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Dayton defends his budget plan, ready for a post-session re-election run

MinnPost photo by James Nord
“When people have to start misrepresenting [my proposals] or misrepresenting their own, I’d say it’s problematic, but it also, to me, is an affirmative that the track I’m proposing is better than the alternatives.”

Gov. Mark Dayton says his re-election campaign will likely have to remain on hold until after the legislative session ends in May.

Year-end campaign finance reports released on Friday show Dayton’s campaign had $96,000 on hand on Dec. 31 and raised a total of $271,000 in 2012. The governor said he hasn’t thought much about the logistics of his 2014 election contest but vowed to put up a hard fight.

“Frankly, I don’t have the time, so I don’t think I’ll have the ability to do much until after the legislative session, but after that, yes, it’s going to have to be a priority because I intend to run again,” he said Friday morning. “I know there’ll be a ton of money spent against me to distort and misrepresent my program and my accomplishments … I have no illusion that they’re not going to blanket the state with that, so I’ll be ready.”

“Obviously, I’d like to have more,” Dayton said of his bank balance.

Dayton’s “program,” which he released late last month, is an ambitious $37.9 billion budget that includes more than $3.5 billion in tax increases and $1.4 billion in property tax rebates.

The budget pumps an extra $340 million into education, raises $240 million in support for higher education and provides local governments with an additional $120 million in aid. That’s on top of filling in a $1.1 billion deficit.

Dayton’s revenue plan would lower the sales tax rate but broaden what’s taxed to include items of clothing that cost more than $100 and many currently exempt services. It would also impose a higher income tax on the wealthiest Minnesotans and raise taxes on cigarettes.

Dayton understands DFL caution

Legislative committees have has just begun dissecting Dayton’s plan, and the Democratic majorities have not yet answered with budget proposals of their own. DFL leaders have said they applaud the “values” in the proposal, but overall support has come off as lukewarm.

“They don’t have to face up to that yet, and politicians tend not to face up to things till they absolutely have to,” Dayton said of his DFL colleagues. “They will absolutely have to in a couple months when they have to come up with a balanced budget.”

House Speaker Paul Thissen told reporters Friday that members of his caucus were hearing “general support for some of the spending priorities that the governor has” from constituents. Assistant Senate Majority Leader Katie Sieben said her members are hearing that their constituents appreciated Dayton’s proposal as a “fiscally sound budget.”

Republicans, though, have declared war on much of Dayton’s plan. They’ve labeled it as a way to tax everything from baby aspirin to Grandma’s over-the-counter medicine – not to mention a “sick puppies tax” on veterinary services.

“This is an extremely expensive budget, and I think you’re starting to see people reflect that concern, and I hope they continue to put pressure on,” Assistant Senate Minority Leader Dave Thompson said on Friday. “If we want to increase spending the way they want to increase it, there’s a price to be paid, and that price is pretty big, and it’s going to be paid by everyone.”

Dayton took a familiar tack on Friday, pushing detractors to propose better alternatives, rather than simply criticize from the sidelines. He also went on the offensive against Republicans who he said haven’t accurately portrayed his ideas.

“When people have to start misrepresenting [my proposals] or misrepresenting their own, I’d say it’s problematic, but it also, to me, is an affirmative that the track I’m proposing is better than the alternatives,” Dayton said. “If anyone wants to get real and have a real conversation and has a real alternative, I’m all ears.”

Thompson raps Dayton tax plan

Thompson, for his part, accused Dayton of lying about his budget. “I think the people of Minnesota now really understand that despite what the governor is trying to represent, that you don’t raise $2.1 billion in revenue but have nobody pay more taxes,” Thompson said. “It doesn’t work that way.”

But on other issues, Dayton said, he does hope to come together with Republicans on a proposal to increase the contribution limits for political campaigns. He called current guidelines, set in the late 1990s, “almost prohibitive … for a modern-era campaign.”

The governor said he discussed loosening the limits with Republican leaders two weeks ago and stressed that it would help their candidates as well.

A serious GOP contender hasn’t stepped forward to challenge Dayton, who said he isn’t sure if he’ll self-finance much of his campaign again.

“I really have not thought much about the whole enterprise,” Dayton said, “except that I’m going to do everything possible legally and ethically to win.”

Comments (11)

  1. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 02/01/2013 - 05:07 pm.

    Who Is This Guy?

    A Democrat who is feisty and has a spine? Unlike the corporate Democrats in Washington who genuflect to Wall Street and the 1% while pushing free trade agreements, I hope this catches on.

  2. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 02/01/2013 - 07:17 pm.

    Why should anyone listen to the Republican’s whining

    Disorganization, leaderless, myth based principles, the word compromise deleted from their lexicon, not for anything, but against everything, and desperate pretty much defines the Republican Party. Our state needs a two party system to get the best for everyone. Unfortunately for the Republicans, in the last election their party heard from the electorate loud and clear, telling them they are not what Minnesotan’s want. Several years back the Republican Party couldn’t decide if they should cozy up to the tea party. Well they now have their answer. The tea party operates on the fringe of the Republican Party and has taken the party right to its knees. Romney ran for office, lost, and then said he really didn’t want the job anyway. What was the purpose of running? I guess it was on his bucket list. Long time Republicans are leaving the party. This all begs the question, why should anyone even listen to the Republican’s whining? In their desperation mode the Republican’s don’t have any real answers. If they do offer anything it will be based on one of the Party’s many myths. Governor Dayton’s budget proposal my not appeal to all but it is a more sensible move forward than the Republican’s could ever offer because the positive effect of their offers will only apply to the top 1%, not all Minnesotan’s.

  3. Submitted by Robert Helland on 02/01/2013 - 07:37 pm.

    I will run for Governor in 2014.

    I think young people should exhibit a show of strength in Minnesota in 2014. As a person who will not yet be thirty by election day 2014, but will be eligible to run for Minnesota Governor, I intend to run an unorthodox, independent campaign to gain the support of my peers and all generations of Minnesotans as an innovative and interesting voice in the conversations that will define our next 20 years of statehood and livelihoods. The rules are being written right now and I am not sure they realize the full extent of that.

    The Dayton budget plan, and more specifically the proposed tax reform, is a great place to start and this should be a centerpiece of young peoples’ conversations in 2013. In this regard, I would seem to be a madman yelling in the street from the perspective of my peers.

    Anybody know how many signatures I need to get on the ballot and what I would need to accomplish to be accepted on the debate stages? Thanks and kind regards.

    ~Bob Helland
    “Bob Helland for Governor 2014”
    onemantaxplan @

    • Submitted by Virginia Martin on 02/03/2013 - 03:20 pm.


      Shouldn’t you be better informed before you try to run for office? Maybe about governance in general?

      • Submitted by Robert Helland on 02/03/2013 - 06:21 pm.

        Good question, Ginny, here’s a two-part answer and a thought:

        (1) While it is important for a candidate to understand the legal quandaries of the office they seek, this is why they assemble teams of people who specialize in those aspects: campaign managers, coordinators, treasurers and so forth. I feel it would be in the interest of the state and voters that a candidate’s body of knowledge are on what works well and to be able to bring fresh ideas to the table.

        (2) As for qualifications, two things I believe I have exceptional qualifications in are (a) understandings of the three legs of the Minnesota Tax System “stool” to borrow the Revenue Commissioner’s talking point: property tax, income tax and mostly sales tax. I am not convinced by the Governor proposal that he is exceedingly in touch with these understandings, nor the ramifications of his proposals for Minnesota citizens, particularly: businesses, renters and people under thirty. (b) I believe I am very well in touch with the spirit of Millennials and as a person within this group with a disproportionate experience and knowledge in business and taxation, I feel I must lend my voice to the debate and there is no better place than a gubernatorial debate and campaign to do that. I will focus my priorities on ideas and actions and allow some of these administrative pieces to fall in place when the campaign season approaches. (I do know that I am eligible to run and I have searched Minnesota Statutes, but I believe the question I was action falls under some sort of election commission rather than state law. I may be wrong.)

        (Thought) Here’s a fresh idea for “tax reform”: What product in Minnesota has the single highest tax rate of all: LIQUOR (2.5% in addition to general and local sales, also local beverage taxes). What is one of only a handful of products that is outlawed from sale on a given day of the week: LIQUOR. To allow liquor to be sold on Sundays would increase Minnesota’s revenue generated from sales without ever reforming the tax code. Have you heard this idea in this debate yet? Let’s take back Minnesota liquor sales! (I am about to head to a friend’s to watch the super bowl and I will drink beer that was purchased on my behalf in… Wisconsin. I do not have projections on the increase; that is beyond my present means, but the truth of the statement is undeniable in principle.)

        Thank you for asking.

        ~Bob Helland

        • Submitted by Victor Johnson on 02/08/2013 - 12:05 pm.

          Liquor and cigarette taxes go to public school budgets

          I would like to use a much enlarged liquor and cigarette (smoking anything) tax for K-12 education.

          • Submitted by Robert Helland on 02/08/2013 - 06:39 pm.

            Yes. You beat me to the punch, Victor!

            I love your comment. Yes, imagine the irony of reformed drug laws and new taxation with dedicated funding from say, Marijuana sales, to those that have been “historically” at risk of falling prey to well, smoking Marijuana. I borrow terms from the broader drug debate as I don’t believe marijuana in and of itself is deserving of its “demonization”, and rather has “angelic” medicinal properties. Thank you for interjecting this in reply to my post.

            You will see as I put forth more reform proposals, all in due time and in proper places a proposal such as this:

            To both increase state revenues (which may have dedicated sources) and to allow habitual recreational users the freedom to enjoy their habit and health-impaired individuals who would benefit from the freedom of medicinal use of marijuana, I developed this radical proposal which I sent to the Citizens League:

            “”Drug user use tax reverse amnesty.” Notice to drug users and sellers [specifically pertaining to marijuana]: There is a strong chance that in addition to committing drug-related crimes you may also be committing a form of tax evasion in both income and sales (use) taxes. In Minnesota, individual consumers owe use tax on untaxed purchases of most tangible personal property once these purchases reach an annual threshold of $770 dollars, or what amounts to roughly $50 in tax. So, if you buy a “baker’s” dozen (13) of weed each year at about $60 [which I understand is common] for a standard retail unit, or once every four weeks or more… you might be a tax evader.

            Why is that important? I’m not calling you out and trying to insult or ridicule you, rather I am trying to show you a powerful stone ‘stoners’ hold that can kill two birds: new needed tax revenues and debilitating drug laws.

            How it works: Make a powerful statement in terms of the money measured by the tax you have effectively “evaded” in the past and demonstrate your willingness to pay more in the futures for decriminalization of your habit. Think of it like a “pledge”, which could be done through an anonymous third-party organization or even crowd-funding websites.

            How many people would it take “pledging” $50 in unpaid use tax for the past year(s) to have this debate included within the Minnesota Legislature?

            ~Bob Helland
            onemantaxplan @

  4. Submitted by mke herlicxk on 02/02/2013 - 03:29 am.

    Candidates and their donors should be allowed to spend as much money on campaigns as they want.

    Also, voters should shun those candidates.

  5. Submitted by Virginia Martin on 02/02/2013 - 12:15 pm.


    How can we encourage our Democratic lawmakers to grow a spine? Maybe just to keep telling them and telling them, day after day–an easy thing to do on the internet–what we want and we want them to behave like the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party (Wellstone).

  6. Submitted by Victor Johnson on 02/08/2013 - 12:03 pm.

    I support Dayton’s Budget.

    This is a time when the person we elected needs to be trusted to do his job well for the benefit of all…not the benefit of a few wealthy citizens.

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