DFL Gov. Mark Dayton says he’d like to hire an outside mediator to help bridge his differences with Republican lawmakers over the state budget. Dayton made the suggestion today during a news conference. He said he’s at an impasse with the GOP-controlled Legislature over the best way to erase a $5 billion projected budget deficit. He said Republicans refuse to budge on their opposition to raising taxes and characterized the current state of budget talks as nonproductive.
“And it’s not going to lead us to the resolution we need before July 1,” Dayton said. “So to get somebody who has the expertise and can set parameters and help define a process that will define a process that will lead to a successful resolution is in the best interest of all Minnesotans.”
The governor made the announcement several hours before a scheduled hearing on his budget by a legislative commission of mostly GOP lawmakers. Dayton said he would not allow his commissioners to participate in a hearing by the Legislative Commission on Planning and Fiscal Policy. The panel, made up of mostly Republican lawmakers, aimed to discuss Dayton’s budget proposal. Dayton said he would not allow his commissioners to “be berated” in a hearing that he characterized as a “political stunt.”
“It’s political grand standing kind of theater to distract people away from that they’re unwilling to compromise,” Dayton said. “The fact [is] that their budget will have drastic effects on the lives of Minnesotans.”
GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers says the hearing was meant to discuss the details of Dayton’s budget plan. Zellers also ruled out Dayton’s offer to bring in a mediator.
“We were elected to lead,” Zellers said. “Last fall, when folks voted for not only Gov. Dayton but voted for each and every one of us in our legislative district, we were expected to come down here and do our job. It is tough work. It’s not easy. If we all had to pick when we would take over as governor or speaker or majority leader, this budgetary crisis is not the time that we would all pick.”
GOP lawmakers have not offered an alternative to the budget proposal Dayton vetoed last week. Zellers says he and other GOP legislative leaders don’t support Dayton’s proposal to raise income taxes on Minnesota’s top earners and want to erase the $5 billion projected budget deficit through spending cuts alone.
Dayton wants to raise income taxes on Minnesota’s top earners to help erase part of the state’s $5 billion projected budget deficit.
Dayton and lawmakers have to pass a state budget before July 1 or state government will shut down.
DAYTON’S Q&A SESSION: