Our view: Walz can now work toward 'One Minnesota'
Herald editorial board A recent story by the online news organization MinnPost outlines the hopes of rural Minnesotans in the days leading up to the upcoming session of the state Legislature -- especially in the light cast by incoming Gov. Tim Walz.
Herald editorial board
A recent story by the online news organization MinnPost outlines the hopes of rural Minnesotans in the days leading up to the upcoming session of the state Legislature - especially in the light cast by incoming Gov. Tim Walz.
Walz, of course, comes to the governor's office after serving in Congress. More important, he comes to the governor's office from a distance - only 90 miles by highway, but further still in the eyes of outstate Minnesotans.
The governor's office has been occupied by Twin Cities residents for nearly three decades, since Rudy Perpich of Hibbing served from 1983 to 1991. Since then, it's been Arne Carlson, of the Minneapolis suburb of Shoreview; Jesse Ventura of Maple Grove; Tim Pawlenty of Eagan; and, most recently, Mark Dayton of Minneapolis.
Walz is from Mankato, and represented southern - i.e. rural - Minnesota in Congress from 2008 to 2016. Now, he is on the cusp of his first legislative session as governor, and he'll have the opportunity to put his "One Minnesota" plan to work. The 2019 session begins Tuesday.
Back to the MinnPost story: It said Walz is heartening some rural leaders who are excited about a governor who hails from outside of the Twin Cities. Bradley Peterson, director of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, told MinnPost that members of his organization are "pretty excited that there is going to be a rural governor. That opens up, hopefully, some opportunities and brings some fresh perspective to the process here for the next four years."
We agree, and wish Walz the best as he brings his "One Minnesota" approach to the governor's office. We also know that a majority of rural districts didn't favor Walz, so the new governor will have to win over those districts in the coming months.
One place to start is with the controversial land buffer system in Minnesota. The strips are intentionally left to grow naturally and serve as a filter between farm fields and runoff channels, ranging from basic drainage ditches to streams and rivers. The end result, proponents believe, is cleaner water.
However, controversy has erupted as farmers feel they should be compensated for that land, since it comes out of production and therefore hurts a farm family's bottom line. We agree with the farmers.
Also, highway and infrastructure funding that truly improves "One Minnesota" could help ease some discourse in rural parts of the state, where some residents felt slighted last year. In April, it was announced by the Minnesota Department of Transportation that $417 million in grants would be awarded to four highway projects in Minnesota - all of which were within 40 miles of downtown Minneapolis. At the time, our friends at the West Central Tribune opined that MnDOT has "stacked the card deck" with a metropolitan bias and urged the Legislature to revisit and review the "Corridors of Commerce" program.
Anything Walz can do for farmers in the buffer controversy or for rural infrastructure would help strengthen his credibility in Greater Minnesota.