By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – On Monday, Congressman Tim Walz will be sworn in as the 41st governor of Minnesota.

In a wide-ranging interview, the governor-elect addressed his legislative priorities ranging from a gas tax to improving roads, to legalizing marijuana.

He also is ordering his incoming commissioners to begin an immediate assessment of how the government shutdown is affecting Minnesotans and state government agencies.

“Here in Minnesota, I want to reassure folks we will have an assessment of this done immediately so that we have a plan to make sure that the most vulnerable aren’t losing – for instance – food assistance, to make sure the state will be there to help,” Walz said.

The governor-elect says there won’t be any surprises during his first weeks in office. He says he will work with legislative leaders to pass a 10-cent gasoline tax to improve Minnesota roads. Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka says he is against the tax.

“If you are not advocating for that revenue, then tell me how you are going to build the roads,” Walz said.

Senate Republicans are also wary of another Walz campaign promise: the legalization of recreational marijuana.

“For those that say, ‘What about our kids?’ I don’t think I am breaking any news to anybody that they can get it anyway,” Walz said. “It just seems to make more sense that we know what they are getting safe.”

Walz insists he and legislative leaders will work together to pass a state budget to avoid a last-minute crisis including a state government shutdown.

“Imagine this: we go into May and we pretty much have decided where it’s at and we have a few small things to tweak,” Walz said.

Gov.-elect Tim Walz will move into the governor’s office at the Capitol right after the swearing in, and he says he and his family will be moving into the Governor’s residence on Summit Avenue on Wednesday.

Walz and other statewide office holders will be sworn in starting at 11 a.m. at the Fitzgerald Theater in downtown St. Paul.

Esme Murphy

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