Dayton delivers tough talk at MN Chamber dinner

Governor Mark Dayton told an audience of business leaders wary of tax hikes that the state needs more money to fix its budget problems. Dayton gave a 30 minute speech to the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce at its annual legislative dinner last night. He went through a litany of facts to explain why Minnesota should increase income taxes on top earners – a proposal that makes many business leaders nervous. Dayton said trying to erase the $6.2 billion dollar deficit with spending cuts alone will hurt the state in the long run.

“Eliminating all of the state agencies would save about $3.5 billion of just over half or the projected state deficit. And that is why I say respectfully to anyone who thinks this session is going to be easy and painless, please share your magic potion with the rest of us. Or else get to work reading and understanding the state budget as I have.”

(Listen to Dayton’s full speech here: )

Dayton says pledges to not raise state taxes have resulted in higher property taxes. He says he will work to make the state’s tax system more fair. But David Olson, with the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, says business won’t support Dayton’s plan.

“I spend my whole life on the road. I haven’t run into too many people who say now is the time to raise my taxes. They’re cutting health care benefits, they’re cutting jobs, they’re reducing their contributions to 401ks. They’re trying to survive.”

Olson says he’d like to see Dayton and the Legislature limit spending to the revenue the state has available. Republican Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch says her caucus will propose a plan next week that does that. Koch and GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers say they can balance the budget without raising taxes.

KSTP’s Tom Hauser moderated a panel with Koch, Zellers, DFL Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk and DFL House Minority Leader Paul Thissen. You can listen to that here:

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