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St. Cloud residents pepper Gov. Dayton with praise and concerns

The governor continues to explain his budget plan at meetings around the state.

About 200 people showed up in St. Cloud Tuesday night to hear Gov. Mark Dayton defend his planned budget that still includes new taxes on high earners but no longer expands the sales tax base with clothing and services.

Some praised the governor’s efforts to increase education funding and raise some taxes, but others criticized his tax plan and support of gun registration, said the St. Cloud Times.

Dayton was lectured on the Second Amendment and said while he believes that a bill calling for universal background checks on gun buyers is not a perfect solution, he believes something must be done to cut down on gun violence.

The paper said Dayton heard from business leaders:

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Mike Helgeson, CEO of St. Cloud-based poultry firm Gold’n Plump, thanked Dayton at the event for withdrawing his proposal to expand the state sales tax to certain transactions not currently taxed, including services purchased by businesses.

But Helgeson asked Dayton to rethink his plan to increase the income-tax rate on the wealthiest 2 percent of Minnesota taxpayers. Helgeson said the plan could harm small businesses that pay taxes through the owner’s individual tax return.

And Dayton told St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce President Teresa Bohnen that the higher tax on high earners would provide needed funding for education and other priorities.

He cited a state Department of Revenue study that shows middle-class Minnesotans pay a greater percentage of their income in state and local taxes than the wealthiest 1 percent of Minnesotans, the paper said.

“You think that’s OK,” Dayton told Bohnen, to applause. “I don’t. I don’t think that’s fair.”