Minnesota Gov. Walz outlines COVID-19 economic relief

SAINT PAUL, Minn. (WKBT) — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced a plan Tuesday to keep businesses afloat, support workers and help Minnesota families keep food on the table as COVID-19 ravages the economy, as well as the public health.

Walz said he will work with legislators on both sides of the aisle to move forward this much-needed proposal, integrate additional proposals, and call a special session when an agreement is final.

“Our small businesses and the Minnesotans whose livelihoods depend on them are bearing a huge weight for the good of their entire community. As cases skyrocket and hospital capacity is pushed to the brink, our small businesses should not have to bear the financial consequences alone. We’re in this together,” said Walz in a statement. “I am committed to turning over every stone to find funding that will help make sure our businesses stay afloat, our workers are supported, and our families can put food on the table.”

Among Walz’s proposals is a $500 one-time emergency payment to struggling families and a tax credit for businesses that donate food that would otherwise spoil or be thrown away.

The proposal includes funding for a business assistance program to provide direct aid to businesses. Walz has also proposed an eviction moratorium for commercial space, which would let small businesses stay in their locations, and a waiver for state and regulatory fees for bars, craft breweries, restaurants, event centers and other businesses.

Walz has proposed extending unemployment benefits for an additional 13 weeks, which would help 100,000 workers whose benefits are set to end in December. He also proposed establishing a one-time grant to restaurants to provide food for healthcare workers, homeless shelters and long-term care facilities.

“We know the vast majority of our small businesses are doing the right thing,” said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. “And these restrictions are hard. But they are necessary to save lives. That’s why we need to come together to provide aid that will support Minnesotans and our small businesses as we weather this surge in cases and hospitalizations.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Minnesota has invested $100 million dollars to support more than 8,000 Minnesota businesses. The state has also given nearly $840 million in support to local governments, much of which has been distributed to small businesses across the state.

Also last week, the governor wrote a letter urging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to act quickly to provide assistance for workers, families, businesses, and states.

The governor pledged Tuesday to continue to work with agencies, stakeholders, and legislators on additional measures to help Minnesotans and the economy.

“COVID-19 has brought unprecedented challenges to Minnesotans and businesses and we need to help them now,” said Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove. “Today’s package, crafted in response to requests from industry leaders and others, provides solid support to help businesses through this time and support Minnesota workers affected by the pandemic.”