that. We’re supporting that slate of legislative proposals.
Speaker 2: (11:43)
You have proposed 22 different changes. And maybe you have some others. What is your top agenda item as far as police accountability and criminal justice? What would make the Special Session a success if that gets done?
Tim Walz: (11:59)
Well, I think the use of force pieces in there have to be the first one. I think we have to tackle what scares people the most. The choke hold piece, how we redefine use of force, some of the training that goes behind that, and then the accountability. How are you going to be able to account for it? How are you going to be able to tell? What are reports that are done? I think that physical security piece that is very real and you can feel it amongst people needs to be the start.
Tim Walz: (12:24)
Then the city council in Minneapolis is starting the conversation. How do we envision security in our communities? How do we envision what that’s going to look like? And again, I think they’ve got 22 proposals because the community believes those 22 things will make it better. I hope we don’t approach this session and say, “Well, we’ll give you six, and then we’ll trade you for this.” I don’t think they’re really in a trading mode on this. Again, I would go back to this is about these proposals have been thought out, they’ve been tried elsewhere, and we think they’re effective.
Speaker 3: (13:13)
[ inaudible 00:13:06].
John Harrington: (13:27)
John Harrington, Commissioner of Department of Public Safety. No, we still believe that the POST board needs to be like other professional regulatory boards, should have the authority to take licenses away. And we recognize that taking licenses away, whether it’s suspension, revocation, or other lawful processes, is what you see in boards of medical practice and legal practice. That’s how professions regulate themselves is to make sure that people that do not abide by the rules, who are found to be outside of the norms of practice, should be held accountable. And I believe that’s different than what a police chief can do under a collective bargaining agreement in many cases. So from my perspective, the POST board has a absolutely central role in keeping good cops good, and making sure that bad cops can’t practice in the state of Minnesota.
Speaker 3: (14:31)
[ inaudible 00:14:32].
John Harrington: (14:42)
Well, I think there are a lot of good reasons to be guardedly optimistic. And you know me, guardedly optimistic is probably as good as I ever get. We’re in the midst of a change. The Executive Director at the POST board has changed, the leadership, the Chair of the POST board has changed. I do believe that there is an appetite for change that might not have been there before. I also think that the George Floyd murder is absolutely a change, a moment of change for the profession. It’s a moment for change for the community. It’s a moment that has changed our world. And I think with that as the backdrop, the idea that those officers would have had to wait for a arbitration and grievance hearing to no longer be allowed to be police officers in the state of Minnesota did not make sense to me then, it doesn’t make sense to me now. And so I believe the POST board should have that authority and should be taking that authority seriously and using it when it’s appropriate.
Speaker 3: (15:38)
John Harrington: (15:51)
I believe that it’s a yes, and. I think the POST board can make some of those changes internally, but I think that some of those need to be supported as part of a legislative package. And I know there was questions from the legislature last year, and the Criminal Justice Committee, that asked about pushing the POST board to be more assertive in doing that. We heard from chiefs of police when we were doing the reducing deadly force working groups who said that they believed that the POST board needed to be more assertive in using their authority because they were seeing themselves overruled by arbitrators in cases where they believed that the officer should not have been a police officer anymore. But once an arbitrator has ruled, chiefs of police have to live with that result.
Commissioner, were you surprised by the $13 million cost of the National Guard? And have they all now gone home? Or what is the status of the Guard right now?
John Harrington: (16:48)
I was not surprised by the $13 million. Horrified, probably, is a better term for it. I knew that when we bring in 7,000 plus National Guard members from all over the state that there was going to be a cost. We knew that that was going to be a cost. What that cost was going to be, I did not know. And we’re in the process right now of calculating the cost of bringing every state trooper and all of the DNR and pulling together all of the other resources that it took to be able to resolve the riots successfully. So that would be the first question.
John Harrington: (17:20)
Second question is the Guard has been here since the beginning of the COVID piece, working in conjunction with public health to do swabbing and to help move resources. And so the number of Guard members that are still here in the cities that are working on that mission has not changed. The number of Guard members that were brought into the cities to deal with the riots has been reduced substantially at this point. I believe they have all been returned to their original assignments.
And a quick follow up. Are you aware of a threat that is making its rounds on social media to the Christopher Columbus statue on the grounds of the state capital in about 90 minutes from now, group saying they’re going to come and try to take it down?
John Harrington: (18:02)
Yes, I am. I’ve heard that through social media. Colonel Langer and his staff plan to be out there to meet with the groups to explain to them the process that is already in existence for if you want to have a statue or you want to have something removed from the capital grounds, there is a lawful process for doing that. And we will be out there to meet with them to have that conversation about if this is something that the community wants and legislature agrees with and all the parties that have to be part to that decision, then there is a lawful process to do that. But we plan to be out there to meet with them this afternoon.
Governor, should the state consider those? Should we revisit some of these statues? I know this has come up in previous years. Is there going to be a renewed interest in things like Christopher Columbus?
Tim Walz: (18:44)
There will be. Yes, I think we should. I’m a geographer and historian by trade. I would go back to your earlier question, Tom, on the cost of the National Guard. It didn’t surprise me because my full time job was that at one time. I was a service support specialist that figured these out. I think people are now … Maybe don’t understand the complexity of what happened to move that many people in. But this question around symbolism is important. And I don’t think we need to see it as a division. We know it came up with [inaudible 00:08:10], it came up with [inaudible 00:08:12]. These issues come up because they matter.
Tim Walz: (19:17)
And I would just say in yesterday, I had a long conversation with our sovereign tribal leaders. And Chairman Jensvold is the chairman of the Yellow Medicine band of Dakota, Upper Sioux. And he says every time he watches, we’re friends. He gives me advice and I very much trust him, he’s wise. But he says, every time he watches me and I stand in front of the seal of Minnesota, it brings pain to him. These are conversations that Minnesotans … I hear it get pushed off as frivolous or political correctness. These are historical pains that led to what we saw happen with George Floyd and the anger that came out. So, Tom, I think your question is well taken. I think you’re right. I think it’s going to be hard. These are the types of things that can inflame emotion. But again, you’re hearing everybody up here saying you’re people on the streets. Our emotions are inflamed pretty well. Now we better start having those honest conversations. I missed you, Jesse. Sorry. Then I’ll go back.
Speaker 4: (20:21)
Tim Walz: (20:26)
Yeah. That’s a great question. I think all of you know the challenges around this. And it’s no secret, I am a lifelong union member. I’ve stood by my support. I believe unions have helped create the middle class and create workplace safety. But I also know that unions, when they’re working right, would have been a union there to protect George Floyd, not to protect a police officer who went rogue. And I think it’s going to be important for those of us who are union and supportive of it and see the value of them to stand up and say, “We cannot craft situations that shield inappropriate behaviors or the inability to be able to move people.” And I know this is scary talk. If you’re a union member, when you’re talking about collective bargaining agreements, when you’re talking about arbitration, some of those things, these are the core that holds things together.
Tim Walz: (21:13)
But I mean, when the first comment from the union was a pledge to get these officers their jobs back, not to find out justice and see if they did it, that’s wrong. And I can tell you, as a union teacher, the person who’s most angry about a bad teacher is a good teacher down the hall. And what I think is the role of the unions and the role of the teacher’s unions is for those police that understand that they’re going to have to speak up. This moment is not going to go unchallenged. So I think there’s a role there.
Tim Walz: (21:52)
I think we have to look at it. And I am willing to say, and you’ve heard me say this many times, and I think it gets me in trouble, but I think it’s an honest way to answer things is we have to be prepared to put-
Tim Walz: (22:03)
It’s an honest way to answer things is we have to be prepared to put every solution on the table and debate them that way even though that starts to challenge us. And I know there’s folks that when they hear that, they’re like, “Well, what is that going to do to us?” We’re speaking specific clear around police and police unions. So I do think if there’s things that state law is holding up from fixing the problem and has leading to more of what we saw two weeks ago on the streets of Minneapolis, then we do have to fix that. Yes.
Speaker 5: (22:31)
Governor, I have two questions. I hope you’ll permit me a latitude. One’s off topic. One’s on topic and it’s for Commissioner Harrington. Let me ask the off topic one. I don’t want to run out of time. The Supreme Court ruled that the Sick and Safe Leave Act is absolutely fine, that the city can go ahead with it. That’s going to open the door to at least 137 charter cities looking very seriously at this. The problem that the Republicans have had is the idea of a patchwork. Is it incumbent now on the legislature to have a unified statute that deals with this? Is it time to make that happen? That’s my first question.
Tim Walz: (23:03)
Yes. From the administration’s perspective, yes. Safe and Sick Time is something that we advocated for before we were given the privilege of this job. It is something that the Lieutenant Governor made a passion about, and she and I have talked extensively about this issue. I think now is the time, and we especially saw it during a pandemic of why it makes sense. It is now supported by the Supreme Court. I do think the business community’s fear of a patchwork of regulations is a legitimate concern. I simply take a very strong position of not preempting local authority when you can help it, but we know that when these patchworks get or when you see what’s happening in COVID-19, it helps if we have a unified strategy, so yes.
Speaker 5: (23:44)
Thank you. Commissioner Harrington. On the use of force, I’ve not seen the language as codified, but I had Chair Mariani describe for me what he wants to do to change statute on the use of force. And part of the language he wants to add is that the factors of, how did he put it, that the person’s humanity, and their human rights, and the sanctity of life would be part of the determination. You’ve been a police chief. How would that work? Is that a practical addition to the [crosstalk 00:24:14]-
Commissioner Harrington: (24:14)
It’s not only practical, it’s already an application in Camden. And it’s been an application in a lot of, I can’t say a lot of the departments, it’s been an application in several other departments. It was part of our working group recommendations that every department should, at its core, state that the sanctity of life is a fundamental premise that we use force around. And I’ll give you the example. I’ll try and keep it to a short example. There’s a film piece that I saw when I was in Camden. There’s a male with the knife, walks into a little pizza store at night. He slashes at a couple of people in the pizza store and then runs out the door. In most departments around the country, if you’re within 20 feet of that, you would have ended that with a gunshot. In Camden, what they did is they surrounded him with cops, with tasers. They made sure that no members of the public could be harmed by him. They got him into a position where they could take him to the ground successfully without killing him, because sanctity of life means that if there is any way possible to end a situation without anyone getting killed, then that’s what you should do. And I think that is a moral statement. It is a value statement. And it’s a statement not made by some little bitty department. And anybody that knows Camden and knows New Jersey, knows that Camden is not a little town, and it was not a safe town. It is seeing one of the most dramatic reductions in use of force, and it’s seen one of the most dramatic reductions in crime since they took that premise and began not just talking about it, but training to it.
Speaker 6: (25:51)
[crosstalk 00:25:51] The peacetime emergency, under what conditions would you end it?
Tim Walz: (26:02)
I think what we’re looking, and the question on the peacetime emergency, is looking at where the trajectory of the pandemic is at, where the sense of confidence that we have got this, where we feel that it’s controlled and controlled in the long run. I think when we feel like the supplies are there, and I’m asking, and this was a question I asked the other governors, they’re all having a hard time figuring out how they unwind this, too. So I want to be very clear. I think this is a valid question. I think in this country, this has never come up where we’ve had 50 states, over 90% of them still in a 90-day emergency situation. The emergency still exists, but how do we create a structure that is a very valid point of starting to unwind some of those so they’re not done by emergency?
Tim Walz: (26:55)
I think that’s why you codify some of these things. I am really worried that the example being the evictions. How do we get a protection in there? How do we make sure that once we wind those down, the protections stay in place, but we get back to a normal place? So we’re going to look at where the pandemic’s at, but I’m also going to send over some suggestions of what the legislature can do to let me unwind these things and switch back out of this. Because at this point in time, the offer being made by the legislature is just drop them. The Hospital Association says don’t ever do that right now. The Medical Association, the nurses, all the people who are frontline in this say don’t do it. And everything that’s coming over to me is saying drop them without a safety net in there.
Tim Walz: (27:41)
The question that needs to be asked, if the legislators are saying, and if they vote Friday, which I think they probably will, to vote to either keep the emergency powers in place or to pull them back, there should be a responsibility to ask them, “How are you going to do the testing? What happens about the 50 million in federal aid? What are you going to do about all the waivers that were given that we’re being asked for to be able to deliver services quicker? What happens in that if that system collapses underneath, because it was only through emergency powers, and that’s the way it was structured?” So I want to know, and I don’t think anyone, again, there is no one yet has figured out how you do that. So I have one in the back. Yeah.
Speaker 7: (28:26)
Sure. Go ahead.
Tim Walz: (28:26)
Both of you. We’ve got time. Yeah.
Speaker 7: (28:28)
Okay. Governor, what kind of projects do you want to see added to the bonding bill that specifically address the damage that happened during the unrest in the last two weeks?
Tim Walz: (28:37)
Yeah. This is one working with the community on, on the bonding bill. I think we have a robust bonding bill. I don’t think that changes. What I don’t think we should do, and again, Myron could talk about some of the financial numbers that are coming out, bonding is a smart financial move at a time of low interest rates. It’s a smart financial move at a time of recession. We have the capacity to service that. So what I don’t want is I don’t want to see us pulling projects that we;re already on here, but I don’t want us to see us ignoring what needs to be done.
Tim Walz: (29:09)
There are certainly some infrastructure projects that need to be done, that public infrastructure, that we can bond for. And the questions we’re asking, and I asked Myron, and he brought this up, working with local leaders to come up with creative ways we can do this. We can’t general obligation bond a private business. But is there a way that the communities can set up something, some type of structure, that would allow the state to help? Because again, all of you who are out there hearing this, the fear is that the rebuilding will leave the community out of this, gentrification will happen, and these generational wealth that was in these communities will be lost, and we will be set back decades already being so far behind. So I’m asking us to be as creative as possible to figure out are there ways that we can help. Peter.
Talking about winding this thing down. When you’re looking for examples, you could look just to the east and you see Wisconsin that has not had any emergency powers since the middle of May, and as of now, their outcomes are better than Minnesota.
Tim Walz: (30:13)
I would disagree with you on that, and I would ask you to talk to the Governor of Wisconsin, too, on some of that. The issues around the pandemic, I think comparing apples to apples among states of where they’re at and how things go is one thing, but I think Governor Evers would disagree with you on some of the economics that are going to come out of this, how they are going to rectify their state budget. We spoke last night pretty extensively about this. I think this idea that, again, I hope there’s some ownership around this, whether it was King’s College, or whether it was Drexler, or whether it was University of California at Berkeley, there is little doubt in this that stay at home orders save lives. Now the differences of where they’re at, that may be debatable, but I think the unwinding of these powers and the unilateral action by the Supreme Court to strip Governor Evers of that is going to have residual problems that I think we can do a better job of.
Tim Walz: (31:07)
So I will just say this, that I am not going to support Minnesota Supreme Court stripping these away. I would say that I’d like to work with the legislature and I’ll send them over some things, because again, I would just candidly, there wasn’t a governor on the call today, and there were 30 some on there, no one wants to have all of this. No one wants to have this be the way to do it, but it is simply, in a democracy, it’s the necessity of it. Just the procurement scares me and that’s some of the problem that they’re having. And I would caution everyone. Thinking that, again, Arizona and 18 other states are an example of this. The states that were open by the end of April are now closing again because of the way this is starting to happen, and that is not a judgment or a value statement to them.
Tim Walz: (31:53)
They made a different approach to it and now there’s going to be repercussions of it. I still think if we can glide path this thing the way we’re doing, we’re as aggressive, and I think this gets lost in this, we are more open in restaurants than Texas. We are more open than Indiana, places in that. So the state of Minnesota, in terms of opening, yeah, maybe states around where you saw Wisconsin, because they brought it down. You saw South Dakota that didn’t do a whole lot in the first place on stay at homes. There is a difference there. Tom. [Crosstalk 00:32:21] Go ahead. Go follow up.
I actually want to put Commissioner Frans to work. Sorry. Are there budgetary things you need from this session related to COVID that you need them to do, or do you have all the money you need from the CARES Act, all the authority you need from the CARES Act, and you really don’t need them to do anything this session.
Commissioner Frans: (32:45)
Well, you know, as we’ve said all along, we’ve been working with the legislature to try to come up with programs and projects to authorize from the legislative process through the coronavirus relief fund. And the local distribution is one of them. The grants to local to small businesses is another one. But we’ve been working on that-
The local to small businesses is another one. But we’ve been working on that for five, six, seven, eight weeks. I don’t know how long. So the point is that we have repeatedly gone to the legislature and said, “How can we work together to get the appropriation out of this federal fund, to get the money to local small businesses, to get the local units of government, to get the testing money out there?” But we’re at a point now that we really need the legislature to take action this coming week or next week, because we’re in the middle of an emergency and the money needs to be out there now. And so there is a point that we have the authorization to spend the money through the legislative advisory commission process, but we’re trying to work with the legislature to use that as the primary method to get the money out.
Speaker 8: (33:44)
Commissioner, I have a quick question for you as well, and then one to the governor. Any update on the budget since a month ago, when we had a $2.4 billion deficit, do you have more numbers that you can look at as you go into a special session?
I always have more numbers, right? That’s my job. So as you know, today we released the revenue report for May. And for those of you who saw it, a very, very small difference in our projection on May 5th to right now. So the revenues are holding fairly close to what we thought they would when we did our budget projection update on May 5th. So, that’s the good news is it seems to be, the pattern seems to be holding. Now, we’re seeing some erosion of the economic outlook on a negative basis. Our consultants, IHS, have downgraded the overall GDP growth to now a negative 0.8% this year for 2020, they started off in May, April at 5.4%. So the fact that we’re holding steady with revenue is a good sign, but we’re still a little early in the process.
Speaker 8: (34:39)
Okay. And then Governor, quick question for you, I realize it’s only day one of phase three, but a lot of antsy Minnesotans are wondering, looking down the road to phase four, any better idea of when that might happen, a bigger capacity at a lot of these businesses?
Tim Walz: (34:51)
Yeah. And I, again, we’re going to start to get some ideas, what happened on Memorial Day, what happened over the last two weeks of being on the streets? It feels to me like this thing has plateaued. If that’s the case, we want to think about some of those numbers being up. We want to think about competitive, especially youth sports, some of those camps, those types of things, and then professional sports, of how that’s going to look maybe without an audience there. But certainly start to talk about that.
Tim Walz: (35:18)
I think we’re, just like we did this last time, we’re already looking at that right now. And if there’s the capacity to start to see some of these numbers, I would certainly think our goal would be as, if it holds, the pattern that we’re in, July 4th would be one to try and get to that, or before July 4th to get there, and then that gives us an opportunity. But again, I say this, that it’s going to be dependent on where the numbers are. Again, I’m looking at the economies of some of these states that the thing that’s a challenge is just because they opened up doesn’t mean the businesses came back. We’re still seeing that it’s that trust piece of it. But our hope is, is right now, we start working with them, start expanding.
Tim Walz: (35:55)
But I, again, when you look across the country, Minnesota, certainly in the upper half of things that are open, it’s easy for us to forget that there has been no activity at all in New York until today, zero in many of these states. And again, like I said, Texas will open up 50% of indoor restaurants on the 15th of this month.
Speaker 8: (36:13)
July 4th or earlier-
Tim Walz: (36:15)
I hope so. That’s my hope.
Speaker 8: (36:16)
But you hope for earlier?
Tim Walz: (36:17)
I would hope earlier if we can, to look at it. I mean, we’re already here to the 12th, but I would hope if things start to hold, we should have a pretty good idea by about the 20th or so of where we’re headed. Yes, [Megan 00:36:26]?
Tim Walz: (36:26)
Well, that’s where the legislature, we’re going to have to figure this out. And I am not convinced bonding money can’t yet, if a way to figure this out, we’re asking people to be creative, but from philanthropy, from the community themselves, there’s a strong desire to come back. I was down there with, I was with Chris Montana, who has Du Nord, the distillery. And he said he was super, he’s a young guy, he’s super excited. When he started his business, he said, he’s more encouraged now to come back.
Tim Walz: (37:12)
But one of the cautions he gave me and I do worry about this. This is where we’re going to need a lot of help. He talked about how under-capitalized all these businesses were and that it usually costs about a million dollars to open a distillery. He was able to figure it out and be successful, he said on about $60,000. So we’ve got some really great entrepreneurs, but I think our message has to be as both the economics we’ll lose in this, but the culture that was built up. There’s a real fear, there’s a real fear that land will sell cheap. We will raze all the buildings and gentrification will come in and build back up and we will lose those communities. So they’re talking housing, rebuilding, and we’re going to have to figure that out. If we leave those areas to their own devices, the issue on systemic racism will continue to get worse.
Tim Walz: (37:56)
With that, I would just say to all of you, and again, to the legislature, you’re coming back Friday, we’ve got a lot of smart thinkers over there. You’re close to the ground. You’re hearing from people. Minnesotans and the world want to see change. We are given a gift of that opportunity in a democracy to be able to do that. Our pledge as an administration is to work closely with you. To compromise when it means getting things done, but not compromise our values, our sense of urgency around these reforms.
Tim Walz: (38:24)
And I don’t think anything happens by chance. For those maybe not familiar, Minnesota has kind of an archaic Pardons Board system, and we meet twice a year. And the Pardon Board consists of myself, the Attorney General and the Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court. And people can apply for pardons once 10 years has passed, they can apply for a pardon extraordinaire. They can apply for a commutation, something that hasn’t been given in Minnesota in three decades. We issue fewer pardons than almost any state in the nation. It was something, along with sentencing reform, I asked the legislature to look at it last year. They didn’t do it. So I used the Sentencing Board to make some moves there.
Tim Walz: (39:07)
So Friday we will meet. I would encourage all of you, it’s usually in person, it will be on Facebook Live, to watch this, you will see the pain of humanity. You will see the attempts at redemption. You will see the state sovereign opportunity, to grant clemency, to grant reprieve for people. It is powerful. It is heart-wrenching. You will cry when you watch some of these stories. You will be angry when you watch some of these stories.
Tim Walz: (39:43)
But this Friday, something for the first time in Minnesota’s history is going to happen. For many, many years there have been people that understood what happened 100 years ago this coming Monday in Duluth, Minnesota was a stain on this state. Three black carnival workers were lynched in the city of Duluth, Minnesota, June 15th, 1920, another was arrested and sent to prison was released after four years when the judge and the prosecuting attorney said there was very weak evidence about that. That gentleman’s name was Max Mason. He was, he avoided the murder of his three fellow workers, but Max Mason had that rape of a woman on his record. And starting years ago, there was an attempt to try and issue a posthumous pardon.
Tim Walz: (40:44)
Minnesota has never issued a posthumous pardon. The three members of the Pardons Board six months ago agreed that we would hear Max Mason’s appeal for pardon this Friday. Thinking about what happened between that time six months ago and now, and the fierce sense of urgency of rectifying a historical wrong is upon us. So I would encourage Minnesotans once again, there are numerous opportunities being presented to this state to come face to face with our past, to correct and bring out our better angels and to show people that we’re truly committed to moving forward.
Tim Walz: (41:27)
Friday will be our first opportunity, and then in Monday, the city of Duluth will commemorate solemnly the hundredth anniversary of that lynching. So I would encourage all of you pay attention on Friday. It’s a big day. The legislature’s coming back into session, the pardon board will meet and Minnesotans will be in the eyes of the world to see if we are truly committed, that this is a one Minnesota where every single person counts. So thank you all.