Dayton wants tax hike to fund schools

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Former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton has frequently promised to tax the rich if he’s elected governor, but now he wants the current state Legislature to pass his proposed income tax increase and direct the new revenue to public schools.

The proposal, which would face a certain veto from Gov. Pawlenty, would raise income tax rates by 2 to 3 percent on people making $1 million or more per year. It also appeared to be a challenge to House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, the DFL endorsed candidate for governor, who Dayton will face in the Aug. 10 primary. He denied his plan was aimed at Kelliher.

“I’m not talking specifically about anybody,” Dayton said. “I’m enlisting the Legislature as an ally.”

Dayton outlined his plan today during a State Capitol news conference. He said a tax increase on millionaires could help restore cuts made in education under Pawlenty.

“During the Pawlenty years, state education aid has been cut by an average over $1,400 per student in kindergarten through 12th grade.” Dayton said.

But a reporter pointed out that the per pupil funding formula has not been cut under Pawlenty, although the number remained flat a few years. Dayton then clarified his assertion.

“Well, it’s not been increased relative to inflation, Dayton said. “Then it’s effectively a cut. This is $1,400 in real (dollars) after inflation, to make it clear.”

Asked where he got his $1,400 per student figure, Dayton said it was from Minnesota 2020. His answer prompted a few chuckles. Minnesota 2020 is the think tank founded by former state representative Matt Entenza, who will also face Dayton and Kelliher in the DFL primary.

Michael Brodkorb, deputy chairman of the state Republican party, was quick to blast Dayton’s tax plan as well as his school funding number.

“I don’t believe that’s accurate,” Bordkorb said. “It calls into question his entire candidacy.”

UPDATE: DFL House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher told MPR that Dayton is not paying attention that there’s “a roadblock named Tim Pawlenty in office”:

“What he’s not paying attention to is that we have tried a number of times to send to this governor and sent this governor progressive income taxation. I think that former Senator Dayton is out of touch with what’s going on.”

  • SB

    Nice! Go Margaret. I’m glad to see our DFL’s endorsed come out swinging; especially against such poor gubernatorial prospects as Dayton and Entenza. Emmer and Seifert are in for the race of their lives.

  • Elizabeth T

    Man, I am tempted to back Dayton for no other reason than he is saying what he ought to be saying.

    I’m tired of people saying what they think I want to hear in order to get my vote.

    Tell me what you really want to do as governor.

    Does he want to be elected? Or do the right thing? Might as well try to make the two synonymous.

    I hope SB is wrong – simply because I hope it’s a slam dunk that neither of the Big Two win.