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Walz's big public safety goals highlight community safety as legislative session approaches

Walz unveiled the final pillar of his budget recommendations with a focus on public safety Wednesday, while Republicans looked toward the upcoming session.

MINNEAPOLIS — Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan announced their final proposal for their sweeping budget recommendations, which will be discussed among Democrats and Republicans next week when the legislative session begins.

The final component focuses on public safety. In previous days, the administration brought out proposals focusing on jobs, education, healthcare and economic opportunity. 

Recommendations into public safety brought up by Gov. Walz's office were supported by Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington, who said the budget recommendations put the neighborhoods and communities first.

"This budget really speaks to that belief, that hope and that passion and that drive of community driven safety… it is really the best and the surest way that every community has ever found to keep people safe," Harrington said.

Harrington said he hopes cities and towns benefiting from the public safety portion of the budget will be staffed enough to have police officers know community members by name, and have community members know the names of their police officers. 

"This is a relationship of trust, and without trust there, there is no authentic policing," Harrington said.

Walz also highlighted $30 million that would go directly to communities experiencing high rates of crimes like carjacking.

Specifically, the budget covers much more than policing, including marijuana legalization, after school activities to keep children busy, health insurance for uninsured Minnesotans, and homelessness prevention for youth.

Walz said another key to ensuring public safety is to take care of climate-related issues.

The administration is proposing a $35 million-investment fund that finances research into clean energy technology and increases access to electronic grids, clean water plants and solar energy.

Each year, $10 million would go toward housing support for at-risk children in preschool and prenatal care.

Emergency shelter services would receive $95 million over three years, and $100 million would go toward the preservation and improvement of existing housing.

Flanagan said this would put $1 billion toward housing and homelessness over the next three years when accounting for all the budget recommendations by the administration.

"It's time for us to take action and to keep all our neighbors happy and safe," Flanagan said.

Walz's recommendations would also provide Minnesotans under 21 with continuous Medical Assistance eligibility to prevent any gaps in health care coverage. 

For marijuana legalization, Walz's proposed budget recommends $59,000 up front for a new Cannabis Management Office, which would be responsible for implementing the framework for adult-use cannabis.

On Jan. 31, all of the governor's proposals will join a series of other recommendations for a legislative session to be debated among state Republicans and Democrats.

On Wednesday, senate Republicans revealed their list of priorities, while DFL'ers set out their recommendations on Tuesday.

Republicans are labeling their recommendations as the "Right Track," focusing on affordability, crime reduction and prioritizing in-person school for children.

They also proposed expanding the LETRS program so more children can learn to read.

Republicans are proposing eliminating taxes on social security for seniors, along with tax credits for parents. The propositions include funding more police officers, saying that's the way to reduce crime.

"We will work with law enforcement agencies to create incentive and retention policies to help them fill their open positions and restore the peace in our communities," said Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee Chair Warren Limmer.

Both Republicans and Democrats will be reviewing the budget recommendations, as a $7.7 billion surplus looms.

The news on public safety from Walz comes after his office spent the last few days proposing education and childcare reforms, along with economic opportunities and a plan to strengthen the job market — all of which are present in his budget package.

WATCH: Gov. Walz announces big proposals for childcare, education:

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