Commentary: Depleting Minnesota disaster funds is wrong

District 2 State Sen. Paul Utke
Joel Maxwell

You may have missed it with all of the election-related news flooding social media and newspapers, but Gov. Tim Walz made a really disappointing decision that will have an impact on each of us. I wanted to quickly let you know what was going on.

Gov. Walz announced that he intends to effectively deplete the state’s disaster relief account to help Minneapolis rebuild from this summer’s riots.

This is simply wrong.

That account is meant to help our neighbors rebuild when their communities are impacted by real, unforeseen natural disasters. Things like flood damage, tornadoes, straight-line winds, or other severe storms are what’s typically covered. We even used it to help communities respond quickly in the initial stages of the coronavirus outbreak.

But it is not meant to help cover for politicians who refuse to take the necessary steps to protect their communities from tragedies that could have easily and quickly been prevented. Dereliction of duty is no excuse to raid the disaster account.


The governor’s action has a few serious consequences:

1. At least temporarily, spending money out of this account puts other communities at risk if a natural disaster were to hit.

2. Using disaster funding for the riots unfairly puts taxpayers up here in Becker, Beltrami, Hubbard, and every other northern Minnesota county on the hook to clean up the mess that Democrat leaders in the metro made with their refusal to act.

3. Spending disaster relief money puts additional pressure on the state budget. With a $4.7 billion budget shortfall on the horizon, the state is going to already be faced with some difficult decisions next spring. Finding the money to replenish this account likely means additional cuts will have to be made in other important budget areas. As Sen. Julie Rosen, the Senate Finance chair, put it: “This move will affect the November Forecast, and the Governor should explain to Minnesotans across the state why he needs them to pay more in taxes over his mismanagement of public safety."

Senate Republicans reviewed the actions of the Walz administration and Mayor Jacob Frey in hearings this summer. That review resulted in a 61-page report detailing the failures that unnecessarily lead to widespread damage and uncontrolled rioting. The short summary: the governor’s indecision made things much, much worse.

Rather than use the disaster account and force taxpayers all over Minnesota to take care of their mistakes, Gov. Walz and Mayor Frey need to look inward and figure out a way to help innocent Minneapolis businesses that doesn’t unfairly punish the rest of us.

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