SAINT PAUL — Surging demand for complimentary school breakfast and lunch has exceeded lawmakers’ initial budget expectations. Given the larger projected budget surplus, Governor Walz was questioned about his stance on allocating additional funds to address this need. Walz asserted, “Yeah, that’s the hill I’m gonna die on. Our friends in the other caucus said that’s the place they’re first gonna cut.” 

Republicans argue that, with a looming budget deficit in 2026-27, affluent families should not benefit from free school meals at the taxpayers’ expense. Democrats counter that universal access to free meals is essential to prevent stigma in school lunchrooms. House Speaker Melissa Hortman emphasized, “What they would like us to focus on is improving the quality of the food that they’re eating. They’re very happy that they’re not paying for it, but they would like more good choices.”