Work boots and hard hats would replace suits and ties at the State Capitol if Mark Dayton had his way, as the governor encouraged Minnesota’s leaders to roll up their sleeves and “work together to build a state that works” during his State of the State address Wednesday evening.
“If you’re coming to this State Capitol over the next four months, bring your best ideas and your sincere convictions,” Dayton said. “If you’re interested in nothing more than throwing rocks and casting blame, send the rest of us a letter…or a postcard.”
Dayton defended the work of his administration over the last two years, saying great progress had been made in restoring fiscal responsibility and operational integrity. He also made the case for his vision of the future, discussing the need for a healthy environment and affirming his support for same-sex marriage.
“I still think the budget is the big issue of the session, that’s what our constitutional obligation is, that’s what he spent most of his time on his speech on,” House Speaker Paul Thissen (DFL-Mpls) said after the speech. “But certainly, (same-sex marriage) is an issue on the minds of Minnesotans and it’s something we will continue to listen to Minnesotans on and figure out what the best course is.”
House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) appreciated what he said was the governor’s acknowledgement to policies put forward the last couple of years that seem to spur the state’s economy. But he cautioned that the tax policies the governor proposes will hurt job growth.
“What we are seeing from the governor is a tale of two Minnesota’s. We’re at a juncture here where we have to make some decisions with the budget — where we are going to go. …. We need to have a tax policy in the state that promotes job creation and economic growth,” he said in a media availability after the speech.
Daudt said Republicans will most likely not be putting forward their own proposal. His caucus is willing to work with the Democrats toward what he hopes is a budget that reflects a bipartisan effort. However, he said that the “drastic measures” proposed by the governor won’t promote economic stability. “Minnesotans having better paying jobs makes a lot of problems go away.”
Dayton highlighted several budget proposals during the speech, saying they “would lift us out of this miserable deficit-to-deficit cycle,” by eliminating the $1.1 billion deficit, and balance the biennial budget creating a surplus that would allow the school shift to be paid back during the following biennium.
Dayton said the state has three basic budget options. Plan A is his proposal, Plan B is to stick with the current tax structure and Plan C is something better.
“No one would be happier than me to see a good Plan C,” he said. “I’m still looking and I’m sure listening. But without one, our choices are between Plans A and B.”
Dayton said his budget takes a balanced approach, offering spending cuts as well as revenue increases, but it would not make drastic cuts to public services.
“Trying to cut our way to a better Minnesota is a failed experiment,” Dayton said.
The governor laid out a series of reforms to achieve cost savings, starting with the way the Department of Human Services contracts with managed care providers and insurance companies. He also proposed a “comprehensive redesign” of the state’s long-term care system and streamlining businesses permit application process.
Saying his administration is “just getting started” on reform, Dayton also revived a campaign proposal he’d made that would largely devote even-year legislative sessions to eliminating unnecessary or redundant laws, rules and regulations and otherwise streamlining state government.
House Majority Leader Erin Murphy (DFL-St. Paul) said she believed Dayton “told a good story about what he believes for Minnesota and what he hopes for the future, and made it clear he thinks we have options as a Legislature, but that what he won’t accept is the status quo and neither will we.”
Full text of Governor Mark Dayton’s State of the State Address