Gov. Dayton’s opening comments:
GOP Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch’s opening comments:
Governor Mark Dayton is calling Republican legislative leaders back to the bargaining table today with the hopes of ending the state government shutdown. It’s the eleventh day of the shutdown and the two sides still appear to be far apart on a budget deal. Dayton says he sent a letter to GOP leaders telling them that he was open to discussing several revenue options including an income tax on top earners, tax hikes on cigarettes and alcohol, eliminating sales tax breaks and expanding the sales tax while lower the rate. Dayton says his income tax proposal, like President Obama’s, is a very selective tax increase.
“It’s only on the very wealthiest individuals,” Dayton said. “It’s only on corporations that aren’t paying their fair share. It’s not on all small businesses. It’s not on all taxpayers. But they hide behind the same fiction that it’s an overall tax increase, and they’re intransigent about moving beyond it.”
Republicans oppose raising any taxes to erase the state’s $5 billion projected budget deficit. Dayton says he hasn’t spoken to the Speaker of the Minnesota House or the Senate Majority Leader since last Thursday. GOP legisatlive leaders have not made a budget offer to Dayton since the shutdown began on July first. The sides are $1.4 billion apart on a budget deal.
Dayton says he intends to travel to St. Cloud on Tuesday, southern Minnesota on Wednesday and Moorhead on Friday to campaign for his proposal. He also released a video on YouTube explaining his position on budget talks.
GOP Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch says she’s disappointed with Dayton’s letter.
“The governor continues to believe that the discussion needs to be about where the revenue comes from and how much,” Koch said. “There’s no compromise in the area that we’re concerned about – reining in spending and reforming the way we are spending.”
Republicans renewed their request that Dayton call a special session, which would allow them to begin working on some spending bills and passing a stopgap “lights on” bill to reopen government while broader negotiations continue.
Here’s Dayton’s letter to GOP leaders: