Gov. Mark Dayton wants a special session agreement with legislative leaders to address skyrocketing health insurance costs. Tim Pugmire | MPR News.

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton says he’s ready to call a special session to address rising health insurance premiums, if House and Senate leaders can quickly agree on a fix.

Dayton wants to provide financial assistance, likely in the form of tax breaks, to Minnesotans who will be hit hard by 2017 premium increases for coverage purchased on the individual market. He specifically wants to help the 120,000 people who are not eligible for federal tax breaks.

During a news conference Friday, Dayton said he is proposing to use the $313 million scheduled to be added to the state’s rainy day fund later this year.

“Right now, it’s not just raining, it’s pouring on some Minnesotans,” Dayton said.

Dayton said a special session could come before or after the Nov. 8 election. But he wants agreement on an action plan by Nov. 1, so that people know what kind of help is on the way before the start of open enrollment. He urged lawmakers to set aside their political disagreements over the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) to find a short-term solution.

“During the past couple weeks some legislative leaders have said this special session is critical. It is now time to walk the talk and agree upon a solution to provide much-needed relief,” he said.

House Republicans, who have long opposed the state implementation of the federal health care law, pledged a willingness to address the issue. But in his response to Dayton, House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Zimmerman,  also continued to blame Democrats.

“House Republicans are committed to working quickly on ways to reduce costs and address the health care crisis Democrats created.” Daudt said. “It is my hope we can find areas of agreement and provide needed relief to Minnesotans suffering from the effects of Obamacare.”

Senate Democrats made their pitch for a special session on Thursday.

Last week, Dayton offered a surprisingly frank assessment of the ACA, saying it “is no longer affordable to increasing numbers of people.” The comment has since surfaced in campaign ads against Democrats.

Dayton, who’s been a longtime supporter of the law, began his news conference by saying he regrets that his statement was “wrongly used” that way. He also said he has been in contact with Obama administration officials to offer clarification and additional context. But Dayton said he stands by the statement.

“Those are the people we want to help,” he said.

U.S. Rep Erik Paulsen at his Eden Prairie campaign headquarters on Friday. Brian Bakst | MPR News

Updated at 1:45 p.m. with Bonoff statement

Minnesota Republican U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen says he is likely to write in Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s name for president.

In his first interview since disavowing Republican nominee Donald Trump, Paulsen told MPR News Friday that he is intent on voting for a Republican anyway.

Rubio came in first in Minnesota’s Republican precinct caucuses in March and won in Paulsen’s 3rd Congressional District. A few weeks later he was out of the presidential race. Rubio would have to certify as a write-in candidate for the vote to be tabulated. (Rubio has said he intends to vote for Trump.)

Earlier this year, Paulsen said he anticipated voting for the party nominee, but later said Trump would have to earn his vote. Paulsen didn’t rule out a vote for Trump until the emergence of a video where the New York businessman is caught talking crudely about women.

“I was hoping he could earn my vote,” Paulsen said. “It’s pretty clear he hasn’t, and he can’t.”

Paulsen said he would not back either Libertarian Gary Johnson nor independent candidate Evan McMullin.

“I’m a Republican, so I’m going to vote Republican,” he said.

Paulsen is in a tough re-election race. The campaigns are drawing millions of dollars in outside TV ads. His opponent, state Sen. Terri Bonoff, DFL-Minnetonka, has made Trump a theme of her campaign and hammered Paulsen for not doing enough to stand up to Trump.

Bonoff issued a statement on Paulsen’s intention to vote for Rubio.

“Voting is a privilege and a responsibility, but Erik Paulsen throws away his vote like it means nothing,” Bonoff said. “Wasting a vote as a member of Congress who didn’t have the courage to oppose his standard-bearer until a week ago does a disservice to the people of our community, our nation, and his party.”

Paulsen said he “wouldn’t be surprised” to see Democrat Hillary Clinton win his suburban district, pointing out that Democrat Barack Obama carried it twice.

He said voter frustration over the tenor of this year’s campaign demands that the next Congress and president leave the bickering behind.

“People expect results. They expect solutions. And I’ll just keep working on issues that truly matter to people. We just need to make sure we have folks that are thoughtful and that are going to be working across the aisle and moving the ball forward on important issues,” Paulsen said.

“Regardless of who is elected president you are going to need leaders on trade, for instance. I’m very discouraged that both of the candidates are not talking about the opportunities with a trade agenda. I’m going to be pushing for a very robust trade agenda,” he added.

Good morning, and happy Friday. Let’s take a look at the Digest.

1. Republican Jason Lewis and Democrat Angie Craig met for their second debate in the campaign for the open congressional seat in Minnesota’s 2nd District. It was a lively hour hosted by MPR News.  The two clashed over health care, the presidential candidates, and their previous careers; his as a radio talk show host and hers as an executive at a medical device company. (MPR News)

2.  Candidates and groups supporting and opposing them have spent $34 million on congressional races in Minnesota, and the spending continues. Almost 80 percent of that money has gone to just three districts: the  8th, the 3rd and the 2nd. Those three districts are considered among the most competitive in the nation this year. The 8th District alone is one of the most expensive races in the country. (Pioneer Press)

3. Minnesota Senate Democrats are asking Gov. Mark Dayton to call a special session to address rising health care costs, through a tax credit on insurance premiums. Premiums are set to increase substantially in 2017 for people buying individual market coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act. The Democrats say their short term fix could cost more than $100 million. The Senate Republican leader blamed Democrats for causing the health care problem. He said they’re now trying to distract voters with an election year stunt. (MPR News)

4. For undergraduates at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, the resident sticker price for tuition and fees runs about $14,000 a year, triple what it was in 2000. At the current rate, it will cost this fall’s freshman class at least $56,000 if students can finish in four years. Private schools can cost considerably more. Prices like that are why candidates seeking the White House and other offices are talking about rising college costs and student debt, although many voters remain skeptical that any of the plans are achievable. (MPR News)

5.  Donald Trump on Thursday doubled down on his debate night refusal to say whether he would accept the results of the election. “I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election — if I win,” Trump joked at a rally in Delaware, Ohio.  He said he wants to reserve the right to challenge the election if it’s close. He also said, “I will follow and abide by all the rules and traditions of all of the many candidates who came before me, always.” But he added, “Bottom line, we’re going to win.” (New York Times)