It is unfathomable to me that Gov. Mark Dayton is willing to shut down our state in order to keep pushing for tax increases, but that’s what he has done.
The Legislature was at the Capitol all day and well into the night Thursday, working to get a budget in place before midnight so we could avoid a state shutdown. The governor not only turned his back on our offers to compromise, but he even denied our request to pass legislation allowing our state to stay open another 10 days as we continue working on a budget solution.
At maybe the most challenging budget moment in state history, our governor refused to seriously negotiate and went back on the promise he made to not shut down our state over the tax increases he wants.
Maybe we should not be surprised at the governor’s utter failure to lead because it is consistent with his lackluster track record. This is the same guy who gave himself an “F” grade for his performance as a U.S. Senator and shut down his Washington, D.C. office when the going got tough. Time magazine took note and nicknamed Dayton “The Blunderer.” He also was ranked the second-least effective senator in Washington by the end of his term. Now a state shutdown is the latest chapter in his legacy.
The simple fact is the Legislature sent Dayton a $34 billion General Fund budget, the largest in state history which would allow us to fund our priorities and accommodate natural growth without the need for tax increases. The governor wants to raise taxes to spend an additional $1.8 billion, but never provided details on how he wanted the extra money spent.
Dayton has been stuck on his $35.8 billion proposal since mid-May. The Legislature offered a number of compromises, including matching his K-12 funding dollar for dollar. We also offered to eliminate our proposed tax deductions if the governor would pull back on his proposed tax increases.
It is worth reiterating a recent KSTP poll indicates only 8 percent of Minnesotans favor increasing state spending. An overwhelming 87 percent are in line with the Legislature and want to either reduce spending or keep it about where it is.
Despite our best efforts, the governor remains inflexible and now he owns this unnecessary shutdown. Our job now is to make sure the governor’s shutdown ends as soon as possible to limit the damage he is inflicting. I will continue working to make this happen and am open to negotiating, but the governor needs to start exhibiting some leadership and call the Legislature back into session.