Despite GOP protests, Dayton taking his case to people statewide

Against the backdrop of Republican protests, Gov. Mark Dayton is embarking on a tour of the state to bring what he says are the evils of the GOP budget to the people of Minnesota.

Dayton on Monday again reiterated the need for compromise in coming to a budget solution and called on the GOP leadership to bring him a counteroffer. So far, they haven’t provided an in-kind response to the offer Dayton laid out last week.

“I thought last week I would be receiving a counterproposal,” Dayton said. “I am still waiting for a counteroffer.”

The Republican leaders, who responded to Dayton’s comments Monday afternoon, said they’re still working on a new proposal. There’s some indication a counteroffer could come early this week. “Stay tuned,” Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch said.

Dayton will be visiting St. Cloud, Rochester, Winona, Albert Lea and Moorhead, among others, over the week. The governor said he’ll be “immediately available” if the GOP requests more negotiations.

So, why aren’t they constantly negotiating? Why haven’t the governor and lawmakers met since Thursday? Neither side could provide a straight answer.

Instead, they repeated what we’ve heard since the government shut down on July 1.

Koch and the GOP leaders repeated their requests for Dayton to call a special session to pass a temporary “lights-on” funding bill and, at least in part, criticized Dayton for leaving the Capitol to bring his message to Minnesotans around the state.

“What I would ask is, ‘Governor, before you get in your car … call us back tonight. Let’s get a lights-on bill done,” Koch said.

In addition to passing a temporary funding measure, the GOP leaders would like to pass six of the remaining nine budget bills where they say negotiations have brought them close to the governor’s proposals. Dayton, however, says that would too narrowly limit negotiations on the last three bills — Health and Human Services, State Government Finance, and Tax Aids and Credits.

Without the deadline created by a 30-day funding bill, for instance, Senate Deputy Majority Leader Geoff Michel said: “It just feels like we’re grinding — another day, another day.”

For his part, Dayton called a lights-on approach “a ploy.”

Both sides highlighted the compromise proposals they’ve floated since the session began. Dayton reminded reporters that the GOP leaders have rejected three proposals — including his latest plan to add a $1 per pack tax to cigarettes, increase health care surcharges and shift K-12 school payments further into the future.

Michel said the GOP has presented Dayton with 10 compromise offers since the session began. Either way, Minnesota has now entered the longest government shutdown in recent U.S. history.

Dayton, who said he’s driving or flying commercial instead of using the state airplane, won’t take sole responsibility for the shutdown, despite the best efforts of GOP operatives to paint that scenario.

“I don’t think the people believe that,” he said. “I don’t think anyone is served now by playing the blame game.”

When asked if the shutdown is both parties’ fault, House Majority Leader Matt Dean answered in the affirmative, but it appeared painful for him to do so.

“Well absolutely,” Dean said. “We were not able to come together, and nobody feels good about that, but on the same token the shutdown should have been avoided, 100 percent should have been avoided. It was preventable …”

Both sides affirmed that they’re willing to try anything, from calling in Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon to considering “any reasonable proposal” to solve the $1.4 billion impasse that’s stopping the GOP and Dayton from solving a $5 billion deficit.

But, despite the promising language, is there any end in sight? Not really.

“I’m going to hold out for a fair budget for the people of Minnesota,” Dayton said. “I wouldn’t have started down this path if I weren’t willing to do it because I think there is so much at stake for the people whose lives depend upon these services.”

“What the governor is saying is that the only way to talk about negotiation is ‘How much more money we’re going to tax and who are we going to get it from?’ If we’re going to set that up as the only frame around negotiations, that’s not going to get us very far because that obviously hasn’t gotten us very far thus far, Dean said.

“There has to be a very sudden injection of reality, I think, into these discussions immediately to get to the next step.”

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Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 07/11/2011 - 06:59 pm.

    “For his part, Dayton called a lights-on approach “a ploy.””

    I know my neighbor who was laid off from her state job doesn’t consider it a ploy. This is the problem when you have a governor who is wealthy without having earned it. He has no empathy for the people who he put out of work.

  2. Submitted by will lynott on 07/11/2011 - 08:55 pm.

    So, he’s taking his case to the people? Jeez, it’s about time! I hope he saturates the state. And, he should be using Yvonne, Bakk, and Winkler too.

    Time to get the message out there.

  3. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 07/11/2011 - 11:02 pm.

    Oh for Pete’s sake! The election was last November. The messages were delivered then, we sure don’t need another dose. The message that you seem to hear from most people (like at the 4th of July parades) is “Do your jobs!”. And do you really want to listen to the Governor on the stump anymore? It is absolutely painful to watch and hear him speak. Call the Special Session and let the rest of our elected officials have some input, they’re getting paid anyway.

  4. Submitted by Diane Clare on 07/12/2011 - 08:28 am.

    Leaving his post, the MN State Capital, looks like he is fleeing his responsibilities until he gets his “personal” agenda or else.
    Anybody in outstate MN that doesn’t already know that he vetoed a balanced budget, probably doesn’t care or worry about politics.

  5. Submitted by Josh McCabe on 07/12/2011 - 08:42 am.

    You want him to call a special session so the GOP can send him more bills he’s already made clear he won’t sign? That sounds even dumber than usual. When they moderate their position, he’ll call a special session.

    You mostly won the debate, OK? We’re looking at massive cuts to our very valued social programs and education already. We agree that cuts are needed. But you don’t get to gnaw on the bones of our once-great state any more than this. We’ll fight you.

    You who support the GOP position keep whining that you can’t live with a penny more of taxes. Well boo hoo hoo and guess what? YOU CAN AND SO CAN I… and then some more if the grownups deem it necessary. You keep claiming all the wealthy princes and princesses will flee in a panic from any suggestion of taxes. OK, let’s just get those people who don’t want to be part of this community to leave now rather than later. The GOP position on taxes is selfish and foolish, and this will probably have to come to blows in the end because the bulk of us are tired of this childish ouburst of “me me me” at the constant expense of the most vulnerable. Knock it off and take a seat.

    Sorry trolls, but things cost what they cost, this is a state where we have a real community and we pay for it, and you live here now. It’s been a great state (till you got here) BECAUSE we’ve been willing to pay higher taxes and we get a lot out of it, even if you’re too dense to see how it benefits all of us. Yes even you. Do you like potholes? Bridges that fall down while you’re on them? Ever get sick? Ever need help from your community? Were you educated? Like having schools for your kids? Do you enjoy higher wages and benefits? Local governments that can actually do things for people in the area? Infrastructure and jobs? Daycare providers that think twice before slapping your baby’s face? Remember why you moved here in the first place. Sheesh, WAKE UP!!! If you think you’re the only ones mad enough to dig in and fight about this, think again.

  6. Submitted by Lora Jones on 07/12/2011 - 08:57 am.

    #5 Josh — YES!

  7. Submitted by Kristin Neises on 07/12/2011 - 01:19 pm.

    We can’t keep borrow from education or any other very important entity forever!!! Very disappointed the Governor is compromising on that issue. If one doesn’t ever want to compromise on a single point or multiple points, then stay out of politics. Government is for everyone, not just the select few who (somehow) voted you in. And compromise is part of the game. I agree we need to cut back, but it can’t all be cut right now on your watch. It’s going to take some time, for goodness sake. Give up your stoney position and get everyone back to work.

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