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Dayton’s session assessment offers blunt criticism of GOP legislative majorities

“You walk off and you feel, ‘Wow, I’m feeling pretty good about this round and then you add up the score and you realize,‘This wasn’t very good after all.’ So that’s the way I look at the session.”

In his end-of-session assessment Friday, Gov. Mark Dayton’s language was measured, but his message was harsh for the Republican legislative majorities.

He called on Minnesotans to give DFLers the next two years at the Capitol to prove what they could do with a unified front.

“Give us a chance,” he said. “Let’s see what, by contrast, government that’s committed to the needs of Minnesota and all the people of Minnesota can accomplish.”

Dayton offered his reflections on the session shortly after signing a $500 million bonding bill.

The bonding package and the Vikings stadium bill “salvaged” the session for Minnesotans, the governor said.

Dayton said he wasn’t pleased with the size of the bonding bill, hoping for something closer to $775 million.

He was critical, too, of the session overall but said his two big wins overshadowed the many little problems that had arisen since January.

“I feel a little bit like the golfer who has 16 terrible holes and then gets a birdie and then gets an eagle,” he said.

“You walk off and you feel, ‘Wow, I’m feeling pretty good about this round and then you add up the score and you realize,‘This wasn’t very good after all.’ So that’s the way I look at the session.”

Republicans are watching Dayton to see what he’ll do with one of their top priorities this session: a second try at a tax bill that would offer relief to business property taxes. The governor said he hasn’t yet received the bill but that he would review it over the weekend.

Still, its chances don’t look good.

“They beat this drum, ‘Oh my goodness, we’re going into the tank … and therefore we need to give the businesses all this tax relief,” he said.

“It’s got to be, ‘What are you going to do for business and everybody else in Minnesota?”

Dayton also responded to criticisms from House Speaker Kurt Zellers, who said the $1 billion Vikings stadium proposal dominated the session while there were many other important issues to be addressed.

“He’s entitled certainly to his own view,” the governor said of Zellers, who didn’t support the stadium bill that passed Thursday. “Everybody had their own personal involvement in it, and it affected them each individually.”

Dayton credited the Democrats in the Legislature for acting as the “majority party” on the stadium vote because DFLers put up the majority of votes in both the House and Senate.

He also criticized the “arch-conservative” Republicans for working against stadium and bonding bills, calling jobs his No. 1 priority for the session.

“There’s a very narrow ideological view, and it’s myopic, and anything that departs from it even the slightest degree is just out of bounds, it’s off the planet, and so there’s not much room there to work with,” he said.

But there was just enough time for a little love.

The governor praised Iron Range DFL Rep. Tom Rukavina, who announced Friday that he was leaving the Legislature after 26 years of service.

“I was shocked, stunned,” Dayton said. “He’s been a tremendous legislator. He’s been a very good friend. You know where Tom is on everything, and he’s got the strength of his convictions, and he’s just a terrific person.”

Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by S Berk on 05/12/2012 - 06:40 am.

    Tax breaks for business

    Since we have a low unemployment rate, why do we need to cut revenue by reducing taxes for business, especially when the bill provides no incentiove for job creation?

  2. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 05/12/2012 - 07:51 am.

    It goes beyond myopic all the way to the point the republicans can’t even make up their own minds. They have to sign pledges to make sure they don’t stray from their my way or the highway stances. This is not just a Minnesota problem it is a national problem. Unfortunately the voters are responsible for some of this mess because of politically uneducated voters and voter apathy. The republicans think they have all the answers and they can’t even pay the rent for their own republican party headquarters building much less run a state. They take irresponsibility all the way to stupid. I’ll bet if you listen to them long enough the democrats will be the reason the republicans can’t pay the rent. Actions have consequences and November will be a good time to give the republicans the consequences they deserve. The republicans only want to serve a portion of the Minnesota population, but they were elected to serve all the citizens of the state. That failure is the reason to vote them out of office in November.

  3. Submitted by jody rooney on 05/13/2012 - 10:00 am.

    Financial Responsibility?

    I’m not sure either party has a good claim on financial responsibility yet.

    As for job creation other than spending on repairing and replacing aging infrastructure (spending on new infrastructure unless absolutely needed just exacerbates the maintenance problems in the future) which we certainly have a lot of in Minnesota governments can’t do a great deal about significant job creation. Even that works best if there are construction workers on the sidelines.

  4. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 05/14/2012 - 01:18 pm.

    Maybe Zellers can explain…

    ….what exactly he was working on that the DFL focus on the Vikings Stadium messed up. He should be grateful that something passed! Of course, if he did explain it to me, it would probably be as clear and concise as his KFAN interview. After listening to that interview, it’s the ultimate in irony that Zellers would have any title with the word “Speaker” in it.

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