Republican legislative leaders said talks to end the government shutdown took a “frustrating step backwards” with DFL Governor Mark Dayton offering up income tax and cigarette tax increases. Dayton responded to Republicans “If this is a step backwards they took the step backwards” in immediately rejecting his proposal making an income tax increase temporary on people making more than a million dollars and moving to a dollar a pack cigarette tax increase. Republican Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch said “no additional reforms or reductions were offered that’s the most disappointing.” Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers repeated “Tax increases in general are a non-starter in our caucuses.”
Dayton’s staff released papers showing a $1.4 billion gap remains. It details the largest divide of $556 million in health and human services. Yet, the only thing leaders and the governor seemed to agree on today was the fact health and human services negotiations are progressing between committee chairs and commissioners. Tomorrow similar staff negotiators are meeting on K-12 education where a smaller $128 million gap remains. Lawmakers and the governor met for less than half an hour today.
Outside the Capitol, one state worker from the Pollution Control Agency held up signs to raise taxes on the rich. Later today more laid-off workers will “set up an unemployed town called ‘Downeyville,’ named after the state representative from Edina who would wipe out the jobs of 5,000 state employees and eliminate the collective bargaining rights of all state employees and public school teachers in Minnesota.” The state’s two largest public employee unions AFSCME and MAPE also say “If Republican leaders get their way, their cuts-only budget will also eliminate 30,000 public- and private-sector jobs – permanently.”