MN Republicans Also Unveil Their PlanBy WCCO-TV Staff

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Gov. Tim Walz says he’s committed to “turning over every stone” to find funding that helps small businesses stay afloat, supports workers and ensures families can put food on the table during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Tuesday, Walz released more details on an economic relief package for the state’s businesses and struggling Minnesotans, saying he’ll work with legislators on both sides to move forward with the proposal. He’ll call a special session when an agreement is final.

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For businesses, Walz says the relief package would provide direct aid to businesses through a Business Assistance Program, waive state and regulatory fees for hospitality establishments and establish an eviction moratorium so small businesses can stay in their locations.

“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,” Walz said. “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.”

For workers struggling to get by, the relief package would extend unemployment benefits for an additional 13 weeks “helping as many as 100,000 workers whose benefits currently end next month” and provide an emergency one-time payment of $500 to struggling families. There will also be cash payments to 14,000 businesses, including bars, restaurants, and fitness centers.

“If you came in at $25,000 per business times 14,000, that’s roughly $350 million,” said Ryan Winkler, Democratic House Majority leader, floating a potential figure for the payments.

A tax credit would also be provided for businesses that donate food that would otherwise spoil or be thrown away.

Walz says he’s invested $100 million to support more than 8,000 businesses since the pandemic began. An additional $840 million has been given from the state to local governments, much of which has been distributed to small businesses around the state.

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Minnesota Republicans Unveil Their Plan

Meanwhile, House Republicans also unveiled plans for hard-hit businesses, called the Main Street Relief Act, which is headlined by a $400 million grant fund “designed to help restaurants, bars, breweries, bowling alleys, gyms, and other establishments that were ordered to close or limit operations last week with less than 48 hours notice.”

The GOP proposal also features a three-month sales tax holiday for businesses that have been limited to takeout or curbside-only operations, as well as a similar three-month sales tax holiday that begins for reopening businesses that are now mandated to be closed. There would also be expanded growler and liquor-to-go options.

“We are in a crisis situation, and need to work together as quickly as possible to get help to the Main Street businesses that are beloved staples of our communities,” said Rep. Dave Baker, R-Willmar. “We have been hard at work over the past two weeks engaging businesses, industry groups, and legislators from both parties on how we can help as many businesses as we can, as soon as we can.”

The GOP plan also outlines liquor flexibility, license fee relief, and opening fitness centers and gyms. Republicans propose that the $400 million would come from the state’s $2.4 billion rainy day fund, and would be then repaid with federal aid if Congress agrees on a relief package.

“If there ever was a rainy day, this is it,” said Rep. Barb Haley.

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Republicans and the governor says as soon as there is a deal, Walz will call a special session. The goal to get help to businesses before the end of the year serves as a bridge until the U.S. Congress can agree on another round of federal relief.