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Governor Tim Walz is taking his 2024 State of the State address on the road to Owatonna, Minnesota, in an effort to highlight the progress the state has made and discuss plans for the future. The Democratic governor is expected to touch on a range of topics, including improving education, implementing gun safety laws, and protecting reproductive rights. This marks Walz’s sixth State of the State speech since taking office in 2019, with previous addresses given both in person and virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the themes Walz plans to address is the investments being made in the community of Owatonna, particularly in education and workforce development. The governor has chosen Owatonna High School as the setting for his speech to showcase these investments and demonstrate the impact they have had on the local community. Walz’s decision to take his address on the road reflects his commitment to connecting with communities throughout the state and highlighting the progress being made at the local level.

In his previous State of the State addresses, Walz has focused on contrasting Minnesota’s progressive policies with those of Republican-led states. He has highlighted the state’s accomplishments in areas such as abortion rights, trans rights, and racial equity, showcasing the ways in which Democrats have used their control of state government to enact a liberal agenda. However, with the state’s budget set for the next two years, Walz and legislative leaders are focusing on a more modest agenda for the current legislative session.

Despite a budget surplus of $3.7 billion, Walz and legislative leaders have agreed to only spend around $541 million of the extra money, banking the rest to address potential shortfalls in the next budget. The primary focus of this legislative session is expected to be a public infrastructure borrowing package known as a bonding bill. The governor proposed a combination of $982 million in borrowing and cash in January, with a focus on maintaining existing infrastructure such as roads, bridges, and water treatment facilities.

Overall, Governor Walz’s decision to take his State of the State address on the road to Owatonna reflects his commitment to highlighting the progress being made in communities throughout Minnesota. The themes he plans to address, including education, workforce development, and infrastructure, align with his broader goal of making Minnesota the best place to live, work, and raise a family. While the state’s budget surplus provides a potential opportunity for investment, the focus of the current legislative session will be on responsible spending and maintaining existing infrastructure for the future.

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