At a speech at the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota on Thursday, Gov. Mark Dayton announced that he is prepared to concede to most of the demands offered by Republican legislative leadership on June 30 in order to end the 14-day government shutdown. The Republican demands included a shift of $700 million in payments to public schools and borrowing another $700 million from the state’s tobacco settlement fund. Dayton will also drop his proposal to tax the wealthiest 2 percent of Minnesotans. He excoriated Republicans for not offering any compromises during the shutdown.
The governor and Republicans are $1.4 billion apart in their budgets, and Republicans had steadfastly refused Dayton’s proposal to tax the wealthiest 2 percent of Minnesotans — Dayton’s signature campaign theme — and a subsequent proposal offered by Dayton to make up the $1.4 billion with a tax the state’s 7,700 millionaires.
Dayton offered some conditions on his concession. Dayton said he will rely on the Republicans’ public statements that they have dropped the push to include a ban on abortion and certain kinds of stem cell research, as well as the inclusion of private school vouchers. Those were included in negotiations two days before the government shutdown began and were still being pushed by interest groups as recently as Tuesday.
Dayton also said that a $500 million bonding bill would be necessary in any agreement, as well as increases of $50 per pupil in school payments to offset the education payment delays. In addition, Dayton wants $10 million to offset tuition hikes to higher education and to restore funding for the Department of Human Rights and the Trade Office.
“I want to get this done. I’m willing to take the initiative and the leadership necessary to get a resolution that is not ideal from my standpoint,” he said at the Humphrey Institute. He said his opposition to delaying payments to schools and borrowing to fix the gap are “as strong today as they were two weeks ago.”
In the letter he sent to Republican leadership, Dayton did not mince words about the fact that they hadn’t offered any compromises during the two weeks of the shutdown.
“Astonishingly, I have not received a single new proposal from you during [the two week shutdown],” he wrote.
The GOP had not responded to Dayton’s concession immediately following his speech.
Dayton’s letter is below.