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Walz cites desire to boost diversity, inclusion as he creates new council

Gov. Tim Walz on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, signed his first executive order establishing the One Minnesota Council on Diversity, Inclusion and Equity. Dana Ferguson / Forum News Service

ST. PAUL -- In his first official act as governor, Tim Walz on Wednesday, Jan. 9, signed an executive order setting up a government council aimed at increasing diversity and inclusion in state hiring and other decision-making.

The DFL governor said the new body comprised of commissioners and members of the public is aimed at reducing disparities and inequities based on gender, race, geography and economic status. And it stems from a similar council established by former Gov. Mark Dayton.

"I think the expectation would be that you need to see some results on this," Walz told reporters, saying the new council would track metrics in the diversity of state hires and inclusion in policy and funding decisions. He didn't have a specific timeline for releasing reports about the state's efforts to bring in a broader set of voices, but he said the new government body likely will help inform how he shapes a budget proposal set to exceed $46 billion.

Walz is expected to release that spending plan next month.

Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said they felt the need to establish the council after they heard from Minnesotans about the barriers to applying for state jobs or testifying on proposed projects. They said the order gives teeth to campaign promises of governing as One Minnesota and ensuring a broader group is included at the table where decisions are made.

"Minnesotans should expect that this is how we're going to govern and how we're going to lead and that our commissioners are also a part of that process," Flanagan said. "Equity, inclusion and diversity are a real value of our administration and we're putting it down, we're making that happen."